By Abigail Boatwright for The American Quarter Horse Journal
Without a doubt, 2018 was Blue Kahlua’s year. Guided by AQHA Professional Horseman Chuck Briggs, the 2013 brown Appendix gelding raked in the accolades – most of all, the Lucas Oil AQHA Superhorse title. But this year, his owner, Nancy Gulick, took the reins at their first Adequan® Select World Championship Show together. Win or lose, she’s counting this show a great experience.
“Rocky” is by Chocolua and out of Exotic And Blue by Skys Blue Boy. In addition to the Superhorse title – awarded to the horse that earns the most points in three or more Level 3 events in three categories during the Lucas Oil AQHA World Championship Show – he’s a reserve world champion in junior pleasure driving; earned high-point tiles in open working hunter, progressive working hunter, pleasure driving and hunter hack; and open and amateur performance Registers of Merit.
Nancy showed Rocky a bit in hunter under saddle, but she took a back seat so Chuck could take the reins last year. This year, Nancy decided to show Rocky herself. She wasn’t sure how they’d mesh so they’ve been taking it slowly. Fortunately, he’s been a great fit.
“We’ve been very pleasantly surprised,” Nancy says. “He knows his job, he doesn't care when I miss and he's been really good.”
The pair started with hunter hack and pleasure driving, but after they did so well at the Sun Circuit, their first show together, Chuck suggested she also show in working hunter at the same show.
“I was like, ‘Do I get to practice?’ because I hadn’t even done a full course with him yet,” Nancy says with a laugh.
They qualified for the Adequan® Select World in hunter hack at a show in Kentucky, and at the next show, they qualified in working hunter. Chuck suggested they try equitation over fences the next day, even though Nancy hadn’t ever done a rollback turn. But turn she did – the pair qualified in equitation over fences as well.
Leading up to the Adequan® Select World, Nancy and Rocky prepped with a “boot camp,” and she’s excited about competing at the show. This is her third trip to Select World, and this time, with Rocky, she sees it as a year to build on and gain experience.
“Especially in the hunters, everyone's really supportive of each other,” Nancy says. “Here at Select, anyone, if they have the great ride of the day, can be world champion. We all know that. So we're all very supportive of, if you have a good ride today, congratulations. It's a real good community.”
Nancy loves Rocky’s personality. She says he reminds her of his sire, Chocolua, whom she also owns.
“He tried really hard,” Nancy says. “And it’s funny, because he’s totally in love with Chuck. They have a really good bond. But Rocky is just kind of a big puppy dog.”
Part of why Rocky excels is due to his people-pleasing attitude, says Nancy. But he knows when it’s time to show.
“He has that show presence,” Nancy says. “He knows when it’s time to go into the ring, when it’s time to put on his ‘A’ game.”
Nancy and Rocky were reserve world champions in pleasure driving, seventh in equitation over fences and 11th in hunter hack, and they made the finals in working hunter.