When Kyla Jeffries, a youth rider from Indiana, was planning to attend the 2021 American Quarter Horse Association Youth World show this summer, she wasn’t expecting it to be with a new partner who she had just started riding. Sometimes the unexpected happens and you have to completely change the path you’re on. For Kyla, unexpectedly losing her longtime show partner just days before entries for the youth world show were due seemed like it would be the end of the road for her show career this year. But Kyla and her trainers, Chris and Melissa Jones, weren’t ready to give up just yet. Chris and Melissa suggested that Kyla try an AQHA gelding who was, at the time, retired in their pasture called Blazed and Amazed, aka ‘Blueberry’.
Blueberry’s owners, Scott, Laurie, and Elizabeth Christie trusted Kyla with the gelding and let her take him home to prepare for the world show. Kyla started riding Blueberry to prepare for the upcoming world show that was just a month away. She hauled in to take lessons with the Jones’ but said it was the alone time she spent with him the month leading up to the show that formed their bond so quickly.
While Kyla rode Blueberry often to get him back in shape after not being ridden for a year and a half, she also spent most of her free time just being around the horse.
“I think the time I spent with Blueberry in his stall and just riding around my farm helped grow our trust and connection,” said Kyla.
She trusted Blueberry and knew he knew what to do in the show pen, so she focused on strengthening their relationship as preparation for the world show. Kyla felt that if they had a strong connection and bond, Blueberry wouldn’t let her down come showtime, and she was right.
Stepping into the show pen with a new partner is always nerve-wracking, but doing it at a world show? That’s almost unheard of. This new team managed to combat the nerves and tough competition by winning the L1 horsemanship. This is a class that requires intense communication with your horse, and most winners have been showing their horse for years before winning it at the world show.
It was Kyla and Blueberry’s bond that allowed the pair to shine in the arena and look as if they’d been together for years. Training and preparation can go a long way in competition, but at the end of the day, you need your horse to trust you in order for them to perform their best.