by Jody ReynoldsThe American Quarter Horse Journal
In just her third year of amateur competition, Caroline Rebecca Gunn of Greensburg, Indiana, captured her first world championship aboard a seasoned 19-year-old veteran of his trade.
On November 5, Caroline and her parents’ black gelding, Design By Leaguer, bested 67 entries, with a huge score of 238.5 to take the amateur trail world championship title. Her score was a full seven points higher than the reserve world champion.
“He’s a champ,” Caroline, a former two-time youth world champion, said. “He knows what he’s supposed to do and he knows how to bring the big scores when he needs to.”
The Gunns bought Design By Leaguer in February for Caroline’s dad, Steve, to show.
“My dad’s very gracious and lets me show him as well,” Caroline said. “He was third on him in the Select trail at the (All American Quarter Horse) Congress. He’s a really good horse.”
The trail finals course was lengthy and challenging, with numerous tight lope-overs and transitions. “It all rode really well,” she said. “The biggest thing I did was stop a little late in my stop box and hit the pole. But he was so good. I couldn’t have asked him to be any better.
“He’s 19, he’s been there, done that,” she continued. “We both know that to go get the big plusses you have to keep your pace up and get through the maneuvers quickly and clean. It’s a happy medium of not going too fast and making mistakes and getting penalties."
Caroline's first amateur win is bittersweet: The Gunns recently sold Design By Leaguer to a youth competitor in Canada. Design By Leaguer was the 2011 senior trail world champion.
She shared her victory lap with 2-year-old neice Shayne Gilliam.
Caroline won youth horsemanship world championships in 2004 and 2006.
Caroline Rebecca Gunn pilots Design By Leaguer through the trail course to a seven-point lead and her first amateur world championship.