AQHA: Montana, Wyoming riders take Oklahoma by storm |

AQHA: Montana, Wyoming riders take Oklahoma by storm

By Deanna Nelson-Licking for Tri-State Livestock News

For a young mother who grew up on a dairy farm in New York riding a one-eyed horse, the transition to remote Montana ranch didn’t seem like it would help her chances of succeeding in the show horse world.

“I truly live an hour and a half from anything. It is 45 miles of dirt road for me to get to paved road, and I don’t have good ground (reining arena ground) where I live and if I want a place to ride (slide) in an arena I have to drive two and half hours to Kluz Performance Horses in Gillette, Wyoming,” Rachel said. “It was a thrill to go to the world on a horse I made myself. This mare is truly trained on the ranch, and because of that I really questioned if I should even go to the show, or if I would be able to hold a candle to the people there with their trainers.”

“You only get so many rides on any one horse, you need to go for it,” was advice Justin Henderson of Cheyenne, Wyoming, reining trainer, offered his friend Rachel Adam last fall. That bit of wisdom has been a driving force behind the Otter, Montana ranch wife, mother and cowgirl as she pursues her horse showing dreams.

Attending the AQHA World Versatility Ranch Horse Show has been on her bucket list for years. Rachel qualified to attend by winning the all-around title back in June of 2020 at the All-Breed Ranch Horse Challenge in Billings, Montana. But the world show was canceled last year due to Covid. Even though the requirements to qualify to go the World Show were waived for 2021, she stills feels that her qualifying has been a feather in her hat. “It was a fantastic trip to Oklahoma, it was a lot of fun and it was the icing on the cake to come home with three championships,” Rachel said. “I didn’t know what to expect, the Lazy E Arena is amazing and huge, I’m thankful we brought along a 4-wheeler to get around on.”

Rachel carpooled for the trip with Mary Gandy from Ennis, Montana. They traveled for two days together to reach Guthrie, Oklahoma. The ladies also hung out with a number of other competitors from Wyoming and Montana but they were in the minority compared to the number of Texans competing. “We had a great showing for the region and we were all first timers,” Rachel said.

The Wyoming/Montana region did very well in Oklahoma, in spite of the extreme heat and humidity. Mary Gandy placed fifth in the all-around for the rookie amateur, Stephanie White from Powell, Wyoming was the reserve world champion amateur all-around, and her husband Rives White was 10th in all-around amateur. Hardin, Montana’s RaeAnn Svedberg’s horse Guantanamoak Bay was the 2020 year end high point amateur winner and was awarded a saddle, Mesa Svedberg, daughter of RaeAnn competed on the same horse and finished 7th in the all-around youth.

Rachel Adam won the rookie-amateur reining, conformation and the all-around championships on her six year old ranch mare Boonys Queen. The pair were crowned the rookie-amateur all-around champions on Rachel’s birthday June 26th. “It was an emotional week, I’ve always been on a horse I had to make myself.”

Rachel had purchased a filly from Dave and Susan Riesland of Shield Five Quarter Horses of Oshoto, Wyoming, which unfortunately had an accident and died. “I called Rieslands to tell them that we had lost Honey, a few days later they called me and offered me Queeny, a yearling as a replacement. I started her myself but ended up sending her to a trainer for 60 days as a two year old. She is a cowboy’s horse, no fuss, no muss, an all business type mare, who really doesn’t like people,” Rachel said. “She was tough one to earn her trust. I have never come off of one horse so many times that never actually bucked. She is a big, powerful and quick mare. If something spooked her I couldn’t hang on, and she was usually spooking at something I did. She truly made me question if I was ‘hand’ enough to make a good horse out of her or if I was just ruining her. The best ones are the quirky ones though. I’m so glad I gritted it out and stuck with it and I am so thankful for Boonys Queen she has made me a better horsewoman in every way.”

Boonys Queen is out of Boonylensma by Peptoboonsmal, crossed on Kings Brown Mare by Dandy Derby.

“I have attended several Casey Deary clinics and went to Texas and rode with him for a week this past February. I’ve hit as many little shows as I could to work on everything. I was feeling very confident in my horse going into the show. My reining run went so well, I burst into tears when I rode out of the arena, I didn’t even need to know my score it felt so good, I could have left happy then,” Rachel said.

Rachel competed in six classes at the world show, and managed to do well enough in all of them to stay in the running. In the cutting she felt less confident about the event and ended up being the first rider. It was her responsibility to select someone to settle the herd, she asked a man there who she thought looked like a hand. “I asked him to please settle the herd for me and he said he would but that he probably wouldn’t be very good at it. I found out that I asked Brad Lund the three time Super-Horse winner,” she said. Lund, a world champion many times over, even sat in the corner and spoke to Lund through her cutting run. “He coached me and I took third, it felt so good. I needed another herd holder and was told that I should ask my trainer to help and I said I don’t have a trainer, I’m here on my own.”

“The cow work was a little rough, we drew a wild Charolais, but we held the cow and I survived. We just boxed the cow. I had to rush to the stall, unsaddle and wash Queeny and hurry back for the conformation class. I forgot my number on the saddle pad and had to go back. There were twenty-four horses in my class and we were first on all three judges’ cards,” Rachel said.

Rachel and her husband Travis work for the ET Ranch, a cow-calf operation and are raising their daughter Corby and son Quaid. And since Rachel’s seven year old daughter took over her other horse and has started showing, Queeny is now her main mount, who has done it all, from roping in the branding pen, big circles and long days trailing cows. “She was thrilled to get home and out of the stalls, she was going nuts. We don’t have stalls here so our horses don’t even know what a stall is.”

Rachel Adam and Boonys Queen on the trail course at the AQHA World Versatility Ranch Horse Show. Photo by Kim Correll
Rachel with her awards after winning the Rookie-Amateur World Reining Championship. Photo by Kim Correll
Stephanie White working a cow. In addition to winning the reserve world all-around championship she also was reserve champion in the cow work, 4th place in the cutting, 5th in conformation and 5th in reining. Shane Rux Photography
Many show horses live in stalls but ranch mare Boonys Queen earns her keep on a Montana ranch. (Rachel Adam family photo)



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