Redbud Spectacular: May 31

Crutches and a sore foot didn't stop Gena Johnson from showing at the 2015 Redbud Spectacular.

The American Quarter Horse Journal

Gena Johnson and Magnum Yahtzee (Credit: Journal)

When I first saw Gena Johnson the morning of May 31 at the 2015 Redbud Spectacular, she was resting on a pair of crutches, her right leg in a walking boot and her cowboy boot dangling from her right hand. Thinking she'd just suffered the injury, I asked her what had happened.

"Oh, this didn't happen today," she said, laughing. "I had surgery on my foot a few months ago and I rode the first two days of the show, and that was a little too much for my foot. So I took yesterday off and am going to try it again today."

Dedication and perseverence are two words we use frequently to describe AQHA exhibitors. They ride against doctor's orders, they ride while healing from injuries or they put off getting medical attention because they're next in the go. Very little keeps them off their horses.

And while this Tioga, Texas, cowgirl wasn't riding at the Redbud against doctor's orders, she recognized that she may have pushed her recovering foot a little further than she should have. Thus, the Saturday off. But Sunday morning, she was toting her right boot and babying her foot as long as possible while waiting for the amateur go order to be posted.

After learning she was seventh in the go, Gena swapped her big plastic walking boot for her cowboy boot and crawled up on her gelding.

As Gena settled into the saddle, I wished her good luck and told her I wanted to interview her after she got done.

"Oh, you don't want to do a story on me," she said, laughing.

Laughing with her, I said, "Gena, everyone's got a story."

"Well, you're right about that," she said, as I headed to the stands to watch her go.

Hearing Gena's horse's name over the loudspeaker caught my attention. Smiling and shaking my head, I recalled the Journal staff creating a list of fun horse names during the 2014 AQHA World Championship Show, including Magnum Yahtzee, Gena's horse. There's got to be a story there, we argued. Unfortunately, we didn't have a chance to talk to Gena at the World Show.

Now was my chance and this was her story.

By Magnum Chic Dream and out of Gene's old show mare, Safeways Pardee who is by The Safeway, Magnum Yahtzee was foaled in 2008.

" 'Yahtzee' is a homebred," Gena said proudly.

So, she actually named him Yahtzee?

"I grew up in northwest Montana," she explained. "When I moved away from home, I would still talk to my dad on the phone every day. And when you talk every day, there aren't a lot of things you can talk about. So we started playing Yahtzee over the phone."

Gena estimates that she and her dad played more than 500 games of telephone Yahtzee over the years.

"So when I decided to breed my mare to 'Magnum,' " I told Dad that I wanted to name the foal Yahtzee because of the game we played over the phone," Gena said.

Doing her own training, Gena started prepping Yahtzee for reining, but then she got a little burned out and decided that AQHA's new ranch riding class might be fun.

"I grew up on a ranch in northwest Montana and ranch riding was something I did every day from the age of 4 on," she said. "And don't ever tell Julie Voge (her trainer) that you might want to try something, because she will hook you up immediately."

Completely in love with ranch riding, Gena and Yahztee finish fourth in the amateur at the 2014 World Show and third in the Level 2.

Meanwhile, at the 2015 Redbud, the day's class results weren't posted when I got this story written. However, Gena knew she had made a bobble or two and didn't expect to place very high in the class. But that didn't dampen her desire to continue in ranch riding.

"When I make a mistake, it just makes me want to go back to the show pen again and make sure I don't make that mistake again," she said. "Ranch riding has brought me back to the show pen."

Journal Coverage of the Redbud Spectacular

  • June 1 – The 2015 Redbud Spectacular checks in with more than 15,000 entries and millions in revenue for the Oklahoma City economy.
  • May 31 – Crutches and a sore foot didn't stop Gena Johnson from showing at the 2015 Redbud Spectacular.
  • Jerry Wells Halter Futurity – Kathy Willams and Intended Too win the best-of-show title at the 2015 Jerry Wells Memorial Scholarship Futurity in Oklahoma City.