Home-Trained Win

Level 1 amateur Teresa Benes wins ranch riding at the AQHA Central Level 1 Championships on a horse she started herself.

Teresa Benes rides her mare Touch Of Little Lena to the Level 1 amateur championship in ranch riding at the AQHA Central Level 1 Championships in Oklahoma City.

Teresa Benes rides her mare Touch Of Little Lena to the Level 1 amateur championship in ranch riding at the AQHA Central Level 1 Championships in Oklahoma City. (Larri Jo Starkey photo)

For the past year, Teresa Benes of Valparaiso, Nebraska, has been concentrating on ranch riding with her mare, Touch Of Little Lena.

That hard work showed April 10 when Teresa and “Jules” won Level 1 amateur ranch riding at the AQHA Central Level 1 Championships in Oklahoma City.

“I’ve known her since she was a baby,” Teresa said. “Her mom was my 4-H horse, and I started her as a project horse for Nebraska 4-H. She’s quirky, but I like that about her.”

Touch of Little Lena is a 2012 sorrel mare by Lenas Touch Midnight and out of Shasta Sonny Doll by Sonny Bar Hill. She was bred by Jerry L. Potter of Valparaiso, and Teresa bought her in February 2017.

Teresa’s smooth ride through the Level 1 ranch riding scored a 228 at the AQHA Central – good enough for the win.

“It was the best ride I’ve ever had,” Teresa said. “It’s hard to remember because it goes so fast. She wasn’t trying to get ahead of me, and we just went through it and had fun.”

Teresa, 20, is taking a gap year after high school and has already qualified for the 2018 Lucas Oil AQHA World Championship Show. Her trainer, Serena Siebrandt of Clarkson, Nebraska, urged Teresa to compete at the AQHA Central. Teresa researched the event and took the plunge.

Teresa and Julies also won B&W Rookie amateur reining and were second in Level 1 amateur reining.

“She’s a very natural ranch riding horse,” Teresa said. “A lot of it is all her. I’m just kinda up for the ride. She’ll probably get a little extra grain and hay tonight. Maybe some alfalfa. Usually alfalfa is only for breakfast, but she might get some tonight.”

For the Level 1 ranch riding win, Teresa received a gold trophy, an ARC belt buckle, a neck wreath and a top-10 patch. For the B&W Rookie win, she received an ARC belt buckle, an acrylic trophy, a neck wreath and a top-10 patch.

The AQHA Central continues through April 14. For more on the show, including results, go to www.aqha.com/level1championships.