The American Paint Horse Association (APHA) World Show brought colorful reiners to the Will Rogers Coliseum Sept. 21. In the Junior Reining, 10 teams spun, slid and circled for the 2018 title. From draw five, Mirjam Stillo and My Berry Best Gun rode to a 220.5, a score which held to win the class.
“We just wanted to go for it,” Stillo said. “The goal was to stop really big, and this pattern was really good because it had four stops. And then just try to be clean. I kind of tried to run her as fast as I could in her circles. She really stayed with me, so the game plan was good. I was very happy.”
Shortly before competing at the World Show, Stillo returned from the World Equestrian Games where she competed for Team Italy with Ruff Spook. Though she wasn’t in Texas to ride My Berry Best Gun during that time, the mare had no problem with the quick turnaround.
“It’s good to see these horses just come in and do their jobs, even if you’re not riding them every day and working on them,” Stillo said. “She’s solid now, so I think she has a good base to build on.”
My Berry Best Gun, or “Charlotte,” is a 4-year-old mare by Colonels Smoking Gun (Gunner) and out of Berry Dun It Best, a Hollywood Dun It mare who is a daughter of the great Custom Red Berry. Custom Red Berry earned $187,902 during her career and is a producer of offspring that have netted more than $176,000. Charlotte is a half-sister to Gunnafoolya ($78,605, by Gunnatrashya) and Berry Best Step ($43,275, by Wimpys Little Step), among others.
The unusually-marked red roan mare is a homebred belonging to Sergio Ella, of Gainesville, Texas, who plans to eventually add her to his broodmare herd.
“She kind of is an exceptional mare with the color and being a Gunner and being out of a very fancy mare that’s a daughter of Custom Red Berry, so I think she’s going to be a great addition to their breeding band,” Stillo added. “For this year, I think she’s done. She’s going to go back to the derbies, and they’re probably going to pull some embryos out of her at the beginning of the year. I hope I can still show her in the next derby years and keep showing her in the paint stuff too and getting some money earnings on her!”
The Reserve World Championship went to Pale Faced Dancer (Pale Face Dunnit x Dancer Nic x Tinsel Nic), who scored a 216.5. The mare was bred by Hickory Creek Ranch and is owned by Thomas Rodden, of Tucson, Arizona.
Seven duos vied for the Senior Reining World Championship, but The Dun Gun and Jared Leclair topped them all with their 220 score. The duo were last year’s Junior Reining World Champions, and going home with another title this year meant a lot to owner Jenifer Seago.
“I’m ecstatic,” Seago said. “This association is great. The Paint show to me is like the Super Bowl. There’s nothing that means more to me than a title at the Paint Horse show.”
Seago was supposed to compete with the mare herself in Fort Worth, but some medical issues forced her out of the saddle. She asked Leclair to show The Dun Gun instead again this year, and he was happy to take over the reins.
“The Paint deal is the biggest show of the year for them,” Leclair said of the mare’s owners. “It’s really important to them, and it was really cool that I got to get another World title with their horse. I appreciate them letting me show her.
“She was great. She stopped huge,” he added. “She’s just a great mare. My help did a great job getting her ready for me, and she’s been a really special mare.”
Leclair’s assistant trainer Kaleigh Geringer rode The Dun Gun to win the 4-, 5- and 6-year-Old Level 1 Open Challenge earlier in the week, giving “Kate” even more accolades from the World show.
Bred by David Silva Sr., Kate (Gunner x Fabulous Footwork x Hollywood Dun It) has earnings in Equi-Stat of $7,360. In 2017, she landed in the Top Five world standings in the Level 1 Novice Horse Open. Though the 6-year-old is about to age out of limited-age competition, Leclair expects she’ll be back in the show ring at the 2019 APHA World show, hopefully piloted by Seago. And, the mare will be a new mother in 2019, as an embryo by Electric Code has been pulled.
Taking the Reserve World Championship with a score of 216.5 were A Smalltown Gal and Tanya Jenkins. The Jana Leigh Simons-bred mare is by Hollywoodstinseltown and out of A Gal With A Gun (by Gunner), and she brought home the title for owner Adriana Alfaro Villicana.
After winning the 2017 Amateur Reining World Championship last year, Kirstin Booth and Babys Got Blue Eyes, who is double-registered in the APHA as I Think I Gotta Whiz, returned to Fort Worth and defended their title, again going home the World Champions. Their efforts in the show pen scored a 216.
“I’m just thankful that I’m lucky enough to own this horse. She makes me so darn happy,” Booth said. “My run today was better than what I had last year. I tried to be a lot more methodical showing, and that made a big difference today, compared to my run earlier this week.
“I actually focused probably more on me and what I do wrong,” she admitted. “She knows her job. I get in the way most of the time, so I’m just trying to sit up there quietly, instead of being tense and turning into a human hair clip on her.”
“Frankie,” a Spooks Gotta Whiz mare, has earnings recorded in Equi-Stat of $17,726, and since she will also be going to the American Quarter Horse Association (AQHA) World Show later this year, Booth expects to see that total increase. Out of One Stylish Chic (by Playin Stylish), the David Warner-bred mare is a half-sister to two other money-earners.
As she continues trying to add earnings and titles to the mare’s résumé, Booth also hopes to see her dad, John, eventually show the mare at the AQHA Select World Show. And, she’s already thinking about the next generation, with plans to breed the mare starting in 2019.
“Next year will be the first year that we pull embryos on her,” Booth explained. “I’m trying to decide who we’re going to breed her to. I’ve been offered a couple breedings, which is pretty exciting. She’s the nicest mare I’ve ever owned in my life. This is my little four-legged daughter. I love this mare to pieces.”
Tracy Higginbottom, of College Station, Texas, rode her homebred stallion Chics Dig Gunner to the Amateur Reining Reserve World Championship with a score of 211. The son of Gunner is out of the Smart Chic Olena mare Smart Scooter Chic.