Saturday night, October 8, was one of the most anticipated nights of The Quarter Horse Congress show – the Reining Open Freestyle. Combining songs that crossed generations, Xtra Dun Step and Keith Ceddia scored a 230, winning $6,937.
“That horse is a huge stopper and a huge turner. He’s a lot of fun on that. The big maneuvers are fun but my favorite part of that show is the electricity of the crowd there,” Ceddia said. “Our run was a JAWS rendition that transitioned into ‘Baby Shark’ halfway through.”
According to Ceddia, the combination of songs had attendees of all ages clapping along.
“On the freestyle I think that you need something that will be recognizable by several generations. [And] everybody knows the JAWS theme,” Ceddia said.
This was Ceddia’s fifth time competing in the Congress Freestyle, and his first Championship.
“We had some people [in the arena] out there pretending to have fun and play volleyball, and then the JAWS music would fade in and I would swoop in. One time I stopped about 20 feet in front of my actor and he fell down and pretended to be eaten,” Ceddia said.
Xtra Dun Step (Wimpys Little Step x All Thats Dun x Hollywod Dun It), known as “Angelo,” is owned by Jennifer and Jerry Douglas. The gelding was shown by Benjamin Beckett in the 2021 Congress Reining Freestyle, winning it with a rowdy redneck party routine that ended with an arrest.
“I was trying to find a horse [for this]. I was talking with Ben Beckett, who won it last year. He said he was not doing it this year and he said ‘Why don’t you call up Jerry and see if they’ll let you use Angelo,’” Ceddia recounts.
The owners agreed and Ceddia got to work with his choreographer, Lauren Schoeller, and costume maker, Rebecca White. As the event approached, last-minute adjustments were made to the costume to make sure Angelo was looking his best.
“I had him for eight or nine rides prior to freestyle. It was a catch ride for sure,” Ceddia said. “His number one [trait] is his consistency. That horse is always there, consistent, and honest. A lot of times you have a horse that’s been shown that hard and at that-high of a level [they’re done].”
Reserve Champion in the Open Freestyle was Tinseltowns Whizard (Hollywoods Tinseltown x Whizards Maggie Mae x Whizard Jac) and Luke Gingerich, who marked a 225.5 and earned $5,203.