A Good Choice

A Good Choice

Andy Hellqvist was looking for a good hobby – and he found one.

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By American Quarter Horse Journal editor Andrea Caudill

A few decades ago, Andy Hellqvist was looking for a hobby. He was out and about, and saw folks out riding horses. 

“It looked like a fun, relaxing hobby to do,” Andy says. “So I phoned up a local riding place, and explained that there was something a little out of the ordinary about me and explained what it was. I said I’d like to come ride a horse, and they were very agreeable and helpful when I got there. After that, I was hooked.”

He didn’t look back. The Surrey, British Columbia, resident started riding regularly, and eventually decided that he was spending so much money he might as well buy his own. 

He did, and enjoyed trail riding for several years. Eventually, his rides took him past a local show going on.

“I noticed it looked interesting, so I made it a point to make it part of my trail riding schedule,” he says. “I decided to give it a try, probably trail because I found it interesting. From there, I participated in the open shows for quite a few years.”

When his barn owner started participating in Paint breed shows, he did, too, for many years. Sadly, time took his best partner, whom he called “Sunny.”

“It was hard for me to figure out if I wanted to continue,” he says with a crack in his voice. “But I decided to give it a try, and this is what we got,” he says, nodding toward his gray gelding. 

“I’ve been very lucky to have two once-in-a-lifetime horses,” he adds. 

His gray gelding that he calls “Cash” is Blazing Hot Money, a 2006 gelding by Blazing Hot and out of the Huntin For Chocolate mare Huntin For Money. 

While the horse’s pedigree is impeccable – Blazing Hot is a leading sire in the industry, and his dam is a world champion and reserve world champion – what attracted them was the horse’s temperament.

They bought him in 2011 as a relatively green horse, but one that was undeniably kind and accepting. They now compete in all-around events, and were Top 10 in the Level 1 amateur western riding at the AQHA West Level 1 Championship Show. 

“He has a big fan club everywhere we go,” Andy says. “He’s an extremely gentle horse, he likes to have his cuddles. He expects that any time we stop, he just gravitates to people. When we stop he goes toward my trainer (for petting) until I get off and can cuddle him. That’s our routine. He’s a pretty happy horse.”

But theirs is a partnership forged in time and sweat. Cash and Andy work with trainer Mellissa Buckley. 

“Andy works hard,” she says. “He rides at least three times a week, I ride another three times a week. He is not one of those princess people, he gets up there and puts in the time.”

Andy continues to develop his skills, and is even adding new classes – he recently started riding English.

“They’re both a joy to work with,” she says.

They both have a strong support network. At the Level 1 Championship, the team includes Mellissa’s husband, Jeremy, and son, Colten, who serve as driver and groom, respectively. Fellow competitors Pia Petersen and Mary Ratz and barnmates are also there cheering him on.

Pia is showing at the Level 1 despite feeling under-the-weather during the weekend. She is showing Thumb Moxie, a brown gelding by WF Two Thumbs Up and out of the Millun Moxie Man mare RB Touch Of Moxie. Mary is exhibiting Dynamicgraceisgood, a blue roan daughter of Ima Zippo Good Bar out of the Dynamic Deluxe mare Im Dynamic Anyway. 

It was a pretty good hobby to choose, all those years ago. 

AQHA News and information is a service of the American Quarter Horse Association. For more news and information, follow @AQHAnews on Twitter and visit www.aqha.com/news.