From Sun Up to Sun Down
From Sun Up to Sun Down
By Olivia Morris
Editor's note: Angela Fox was the 2018 All-Around Amateur at the Lucas Oil AQHA World Championship Show. A list of 2019 contenders appears further down this page.
When you have multiple World Show and All American Quarter Horse Congress championships under your belt, you’re used to the routine. The early mornings at the barn, afternoons riding and weekends on the road are an understood part of the gig. But throw a toddler and young horses on top of that and you’ve got Angela Fox’s world.
There are two phrases that have described Angela from day one: Horse-crazy and persistent. Growing up in Tucson with a horse-experienced mom, it was no wonder that Angela caught on early.
“My mother grew up riding horses on the East Coast,” Angela says. “Her family had racing, reining and barrel horses but when she moved to Arizona and had me, she didn’t have much involvement in horses.”
Angela stopped at nothing to convince her parents that her place was on top of a horse.
“It just seems like my whole life, I have wanted to be around horses,” Angela says. “When I was little, I was begging my parents for lessons or anything to put me around them. When I was 7 or 8, every day we would drive past a lesson barn on the way to school, and I would beg each day on the way there and back home.”
One day, her parents stopped.
“It was an English barn and I stated taking lessons right there,” Angela says. “I took very basic lessons in the beginning and one day, they asked me if I wanted to ride the horses that went faster and I, of course, took them up on that offer. I have basically been riding ever since.”
It didn’t take Angela and her parents long to realize that this was more than just an after-school hobby. Before long, Angela had a horse to call her own.
“My first horse was actually a Morgan that did saddle seat,” Angela says. “But Tom Duke was the trainer who introduced me to more competitive, all-around showing. With him, I rode Paints. I did this through my youth career and really didn’t start showing with AQHA until college.”
Angela found her niche in the all-around classes, particularly the classes that demanded more of her, such as horsemanship and showmanship.
“I’m a big fan of showmanship,” Angela says. “I have always been keen on the pattern classes. They take a lot of practice and personal motivation. I like that and I have that, so those classes work well for me.”
The Quarter Horse world came to her by way of a tragedy.
“When I was in college, I lost my good Paint mare,” Angela says. “I was terribly sad and didn’t have a horse, but a friend, Charlinda Webster, had a little Quarter Horse mare that had just turned 2 and Charlinda didn’t plan to show her. She actually shipped the mare up to me at Colorado State, where I was in college, and let me break her out.”
The whole process fascinated Angela – and challenged her.
“I watched so many videos on how to train 2-year-olds and got tips from trainers at my barn. I ended up showing showmanship with her several years later. She was really my big introduction to training and AQHA.”
Angela found a home within AQHA. Following an internship with Mike Moser, she decided to turn her career up a notch.
“I loved showing Paints when I was a kid but the people are why I’ve stuck with AQHA for so long,” Angela says. “I did an internship with Mike Moser when I was in college and was star-struck by the people, ranches and horses around Gainesville. They were all the best of the best, and after watching the way they operated, their work ethic, I knew that I wanted to be one of them.”
Hard work was never something that Angela shied away from. After college, Angela found herself in the heart of horse country working in Aubrey, Texas. She sought out the best trainers and horses to position her for success, but more than that, she bought into the process to become the best.
“After winning my first Congress championship, I really committed,” Angela says. “That win really catapulted me onto that scene and wanting to do well at the bigger shows. Since then, I have won two world championships and multiple Congress championships.”
In 2011, Angela was world champion in horsemanship with The Heat Seeker, a 2003 sorrel gelding bred by Sandy Read of Aubrey, Texas. In 2016, Angela was world champion in showmanship with The Company You Keep, a 2011 bay gelding bred by Donna Morgan of Pilot Point, Texas.
Angela’s 2016 show season looked a little different, and more challenging. She added another young member to the team, her daughter, Ellis. Never backing down from a challenge, Angela set a lofty goal.
“My most hard-fought and memorable win was winning amateur showmanship in 2016 at the Congress,” Angela says. “I had just had Ellis in July of that year, and everyone assumed that I wouldn’t be showing at the Congress. Oh, no, I was showing all right. It was a very ambitious goal to be able to pull that win off and get myself back in shape enough to do it, much less to put in the practice time you need for the big shows. It was also a priority of mine to be a good mom. That Congress could not have been more chaotic, but it was also the best show of my life. I won two classes and the all-around that year on top of a world championship. It was incredibly challenging to have a newborn at a show like that, but we got it done and it made it all the more special.”
Angela has rekindled her interest in working with younger horses at Highpoint Performance Horses with AQHA Professional Horsemen Jason Martin and Charlie Cole.
“In recent years, one thing that I’ve taken up has been showing the younger horses,” Angela says. “Since I have been riding at Highpoint, I have had the opportunity to get more involved with that phase of the horse’s career."
The challenge of leading an inexperienced horse through the intricacies of all-around competition is irresistible, she says.
“I am currently showing HP The Rusty Fox,” Angela says. “Rusty is my dream horse. He is just everything. He has exceeded all expectations so far so I can’t wait to continue with him. I see him doing big things at the big shows.”
Angela began riding at Highpoint about four years ago.
“I had been best friends with those guys for probably 15 years at that point but had always been riding with someone else,” she says. “When the opportunity to ride with them came up, I grabbed it. They are certainly the best in the world at what they do, but more than that, they are wonderful friends. They love their horses and are great to their horses, so I have had a lot of fun in the past few years. I ride every day, and I am lucky to get to spend each day at Highpoint.”
She likes being able to expand her horsemanship skills inside and out of the arena.
“Our horses get really broke there,” Angela says. “You may have a giraffe in the pasture next to you or people moving some of the greatest stallions alive up at the barn. You never know who will be at the ranch. Getting to be there daily is different than people may think, though. It’s not as intense as you could imagine. They give their clients so much freedom with their horses. They are so knowledgeable and willing to help but if you have a suggestion, they are all ears and willing to try it. I think this results in a strong, strong partnership when I enter the show pen because I do know my horse so well through that process.”
Angela has no intentions of slowing down. Despite her many roles, such as horsewoman and mother, she is still a student of the game.
“I always want to practice more,” Angela says. “There is never a time when I think ‘I just want to go to bed’ or ‘I don’t want to get up and go ride.’ I love to be successful, but more than that, I know what it takes to be successful. I have as much passion and fire to it now as I did in the beginning. I am happy to spend as many hours as I can each day. I spend time working on the big picture or tweaking a small detail, I thrive on that. I think working hard is the part that I love so much.
This article originally appeared in The American Quarter Horse Journal.