Who Whiz a Star?

This horse has overcome challenges to be a star.

The American Quarter Horse Journal

Emmy-Lu Marsh and Who Whiz Who. PHOTO: Journal Photo

Emmy-Lu Marsh and her horse Who Whiz Who, fondly called “Roo,” catch the attention of more than just the judges when they enter the arena to compete. The 2007 buckskin gelding’s flashy coat is easy to spot, and his outstanding performance with 17-year-old Emmy-Lu has earned the pair plenty of ribbons, but he also garners more public admiration because he lacks something most horses rely heavily on – an eye.

As a 2-year-old, before Emmy-Lu brought him home to Tallulah, Louisiana, Roo lost an eye after fighting infection due to an injury. However, his loss has never dampened his ability to compete and win in AQHA, National Reining Horse Association and Versatility Ranch Horse events.

“He doesn’t know he’s missing an eye,” Emmy-Lu says. “So don’t tell him!”

Since the injury occurred when Roo was young, he doesn’t know anything different, explains Ginny Marsh, Emmy-Lu’s mother. 

“He doesn’t even turn his head,” Ginny says. “He just trusts Emmy-Lu.”

Their success hasn’t come without overcoming some hurdles. Although he is well-adapted, Roo still gets frightened occasionally by sudden noises on his blind side. However, with Emmy-Lu at his reins, Roo is confident to take on the show ring.

“We have a bond between us,” Emmy-Lu says.

Emmy-Lu, who caught the horse-show bug when she was in fourth grade, competed in a VRH event for the first time early last summer in Fort Worth. When she received a letter announcing her qualification for the 2018 Zoetis AQHA Versatility Ranch Horse World Championships, Emmy-Lu and her mother immediately began planning to make the nine-hour trek from Louisiana to Oklahoma. 

This week, the pair has achieved success in Guthrie, Oklahoma, earning first in the VRH youth ranch riding, and second in the VRH youth ranch reining and VRH youth Conformation. Over the past six years, Emmy-Lu has shown Roo all-around, earning points in everything from ranch riding to hunt seat to showmanship.

Later this summer, Roo and Emmy-Lu will compete in ranch riding at the Built Ford Tough Youth World Championship Show in Oklahoma City.

As Emmy-Lu prepares to enter her senior year of high school in the fall, she has begun making plans for after graduation. While she hopes to attend Texas A&M University, Roo will enjoy a well-deserved partial retirement. She has considered leasing her gelding to a good youth cause, but has no intention of permanently parting with Roo.

“He will be mine forever,” Emmy-Lu says.

Emmy-Lu says she is blessed to have owned and exhibited many wonderful American Quarter Horses, but Roo holds the top position in her heart. The two have developed a unique bond as they overcome challenges and grow together in and out of the arena.
“I think she’s lucky to have that special horse,” Ginny says.

Emmy-Lu believes a horse like Roo comes once in a lifetime. Having only one eye makes Roo stand out to spectators and fellow competitors, but for Emmy-Lu, his personality defines him far more than his injury.

“Roo has just been a dream,” Emmy-Lu says.

Watch for news and results from the Zoetis VRH World, AQHA Level 1 Championships, Zoetis AQHA Ranching Heritage Challenge Finals and National Ranch and Stock Horse Alliance National Show at www.aqha.com/versatility.

AQHA News and information is a service of the American Quarter Horse Association. For more news and information, follow @AQHAnews on Twitter and visit www.aqha.com/news.