You could say that Taylor Kungle is a quick study. She bought her Ranch Riding gelding, Wimpys Major Affair, just three days ago, and rode him to win the NSBA as well as AQHA Level 1 (Novice) Amateur Ranch Riding on Monday afternoon at the All American Quarter Horse Congress..
“It’s a dream come true, and I don’t even know what to say. I’ve been riding with Steve (Meadows) every day practicing since we bought him,” Taylor said. “He has such a different feel than my other Ranch Riding horse, so I just had to work at getting things to work smooth and not overdone.”
It wasn’t the first time Taylor and ‘Fabio’ had crossed paths. “I actually tried him a year and a half ago, after he won the Senior Ranch Riding here at the Congress,” she said.
“I loved him then but I had a lot of things going on at that time so it didn’t work out. I had told my trainer, Tara Buckley, just recently that if he ever came up for sale, I wanted to buy him, and just after that Steve called and asked us if we were still interested in him.”
“Taylor worked really hard this week with Fabio,” added trainer Steve Meadows. “She basically went to boot camp since she got here to the Congress. She’s an excellent rider, and things really fell in place. I’m so happy for her.”
Karen Johnson and Gotta Hot Gun Win Third Amateur Ranch Riding Title
A familiar face stood at the top of the class in the Congress Amateur Ranch Riding. Karen Johnson and Gotta Hot Gun claimed their third Congress AQHA and NSBA Amateur Ranch Riding championship. The duo had also won the class in 2018 and 2017.
“He’s my buddy,” Karen said of the nine year old gelding known as Kangaroo. “We’ve been together for three years now and won three Congress titles.”
Showing Kangaroo isn’t without its challenges, Karen noted. “He’s really a mystery,” she said. “He can’t see out of his right eye, so he can get anxious, especially in a dark arena when there are changes in the lighting if he can’t see where he’s going. He’s such a pretty trotter and loper, and so fun to show. Doing an extended trot on him is my favorite part of any pattern.”
Karen noted that this is the first year that Ranch Riders showed with uniform patterns in AQHA events. “I really like the pattern we showed with today,” she said. “There are now 15 patterns that can be used. In some ways it’s a little disappointing, because you don’t have as much variety as we used to at the different shows.”
Robert Johnson Keeps It In The Family With Junior Ranch Riding Win
Robert Johnson noted that it was a good day for his barn. He showed A Busy Affair to the AQHA and NSBA win in Junior Ranch Riding, and earned a reserve champion award in Green Ranch Riding earlier in the day for owners Steve and Kathy Headley. That was in addition to his wife Karen’s win in the Amateur class.
Robert showed the five year old mare who is known as Lollipop. “She’s just so soft,” he said.
“She hasn’t been shown all that much,” added Steve Headley. “Robert showed her here last year, but she hasn’t been to that many shows. She just gets better and better. She just relaxes and floats across the arena.”
Known for their successful Halter horses, the Headleys are enjoying Ranch Riding as well. “We love the people,” Steve said. “We always have fun - win, lose or draw. We cheer for each other and just have a great time together.”
Rusty Dare and Gotta Rowdy Baby Earn Green Ranch Riding Title
The five year old mare Gotta Rowdy Baby represents the third generation of horses that Michelle Kimball has bred, raised and shown, and is also by her Reining stallion Spooks Gotta Whiz. Rusty Dare showed Gotta Rowdy Baby to win the AQHA and NSBA Green Ranch Riding, earning the first NSBA class of the 2019 Congress on Monday morning.
“This is my second year training with Rusty Dare,” Michelle said. “I knew him from his work with Reining horses but he’s really started to specialize in Ranch Riding. We’ve had a really good year with this mare – she’s won eight world championships and two reserves, and eight buckles and jackets.
“I hadn’t shown in ten years, and Rusty got me showing again for the first time this year at the AQHA Regional Championship Show in Oklahoma City. I’m showing at the Congress for the first time this year. I used to show hunter jumpers, so I’m used to pattern work.”
Michelle has returned to the show arena after being injured in a serious auto accident. “I’m disabled, and I can’t ride with one hand, so I show junior horses that I can ride two handed,” she explained.
Like Steve Headley, Michelle was drawn to Ranch Riding. “I love the people,” she said, “but I also love the class. I think it’s more natural, and coming from a hunter jumper background I’m used to horses moving more forward. It’s just as challenging as Reining but it’s less wear and tear both physically and mentally on the horses. It’s a lot more fun, too.”
Ranch Riding classes continue on Tuesday at the All American Quarter Horse Congress, and the show continues through October 27 at the Ohio Expo Center in Columbus, Ohio. To view complete results or connect to the live video feed, please visit www.quarterhorsecongress.com.