Region 6 Open winner Jessica Elliott
Jessica Elliott, 19, just began her college career this fall at Virginia's Lynchburg College where she's majoring in psychology. She hails from Brentwood, N.H., where she grew up with her family's many horses. Her parents have run summer horse camps for kids for years, and Jessica has been showing since she about five years old. This year, she attended the AQHA Regional Experience in Springfield, Ma., and took a moment to answer a few questions.
Tell us about your horse.
Willing To Walk, or "Kraemer," is about 16.2 hands, and sorrel with four white socks. He's well muscled--you'd definitely know he's a Quarter Horse. I've owned him about four years, and show him in hunter under saddle, equitation on the flat, equitation over fences, hunter hack, working hunter, and western riding and horsemanship. He's really at his best in the over fences classes. He's always been in a show barn, so he's pretty serious, and can get pretty grouchy after a long show day. He really loves treats, though, so we hang them in his stall and it improves his attitude a lot--he becomes much happier and friendlier.
What has been your most memorable moment in the saddle?
Winning the hunter hack class with Kraemer at the AQHA Youth World Show this year out of about 80 entries. Standing in the center and hearing them call my name was very memorable!
Do you ride with a trainer?
Yes, I ride with Bill Ellis and David Connors at Four Winds Farm in Colts Neck, N.J. They show at AQHA shows and on the open hunter jumper circuit. Kraemer stays with them some of the time, and at home with my family some of the time. They're really good at what they do, and are very serious about it, so I feel fortunate to ride with them.
Tell us about your Regional Experience win.
I actually showed two horses--Final Debut in addition to Kraemer--but it was on Kraemer that I won the Open All Around title. I showed him in working hunter, equitation over fences, hunter hack, jumping, equitation on the flat, halter, hunter under saddle, barrel racing, pole bending and the stake race. We did the speed events for the all-around competition, and even though those aren't his specialty, he tolerates them.
Would you recommend the Regional Experience to other show riders? To newcomers? Will you be back next year?
I think it's a really good experience for show riders, especially if they can't make it to the World Show. They can still have a similar experience to the World Show, but without the intensity of having the best from the whole nation competing. Going just for the experience is worth it, and if you win a prize, that's even better because the awards were great. Newcomers should definitely come to see the horse show and take part in the other activities offered. The raffles, auctions and clinics make it worthwhile for everybody, and because the clinics were free, they were a great opportunity to learn. I'd definitely attend again.
Region 6 Newcomer Austin Briand
Twelve-year-old Austin Briand of Cranston, R.I., is a seventh grader at Western Hills Middle School. He and his mom Theresa both show their Quarter Horse mare at AQHA shows, and attended this year's Regional Experience in Springfield, Massachusetts.
Tell us about your horse.
I Dress Fancy is a 7-year-old, 15-hand, gray mare. Her nickname is "Chanel," and we've owned her for four years. As a gray, she used to be darker, but her coat is turning white now. Her specialty is western pleasure, and my mom and I both show her at AQHA shows. She's pretty easy going, and seems to like being a show horse. She's earned her superior title in AQHA western pleasure.
What rider/clinician do you most admire and why?
I admire William "Buster" Buckley, my trainer, because he teaches me so much and helps me with anything I have trouble with. He works well with Chanel, too. We've kept Chanel at the training facility Falls Creek Farm in Oneco, Conn., for the four years we've owned her, and I've been taking lessons with Buster there for a year and half. I ride in lessons a couple of times per week.
Why do you ride Quarter Horses and what characteristics of the breed do you admire?
I like the way they move--they're very athletic. I also like their trainability and attitude.
What was your most memorable Regional Experience moment?
Winning the two classes I rode in, novice youth western pleasure and 13-and-under western pleasure, and receiving a belt buckle as the award for each win. Chanel also won the amateur western pleasure with my mom, and the senior western pleasure with trainer Derek Hanscome, so four belt buckles in total. Two of the buckles are safely stored, but I wear the two that I won.
Do you want to show again? Will you be back at the Regional Experience?
My mom's been working on horsemanship with Chanel, and if we show her next year, we'll try her in more of the all-around classes, but I'll probably stick with western pleasure. I plan to attend more AQHA shows, and would attend the Regional Experience again