This past weekend and Monday may have felt like an episode of survivor with an “outwit, outlast” mentality, as some of the largest classes of the show took place as well as the Congress Super Sale. The Way To Go caught up with some of the class winners..

Putting Show in Showmanship

JoJo Roberson and Greedy Ghost won the first of what would be two Congress championships on Saturday in Youth 15-18 Showmanship. “I’ve been showing Greedy since he was four, and he’s eight now,” JoJo said.

“He started out as a Reiner but he got hurt when he was younger. He’s by Smart Spook. We do Showmanship, Horsemanship and Ranch Riding. I don’t even have the words for this win, because it’s our first one.

“I just got off a plane at midnight to get her, and I didn’t even know if I would make it. In the finals, I just wanted to stay calm and try to be soft but go for it.”

Isabella D’Onofrio had to set a high bar in the Youth 12-14 Showmanship, because she was very first to go in the order with her horse Nearly Chocolate. They were third in AQHA and won the NSBA portion of the class.

“There was an extended trot and you had to extend for three corners and then slow down and come back to the judge, so we really had to amp it up for that,” Isabella said.

“Curly is like a lap dog. He will be in your face all the time. I taught him Showmanship too. He is by Huntin For Chocolate. We’ve won three NSBA championships at the Congress, and this is our second in Showmanship. Showmanship is probably my favorite class.”

In the Youth 11 & Under Showmanship, Kaylyn Krutchten and Slipmeazip earned both the NSBA and AQHA top spots. “MJ’s mother was my sister’s horse, so we kind of have a family connection,” Kaylyn said. “We’ve been together since June of 2017. He loves mints and applesauce.

“I’ve shown at the Congress in 2015, 2017 and 2018, and this is my first Congress win. Our pattern had a walk and trot on a curve, and I especially liked our back, and our walk to the judge was really nice and straight. I think we’re going to celebrate with an apple dumpling!”

Western Winners

Olivia Mayhew and Moonlitesaturdaynite rode in their split and the finals of Level 1 Youth Western Pleasure 14-18 to win the AQHA and NSBA portions of the class. “We call him Captain,” she said.

“We got him a little over a year ago in August. He is so sweet and has the best personality. Our first go was really good, considering I was a little nervous. The show was going faster than we thought and I wasn’t dressed and we had to rush. In the finals, though, I was pretty calm.”

Dakota Andrie is perhaps one of the luckiest 13 year olds at the Congress. She showed her horse, Never Have I Ever, to win the Limited division of the Two Year Old Non-Pro Western Pleasure, just a few days after trainer Jay Starnes showed the mare to win the Two Year Old Western Pleasure Stakes.

“It’s pretty exciting,” Dakota said of her first Congress win. “She’s really easy, and she isn’t really mare-ish. She’s always good when I ride her. She always has a good personality.

“I was kind of nervous when I showed, but I just wanted to keep her going and not go too fast.” Dakota and “Madonna” stood at the top of the placings in front of three judges. “The judges congratulated me and told me we had a nice ride,” she said.

No Doubting Me and Brian Baker have so far won two classes at this year’s Congress, including the Maturity Open Western Pleasure and Junior Western Pleasure, and ‘NoNo’ was reserve champion in the Non-Pro Western Pleasure Maturity with his young rider, Sydnie Ochs.

“I picked him out in the NSBA Yearling Sale, and the Defreece family raised him. He just has such raw talent. Everything is so easy for him. He’s become a great youth horse for Sydnie too. Sydnie had another horse with us before him, so she learned our program.

“Even though we’re not in the same state, she makes time to come and ride. She showed him in the three year old classes last year, and she started schooling him in the bridle last year before we got to this year. Everything you see is just him. There’s nothing man-made about him.”

Kent Ray Taylor showed Snap It Send It to win the Limited division of the Three Year Old Non-Pro Western Pleasure Futurity. The pretty gray mare is a daughter of the great Snap Crackle Pop and by VS Code Red.

“I bought her just before the Sun Circuit, and she’s just been phenomenal,” Kent said. “She’s super sweet and super quiet, and she has that big front leg, a beautiful top line and her ears are always up. It’s just not hard for her. I’m fortunate to have amazing horses, and great trainers.”

Dr. Kathleen Lennon had to put down her work phone long enough to show her horse, One N Only Krymsun, in the Level 1 Amateur Western Pleasure, and she came out with the AQHA and NSBA champion trophies. The veterinarian had been busy throughout the Congress as part of Pony Express Veterinary Services throughout the show. The 12 year old gelding known as Madden is by One Hot Krymsun.

“This is unbelievable,” Kathleen said of her first Congress win. “There were a lot of great horses, so I really wanted to show off his lope. Madden is very consistent, and you can just feel his self-carriage.”

Kathleen didn’t have long to savor her win, however. “I’m sure my phone has already blown up with calls. I’ll celebrate by working on more horses,” she said.

A Good N Hot Machine and the Kail and Farley families had a busy, but productive few days at the Congress. The mare took Lana Farley to the win in Level 1 Select Amateur Western Pleasure on Sunday, and Lana’s grandson, Lane Kail, to win the Youth 12-14 Western Pleasure on Monday.

“We had Goody last year, and I showed him and was third,” Lana said. “This year, David Arche told me to sit down and have fun. She’s an amazing horse.”

Lane was also excited to win his class. “We’ve won the Triple Crown – the AQHYA World Show, the NSBA World Show and now the Congress,” Lane said.

“This is my first year at the Congress with her. She’s great. She likes black licorice and peppermints. David told me to ride with my feet, and have fun.”

To add to the family connections to the class, Lane’s mother and Lana’s daughter, Andrea Kail, won the 12-14 Western Pleasure at the Congress 21 years ago.

Mallory Menard had it ‘goin on’ in the Three Year Old Non-Pro Western Pleasure Futurity. She showed  Hes Got It Goin On to the win. “I bought him as a yearlings from Randy and Kim Haines, and they had bred him. He’s by Batt Man. We were going to show him early, and then decided to keep him back for the three year old Novice Horse events,” she said.

“He just has such a presence, a great top line and is so soft. He is also great minded. Brad Ost and Troy Lehn have already been working with him on the All Around classes and they can’t wait to start showing him. Me, I like showing the babies, because every day is different.

First Time Champion in Senior Western Riding

Anthony Montes can check an item off his bucket list after winning the AQHA and NSBA Senior Western Riding with Strawberri Wine. He showed Strawberri for owner Laina Banks.

“This has been a goal for a long time,” Anthony said. “This is such a tough class with so many great horses. Strawberri is just so exotic looking, and she swings that shoulder and just has so much rhythm and is so strong that it’s hard not to notice her.”

Strawberri has been in the barn of Anthony’s partern Bruce Vickery since she was two years old. “Bruce showed her in the open events and Bruce’s daughter Kara rode her in Youth classes before Laina bought her. My favorite thing about her is her feel – she’s just so strong and elegant.”

After going early in the large class, Anthony resisted the temptation to keep track of the scores. “I stayed away from the scores as long as I could,” he said. “You can’t do anything about it.”

In Amateur Select Western Riding, Robert Huver showed All But Sudden to win the AQHA and NSBA portions of the class. Robert is a repeat Congress Western Riding champion, having won the class in 2015. “I have a great horse and amazing trainers at Highpoint. Jason and Charlie give you the confidence that gives you a great boost, and let you know you have an amazing team behind you.

“Today we did Pattern 3, and my strategy was really to keep our forward momentum going, have clean lead changes and keep the flow of the pattern and keep the pace. I love Western Riding because the horses look so free as they move. When the stars align and they lay it out there, there is nothing better!”

Hunting Congress Champions

Stacy Huls and Dr. John Newcomb teamed up to buy Made In The South, and the team took a big win in the Limited division of the Two Year Old Open Hunter Under Saddle Stakes. By Its a Southern Thing and out of Blended Chocolate, the mare is known as Queen Quincy.

“We bought her as a yearling and we were able to start her how we wanted,” Stacy said. “She has such great rhythm, she’s big hocked and yet really soft, and she never picks her neck up. This is just her second horse show. We took her to the NSBA World Show, and she performed so well there.

“We came into this show with no expectations. She’s one of those horses you ride for 15 minutes and then go show. I trust her 100 percent, and she’s a blast to ride.”

Beth Case showed a two year old that she had bought from Nancy Sue Ryan at three days old, Al My Assets, to win the Level 1 Hunter Under Saddle. By Allocate Your Assets and out of The First Ride (by Beautiful Ride), the gelding is owned by Jud and Gail Heflin.

“Ivan grew up in my back yard,” Beth said. “He would follow me around like a dog. I really didn’t want to sell him, but the Heflins left him with me. Earlier he was really fresh, so I put him in this class really to practice. This was a happy surprise.”

Trailing To The Top

It seems like Grant Mastin has been showing at the Congress for a very long time in his short life, and many remember him as a small young man, but he is now a 15 year old linebacker for the undefeated Jackson High School football team.

“I started showing Small Fry when I was four or five, and I’m 15, so probably ten years,” he said. Grant showed Hand Made Machine to win Youth 12-14 Trail with a score of 233.5. It was his second Congress championship since he began showing here.

“We bought Carl as a three year old fresh off a farm in Kentucky,” Grant said. “He loves Trail. He has so much try. He listens so well and rides off your feet and your body. Trail is my favorite too. It’s so calculating, and you have to count every step. On any given day, anyone can win it.”

In the 15-18 Trail, 16 year old Alexia Tordoff and Blazing Hot N Gold added to their class wins by claiming the top spot. They scored 232.5 to earn the win.

“I’ve had him since 2011. We call him Rooster,” Alexia said of her gelding. “We were seventh to go, so we had quite a wait to see if our score would hold, but it did.

“When we were trotting around, he was really looking at the flowers, but we ended up doing well. I really liked our left lead lope and the serpentine. Trail is easy for him.”

The All American Quarter Horse Congress continues through Sunday, October 27.