World and Congress Champion, Hes Just To Sharp, Passes
GoHorseShow is heartbroken to report that Congress and World Champion, Hes Just To Sharp has passed away. He was 29 years-old. The Christensen Family from Michigan owned him most of his life. “He was a once in a lifetime horse,” Jack Christensen, the patriarch of the family, told us. “He was tough right to the end.”
His wife Nancy reflects, “It was such an honor when the Michigan Quarter Horse Association inducted him into their Hall of Fame. In 2012, he was inducted into The National Snaffle Bit Hall of Fame, and I remember thinking that evening that his picture will always hang at this event.”
Nancy and Jack’s son, Tim Christensen adds, “He never had a joint injected. He was a natural, a type of horse that everyone dreams of and only a few of us have ever experienced.”
For Nancy Christensen, the sorrel gelding born 29 years ago on March 22, 1988, has always been “The One.” Hes Just To Sharp came into Nancy’s world at just six-months-old. Affectionately known as Travis, little did anyone know that this pair would soon become not only world champions in the show arena but a lifelong team as well.
By the stallion, Zippo Jack Bar and out of the great NSBA Hall of Fame mare, Paleface Doll, there was no doubt that the young colt had the bloodlines to become a successful show horse. As a baby, Nancy told us that Travis had trouble nursing and that he was bottle-fed. He also wore a little sweatshirt to keep him warm during a cold February in Michigan.
In the Spring of 1988, Nancy’s son, Tim and his friend, Tom Papiernik went to BSB Quarter Horses in Sturgis, Michigan to look at some prospects. Papiernik ended up purchasing the young colt and moved him to Nancy’s farm when he was six-months-old.
As he grew into a talented two-year-old, Travis began his training and he was soon offered for sale. While multiple people passed on the offer to own him, Nancy knew that there was something special about him. “He’s just not flashy enough,” said one of his potential buyers. Luckily for the gelding, Nancy could see the greatness and the flash that others could not. Soon after, it became a done deal. Nancy Christensen purchased him from Tom Papiernik for $4,000 and continued his training with her son, Tim Christensen.
Having success at an early age, Travis began his career with wins at multiple shows. It was at this point that Nancy decided that she would never sell him. Though Nancy and her son Tim were having success with the gelding, they sent him to Jon Barry to be finished. Continuing to win many futurities, he seemed to excel in not only the western pleasure but other events such as the horsemanship and hunter under saddle.
“He could do everything,” Nancy says, though she points out that showing him in the western pleasure was always her favorite.
Seeing how it was her favorite class to show in, the duo went on to compete many times over the years and racked up an impressive record in the class. Twenty-two years ago, at the 1995 AQHA World Show, with 272 total entries, Nancy and Travis became Reserve World Champions in the Amateur Western Pleasure. This win added to the gelding’s already impressive record, as he was also Top Ten at the AQHA World Show in the Junior Western Pleasure and also won the 1997 AQHA high-point award for Amateur Western Pleasure.
Throughout his show career, he has earned hundreds of AQHA points, multiple ROMs and Superiors, as well as being named the AQHA World Champion in Senior Western Pleasure in 1994. With wins at the All American Quarter Horse Congress, along with an impressive $61,251 earned in the AQHA Incentive Fund, he proved that he was a superstar.
When Nancy had to undergo quadruple bypass surgery a few years ago, the first thing she did after she returned home was to visit Travis. She admits that Travis was quite the character; he loved attention and loved to be brushed and pampered.
Nancy also reflects back on some of the best times they have shared together. For example, years ago at Roberts Arena in Wilmington, Ohio, there happened to be a Bridleless Western Pleasure class at the Whistlestop Horse Show, where the crowd would bid on the winner of the class. The owner of the facility, Mrs. Roberts would end up bidding $5,200 on the duo to win the class.
“At the end of the class while we were walking, he just loped off like he was supposed to with his head down and on the correct lead,” says Nancy with a laugh, adding that he is so smart.
“He has always been there for our family,” Nancy says as she recalls a time where the gelding would come up to them as they were having coffee on the porch. “We let him have the run of the farm, as he was so special to us. He was part human and a part of our family,” she says.
We would like to send out our sincerest condolences to The Christensen Family. RIP, Travis!