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November 7-22, 2014, Oklahoma City

Junior Hunter Under Saddle

It doesn’t matter at which gait, Whenonlythebestwildo is the best in the world.

Whenonlythebestwildo and AQHA Professional Horseman Nancy Sue Ryan

Whenonlythebestwildo and AQHA Professional Horseman Nancy Sue Ryan work their way to the 2013 AQHA junior hunter under saddle world championship. (Journal photo)

They left little doubt as to what they were looking for.

Presiding over the junior hunter under saddle finals November 21 at the 2013 AQHA World Championship Show, the judges called for gaits such as the extended walk and extended canter, as well as a reverse at the trot. It was a fitting test for a class whose purpose is to prepare horses for over-fences classes.

“I knew coming in here there were five horses that could easily win this class,” Nancy Sue told the Journal. “There were a lot of great riders and a lot of people prepared to do well here.”

But it was Whenonlythebestwildo who fit the bill. With a long, showy stride, the 2009 brown mare marched down the center line with AQHA Professional Horseman Nancy Sue Ryan in the irons.

“She has a slow trot – it’s ground-covering,” the Nocona, Texas, trainer explained. “She has a beautiful canter and her trot is exceptional.”

The judges agreed.

By Coats N Tails and out of Fun Lovin Luke, Whenonlythebestwildo was bred by John Narmont’s Richland Ranch of Auburn, Illinois. Fun Lovin Luke, by Luke At Me, is out of Sompin Catchy, the 1990 AQHA Superhorse runner-up.

“Her grandmother, I showed and took her to (the All American Quarter Horse) Congress six times,” Nancy Sue recalled. “(Sompin Catchy) was first or second for six years (at the Congress), and was the reserve Superhorse here and was a world champion here.”

Fun Lovin Luke was never shown, due to an injury, but Nancy Sue says she gets just as much joy out of showing Sompin Catchy’s granddaughter.

Whenonlythebestwildo, known affectionately as “Big Winnie,” caught Nancy Sue’s eye as a 2-year-old. Owned at the time by Liz Flohr, Nancy Sue arranged the purchase for Big Winnie’s current owner, Barry Falkenham of Italy Cross, Nova Scotia.

With a different rider, Whenonlythebestwildo scored the 2012 Congress 3-year-old hunter under saddle win and a third-place finish in junior hunter under saddle at the 2012 AQHA World Show.

This year, Big Winnie hit her gorgeous stride with Nancy Sue in the saddle, clinching the 2013 Congress junior hunter under saddle win, then the world championship a month later.

Nancy Sue can’t speak highly enough of the new world champion.

“She’s just been a lovely mare,” Nancy Sue said. “She’s kind, she’s sweet. She loves people.”

The junior hunter under saddle win came on the heels of another score for the Ryan family, when Nancy Sue’s daughter, Courtney Suzanne Brockmueller, rode off with the amateur hunter under saddle world title last week aboard Allocate In Blue.

Seeing the changes to the hunter under saddle pen at the 2013 AQHA World Show, Nancy Sue says she’s excited for the direction the event is headed.

“A long time ago, we used to always do the hand gallop, then they quit calling for it,” Nancy Sue recalled. “(The hand gallop) is a great thing! It gets the hunter pace, so I think the hunt seat classes will continue to have a hunter pace. That’s what our horses are designed for.”

She said the same goes for the reverse of direction at the trot: “We need to do that. In my mind, if I was calling the class, I would have called it exactly like they did.”

And the real reason why these hunter under saddle changes are moving the industry in a positive direction?

“I think the horses liked it.”  

It's your moment; make it last forever! Videos of individual runs and class finals from the AQHA World Championship Show are available for purchase at www.aqha.com/mymoment. Plus, you can watch AQHA World Show video footage 24/7. This new service is optimized for Internet Explorer 10, Safari and most mobile Web browsers.