Trail Legend: Hot Rockin Potential

Trail Legend: Hot Rockin Potential

The versatile gelding succeeded with amateurs and with open riders.

A blonde woman wearing a white felt cowboy hat rides a sorrel horse through a trail pattern with green and white poles at the AQHA World Championship Show.

AQHA Professional Horsewoman Whitney Lagace 
Hot Rockin Potential

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By Alexis Shanes for The American Quarter Horse Journal

Elizabeth Rinder did not expect to purchase a horse at the 2008 All American Quarter Horse Congress.

She also did not plan to be an AQHA world champion owner two years later.

Fortunately for “Libby,” who hails from Watertown, Massachusetts,, life rarely goes as anticipated. The then-youth rider had just started her search for a young prospect, and when she rode Hot Rockin Potential one night, she knew he was too good to pass up.

“It was really late, pitch black out,” Libby remembers, adding that the atmosphere at that year’s All American Quarter Horse Congress was somewhat chaotic due to the approaching end of the show. “I went out to ride him, and he couldn’t care less about the craziness. He was just so natural to ride, just so steady. It was a ton of fun.”

After Libby’s longtime trainer and friend, AQHA Professional Horsewoman Whitney Lagace of Higganum, Connecticut, rode “Sonny” a second time, Libby purchased the 2005 sorrel gelding by HH Red Rock and out of EBG Potential Hobby by Potential Investment, bred by Stephen and Stephanie Lubbers of Morrow, Ohio.

The decision paid off when Whitney showed Sonny at the 2010 AQHA World Championship Show.

“It was our first time going to the open world,” Libby says. “He’d had a great year. We were just hopeful to be in the finals. Winning it had never really crossed my mind.”

Sonny surprised Libby and Whitney by emerging from the junior trail preliminaries victorious. Their astonishment increased when Sonny was one of the last two horses standing in the arena after the finals.

Ultimately, Whitney and Sonny secured the gold trophy with a 232 score, a win Libby lists as the highlight of the gelding’s career.

“I was in the stands right behind where (Whitney) lined up on the wall,” Libby says. “They called the other horse, and her jaw just dropped. We were both just in complete and utter shock.”

Prior to winning the class at the World Show, Whitney and Sonny won junior trail at Congress. The two also won year-end open trail high-point titles in 2014 and 2015. Libby has ridden Sonny to numerous circuit championships, and World Show and year-end high-point top-10 finishes.

Sonny has earned 3,200  points (so far) in  open, amateur and youth western riding, trail, horsemanship, western pleasure, hunter under saddle and hunt seat equitation. Those winnings include trail Superiors in three divisions and 1,660 points just in open trail. He also has an open AQHA Performance Champion title.

Sonny is a natural at trail, Libby says: He almost always has his ears up when showing and hunts the poles, constantly maintaining a steady rhythm.

The gelding loves his job, so Libby and Whitney have learned to embrace tough trail courses, Libby adds.

“He definitely seems to thrive with the more challenging courses,” she says. “When the course is set really high and it’s tight, we always say, ‘That’s his course.’ ”

Trail talent aside, Sonny has a noticeably quirky but kind personality, one Libby has learned to read, she says.

“He’s a big sweetie,” Libby says. “He loves to rest his nose on you. As soon as you take him out of his stall, he’s just as lovey as can be.”

And the gelding loves his peppermints, especially before he shows.

“I’ll give him a peppermint after I put the headstall on,” Libby says. “He’ll suck on it through the ride. Sometimes, I’ll hear him crunch on it when we’re finished.”

Libby and Whitney continue to show the gelding in trail and western riding, but Sonny has a new side job: trusted mount for children.

“He has a little lead-line girl who’s 3,” Libby says. “He has always been a rock star with the little kids and loves taking care of them. I love seeing that.”

Even after more than a decade of partnership, Libby still works to take her showing to a higher level, and Sonny is always up for the challenge.

“He’s a forever horse,” Libby says. “He’ll always have a home with us, no matter what. He’s still far exceeding our expectations. It’s fun to feel like we’ve still got places to reach together as a team.”