By: Brittany Bevis
Trevor Johns is part of a longtime horse industry legacy with his mother, Susie Johns; aunt, Kathy Tobin; and brother, Jeff Johns, all competing together in the show pen. He’s recently begun the start of a new legacy of dominance in the show pen with Legacy Made, a 4-year-old gelding by Machine Made and out of Crystal’s Legacy that he piloted to win the 4 & 5-Year-Old Non Pro Trail Stakes at this year’s Quarter Horse Congress.
“Eli” has been a part of the family for almost one year after purchasing him at the 2018 AQHA World Show from the Gunn family. “The first time Jim and Deanna Searles and my family saw Eli was at the 2018 Congress,” Trevor says. “We tried him out there; but, since I wasn’t around, I didn’t get to ride him until the World Show a few weeks after. At that point, we knew that the big guy was perfect for us! We were just extremely blessed to have that opportunity of buying him from the Gunn family and Jason Gilliam.”
In addition to his excellence over poles, Trevor most appreciates Eli’s sweet heart and love of being near his favorite people. Trevor has even recognized that they have similar personalities. “He has the sweetest heart and always gives his best when it comes to showing, especially picking up his feet in Trail! He always loves to be around horses or people. In fact, I think he gets separation anxiety when you don’t stand next to him. He’s just that loving to others. I swear, he and I are identical in that sense. We love to be around people. We’re social and always carry a sense of humor, even if things don’t always work out the way we want.”
For the class at the Congress, Trevor’s strategy was to “ride every stride” and stay in tune with what his horse was feeling over the obstacles. “My strategy for the class was to just ride every stride and support Eli in every way possible,” he says. “I wanted to let him see his strides when I set him in the correct points on the obstacles. I also had to make sure I was steering more with body than my hand. That’s something I have to constantly keep in my mind when riding in Trail. It’s never a pretty thing when your hand is up by your face as you frantically turn the last minute over obstacles. There were a lot of fantastic riders and amazing horses in that class, so anything could happen. I just focused on my ride, not the score.”
However, it was a pleasant surprise to note that Trevor and Eli improved upon their score from a performance earlier in the week in Amateur Trail. “The lower score in Amateur Trail was an eye opener to Eli and myself in the sense that we both realized we could try harder and do better. It was a little challenging to see that score when we knew we can do so much more when we both ride together in cadence. At that point, I worked on some exercises with Jim and specifically Deanna towards the end on some steering and exercises without stirrups. I also recalled some training that Jason Gilliam very graciously assisted me with earlier on at the show as well with some trotting obstacles.”
All of the hard work and last minute tune up proved beneficial. “My goal was just to have a great ride and not to worry about the scoring, because you never know how things will turn up. You could be great, but someone else could be better. I like to try to keep a stress-free approach to my showing and understand that I can only control the controllable, which is essentially just my own riding. Eli, other competitors, and judges are all things that I have no control over, so I cannot stress over things that don’t pertain to me. Also, there is always another show, so I try not to be too obsessed on one ride or one show, because that obsession becomes a distraction and affects present and future opportunities.”
To close out 2019, Trevor and Eli will be competing at the AQHA World Show in two weeks. Going into 2020, Trevor has goals to qualify for the World Show and continue to compete in 4 & 5-year-old stakes classes that are offered at major circuits around the country. Also, there is a new discipline on the horizon for Eli.
“Eli is really focusing on the Western Riding now, and I think he can be very competitive throughout 2020. Jim has been working on his lead changes and is doing a fantastic job with having Eli prepared for 2020. My brother, Jeff, will also be showing in the Western Riding with him in 2020. I’m excited to root on Jeff and give back to him like he has so graciously done to me over the years with sharing his horses. Sharing is caring when dealing with brothers who compete in some of the same events. Not to mention, when everyone is involved with the horse, it makes every success story great for the entire team and not just the rider.”
Speaking of family, there are a few people Trevor would like to thank. “I want to thank my mom, Susie, for providing the opportunity to let me show Eli. There are not enough words to justify what she does for me or the family. Also, I want to thank Jim and Deanna for the constant training and support over the years, both on and off the saddle. Also, I have to thank Jason Gilliam for continually helping me out over the year, especially when he doesn’t have to. In addition, I have to thank my fiancé, Ivey, for allowing me to travel and supporting my horse passion that I’ve had since I can remember.”