2006 AQHA Regional Experience Region 3

Region 3 Amateur winner Katie Pidgeon and newcomer Michael Albers talk about their horses, trainers and the 2006 AQHA Regional Experience in their region.

Region 3 Amateur Winner Katie Pidgeon
Katie Pidgeon, 24, comes from a family of Quarter Horse enthusiasts–they breed, raise and show their own horses and currently keep 10 at their home in Salem, Iowa. Katie, a recent graduate of Drake University, has been busy showing this year with much success. She made the journey to this year’s Regional Experience in St. Paul, Minn., and won the Amateur All Around championship with one of her family’s homebred mares.

Katie Pidgeon | Photo by Bar H Photography

Tell us about your horse.

I rode Ialwaysgetluckywithu, my 4-year-old, 15.1-hand, sorrel mare. We call her “Martha” and I started showing her seriously last year. She’s already a great all-around show horse–very good in the trail, showmanship, horsemanship and pleasure classes. We bred and raised her, and she’s always been easy to work with and learns so fast. She always tries her best, and gives 100 percent at whatever she does.

What has been your most memorable moment in the saddle?

There’s no particular moment I can single out, but I like to look back on my journey from 4H and the novice youth division, and all the progress I’ve made since then. I love learning, challenging myself and making myself better.

Do you ride with a trainer?

Martha’s in training with Joni and Craig Nelson in Long Grove, Iowa, and I ride in lessons with them at least twice a week. Joni usually works with me on the pattern-class training such as trail, showmanship and horsemanship, and Craig is great with pleasure training, so they complement each other well. We attend shows once or twice a month during show season.

Tell us about your Regional Experience win.

We showed in trail, showmanship, horsemanship, pleasure, and halter to win the Amateur All Around championship. There were all levels of competition, from exhibitors just starting out to some very serious competitors. It was a nice atmosphere with exhibitors acting very friendly and helpful toward each other. I’ve never been to the AQHA World Show, so it was fun to take part in a championship format show with so many special details.

Would you recommend the Regional Experience to other show riders? To newcomers? Will you be back next year?

Definitely–it more than met my expectations as a show rider. It was lots of fun, with good competition, wonderful prizes, and many activities beyond the show itself. Plus, it’s a great way to meet other people from your AQHA region. Newcomers will be welcomed and inspired. In addition to being able to watch clinics, they can learn so much just by watching the horse show. I learned a lot just watching the disciplines like cow horse, reining, jumping and pleasure driving that I don’t get to see at other horse shows. I look forward to attending again.

Region 3 Newcomer Michael Albers
Michael Albers, 42, is a team roper who specializes in heeling. Based in Klemme, Iowa, with his six Quarter Horses, he’s been competing successfully at United States Team Roping Championships (USTRC) events, but is new to AQHA competition. He recently took part in the AQHA Regional Experience in St. Paul, Minn., and with his success there, he has some new competitive goals.

Michael Albers | Photo by Bar H Photography

Tell us about your horse.

For the Regional Experience, I rode Sun Sovereign, my 5-year-old, 14.3-hand, red dun stallion. I started him team roping at age three, and now he’s a finished heeling horse with a bright future. He’s all business when he’s roping, but he’s great on trail rides, too. Because he’s a stallion, he’s built pretty thick but with very clean lines. From his personality, though, you’d never guess he’s a stallion. He’s gentle as a lamb and never misbehaves around other horses, even mares. He has several foals and you know they’re his–he passes his color on and they look just like him.

What rider/clinician do you most admire and why?

Ray Hunt. I’ve never gotten to see him in person, but I’ve seen a lot of video and read his methods. I admire him because he began the gentle approach to working with horses a long time ago, before a lot of the current clinicians got their start. He’s been around a long time and the gentle approach is the best way to go.

Why do you ride Quarter Horses and what are your favorite characteristics of the breed?

I grew up with numerous Quarter Horses. We had 13 of them when I was a kid, and there were six of us kids, so we had lots of fun. I’ve always found them to be the most versatile of all equines, too.

What was your most memorable Regional Experience moment?

Winning the amateur heeling class and having all my friends and everyone around me be as happy about it as I was. What a great feeling!

Do you want to show more, and will you be back at the Regional Experience?

Definitely. I’m bringing along some other young horses as heelers and will compete on them in the future. Now that I’ve been to the Regional Experience, I absolutely want to come back. It’s a great event and has also made me want to qualify for the AQHA World Show. I’ll be setting my 2007 show schedule around AQHA shows with that goal in mind.

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