Posted, Sunday, June 25, 2006
2006 Adequan®/USEF® Open Reining Championship Decides Team for FEI World Equestrian Games - Aachen
Matt Mills and Quarter Horse Stallion Easy Otie Whiz Capture 2006 Adequan®/USEF® Open Reining Championship
When the dust settled from the sliding stops and spins, it was Matt Mills on the top of the leader board with the ride of the night. Of the 27 competitors, two top riders zeroed early in the competition, another kicked-out on a figure eight and saw his score drop too low to stay in contention, and one left the ring early when the horse apparently sustained a minor injury during his ride. That left four top place finishers from very different worlds, two of the biggest names in the reining world of legendary stature, and two that have never shown internationally and are now scrambling to get a passport.
Mills and Easy Otie Whiz, a seven-year-old Quarter Horse stallion, owned by Out West Stallion Station and Bobbie Cook took home top honors with a score of 231. In addition to the title, Mills won the Don Burt Award, given to the highest placed restricted reining rider in the Adequan/USEF Open Reining Championship.
“It was a pretty tough group of riders and horses in this event. I was just hoping to survive and be in the top four. You’ve got almost all of the million dollar riders except for two of them here. It’s pretty tough competition…He felt on all week. I didn’t do much preparation on him. Everything I asked him to do, he did right off the bat. When I walked in the pen and loped him off, he’s been really good every time I’ve shown him, but tonight he felt extra locked in and extra special and I decided to go ahead and throw caution to the wind and see what happened, it worked out alright.”
Mills admitted that it can be easy to get really tense, really quickly and forget to breathe, which is why he let out a deep breath before he started. This time he knew right away that his horse was dialed in. “I was along for the ride. I just kind of smiled and said, good boy.”
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