August 25, 2010
At the 2005 AQHA Select World Championship Show, three fearless riders and their talented horses combined for an unforgettable jumping finals.
By Honi Roberts in The American Quarter Horse Journal
The championship jumping class is usually one of the last at the AQHA Select World Championship Show. The crowds thin as the clock ticks, and people head home. But stalwart fans who stayed to watch the finals in 2005 were thrilled when a jump-off became necessary between three horse-and-rider teams, all either previous world champions or high-point horses. The rides that followed were not to be forgotten.
Ellen Williams of Bon Aqua, Tennessee, was first to go aboard her great jumping mare Earth To Wanda, the 2004 Select world champion. When Ellen, whose background includes steeplechasing and eventing, purchased the pretty bay in 1998, Earth To Wanda (by Earth Station (TB) and out of Wanda Charge) was her first American Quarter Horse.
“I’d just retired my Thoroughbred,” Ellen recalled. “A dear friend who showed Quarter Horses always told me what great fun the shows were and how versatile the horses are. I liked Earth To Wanda the instant I saw her. She was game and would jump anything.”
Ellen and Earth To Wanda covered the jump-off course in :34.271 seconds, a clean round, with no faults.
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Next came Candace Hoke and her homebred mare Cause To Profit, the reserve Select world champion jumpers in 2003 and 2004. Nicknamed “Mercedes,” the eye-catching dun mare is by Wonder Cause and out of Queens Cedar.
“As a baby, Mercedes jumped anything in front of her,” Candace recalled. “She was born wanting to jump. Mercedes is 15.2 (hands tall), but her huge stride makes up for it. In tight turns, she is so flexible that I can almost roll her back in the air.”
Candace entered the arena knowing she was up against top-notch competitors.
“She was doing great, and we were clean over the course, when we had a long run to the far end of the arena,” Candace said. “She could fly like a barrel horse and did. Just before the final jump, she had a left-hand turn, which I balanced with my right-hand rein, when the left rein suddenly popped off. Our brand-new rein broke before the final jump.
Former college basketball player Mark Wattier has discovered a new sport — watch him in action at the 2009 Select World Show.
“I immediately reached forward to try to hook my finger into the D-ring of her bit and missed. I could feel her slow and think, ‘What are you doing?’ I knew the rules required that we keep moving forward, so I kicked some encouragement. On my second try, I caught the D-ring and pulled her to face the jump. She just sat back on her hocks and jumped from a standstill. We flew over that last fence! I could hear the crowd cheer, but I knew that my mare was wondering why I was all but sitting on her head.”
Their time was :35.384 – not good enough for first, but their gutsy performance could earn them a second. It all depended on the third horse-and-rider team.
Dr. April Speyer and her 20-year-old gelding, Truck A Buck by Billy Ringo (TB) and out of Taco’s Velvet, were seasoned competitors. In 1998, she and her daughter, Sarah Gragert, rode Truck A Buck to AQHA high-point titles in amateur, youth and open jumping.
“In the jump-off, we knew that we had to be quick, clean and safe,” April said. “If we beat Ellen’s time, it would be because our turns were tighter. We went all out to win.”
They finished the course in :29.191 seconds, a clean round. In a jump-off memorable by three stellar performances, April Speyer and Truck A Buck earned the 2005 Select World championship in jumping, with Ellen and Earth To Wanda taking the reserve.
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During the years that followed, all three teams continued their winning ways in jumping. Candace and Cause To Profit were the 2007 Select reserve world champions.
Ellen and Earth To Wanda were the 2006 Select reserve world champions, then won the Select world championship in 2007 and 2008. In 2009, Ellen pulled the mare’s shoes prior to breeding her to another jumping superstar, Dr Hollywood DVM.
The 2005 Select world champions, Dr. April Speyer and Truck A Buck, repeated their win in 2006, and followed it up with a reserve world championship in 2009. The plucky gelding – now 25 – refuses to retire. Instead, he’s qualified for this month’s Adequan Select World Championship Show.