by Larri Jo StarkeyThe American Quarter Horse Journal
AQHA Professional Horseman Jerry D. Erickson drives Un Forgettable to victory for owner Laura Te Grotenhuis of Marshall, Illinois. (Journal photo)
On November 21, the adaptable Un Forgettable stretched his long legs out to claim a gold trophy in senior pleasure driving at the 2013 AQHA World Championship Show.
“He’s pretty easy,” said AQHA Professional Horseman Jerry Erickson of Sanger, Texas, who drove the stallion to the victory. “I think he likes the cart. I’ve been able to work with him the last week. He really is just very comfortable carrying his topline where we want it.”
AQHA Professional Horseman Lee Paul Shinn of Venice, Florida, trained “Smoke” to pull a cart and got him qualified for the World Show, just months after the horse won the 2012 world championship in progressive working hunter and a reserve world championship in junior hunter hack with Bill Ellis of Colts Neck, New Jersey.
Jerry’s first time to drive Smoke was at this World Show.
“Where I had trouble during the week was negotiating the transition from the park gait into the road gait,” Jerry said. “But in the last couple of days, he has figured me out. Today he was excellent, especially the first direction. He just stepped right up. It was a nice drive. He’s so consistent and he’s such a handsome devil that it gets him five points above the competition right off the bat.”
Jerry liked him well enough that he purchased new clothing specifically in which to drive Smoke.
“I normally just wear a sports jacket and slacks, but here, I thought, this gray horse would look really good with a blue suit,” Jerry said with a laugh. “So I bought the blue suit and showed in the preliminaries a day or two ago. And after I was done, I thought, you know, a vest would look nice. So I got this gray vest, put on a colorful tie, and I thought it looked really good.”
Un Forgettable is a 2007 gray stallion by Iron Enterprise and out of A Walk In The Sky by Skys Blue Boy. He was bred by Nancy Swarm of Ocala, Florida, and owner Laura Te Grotenhuis of Marshall, Illinois, acquired him 14 months ago. Smoke has never spent a night at Laura’s house, moving from trainer to trainer as she assembled a team to campaign the stallion for the Farnam Superhorse title.
“He’s a traveler,” Laura said in an exclusive Journal interview. “Jerry just put quite a feather in his cap to highlight this year’s show and … added a nice solid 10 to it. Our jumping wasn’t as strong this year, so we’re in contention for the title, but it will probably elude us.”
Smoke has competed in performance halter stallions with AQHA Professional Horseman Joey Shortino, senior hunter hack and senior working hunter with Bill, and senior hunter under saddle with AQHA Professional Horseman Nancy Sue Ryan.
“Well, it’s a beautiful team that has been assembled,” Laura said. “In my opinion, the dream team in the equestrian world. I couldn’t ask for better or more. (AQHA Professional Horseman) Keith Miller has worked with him in under saddle and did some cart with him in North Carolina.”
The work of coordinating all the trainers has been hard but worthwhile, with the world championship in senior pleasure driving capping the week, Jerry said.
“The horse is worth it, and it’s paying off."
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