By: Brittany Bevis
We are saddened to relay the news that the 11-time APHA World and Reserve World Champion, Zipped From The Heart, has been laid to rest. The 2001, APHA gelding by Slightly Zipped and out of IM Grace was fondly known as “Colby” to his friends and family. During the course of his career with numerous different riders, he earned over 1,300 Western Pleasure points and titles in all-around events, especially his favorite- Western Riding.
Longtime trainer, Garth Gooding, explains how Colby first became part of the family. “We bought him as a 4-year-old from Tim and Shannon Gillespie for the Upton family,” Garth says. “He actually had a lot of different trainers ride him early on. When he was three years old, Rusty Green rode him, as well as Steve Heckaman, and Kenny and Ashley Lakins.”
“He had so much try. You could really ask a lot of him, and he would give it to you. There was never much skirting around things with him. He wasn’t a quirky horse about anything. He was just so talented and such a good loper. Western Riding came really easy to him. He was the kind of horse that if you couldn’t get him to show, then you’d have to question your choice of occupation!”
One of Laura Upton’s most memorable moments with Colby was when they were named the unanimous World Champions in 14-18 Western Riding with a score of 236. “It was particularly memorable, because it was our first World title together and the first year I had competed in Western Riding at the World Show. Colby had just learned a flying lead change that year, and all of our hard work paid off.”
“Although he was so highly skilled in Western Pleasure, through a lot of hours learning and practicing in the backyard together for all-around events, we achieved our goals. Throughout his career, he accumulated a total of 11 World and Reserve World Champion titles. At one point, we were even competing with him in Barrel Racing and Goat Tying. But, he had a short career in those classes, because he liked them too much!”
Laura’s sister, Kate, also competed with Colby. Together they won a World Championship in 14-18 Western Riding after he experienced what the family thought would be a career-ending injury. After years of rehabilitation, they achieved the seemingly impossible. “A few months later, during that same year, I won Western Pleasure and Western Riding in Amateur 19-44, as well as a Reserve World Championship in Horsemanship. His resilience and dedication was truly inspiring.”
Colby was a typically easygoing guy; but, like most horses, he had his quirks. He absolutely loved Gatorade, but only the blue and yellow flavors, never orange. He also had two miniature ponies that were his best friends and even a mouse stall buddy. “Colby was extremely loved. Every day after school he greeted us with a neigh to say hello and welcome us home.”
“One of the most endearing things about Colby was his heart. At home, he was so loving, relaxed, and fun, but when it was time to compete, he took his job very seriously. From the moment we started packing the trailer for a show, we could tell he was eager, focused, and ready to go. He was a true competitor and put his all into practice every single day and at each show. Also, he did not lack confidence. Every time he heard awards being announced, he would step forward at the first place announcement! You could tell he took deep pride in his work and was extremely dedicated every time we were in the ring.”
Colby passed at the age of 19. He was laid to rest at Twin Oaks Pet Cemetery in Okeechobee, FL, not far from the Upton family farm in Melbourne. “He lived a happy and carefree retirement with his two, best pony friends, Nemo and Resse, and was extremely loved until the day he died.”
Another competitor to show Colby during her youth career was Michelle Bauer’s niece, Camille Fogg. Colby was the first horse that Camille had the opportunity to show. They became a team in 2013 and competed together in 2014 and 2015.
Camille says her most memorable moment with Colby was when she was named the unanimous World Champion in Novice Youth Western Pleasure at the 2014 AjPHA World Show. Just a few classes later, they returned to the show pen and won 13 and Under Western Pleasure. It was only their second show as a team.
“I remember being so nervous before our first show. But, when we were actually competing, he was so consistent that I was immediately able to calm down and focus on the class. Because of his reliability, I was much more confident when we got to the Youth World, and we were able to work as a team to win in both classes.”
As a new competitor, Camille relied on Colby to give her confidence and show her the ropes. “I was really lucky to be able to learn from him, because he was so consistent and gave me the leeway to understand how to be a better rider. Whereas a lot of horses might immediately try to take advantage of the fact that I was less experienced and slack off, he always tried to give his best and worked with me to be a better team and achieve more than what I thought was possible.”
Laura believes that Colby was a special horse to so many because of his heart. “Not only was he a world-class competitor, he was also a beloved part of our family. We have a million cherished memories racing around the yard while bareback, trail riding for hours, and just enjoying his fun personality. Overall, he lived his life with passion, purpose, and the love of companionship and competition. Watching his natural rhythm was truly unparalleled and inspiring. I feel so grateful to have spent so many amazing years together.”
If you have a story about an incredible horse in the industry, email B.Bevis@EquineChronicle.com.