The horse community is a tight knit one, and the Halter horse segment even more so. The recent and sudden passing of longtime horseman, Gene Parker, after suffering a heart attack during the APHA World Show this September, caught many by surprise.
Last year at the AQHA World Show, almost to the day, Gene led Most Appealing Dream to win Performance Halter Mares and claim her fifth World Championship title in a row. The 8-year-old mare, by A Dream Remembered and out of Lil Bit Impulsive, started her winning streak back in 2013 and has continued ever since, winning at the hands of professional horsemen like Luke Castle, Ross Roark, Gene Parker, and now Tom Robertson. Today, “Roxy” won her sixth Open title in a row at the World Show.
“We took Roxy to Gene’s house in late August, and, at the end of September, he passed away,” says owner, Andrea Alderson. “Since I’ve started showing her, in some capacity, Gene has either been a mentor or the trainer. Gene fit her and showed her, and he was going to show her again this year.”
“Once upon a time, my grandpa said that if I ever had a good enough horse, that I should have Gene fit it. That always resonated with me. During one of Gene’s first Congress wins, my grandpa was one of the judges. He didn’t even know Gene at the time, but he said that he was a great showman and a great fitter. Gene had always been so intertwined with my family in some fashion. He was friends with my grandpa and friends with my dad. This means a lot, but it’s been very hard.”
Following Gene’s passing, Andrea was looking for someone to step in and fill his boots to lead Roxy here at the show. “For riding, Beckey Schooler helps us with Roxy. Tom shares the barn with her. I’ve always studied who does the best job at handling, and we decided we’d ask Tom. It worked out perfectly.”
Roxy will also be shown in Level 2 Western Pleasure by Beckey Schooler, and Andrea will show Roxy in Amateur Performance Halter Mares and Amateur Level 2 Western Pleasure. This is the first year Andrea has ridden at the AQHA World Show, so she’s very excited and even purchased a new brown and turquoise, Aztec inspired outfit for the event.
We asked Andrea how this 8-year-old mare has continued to be so successful year after year, with new, younger horses coming in. “I think it has to do with her conformation. Her back is so strong, and her legs are so straight. She’s structurally correct, and I feel like that enables her to stay at peak performance. Part of me feels like allowing her to be a horse has also kept her fresh.”