Achieving Their Goals

Exhibitors find success and camaraderie at the 2017 Nutrena East AQHA Level 1 Championships in Raleigh, North Carolina.

Level 1 and Rookie exhibitors are achieving their goals at the 2017 Nutrena East AQHA Level 1 Championships in Raleigh, North Carolina, but they are also finding success in camaraderie and friendship.

Millie Corder of Gainesville, Georgia, was one of the show’s big winners, taking home the halter champion of champions title AND the reserve champion of champions title.

“I’ve been showing halter quite a while,” Millie says. “But I’ve been off for a while. I’ve got two artificial hips so I came back to the Quarters that I love. I started showing him in December and her last July.”

“Him” is My Daddyis Cool, a 2011 bay gelding by Very Cool and out of Give Her The Tiera by Sierra Te. He was bred by Kelli Jensen of Freeland, Michigan, and at Nutrena East, Millie won aged geldings with him.

“Her” is Believe Im The One, a 2012 sorrel mare by Unbelievable and out of Let Me Enlighten You by Enlightened. The mare was bred and is owned by Pam A. Wilson of Gainesville, Millie’s longtime friend and trainer. Millie leases the mare she showed to the aged mares championship.

But then came a dilemma: How would Millie show both horses in the champion of champions drive?

“We came prepared just in case,” Millie says.

Longtime friend Stacy Helton of Gainesville was also at the show, riding her own horse, Presidetial Invite, to ninth place in Level 1 hunter under saddle.

“She has showed these horses all year and we’ve been friends a really long time,” Stacy says. “She couldn’t show both horses if she won, so I got the pleasure of leading this beautiful horse.”

Millie led the gelding to the reserve title, and Stacy picked up the champion of champion trophies for her with the mare.

“It was a great day for all of us,” Pam says.

Millie says during the drive, she tried to keep her focus on her own horse.

“But I kept looking over at the mare,” Millie says. “I wanted to make sure she’s doing good.”

In Level 1 Select hunter under saddle, Mary Wilkosz exited with a silver trophy – an obviously emotional win for the rider from Free Soil, Michigan.

“I keep him at home, and I get coached at the shows,” Mary says. “I don’t know if he’s riding good until I get to the show.”

At shows, Mary and Moxie Hot look for coaching from Michelle Warda of Metamora, Michigan.

“I say, ‘Michelle, how does he look?’” she says of the horse she has owned for four years.

“Boogie” is a 2008 sorrel gelding by Hot N Blazing and out of Surprise Me Moxie by Mr Moxie Man. He was bred by Alice W. Holmes of Goldsby, Oklahoma.

“He stopped to itch his leg coming out of the lope,” Mary says ruefully after the class. “They asked for the trot, and he literally itched his nose on his leg. I kicked him forward and said, ‘We gotta go.’

“It was an amazing ride.”

Kathy Lewis-Payne of Fayetteville, West Virginia, achieved a personal milestone in Rookie amateur hunter under saddle.

“I’ve been practicing in walk-trot classes but this is the first time I’ve shown a canter class in my whole life,” she says. “I was so happy but at the same time I was shaking. I was so nervous, thinking, ‘Is she going all right? Am I cantering on the right lead? Am I jogging on the right diagonal?’”

Kathy arrived at the 2016 Nutrena East planning to compete on Zippo Pines For Me, a 2002 bay mare by TMF Doubles and out of Zippie Doc Two by Zippos Ace Two.

But tragedy struck.

“As we were bringing ‘Sugar’ out of the stall, she pulled a tendon so I didn’t get to show,” Kathy says. “This is my very first time to canter. I didn’t even warm her up at the canter because we were saving her. This is my first time to canter in a show.”

Kathy began riding about five years ago, learning from Larry Cross in Athens, Ohio – a 2.5-hour drive for lessons.

“Exactly five years ago today, we did our first show ever,” Kathy says. “I always wanted to win the West Virginia State Fair. And I did it my first year. I won champion in walk-jog.”

At the 2017 Nutrena East, she checked off another goal.

“My biggest dream ever in my whole life was to come and do this championship show,” she says.

And she has already set another goal, she says.

“My next goal is to make it better so I’m a better rider and not a bundle of nerves.”