Cowboys R Hot and Paige A. Stopperich
by Jody ReynoldsThe American Quarter Horse Journal
Seventeen-year-old Paige Stopperich has a great attitude about the Built Ford Tough AQHYA World Championship Show:
“The atmosphere at the Youth World is so intense because everyone wants to do really well. But then, the parade of teams is a realization that this is really all just about trying your best, having fun and meeting new people.”
She couldn’t have been more thrilled August 8 during the hunt seat equitation finals, when she and one of her best friends, Rachel Kolb, were the last two names to be called.
“Standing out there with one of my best friends, just us two in the arena, was a really great feeling,” she said. “We’ve been showing a lot this year together. She’s an incredible rider. She did a really nice job, too.”
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The Venetia, Pennsylvania, rider was all smiles and tears when she was named hunt seat equitation world champion with her family’s 2007 chestnut gelding, Cowboys R Hot.
“I’ve worked really hard all year for this,” she beamed. “This is his best class and my best class. I just wanted to go in and do the very best I could.”
Paige and “Larry” qualified for the 2013 Ford Youth World in hunter under saddle, hunt seat equitation and performance halter geldings.
“I had the hunter under saddle finals right before hunt seat eq, so I came out of that and went straight into equitation mode,” she recalled. “He gave me his all, and I couldn’t have asked for him to be any better.”
The finals pattern was tricky, to say the least, with a good portion of it performed without irons.
“I wanted to make sure that when I did my posting without irons, I looked confident and it was strong,” she said. “I focused on hitting all my marks. He did everything I asked him to. I could trust him, and he carried me through it.”
The judges asked for a counter canter during rail work. It was a fairly new maneuver to Paige.
“In the prelims on the rail, they had us do a counter counter,” she said. “That was the first time I’d ever done it. But he’s just really mellow on the rail, so I let him do his own thing. Last night, we gave him a little break, then we came back in the middle of the night and practiced. This morning, we practiced again. I felt really well prepared going into it.”
Paige and Larry have been a team for about three years. With help from AQHA Professional Horseman Michael Colvin and Clint Ainsworth, they taught Larry the all-around events.
Paige looks forward to her senior year of high school and coming back to the Youth World next year.
“I love seeing all my friends from all over the place,” she said. “We’re not usually all at the same show. It’s nice to get to caught up with everyone.”