November 7-22, 2014, Oklahoma City

Junior Pleasure Driving

A win with “Cowboy” gives Brian Holmes his eighth AQHA world championship.

Cityboy Or Cowboy and Brian Holmes

Cityboy Or Cowboy and Brian Holmes

You know it’s going to be a good interview when you have one friend trying to share the credit for an AQHA world championship with another friend.

That was trainer Brian Holmes of Purcell, Oklahoma, fresh out of his junior pleasure driving world championship win with Chad Sandoval’s Cityboy Or Cowboy, aka “Cowboy,” on November 22 at the 2013 AQHA World Championship Show.

His good friend, AQHA Professional Horseman Jerry Erickson bred the gelding, and Brian pulled him into his interview with The American Quarter Horse Journal. The two have been friends for about 25 years.

“We work together quite a bit,” Brian said, “on lots of different horses. He’ll help with my over fences horses and problem horses, and I try to help him with the driving.”

He added, “I just want to thank Jerry for letting me have the horse.”

“Well, I won (junior pleasure driving) at the (2013 All American Quarter Horse) Congress on this horse,” Jerry said. “Brian had a commitment to another horse. But, in actuality, he did the bulk of the work getting the horse prepared to go to the ring; so I got to get the jacket and the trophy. So, I thank him! The turn-around was only fair play that he got to show him here!”

At the 2013 World Show, both men reached the same milestone: eight AQHA world championship titles. Jerry won his eighth in the November 21 senior pleasure driving with Laura Te Grotenhuis’ Un Forgettable. And this win with Cowboy was Brian’s eighth.

“It’s been a while for me,” Brian said. “We’re moving up the ladder!” He also finished third in senior pleasure driving behind Jerry.

“(Cowboy) has been kind of a surprise, but he’s come along,” Brian said. “I always say that he teaches himself to (park gait) as we go into the pen. He wasn’t a great (park-gaiter) (to begin with), but it seems like every day he gets better.

“He’s always been a great road-gaiter: He’s really pretty and he’s natural, flat and relaxed. And he looks like he enjoys what he’s doing: He has his ears up and has a lot of expression.”

By These Irons Are Hot and out of Hot Anticipation by Sonnys Hot Jazz, the 2008 gelding comes from one of Jerry’s good-producing mare families.

“I had a great working hunter horse years ago (Avenging Devil, by Devil Bird), and I found his mother (Miss Avenger, by Sweet Avenger) who is this colt’s grandmother, and bought her to raise working hunter horses out of,” Jerry explained. “Several of them were good, but his mother (by Jerry’s two-time pleasure driving champion Sonnys Hot Jazz) stayed small. So I started breeding her.

“The bottomside of that pedigree came through. Even though (Cowboy’s) not in the hunter pen, he’s doing quite well in this pen.”

Brian has a set list of what he looks for in a pleasure driving horse.

“They have to be level-headed,” he said straight off. “You can do it, but it’s pretty hard to take one that doesn’t want to be tame all the time and talk him into being tame. This horse is very laid-back and he’s pretty professional.

“And movement, of course, is important, too, at this level. At the smaller shows, they don’t have to be great movers – they just have to give a pleasurable drive. At this level, they have to be a pretty mover.”

It’s been a great World Show and show season for both men. Cowboy was third in the junior hunter under saddle November 21. In addition to his win in senior pleasure driving, Jerry had a reserve in the senior hunter hack November 13.

“This pen is excellent, I love the ring,” Jerry said. “The environment of this horse show actually adds a little bit of anxiousness. Because the quality of the show makes you step up a little.”

“It’s the big-time,” Brian agreed. “It’s the bright lights; this is where you are on display. Nothing gets missed in that arena.

“It’s a very good arena to show in because it doesn’t have deep corners, it has rounded ends and you can show your horse well. You can put your horse on the rail and exhibit him really well in that arena.”

Cowboy is owned by Chad Sandoval of De Pere, Wisconsin. He had several horses in training with Jerry when Cowboy came along as a youngster.

“This horse as a 2-year-old was very awkward so we didn’t ride him very much,” Jerry said. “You know, Brian commented about his disposition, the first horse show we ever showed him at was the week prior to the (2012) Congress, a little show, not many horses, so it wasn’t good exposure.

“The next week at Congress, he was fifth in the hunt seat futurity, and it was the first time Chad ever had a chance to ride him. As a green horse, he stepped up in that environment, which is more chaotic than here. He was really good.”

He continued, “The very first time he was in the ring with the driving cart was at the (2012) Congress in the junior pleasure driving. Brian showed him and he was third! He did a great job. The very next day, Chad showed him in the novice amateur and won. This horse apparently likes Ohio.”

“Now he likes Oklahoma City pretty well, too,” Brian added with a laugh.

Fun Fact: Brian Holmes was the training hands behind multiple pleasure driving world champion wonder CC Surprise.

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