November 7-22, 2014, Oklahoma City

Junior Trail

The little horse wins big – No. 1 for the horse, No. 10 for the rider.

Zipschocolateimpulse and AQHA Professional Horseman Bruce Vickery

Zipschocolateimpulse and AQHA Professional Horseman Bruce Vickery marked a 235 to win junior trail at the 2013 AQHA World Championship Show. (Journal photo)

November 19 at the 2013 AQHA World Championship Show was a big night for little Zipschocolateimpulse. The 14.2 sorrel gelding won his first AQHA world championship in a class known for big movers – junior trail.

“He is such a natural at the trail,” said AQHA Professional Horseman Bruce Vickery of Sanger, Texas. “He’s very careful, he has great cadence. What’s really interesting about this horse is he’s only 14.2, so (you’d think that) making his strides through the lopeovers and jogovers would be difficult, but it’s not.

“We call him 'Shaq' for a reason – he thinks he’s big. He can stretch and make it look easy. Because he’s so small he fits in all the hard things: His spins in the box are incredible, his back-throughs are always really sharp because he’s so compact. It makes it pretty fun (to ride him).

“(And his attitude,) he’s, maybe, the happiest horse alive. Really! He loves his job, loves showing, and that makes it easy.”

The judges marked Bruce and Shaq a 235 for the win: Four of the five judges scored them at the tops of their cards, the fifth had them second. The win on Shaq was the trainer’s 10th AQHA world championship.

Garry McAllister of Southbury, Connecticut, and Unfaithfully Good (owned by Wendy Ward of Seymour, Connecticut) scored a 230 to take the junior reserve.

It was a big night for Bruce, too. He qualified two horses for the junior finals – Shaq for the Reeve family of Garden City, Kansas, and Blazin Onthe Horizon for Brenda Gower of Alberta – and qualified three in the senior. He ended up winning the senior reserve world championship on Brenda Gower’s mare, She Made It Happen.

“Some of the most challenging parts of this (junior trail) pattern,” Bruce said, “were the maze at the beginning – a lot of people had difficulties with that. There again, (because of Shaq’s size) he fits really well so that part was nice.

“And the ending, coming to the end like that – the stop… sidepassing, doing the back-through and the walk out – all headed toward the end of the arena, that’s really challenging for a horse. They are thinking, ‘Let’s get out,’ and you have to think, ‘Wait.’ They have to rely on us to tell them to stay. That was definitely challenging and I was particularly thrilled with that part of my pattern: (Shaq) listened great.”

Bruce bought Shaq as a 3-year-old from AQHA Professional Horseman Suzy Jeane. The 2008 gelding is by Zips Chocolate Chip and out of Impulsed By Gold by Impulsions and was bred by Dr. Joni Hegel of Scottsdale, Arizona.

“I watched her ride him around and I just thought he had charisma,” Bruce told The American Quarter Horse Journal. “He looked crazy pleasant. And he was so natural at the poles. That’s the perfect horse to get started.

“The Reeve family had said that if I found one that reminded me of the old horse I used to show, (multiple trail world champion) What A Fancy Zippo, that they’d be interested. And he’s a lot like him, very similar to that horse – a lot of expression, fancy footwork, etc.”

Shaq might be for sale, but if he doesn’t sell, Bruce plans to continue showing him.

“He’s a senior horse next year but I don’t think he’ll have any problems stepping up,” Bruce said. “I’m excited for the future for him for whoever is going to be on him. I think he’s going to be an incredible horse for a youth or an amateur.”

Bruce has been to the World Show every year since 1993, and won his first world championship in 1995, in senior western riding on Dun Some More (Do Some More-Harlan’s Duchess by Harlan). The 2013 event is the 40th World Show.

“I think everything has evolved for sure,” he said. “The quality of the horses in all our events is superior compared to back in the day, although there were some (who could compete today).

“The trail has changed so much – it’s a fancy class now and you have to have a really great horse that can manipulate itself through the obstacles.”

He added thanks to the Reeve family for their belief in him and Shaq, and a special call-out to his barn help.

“I definitely want to thank my crew tonight,” he said.  “Showing five horses in one night was crazy difficult but because of them it was doable.”

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