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November 7-22, 2014, Oklahoma City
Journal at the World

November 14, 2013

40 Years of AQHA World Show Memories

The Journal started the conversation with all-around amateurs Karen Evans Mundy and Nancy Murfin-Moxley ... they took it from there.

By Christine Hamilton
The American Quarter Horse Journal

The first was in Louisville, Kentucky, in 1974, sponsored by Ponderosa System Inc. steakhouse chain. It was the first of AQHA’s world shows that required competitors to earn qualifying points to enter, and there were no amateur classes. Just four days long, there were 692 entries and $111,200 in prize money awarded and 44 world champions crowned.

In Oklahoma City since 1976, the 2013 World Show is now 15 days long with more than 3,500 entries, $2.6 million in cash and prizes, and 97 open and amateur world titles on the line.

One of the most exciting World Show traditions is the Farnam All-Around Amateur competition, going to the top amateur exhibitor and horse earning the most points during the World Show. First held in 1983, Lu Ann Paul of Garrettsville, Ohio, won it with Melody Zipper (Zippo Pine Bar-Jaguar Sue by King Jaguar).

The American Quarter Horse Journal rounded up two people at the World Show this year who remember that win, and an award that they themselves won in later years. Nancy Murfin Moxley of Wichita, Kansas, won in 1988 and 1989 with her black mare Wells Sport Model; and Karen Evans Mundy of Cedar Hill, Tennessee, won it eight times with five different horses.

“It never gets old,” they both said, about competing at the World Show. Read on for more of their stories. (Look in the January Journal digital edition for more of their conversation.) And keep an eye out for more shared memories in the Journal’s World Show coverage.

Nancy Murfin Moxley and Karen Evans Mundy

Nancy Murfin Moxley and Karen Evans Mundy recall their AQHA All-Around Amateur wins, which, between the two, total 10. (Journal photo)

Journal: What made you interested in trying to win the all-around amateur title at the World Show?

Karen: I remember being in total awe of (Lu Ann). She was my first idol. I remember watching that award and wanting that. I wanted to win that award. I remember watching Nancy; she was the first repeat winner, and she was the same way. I just wanted to win that title so bad!

Nancy: My sister (Barbara Murphy) won the amateur all-around in 1985. When we came down here, we didn’t have all the classes we have now … we only had four or five classes (you could show in) ... I was so proud of my sister and that was my goal, I wanted to win the all-around. That year, I won the hunter under saddle and she won the all-around. ... I didn’t want to just ride in one event; I wanted to keep trying new things … It was fun to try new classes. ... Because if I messed up that one class, I had other chances.

Journal: How were the classes different?

Karen: I remember they didn’t have the showmanship … I know they didn’t have the eq over for a while, because I remember in 1992, the first year I won the all-around, they didn’t have equitation over fences that year …

Nancy: In 1982, I was in youth … I remember crying when showmanship was over, December 31, Tulsa, Oklahoma, because I wouldn’t ever get to do the showmanship again – I was so upset!

Karen: Because they didn’t offer it in amateur yet.

Nancy: So in 1988, they added it. Well, I had a horse that didn’t really know how to do it, and that year, I was fortunate, I won showmanship (with Wells Sport Model), and there were 88 showmanship contestants, and she really didn’t know it … And from then on, they kept adding classes.

Journal: Tell us about your equine partners. What kind of a horse did it take to win the all-around?

Karen: The first one I won on was Hes A Honkey Tonk Man (1992), I actually bought him as a 4-year-old. He had already been started and going. He was quite versatile – I qualified him in … 10 events. He was an easy horse.

The other horses I showed and won with were horses I bought as weanlings or yearlings. I had them from the start. They were all different. All In Silver (1994, 1995) was, at moments, a little tough. As he got older, he was quite easy. The next one, Play My Song (1999, 2000), was an Engergizer Bunny; he liked to go and go and go and he didn’t particularly like the rail work, so you had to have him particularly tired for that. He was a great pattern horse and great over fences … Gifted Circle (2002) … he was one of those that was ill to be around – he would bite at you – but as soon as you got on his back, he was easy!

Ask Me For Details (2003, 2004) I actually still own. ... I think he was probably my once-in-a-lifetime horse … I have leased him out so other kids can have the opportunity to learn on him. He was one of those horses who knew his job, the sweetest, kindest horse that I’ve ever had and still is. Always had his ears up, never, ever lays his ears back for anything. They all were special in their own right, that’s for sure.

Nancy: Wells Sport Model got me started, a black mare. I bought her as a 4-year-old, and she was just doing the under saddle and we started doing events. She had a lot of energy … and that’s probably why I started doing the all-around – it took all day to wear her out! … She got better with time. Jeff Mellott, my trainer, put in many hours on her and it paid off. I won eight different world championships with her in seven different events.

Journal: Is there a fashion trend that you are glad is gone?

Nancy: Taco hats!

Karen: Rust breeches. But they might be coming back in.

Nancy: In 1985, I won at Congress in junior hunter under saddle, and I braided my horse with rubber bands. ... I didn’t know how to braid. So I just braided little tiny braids with rubber bands at the end and I rolled them up. She looked like a carousel horse. To top it off, I put orange, well, rust yarn around pom-poms to match my breeches. And she had this cresty, old neck. I look at those pictures now and … I won looking like that!

Journal: What was your closest tack change?

Karen: I remember coming out of either showmanship or horsemanship, but I know my horse was banded and the next class was pleasure driving. And I was determined to have my horse braided … We came out and we had three different people braiding the horse in the warm-up arena while I went and changed … And my husband … it was such a tight change, and the ring guys said we’ll work with you … and it was getting tight. And my husband (Don) said, “You know what? If it makes a difference, I’ll just fake a heart-attack and lay down out there so they’ll have to wait. ... You are not missing that class! So I’ll fake a heart attack if I have to.” I said, “OK, thanks, honey!”

Journal: Is there a moment you both especially remember?

Karen: Well, I don’t know if this falls under that, but we need to share this. One year, when we were competing … it was a class Nancy and I were in together. And it was a little later in our careers, and we were both the older girls in the class. I remember they got down to third and it wasn’t Nancy or I, and we got together and were like, “Yes! The older girls are beating the young ones! We still got it!”

Nancy: A feather in our caps!

Journal: Has the ambiance of the show changed at all? Was it as great of an achievement then as it is now?

Karen: Absolutely. This has always been the pinnacle of horse shows. You work all year to qualify and, in my opinion, it’s the best of the best. I love this horse show because it seems very laid back. Even though it’s the World Show and there’s a lot at stake and you’ve worked hard to get here all year, but it’s still laid back … I just think, from the beginning, it was the pinnacle of horse shows that I wanted to be a part of and win.

Nancy: I just look forward to the World Show, you worked hard all year round to come down here and be at your best. You look forward to seeing your family and friends and competing, and it is a more laid back environment. We were great friends out back, and we both want to win. But when we come back out, we’re still great friends.