By Blanche Schaefer
How does it feel to be an AQHA world champion? It was been an exciting week, needless to say. I think I’m still in shock a little bit. It was not something I expected to win, especially the senior world. I thought I might have a shot at the amateur world, but I never even thought of the senior world.
Why is this world championship so special? It was my first world championship. That was only my second time to go to the AQHA World Show, because you have to run two clean runs and have to be clean to even think about getting a check. I don’t do well running two runs in a row. I went this year because I was riding my husband’s junior horse in the poles, and since I took a week of vacation, I thought I might as well take my horse. But I never dreamed he had the chance to win the senior world, so it was pretty special—my first world championship and in the senior class.
What was your run like in the finals? Going into that show, I had not been feeling very positive. We’d been to Quarter Horse Congress and weren’t clocking where I thought we should be clocking, so I was pretty insecure. I went to a local barrel race the Saturday before the World Show, and he put together an amazing run. I thought if we could hold this together for another week, we might be okay. Going into the prelims I had it set up as a practice run for our amateur prelims, and he put together a really nice run and qualified fourth. I couldn’t have asked him to do any better. I knew going back to the finals that being fourth in the prelims doesn’t mean anything; it only matters what we do in the finals. I’m proud of him for even hanging in with that group of horses. I’m not good at making two clean runs in a row in the same pen, so if he goes in there and gives me a clean run, whatever happens, happens. If we just get into the top 10, I’d be thrilled. I was first out, and I hate being first out—I thought at least I’ll be on top of the ground. My husband said at least you’ll be winning it when you run!
He went in well, he gave me three great barrels, and I knew when he turned the third barrel, that he gave me a good run. I never dreamed it would win it, but when he hit the back gate, I said whatever happens, happens, it was an extremely tough group. He did what I asked, and he gave me a smooth solid. I never dreamed that I would win it.
Tell me about your horse BNF Golden Firewater. “Andy” is 8 this year, and I’ve owned him right at 4 years. He was started as a futurity colt; Marne Loosenort started him and hauled him. In the spring of his 4-year-old year, she said couldn’t handle the pressure, that he would make a nice open horse but didn’t have the mind yet to take the hauling all year long. They turned him out for the summer, and I had the chance to buy him in the spring but my husband wasn’t willing then. I didn’t get him bought until that fall after he spent most of the year turned out.
What is Andy’s personality like? He’s the most laid back, easygoing horse I’ve ever had. He’s pretty chill. He’s not super personable, at least toward me, some people he likes to be loved and petted on, but not by me, he just wants to be left alone.
Does he have a favorite therapy or treat? We own an ECB equine spa, so he definitely is a big fan of the cold-water spa. I use PHT magnets on him, he uses an Equi-Resp because he does bleed, but we use Equi-Resp to keep that in check.
What is your pre-run routine? He doesn’t take a lot of warming up. We lope some circles both directions, do some small circles and reverse arcs, not a lot to warming up as long as I make sure he’s paying attention and ready to go run. Then I let him chill back out so he stays calm going down the alley.
For myself, I go through my run and tell myself the things I need to do for my part.
How do you prepare yourself and your horse in advance for a big run? He goes every year in August and stays with Marne Loosenort for a month to get tuned up, and get back on his A-game. I get him back the first of September and we spend September and October going to local barrel races and preparing. I go ride with Marne a couple times a month to work on any issues. For my own fitness, I usually run about 8–10 miles a week.
What kind of bit and tack do you use on Andy? He runs in a Kathy James bit, no tie-down. I ride in a Caldwell Saddle, 5-Star saddle pad, Iconoclast boots, and my favorite is my Shoulder Relief cinch.
What’s his funniest quirk? When he drinks water, his little ears will flick, and that’s how you know he’s drinking. He’s not too exciting!
What are your future plans with Andy? I don’t really know. Probably the bigger shows; I’ve laid low the past couple years with him because we’ve been hit or miss, and I feel like we’ve finally gotten on a system of consistency. My plan is to spend the next couple months going to some bigger shows I’ve steered clear of because I didn’t do well in those pens. I feel like it’s time to step out of my comfort zone with him. He does better at the pens like Oklahoma City with a long run to the first barrel, whereas around here it’s usually a closer run to the first barrel, so I tend to stay away from those pens. It’s time to step out of my comfort zone and try to have some success at the bigger barrel races.
How many years have you been competing at the AQHA World Show, and what type of events do you usually compete in? This was actually only my second year to go. It was my third year to qualify. I don’t rodeo; we do a lot of the bigger AQHA shows, Fort Worth, Congress, Dixie Nationals, and the Open barrel races around our area.
Tell me about yourself outside of barrel racing. I’m married, no kids—just all the horses. We live in Jackson, Tennessee, and I am a tax officer.
Do you have any thanks for family, friends or sponsors? I don’t have any sponsors, but definitely my husband and my friends, because my husband puts up with all my wild ideas and things I’ve done and tried to get this horse going. He says he would have given up on him long ago, but I’ve stuck with him because I felt like he had the potential. He’s put up with me and my whining and crying, and same with my friends. My vet Dr. Butler with Huntington Animal Clinic; Dr. Hicks at Equine Veterinary Services. My farrier Daniel Bishop—he has been the biggest part of getting my horse sound; I had a lot of shoeing issues early on with him. My vet told me to sell him at one point, and Daniel has been the lifesaver there. I have a lady Carla, who does energy therapy, and she was the one thing I made the change between Congress and World Show. I had her come work on him, and it made the biggest difference.
Blanche Schaefer is associate editor of Barrel Horse News. Email comments on this article to [email protected].