By: Brittany Bevis
There’s seldom a time in one’s life when a half a point makes such a big difference. Tonight was one of those times for Charlie Cole and Ima Petite Classic when they achieved a new World Show western riding record with a high score of 240. Before the final placings were announced this evening, the announcer informed the crowd that the top 15 horse and rider pairs that returned for the finals had over 50 World or Reserve World Champion titles among them.
Then, as the placings went on and the scores got higher, some wondered if we would have a new western riding record on our hands. In all actuality, there were two high scores achieved tonight. Charlie Cole explains.
“Jason says that prior to tonight [the highest score] was a 238.5,” Cole says. “Jason had it for a minute at 239.5, and then I have it at 240. That’s the highest ever. It’s kind of surreal, because I’ve been close so many times on that horse, and I’ve just never done it. I’ve never had the ride I wanted to have in the finals. I knew when I was done tonight that I had it, but was it enough? I was trying to beat one of the greatest western riding horses ever.”
“Literally, I said to either Jason or Adam, who works for me, that this was like having to slay a dragon to beat Lucy. When they said [the difference was] a half point, I thought that’s what I was going to lose by. I’d already committed to it. So when they didn’t call my number it just kind of hit me that it did happen.”
Both Cole and Martin rode three horses in the finals this evening. Martin was the Reserve Champion with Vital Signs Are Good, third place with Heavenly Mac, and fifth place with Radically Fired Up. Cole won with Ima Petite Classic and was a finalist with both A Certain Vino and Only In Showbiz.
“Kramer” has won the Amateur Western Riding at the World Show in the past with his owner, Darcy Reeve. However, tonight’s win with Cole is the horse’s first Open World Championship title.
“I hate to say he’s a challenging horse,” Cole says. “He’s a special horse. When I got him, the first year I made the finals was five or six years ago. I didn’t even make it through the finals pattern. He just didn’t change. Every year we’ve gotten better, and I’ve been working towards this.”
“Sometimes Kramer just has brain falter and doesn’t do his job and I accept that. I know that’s part of him, and I never get mad at him. I know that the next go will probably be fine. If it goes wrong, I basically pet him and say, ‘We’ll go back tomorrow.’ “
Although Kramer is now 14 years old, Cole says he acts like a much younger horse.
“He literally acts like a 6-year-old,” he says. “He doesn’t feel like a 14-year-old at all. I call him a low maintenance horse. He doesn’t take a lot of training. He doesn’t exert a lot of excess energy. He’s really sound. He’s like a rock. The hardest thing about him is that I probably have him a little fat. It seems like each year he gets a little fatter, so do I, so him and I are going to have to work on that!”
Another notable milestone that occurred tonight is that this is the ninth year in a row that a member of Highpoint Performance Horses has won the Senior Western Riding at the AQHA World Show. Other western riding World Champion titles have been won before that date, but the current streak has continued for nearly a decade.
“I know this was the ninth year in a row that we’ve won the Senior Western Riding,” he says. “Actually, I’m kind of like the end caps. I won in 2005, and that was the beginning of the streak. We had other titles before that, but we’ve won every year since 2005. I won in 2005, and Jason has won every year since today. I don’t know how many times I’ve been second. I bet I’ve been second at least half of those times.”
Given the past success of the Highpoint Performance Horses team in this particular event and the stellar lineup they bring to the World Show every year, we wondered if it’s possible for Cole to have a favorite.
“I’ve showed Kramer the longest, and he really deserved to be an Open World Champion,” he says. “But really and truly every horse that I’ve shown has a special meaning. I raised Only In Showbiz, I showed his mother, and she died at this show three years ago. He is a phenomenal horse, and I was second in the go-round. So, he has special meaning for me.”
“Then, there’s Vino. There’s only one other person besides his owner, Darcy, that gets to show A Certain Vino. Every time I get on Vino, I’m like, ‘I’m riding Vino!’ You know what I mean? I really think that in my head. I get to ride this horse. So, I want it for Vino too.”
They say that money can’t buy memories. If that’s true then the reaction on Cole’s face when he was announced the World Champion tonight was truly priceless. A big congratulations to Highpoint Performance Horses on such an exciting night.
Senior Western Riding-
1- Ima Petite Classic/Charlie Cole (240)
2-Vital Signs Are Good/Jason Martin (239.5)
3-Heavenly Mac/Jason Martin (231)
4-The Vital Invitation/Leonard Berryhill
5-Radically Fired Up/Jason Martin
6-The Immortal/Leslie Lange
7-Zippos Petite Prince/Nancy Alto-Renfro
8-Watch Me Im Hot/Kelley Roberts
9-Zippos Goodfellow/Robin Frid
10-Impulsive Lite/Terry Cross
1-Mostly Chocolate/Blake Weis
2-Triplicate Pleasure/Kelly Hinely