August 7, 2013
By Larri Jo StarkeyThe American Quarter Horse Journal
View larger slideshow with photo captions
The first freestyle horsemanship exhibition at the Built Ford Tough AQHYA World Championship Show featured camouflaged soldiers, Yankee doodle dandies and barefoot dreamers.
On August 7, AQHA stewards Orin Barnes, Denny Thorsell and Tracy Willis were joined by guest judge and singer-songwriter Templeton Thompson to watch riders perform horsemanship routines to music.
“It’s part of a western riding freestyle I did a few years ago at the Oregon Summer Circuit,” said Shea Graham of Cave Creek, Arizona, the winner, who entered the ring barefoot and played tag with her horse, Lets Talk About AOK, before climbing aboard bareback. At first, she used a bridle, but then she dropped it and rode lead changes, pivots and pace changes with just a wire around “Al’s” neck.
“I’ve been practicing for about three weeks,” she said, with her mother, AQHA Professional Horseman Karen Graham, who added that they practiced bridleless every day at the show, with Mrs. Pasture’s horse cookies as rewards for good behavior.
In between horsemanship routines, variety show competitors Shelby Layne Ridgway of Benton, Arkansas, and Meg Tebow of Piedmont, Oklahoma, performed for the crowd. Meanwhile, youth participants turned the former “parents-only” lounge into a “youth-only” lounge with a pizza party above the Jim Norick Arena at Oklahoma State Fair Park.
When the competition was over, while the judges marked their scorecards, teams from the Horse Bowl competition earlier in the day accepted their prizes.
The audience clapped for event sponsor Sea Ridge Farms and Patty Vatterott of Wellington, Florida, and gave a group “get-well” thumbs’ up to AQHA Second Vice President George Phillips of Sumrall, Mississippi, who is undergoing treatment for esophageal cancer.
Variety Show Results
Horse Bowl Results