Gabrielle Lofton and Lil Bit Western take the 2013 youth world championship in trail.
by Christine HamiltonThe American Quarter Horse Journal
Twenty-two riders lined up for the trail finals at the 2013 Built Ford Tough AQHYA World Championship Show on August 7 in Oklahoma City. That number had been whittled down from 157 qualified entries August 4 in the prelims. It took a 223 to make the finals.
It was a tough group of competitors who finally made it through the equally tough Tim “The Trail Man” Kimura course – elevated lopeovers, challenging stops and a mid-course bridge.
By the time all the placings had been called, Californian Gabrielle Lofton and Lil Bit Western and Ohioan Bailey Mierzejewski and Some Hot Potential remained in the pen, with just one point difference between them. But Gabrielle and “Critter’s” 236.5 won the class.
“It’s my first year making the finals; it’s amazing,” “Gabby” told The American Quarter Horse Journal after the awards presentation.
“The pattern was really fun to me; there were a lot of elements to it. And I know ‘Critter’ is amazing, he gets out there and is even better.
She added, “Last night, we had a pretty rough practice, and that’s how we like it. Today, I was just really worried about just showing and attacking every obstacle and riding. He’ll do the rest, I trust him so much. He did.”
Gabby was most worried about the mid-pattern bridge and walkover.
“He was stepping off the bridge in practice and I was having a hard time getting the right angle going onto it, and not hitting any of the poles. So that was probably my main concern.
But she let that go for the class, and after her go, 19th in the order, she was very happy with it.
“I didn’t watch any of the other girls or boys go. I just thought, anything could happen; the judges have their own opinions. But no matter what, I decided that I was happy with the go.”
Gabby had taken last year off from showing, concentrating on practicing at home.
“This year in January, I came out and we had a goal that we were going to show up at the (Ford Youth) World and try for the gold. We’ve done good. Every trail course, it seems like we’ve gotten better and better, and it’s paid off.
At 19, this is Gabby’s last year as a youth. She’s looking forward to showing in the amateur against her sister, Brittany, and their mother, Andrea. Brittany actually owns “Critter,” and Andrea might start showing him soon.
“Critter has the biggest personality, more than most people, I think,” Gabby said. “He loves treats, he licks like a dog, and he is like a boxer when he’s going out to the show arena – huffing his nose, walking (tough). He just has a huge personality.
“And when he’s feisty, man. He bucks!” she said with a laugh. “Like last night, he bucked in trail practice. It’s just how he is. We love him.”
Gabby’s not slowing down any after the Ford Youth World – she’s headed to the National Snaffle Bit Association World Championship Show, back to California for the Pacific Coast Quarter Horse Association Fall Classic, to the Arizona Classic and Ohio for the All American Quarter Horse Congress.
But still holding her gold trophy, all she could really think about was who she wanted to thank:
“My horse trainer (AQHA Professional Horseman Jill Gomes Newcomb) first, she’s always been there to believe in me, and my family. They back me through whatever. And Corie (Seviolo, Jill’s assistant)! Everyone who’s been there backing me. It’s been amazing.
“It’s been an amazing show and an amazing year, and I’m in shock. I want to cry but I can’t!”