2006 AQHA Regional Experience Region 1

Region 1 Select Amateur winner Janette Ames and newcomer Lacy Hansen talk about their horses, trainers and the 2006 AQHA Regional Experience in their region.
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Region 1 Select Amateur winner Janette Ames and newcomer Lacy Hansen talk about their horses, trainers and the 2006 AQHA Regional Experience in their region.

Region 1 Select Amateur Winner Janette Ames
Horses have been a major part of life for Janette Ames, 59, of Okanogan, Wash. Growing up in a farming family, she's ridden and shown since she was a small child, starting with ponies and saddle seat horses. As a teenager, she bought her first Quarter Horse. Today, she keeps about 10 Quarter Horses, including the mare she showed at the 2006 AQHA Regional Experience in Redmond, Ore.

Janette Ames | Photo by Cheryl James Photography

Janette Ames | Photo by Cheryl James Photography

Tell us about your horse.

Crystal Inclination, or "Matti," is a 6-year-old, 15.2-hand, sorrel mare. I'd wanted to buy her in 2002 at age two, but she wasn't for sale. I continued to watch her, and finally had the chance to buy her in 2004. In 2005, I rode her in horsemanship and some trail, and my daughter Melissa Sexton showed her in western riding. She placed 15th at the AQHA World Show and won the Mountain States Alliance All Around Select title and was reserve in the state of Washington for 2005. Matti is very friendly, willing and game for anything. She loves people and hanging out at the rail with her nose nestled in someone's hair. We show in the select classes, and her favorites are western riding, horsemanship and hunt seat equitation. We also do a little halter, showmanship, trail and hunter under saddle.

What has been your most memorable moment in the saddle?

December 20, 2000, was significant for our family--my husband, Mel, had a heart transplant. He'd been ill for years and was hospitalized for seven months waiting for his heart. While we waited, my lack of exercise worsened my scoliosis and arthritis. Eventually, I was having trouble walking. My daughter Melissa told me to get back in the saddle. I wasn't sure that I could, but she became my trainer and insisted, so I climbed into the saddle and rekindled a love that arthritis had squelched for years. After 35 years of not competing, I showed in amateur hunter under saddle at our 2001Northwest Congress, and placed second. It was a rush and a real celebration of life. The pain in my back was incredible, but I've never looked back. I love every ride and hope to ride until I'm 80.

Do you ride with a trainer?

I am blessed to have my daughter Melissa Sexton as my trainer. She trains all-around horses for all-around people, and believes that positive training techniques develop a positive horse and ultimately a positive team. Melissa lives on the ranch in Washington, and is an AQHA judge and Professional Horseman. She's qualified several horses for the AQHA World Show and has finished numerous times in the top 15. She earned a degree in equine science from Colorado State University, and as a trainer, she keeps Matti and me on track. As a daughter, she keeps her parents on track. How could you ask for more!

Tell us about your Regional Experience win.

This was my first year to attend the Regional Experience, and it was really fun. I went to the AQHA Select World Show the past two years, but the traveling really wears on me. This year, I qualified again for the Select World Show, but decided to stay in the Northwest. Matti and I won the Select Amateur All Around title at the Regional Experience by showing in halter, showmanship, hunter under saddle, hunt seat equitation, trail, western riding, horsemanship and western pleasure. We just did our thing--we ate, we played, we chuckled, we toughened up and won ourselves a saddle. What a deal!

Would you recommend the Regional Experience to other show riders? To newcomers? Will you be back next year?

I would recommend this show--it has something for everyone. Experienced and non-experienced riders can enjoy the Regional Experience. As a former Washington State University cooperative extension employee, I like to see education included in our activities, and this show does that nicely. It offers really nice awards for exhibitors and classes for everyone. It's a really great idea, and nice to have it regionally located.

Region 1 Newcomer Lacy Hansen
Lacy Hansen, 24, of Washougal, Wash., is thrilled to be newly involved with AQHA horse shows. A manager of a Fred Meyer store, she's a self-described "work addict," but has found time to show her Quarter Horse mare at local and open shows in the past few years. Now that she's attended the AQHA Regional Experience in Redmond, Ore., though, she's adjusted her goals to include more AQHA shows.

Lacy Hansen | Photo by Cheryl James Photography

Lacy Hansen | Photo by Cheryl James Photography

Tell us about your horse.

Polished To Impress, or "Shania," is a 5-year-old, 15.1-hand chestnut mare. She was an AQHA World Show-qualified halter horse when I bought her as a 3-year-old, and weighs almost 1,400 pounds. She was a real handful when I got her, but with age and training, she's mellowing. I still show her in halter, but also in western pleasure, horsemanship and am starting in trail classes--they look fun and should keep her mind busy. She's highly intelligent and can open just about any latch, lock, or hinge, so she needs a challenge. She knows many tricks, and can even remove her own protective boots and hand them to me on command!

What rider/clinician do you most admire and why?

My grandfather, a cow-horse man, left me tack, equipment and money before he passed away, enabling me to get started with horses. My mom sees a lot of him in me, and I'm proud of that. Also, I was so lucky to briefly train with Paul Kirsch. Shania was so hot to handle when I got her, and I knew nothing, but tried to learn on my own. I read and watched videos for instruction, but she developed some dangerous behaviors. I found Paul, who helped me train her from the ground. His knowledge of horse training was uncanny, but he was so quiet and humble that it was only after he'd passed away that I learned he'd worked with Lipizzaners and had been a European dressage champion.

Why do you ride Quarter Horses? What are your favorite characteristics of the breed?

My grandfather's involvement and love for them influenced me. Plus, I love stocky, well-muscled horses and Quarter Horses fulfill that for me. And they're so versatile--I can show, trail ride and even occasionally barrel race on Shania, and she conforms to just about anything. We may try cutting next. Quarter Horses are also known for being even keel and intelligent.

What was your most memorable Regional Experience moment?

It was my first AQHA show, but Shania's previous owners had shown her in AQHA halter classes across several states, and I wanted to see how she'd do at the Regional Experience. We showed in novice amateur halter and placed fourth, but it was the open halter class that was most memorable. We placed third among extremely tough competition! I was nervous to be surrounded by top-quality horses and professional horsemen, but everyone was so happy for us that it was just a thrill. I had learned a tip in the halter clinic the previous day, and think it helped our performance. Shania was a perfect lady in that class.

Do you want to show more? Will you be back at Regional Experience?

I've shown at open and local shows in showmanship, halter, western pleasure, horsemanship and in-hand trail, but have always been nervous at those shows--people tend to be cliquish and standoffish. The Regional Experience was such a refreshing change--much more relaxing, with amazingly open, friendly and helpful people! I felt so at home at the Regional Experience that I wished I'd been doing AQHA shows all along. I have no plans to attend open shows now, and will focus on all-around competition at AQHA shows instead, including next year's Regional Experience.