I am qualified.
Those are the words I’ve dreamed about saying out loud since I smelled the mix of dirt, tractor fumes, and dreams in Oklahoma City’s fairground coliseum for the first time. Even when I was too young to honestly know what it meant, I knew I wanted to say those words for myself.
As I near departure to what can only be the most significant show of my amateur career thus far, I am met with an overwhelming amount of emotions.
I’ve been balancing between feeling confident enough to imagine the announcer channeling his inner Keith Bradley with a, “THHHHEEEEE SCOOORRREE” as I walk out of the arena, while simultaneously being convinced that I’ll appear out of my league immediately upon arrival.
I never anticipated qualifying. A year ago, I knew I had a mare who was showing signs of talent and potential consistency, so I thought it might be fun to earn a point or a few.
Miss Shiney, as we fondly call her, or rather, “the fabulous Miss Shiney” is an own daughter out of Wimpys Little Step and a granddaughter of famed Shining Spark on the bottom side of her papers. After participating in the NRHA Futurity when she was 3-years-old, the 14-year-old beauty lived most of her life as Ralph’s Select Amateur dream horse. Ridden thirty minutes a day, always clean, and occasionally shown. After Ralph’s untimely death, his wife, Sandra entrusted my family to sell the mare to trustworthy new owners. During the process of showing her to potential buyers, my family fell in love. Needless to say, Miss Shiney officially became a member of Aitken Quarter Horses shortly after her arrival.
When I first started riding Miss Shiney, she was overweight and heavy-footed. Ralph’s sickness had prohibited him from riding her for the last year of his life. I rode her for approximately seven months before taking her to her first show in over five years. For the better part of 2018, we showed at open level shows. Each show we chipped away at resistance and literally built muscle and stamina.
Last October, we decided to try our hand at an in-state Ranch and Stock Horse Show, which hosted AQHA Ranch Riding and Reining.
After placing low in the Ranch Riding, I went into the Reining pen with zero expectations. We walked out with a ½ point!
She surprised me. It’s like Miss Shiney knew she was playing in a bigger game.
By the following spring, we were at another AQHA show and lo and behold, she beat my other mare in the Ranch Riding, gaining herself a solid point in the Amateur Ranch Riding, and another ½ point in the Reining!
I knew then, we were officially on the track to something special.
My husband, Cody, and I hit the road a few times during the summer. Every time Miss Shiney walked in the pen, she rose to the occasion.
By the first of July, I had two circuit champions to her name, a ROM in the Reining, and enough points in the Ranch Riding to earn us a trip to Oklahoma City.
Fast forward a few months after the high of realizing I accomplished a lifelong dream of qualifying. I’m three weeks away from walking into the most prestigious arena in our industry, and I can only hope I’ll be prepared. I currently have my world show outfits hanging on the closet door, and saddle pads slung across the back of the couch. All constant reminders of my upcoming trek and the fact that I might want to spend a few minutes doing laundry at night instead of spending most of my “free” time at the barn.
I don’t know what is in store for the next few weeks. However, I will try my best to be ready for anything.
Join me on this ride as I share Miss Shiney’s and my journey as a genuine stay-at-home amateur going to the 2019 AQHA World Championship Show!
I’ll see you at the Gateway of Champions.
By: Barbara Aitken Jenkins
Follow me on Instagram at @thearenaboundamateur for more #MissShiney moments!
*published exclusively with Barbwire Productions and the American Quarter Horse Association