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November 7-22, 2014, Oklahoma City

Amateur Western Pleasure

It was an incredible three-peat world championship for Darcy Reeve and A Certain Vino.

Darcy Reeve and A Certain Vino

Darcy Reeve and A Certain Vino

Darcy Reeve of Garden City, Kansas, and A Certain Vino won the amateur western pleasure world championship for an incredible third time at the 2013 AQHA World Championship Show on November 12. The feat ties Vital Signs Are Good and former owner, Kristen Glover Galyean, in 2003, 2005 and 2007. Darcy and “Vino” are the first amateur rider and horse to win the class three years in a row.

“He felt unbelievable,” Darcy told The American Quarter Horse Journal. “He’s a bigger horse, and it was nice to be able to pull him off the wall and he felt really comfortable off the rail. I could push him forward and get everything I needed right there … He was so good.”

“It looked like she could control every step she needed to,” added her trainer, Karen Hornick. “Right now, with the pleasure, (AQHA is) trying to encourage the forward motion, and it looked like her idea to step him up and control what she needed to.”

“There’s that point where everything is just going right, and you’re having fun, and you can’t help but love what you’re doing,” Darcy said. “And everything is right in place.”

But the evening was only half over for the two – Darcy and Vino also made the western riding finals immediately following the pleasure. (She also had Ima Petite Classic to ride in the western riding.) To warm Vino up, she did a few flying lead changes in her western pleasure world championship victory lap, grinning all the way.

“It was a little tough (getting ready for two finals),” Darcy said. “We did a lot of prep last night.”

“To have two in one day and ask him to separate the two, it’s hard,” Karen said. “For the pleasure, we ride a lot with our legs and control him with a little more shape and collection.

“And for the western riding, Darcy will loosen her legs up and (AQHA Professional Horseman) Charlie (Cole) will get on and send him forward, and hopefully all that ‘pleasure’ goes out the window for a little while!”

“Every year (the World Show competition) gets harder and harder,” Darcy said. “I get here and warm up and practice and you just have to go in and not doubt yourself. Go in with the mentality that you’ve got to do your best.”

The Reeve family bought Vino as a coming 3-year-old in December 2005, after Vino had won the Equine Sports Medicine 2-Year-Old Western Pleasure Challenge at the Reichert Celebration. Since then, he’s kept the Reeves – with daughter Darcy riding him in youth and then amateur – in world championship and year-end high-point form.

Since his first World Show appearance in 2005 – when he won the reserve in 2-year-old snaffle bit western pleasure – Vino has earned 10 world championships in western pleasure alone, all divisions combined. The gelding has earned 1,296.5 points to date, all divisions combined.

Darcy showed Vino to a youth reserve world championship in western riding in 2010, and they won the 2011 amateur title in the class. In 2012, Darcy rode Ima Petite Classic to the amateur western riding world championship.

“We’re fortunate to have one to show like him,” Karen said. “I’m just proud of both of them.”

Now a senior at Kansas State University, Darcy is studying advertising with a minor in geology. Darcy has spent her school years juggling class and show schedules to qualify for and make it to the World Show every year.

“It’s difficult, but I love what I do, and I sit down and make myself manage it,” she said.

As far as what’s next for Vino and the World Show arena, “We’ll see if we can come back and do it again,” Darcy said. “He just gets better every year and stronger and he loves what he does. It would kind of be a shame to stop when he’s so young and happy.”

With the dust settled on a long but satisfying showing day, what are they going to do to celebrate?

Darcy and Karen look at each other and almost simultaneously, “I-Hop or Waffle House,” and laugh.