By: Brittany Bevis
Many refer to the quest for year-end awards as a “trailer race,” but in all actuality AQHA/APHA/ApHC non-pro exhibitor, Cara McMillian Gibson was involved in a race for a trailer! The World Conformation Horse Association announced the new incentive for non-pro Halter futurity exhibitors in March of last year as part of a partnership with Twin Cities Trailer Southwest.
The highest, money earning non-pro Halter exhibitor for 2019 was set to receive a year’s use of a new, three horse, gooseneck trailer. All monies earned during participating futurities counted, including non-pro, open, color, and owner/breeder/exhibitor paybacks. The futurities included The Yellow Rose Futurity, WCHA Big Money Futurity, WCHA Breeders Championship Futurity, WCHA Junior classes at the AQHA World Show, and the Best In The West Futurity. In order to be eligible, non-pro competitors must have been a WCHA member and competed in at least three of the five sanctioned futurities.
“We wanted to both encourage and reward our non-pro exhibitors who competed at several WCHA events throughout the year,” explained Don Falcon, Executive Director of WCHA. “We can’t thank our Corporate Partner, Gary and Tammy Raak and Twin Cities South Trailers, enough for their support of WCHA. Not only do all of these participating futurities have great paybacks, but now a well deserving non-pro will have a significant prize waiting at the end of the futurity season.”
In the end, it came down to the final futurity, The Best In The West, in Scottsdale, Arizona. With an outstanding showing with two different horses, Cara McMillian Gibson was named the champion. Cara competed at the WCHA Yellow Rose Futurity, WCHA Breeders Championship Futurity, WCHA Big Money Futurity, WCHA Junior classes at the AQHA World Show, and The Best In The West Futurity in order to secure the victory. However, at the beginning of the year, the Race For The Trailer wasn’t at the top of her mind.
“I went to watch at the Go For The Gold Futurity, because I wasn’t going to be showing there,” Cara says. “But then we had all the fall futurities, and I did really well. I was doing so good at that time, and we’d already planned on taking a junior filly to the AQHA World Show. Then, at the show, we got a junior colt, and that gave me an extra push. After doing so well at the WCHA Breeders and Big Money Futurity, we got the big push that we needed and decided to go for it.”
“I was sitting third before I went out to The Best In The West Futurity. I thought I had a decent chance. I knew Ted Turner and Nancy Dyer would be out there, and it was going to be between the two of us.”
Cara estimates that during 2019 she won approximately $26,000 with Halter horses that are owned and shown by three generations of females in her family- her mother, Carolyn Stewart; Cara, herself, and her daughter, McKenna Gibson. Cara believes her biggest help in achieving this award was her Appaloosa mare, Wanna Talk About Me.
“Buddy Laney showed her at the WCHA part of the Big Money, but that didn’t count towards my total. However, in doing so, he won and then I won at the Big Money. He won at the Breeders and was Champion of Champions, and then we also took her to The Best In The West and I won and was Champion of Champions.”
Another mare that helped Cara score additional points is Rose A All Day. “While we were at the Breeders Halter Futurity, we bought this filly and showed her and won quite a bit of money. At The Best In The West, she won her class and was also Champion of Champions. Those two mares were probably my strongest contenders for WCHA purposes.”
When Cara reflects on the exciting year that she and her family had in 2019, there are a few especially memorable moments. “Probably most exciting was when our trainer, Monte Horn, showed our stud at the Breeders and won. I was so excited for him to go Grand, because he’s a Paint Horse and he competed with all the other breeds. He was also a World Champion at the APHA World with me and also with Ross Roark. He won everything he entered this year. His name is The Final Verse, and he’s standing with Bill Huckabee this year.”
“The other most exciting thing was when my Appaloosa mare, Wanna Talk About Me, won at the Breeders. I’d never even won a trophy at Iowa before, and we went home with four! Then, to go to the WCHA and for her to win in such a tough pen of mares against all the good AQHA and APHA horses, and then to go Champion of Champions over all the studs, geldings, and mares, was amazing.”
Cara is especially looking forward to showing this mare by Suchan Ego at the Appaloosa World Show. She will also be shown at the Breeders Halter Futurity in the Open division with Monte Horn and by McKenna at upcoming events. It will be especially meaningful for McKenna to be able to show both Wanna Talk About Me and Rose A All Day in 2020 after the sudden loss of her beloved mare, Candys Mirror Image, just a week ago.
“My daughter can’t wait to show Rose A All Day. That’s her new favorite. Nothing can replace Candy, though. My mom won at the Congress with her, and then my daughter won at the Congress with her. We lost her when she was foaling a week ago. It was her first filly, and we lost them both. It has hit us really hard. But, we’ve had such a great year and at least McKenna will have a really good filly to start the year off with.”
Cara has participated in WCHA competition for many years now and has even served on numerous committees, so she’s well aware of the benefits the organization provides for non-pro exhibitors and how it has helped to reinvigorate the Halter horse industry.
“I can tell you that I love that WCHA is doing multi bred futurities. Honestly, I’ve shown Quarter Horses for my whole life and never branched out into anything different. Last year alone, I showed an APHA stud, a Palomino mare, and an AQHA filly. I showed a colored Paint and a solid Appaloosa. I like when these different breeds of horses have to compete against each other. It’s good for everyone in our industry.”
“Also, WCHA is providing multi-regional shows with a lot of money to be won, and the checks pay down low. From what I’ve seen, it’s very fair and run correctly. I cannot say much more good about it really.”
That’s likely what WCHA Executive Director, Don Falcon, intended when he announced the creation of the Trailer Race last year. “Non pros are the mainstay of WCHA and to provide a trailer as a Year-End High-Point award takes our futurities and WCHA as an association to another plateau. It really is a special time to be a WCHA member,” Falcon said.
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