Breeder and trainer Julie O'Brien drives Chillz, owned by Christina Wenger, to the junior pleasure driving world championship at the 2012 AQHA World Show. (Journal photo)
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by Tara ChristiansenThe American Quarter Horse Journal
Back in 2008, Christina Wenger received an email from trainer and AQHA 10-year breeder Julie O’Brien: Flying Crest just dropped her Artful Investment colt.
The next day, Christina laid eyes on the sorrel colt, out of Julie’s Thoroughbred mare by Gold Crest. From the first time, Christina was sold; but the colt was not.
“I said, ‘I want him!’” remembered Christina, who hails from Warren, Ohio. “And (Julie) said, ‘Let’s wait and see what he turns out to be like.’ So pretty much every day for eight months I said, ‘I’m pretty sure I want him.’ Finally, she said, ‘OK, I think he’s going to be the one – I think you should go ahead.’”
Next came naming the colt, who was a half-brother to Sky Blue Yonder, another Flying Crest produce that Julie has shown successfully.
“(Christina) said, when we were thinking of names, ‘He gives me the chills every time I see him,’” Julie shared. “I said, ‘Well, let’s name him Chillz.’ So that’s how he got his name.”
Between then and November 16 in junior pleasure driving at the 2012 AQHA World Championship Show, quite a few things have happened.
“We did the longe-line with him when he was a yearling,” Christina said.
“And they won the (longe-line at the All American Quarter Horse) Congress,” added her Southington, Ohio, trainer.
“We broke him to drive before we broke him to ride,” Julie said. “When he was a little over 2 we started breaking him to a cart, then we didn’t get on him until close to 3. So he’s more comfortable doing that at this point right now – he’s pretty broke for a 4-year-old.”
Bank of America Amateur Week was up first at the AQHA World Show, and that’s where Christina drove Chillz to a third-place finish.
“He was so good – it was one of my best drives all year,” Christina said of their amateur go, but added that watching Julie drive is a little more nerve-wracking. Still, “I knew he had the potential to go out there and do what he did.”
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After competing in amateur pleasure driving and hunter under saddle, plus junior hunter under saddle, Chillz, also known around the barn as “Artchie,” was a little worn out come November 16.
“He was kind of tired from the whole two weeks, but I think he perked up enough that he has a nice pretty stride; even if it doesn’t feel like enough, he still really starts lengthening for me,” Julie said. Both of his drivers agree that his road gait is gold trophy-worthy.
Another unique experience from the 2012 World Show came from a chance meeting with Chillz’s sire, Artful Investment, who also made an appearance in Oklahoma City.
“I went over to his stalls,” Christina laughed. “He was really cool – he has a lot of mannerisms that Artchie has, like in your pocket. It was cute.”