Sunday marked lots of smiles, high fives and hugs as Equestrians With Disabilities classes were completed at the 2021 All American Quarter Horse Congress and the start of Longe Line events for the coming week. Small Fry competitors have wrap up their classes on Monday with Hunter Under Saddle and Hunt Seat Equitation, while over fences classes continued

Autumn Zundel: Making the Complete Comeback As A Congress Champion

Autumn Zundel was an active AQHYA youth competitor until January of 2019, when she was diagnosed with a sternal benign tumor in her chest cavity. During her operation, she went into hemorrhagic shock, and was without oxygen for 30 minutes. As a result, Autumn faced four months of rehab, where she had to learn how to do everything again.

“She remembered Trail, so when she was in rehab learning to walk, we would set up Trail patterns for her to go through,” noted her mother. “We would put wheelchairs together for a gate, and set up other obstacles for her.”

Today, Autumn became a first-time Congress and NSBA champion in the Supported division of EWD Walk Trot/Jog Trail. She ambitiously showed three horses in the Trail class, placing first with Jamaica Me Lazy, third with Dee Lighted Version and eighth with Ruby Due Good. “I really like the serpentines, they are fun to go through,” Autumn said. “I like the boxes too, but sometimes you can’t do them too many times with the horses or they start to get tired of them. I’m getting to show four horses this weekend. Mango was really great in the Trail pattern today.”

AnneDee Watkins Wins EWD Independent Trail

AnneDee had only worked with her horse, Zippos Golden Sonnet, for about eight weeks, but she was a quick study of her new horse, and the duo navigated the EWD Independent Trail class to be named Congress and NSBA champions.

“We live in South Carolina, so I get to go to the barn at Reid Thomas Performance Horses about once a month and ride,” AnneDee said. “I was a little nervous about doing the back-through L in the pattern, but I really liked the circle, because she’s really good at that.”

AnneDee began riding eight years ago. She has been competing in EWD classes for the past two years and last year attended the NSBA World Championship Show. The 15 year old has no lower field of vision, and as a result needs assistance when she rides. “Having the EWD classes gives AnneDee goals to work toward when she rides,” noted her mother, Stacey.

“AnneDee said that she wanted to be an advocate for people with disabilities and she would like to see these classes at many more shows, including at the AQHYA World Show. Hunter Under Saddle and Equitation are her favorite classes, but she’s not able to compete in them since there is not a Supported division for them. She also shows pigs and cows, and there is no EWD division at all in those shows.”
The EWD classes are important to the Watkins family. “These classes at the Congress mean everything to us,” Stacey said. “AnneDee is happiest doing this. When she’s riding or competing, she doesn’t have a disability, she’s just showing. Her goal for the Congress was to score better than a 220, and she got a 222.5 with Mango. Our whole family, from my husband Dave to our sons Aaron and Aiden, as well as lots of family and friends, support AnneDee.”

Michigan Native Saige Morgan Wins EWD Independent Equitation

Saige Morgan began showing at age seven on her 4-H and middle school equestrian teams, and started competing in EWD classes in 2019. On Sunday, Saige and Docs Smokey PS won the EWD Independent Hunt Seat Equitation.

“Saige has a cognitive impairment, and working with the horses has given her a remarkable confidence, noted her mother.

“She feels empowered, and she’s met so many people and made so many friends. We received our biggest help from our trainer, Robin Biebuyck, because she has been so encouraging and so positive when working with Saige.

It’s In The Genes For EWD Western Pleasure Champions Lorretta Bowser

Lorretta Bowser and her horse, Thepreachersdaughter, were named the Congress and NSBA champions in EWD Walk Jog Independent Western Pleasure. Lorretta comes from a long line of horse lovers. Her mother, Gretta Graceland, has been an active horse show exhibitor and her grandmother, Lorretta Magnuson, owned the late AQHA stallion The Rock and has raised numerous champion horses.

“Little Lorretta” as she is known, went through chemotherapy and radiation to fight a tumor in her brain. “The treatments have left me with some disabilities, but I have been clear for one year now,” Lorretta said.

Lorretta showed in EWD Independent Walk Jog Western Pleasure at the NSBA World Championship Show in August, but she and trainer Jodie Ploog decided to step up their game with a new horse. Lorretta showed five year old mare Thepreachersdaughter, known as Alena, who is by her grandmother’s stallion, The Rock. “We raised her, so it’s even more special,” Lorretta said.

“This is just the first time I’ve shown Alena,” Lorretta said. “It’s only the second or third time I’ve got to ride her, and it’s her first time to even be shown. I was nervous about figuring out how she would feel, but she was so good. This was such a last-minute decision that my mom loaned me her show vest and top to wear.”

Sara Grace Carowick Becomes Double Congress Champion

Sara Grace Carowick had a very busy day, showing two different horses to Congress and NSBA championships in EWD events. She showed Flying Legacy to win the EWD Walk Trot Hunter Under Saddle, Independent class, and then showed Socks Gone Wild to win the EWD Walk/Jog Horsemanship, Independent class.

The 23 year old has short-term memory loss, two forms of epilepsy, attention deficit disorder, and can suffer from bouts of depression and anxiety. “There are times that because of how I’m feeling, I can’t go ride for days at a time,” Sara said. “I had always wanted a horse, and in 2016 I rode one for the first time. It’s helped me a lot ever since. In fact I would say it changed my life.”

Sara talked about the importance of the EWD classes at the Congress. “It makes everyone’s dreams come true to be able to show here,” she said. “It honestly makes us feel like we are a part of normal life to get to show at the largest horse show in the world. I always say that we are not disabled, we’re just different. It may take us a little longer when we try to learn something, and that’s OK. We just learn differently, no differently that how horses can be trained differently.

Cara’s win in the Hunter Under Saddle was a long time dream. “The English classes are my favorite, and it’s been my biggest dream to win this class at the Congress,” she said. “We worked out butts off to do this. I always wanted a true Hunter horse. Cindy Novak found Legend, and I’ve had him for two years. My goal was to do better at the Congress, and to create even more of a bond with my horses, and I did that.”

Cara admits that Western isn’t her favorite way to ride, but she still showed Socks Gone Wild to the EWD Walk Jog Independent Horsemanship win. “We kind of redeemed ourselves, because we had shown at the Palomino World Show and it wasn’t that good. Cooper was really good for me,” Cara said.

You can bet that Cara and her trainer, Tabitha Sargent, are already planning their 2022 goals. “Every year after the Congress, we set new goals.

Puppy In Her Sights: Lilly Jones

For Lilly Jones and Chilln Ona Dirt Road, Small Fry Trail was their favorite class going into the Congress, and after they won their second 2021 Congress and NSBA championship in the event, it’s safe to say the class is still their favorite.

With a smile from ear to ear, Lilly quickly reminded her parents, Chris and Melissa Jones, that the challenge still stands – if she wins the Congress All Around Small Fry title, she will get a puppy from the Jones’ training customer and friend, Jessica Baird Divine and her husband Shane, who raise golden retrievers. Lilly’s mother, Melissa, finally made it out of the Atlanta airport after having cancelled flights, in time to cheer Lilly on in the class.

First Congress, First Champion Title for Ella Herman

Ella Herman’s horse, Vital Signs R Stable, was chilling in the broodmare field until December of 2020, when she was recruited to become Ella’s Small Fry horse. “She was really good,” Ella said. “She is really sweet. When I went to go show her, they told me to just let her do her thing. It feels really good to be a Congress champion!”

Ella shows horses with her family. Her father, Dr. Robert Herman, has been active in the Non-Pro Longe Line pen as well as in under saddle classes. “I’m so proud of Ella,” Robert said. “She has worked so hard for this. Her horse is by Good I Will Be and was raised by Kathy Franks.”

Ella also showed in Showmanship with RR Its Suddenly Nite, earning eighth, and she and ‘Lucy’ also made the finals in Small Fry Horsemanship.

Make N Money Makes More Money In Non-Pro Longe Line

Heather Caplinger’s sorrel gelding, Make N Money, has had a big layout since the NSBA World Championship Show in August, but he came back to work for the Non-Pro Western Yearling Longe Line and picked right back up where he left off. Heather and ‘Cash’ were named the champions in the class, earning $1,413.02 for the Congress win and an additional $504.03 in the Southern Belle Breeders portion of the class.

“We haven’t done anything with Cash since the NSBA World Show but turn him out,” Heather said. “He’s going through a growth spurt, so we just took it easy with him. He really doesn’t like being a Longe Line horse that well, but he does it to please his momma. He’s going to be a rider.”

The win marked a successful beginning for the 2021 Congress for Heather and her husband, Brett. Watch for Make N Money in the Open Western Longe Line class on Monday.

Other champions on Sunday included JS Billie, shown by Abbie Gibson for Donna Gibson, Level 1 Working Hunter; Huntin For A Star, Lainie DeBoer for Coutney Vutova, Progressive Working Hunter; Strutin To The Blues, Chuck Briggs for Rodger Call, Junior Working Hunter; DGS Dont Tell Tales, Pam Stubbs, Amateur Select Working Hunter; The Blk List, Abigail Hardy, Youth Working Hunter 14-18;  Windblown, Annabelle Brown, Youth Working Hunter 13 & Under; Suitable Impression, Jenna Striffler, Open Working Hunter Classic; Better Buy The Minit, Morgan Ratkowski, Non-Pro Working Hunter Derby. Winning Open Performance Halter Mares was Exquisite Rumerz, owned and shown by Robert Johnson. 

The All American Quarter Horse Congress continues through Sunday, October 24. To view the complete show schedule, show results or the live video feed, please visit www.quarterhorsecongress.com.