2023 California Championship Select All Around: Carol Kurtz/ Spooky Gunner

Winning an California Championship All Around Champion award shows your strong desire to show. Which is your favorite class for you and your horse and why is it your favorite?

Ranch Trail is my absolute favorite class.  I love the technical aspects of it.  This class helps to keep both my horse and I focused and not think of outside distractions.  I think my horses love it too as it gives them a chance to not always be doing the same thing.  And since mine would both rather stop than go, it’s right up their ally!  I was especially happy  last year when we made the year end high point in AQHA for Ranch Trail placing 7th in the nation.  It helped to give me more confidence!

What challenges did you face in winning a CA Championship All Around Champion award with your horse – or was it easy to win? What advice could you give to other exhibitors hoping to win this prestigious award?

I was thrilled to win the Championship.  I’ve been in awe of so many riders since I started showing AQHA and it was an honor to be able to compete at this level.  My biggest challenge was attempting a reining pattern.  While my horse may have come from the reining world you would never know it!  We barely get thru a pattern.  I have a huge fear of going fast so we tend to do it in slow motion!  It usually gives my friends a good laugh!  My advice to folks would just be to go out there and give it your all.   You don’t have to have the most expensive horse or the most expensive tack.  Time and commitment is a winning combination.  The horseshow world is full of supportive, helpful folks.  I’ve been blessed with some great trainers and friends who support me.  My favorite part about showing is the new friends I’ve made along the way and the trainers on the sidelines who help  me too!

How did you practice and prepare to show in the CA Championship show? How often and what did you do (ie: patterns, lots of ride time, go out on the trail – or have more lessons with the trainer?)

I ride the most when I’m preparing for a show. We practice bits and pieces of patterns, and try not to do transitions or lead changes in the same spots. I usually take lessons about twice a week. In addition, this past year I started weight training and I feel it’s really helped me become a stronger rider.

What is a special memory you have from the California Championship show? Tell us why this is special and what you’d like to see added for next year.

I remember going to my first fall PCQHA show about 6-7 years ago.  I was like a deer in the headlights.  So many great riders and horses!  Winning the California Championship Amateur Select Ranch Horse All Around and High Point is truly an honor. I’m grateful for great horses who are willing to pack me around, a trainer and her crew who go above and beyond and all those who put the shows on and give of their time and energy to allow us to go out and compete.  I would cross my fingers that perhaps VRH Ranch Trail and VRH Ranch Riding could be added to the show next year.

How long have you been showing and what is your next goal?

My trainer,  Jennifer Ray, and I have known each other for over 30 years and the last 7 as my trainer.  She has taken me from the fear of everything to (still afraid) but willing to go in and show!  Never in my wildest dreams did I expect to be showing at AQHA shows.  I’ve been blessed to experience bucket lists I didn’t know I had!  As I religiously watch the AQHA World Show goes, my goal would be to make the finals on my two boys in Ranch Trail.