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GoSmart with Charlie & Jason: Looking Back on Ten Year Win Streak


GoHorseShow.com in partnership with SmartPak are pleased to continue the highly popular column, GoSmart with Charlie and Jason. Team SmartPak riders, Charlie Cole and Jason Martin have achieved success beyond compare. Since founding Highpoint Performance Horses in 1992, they have trained nearly 150 World Champions and 250 Congress Champions. Exclusive to GoHorseShow.com, GoSmart with Charlie and Jason will give you access to Charlie and Jason and the secrets to their success like never before.

Their next GoSmart column is about Highpoint’s unmatched success in western riding classes, specifically Senior Western Riding, at the AQHA World Show. Any horse trainer would be thrilled to say that they have won the AQHA World Show 10 times. But to have won a specific class 10 years in a row, that would be impossible, right? Think again.

Amazingly, from 2005 through 2014, a total of 10 years, a horse shown and trained by Charlie Cole or Jason Martin has won the Senior Western Riding class at the AQHA World Championship show every single year. And if that wasn’t impressive enough, for the past seven years, Charlie and Jason
trained and showed the Reserve World Champion as well. This is an incredible accomplishment,
especially given that western riding is such a difficult and challenging class.

AQHA World Show Senior Western Riding Horses Trained and Shown by Highpoint Performance Horses

  • 2005–MAJESTIC SCOTCH, World Champion
    Three others in top-10 (4, 8, 10)
  • 2006–HARLEY D ZIP, World Champion
    Two others in top-10 (4, 10)
  • 2007–HARLEY D ZIP, World Champion
    Five others in top-15 (4, 6, 12, 13, 14)
  • 2008–HARLEY D ZIP, World Champion
  • MAJESTIC SCOTCH, Reserve
    One other in Top-10 (6)
  • 2009–HARLEY D ZIP, World Champion
  • VITAL SIGNS ARE GOOD, Reserve
    Two others in Top-5 (4, 5)
  • 2010–VITAL SIGNS ARE GOOD,World Champion (Record score of 239)
    HARLEY D ZIP, Reserve
    Four others in Top-15 (4, 6, 7, 11)
  • 2011–HARLEY D ZIP, World Champion
    VITAL SIGNS ARE GOOD, Reserve
    Five others in Top-15 (4, 5, 6, 7, 12)
  • 2012–VITAL SIGNS ARE GOOD,
    World Champion
    IMA PETITE CLASSIC, Reserve
    Three others in Top-15 (4, 6, 13)
  • 2013–IMA PETITE CLASSIC, World Champion (Record score of 240.5)
    VITAL SIGNS ARE GOOD, Reserve
    Four others in Top-15 (3, 5, 14, 15)
  • 2014–DUNIT ON THE RANGE, World Champion
    IMA PETITE CLASSIC, Reserve
    One other Top-5 (3)

Jason Martin has over 30 World and Congress Champion titles in Senior Western riding alone. This dominance has earned him the unofficial title of the “Master Showman” of western riding.
Martin has shown two of the greatest western riders of all time–Harley D Zip and Vital Signs Are Good. During Highpoint’s 10-year Senior Western Riding winning streak, Martin has won eight of the 10 years. Harley D Zip won five of those 10 years.

Harley D Zip will always be one of the most celebrated western riders of all-time. “He has won more Incentive Fund money than any horse in AQHA history and with over 3,000 points in western riding, has earned more points than any horse in AQHA history,” says Jason Martin about Harley’s amazing show record.

Harley started and ended his western riding show career in style. He won a world championship in his first and last year. What is also impressive is that he won a world championship in the western riding in every division: Junior, Senior, Amateur, Select Amateur and Youth. Martin said that his most rewarding win was the last year he showed Harley in 2011.

“I put a lot of pressure on myself because this was going to be the last time I was ever going to show
Harley,” Martin recalls of his World Championship run in 2011. “I didn’t want to do anything or make a rider error in our last ride…but luckily everything turned out well.”

During the 10-year dominance, Charlie Cole won the Senior Western Riding two times. The first on Majestic Scotch in 2005 and the other on Ima Petite Classic in 2013 with a record breaking score of a 240.5.

“My favorite moment of the last ten years would probably be my first win on Majestic Scotch, but my most rewarding would be last year with Ima Petite Classic (pictured right). He is a tricky horse to show and in the past, we would always have a mistake or come up just short, but last year I just put my hand down and went for it and he was perfect.”

Martin told us that this year’s win was the most surprising. “Dunit On the Range is just a six year-old and he had surgery and was off for six months, so I didn’t think he would be ready to step up, but he did.”

The question most people would like to know is how have they have been able to win this demanding class ten years in a row. Both Martin and Cole are amazed at their 10-year winning streak and said they really don’t have an answer, except that hard work and striving to get better everyday motivates them.

“We concentrate on everything in the pattern,” Cole states. “From the back up to the pole and transition. We make sure to work on everything to try and get an extra half point wherever we can. Also, we are always trying to get the most reach and extension of stride during our lead changes.”

Martin agrees, “I think we may push our horses more through the lead change. The longest stride will be the stride of the actual change. I think some people may tend to slow down right before the lead change but we push them throughout the change to have the biggest front leg through the change.”

Martin cites his hunter background as helping him to have excellent timing in the class. Cole says that showing in multiple classes has helped manage his nerves due to him not concentrating on
just one event. The trainers also credit the depth of horses they have in their barn as one of the main reasons they have been so successful in this class.

“If one of our horses doesn’t come through or has a mistake, then, one of our other horses usually step up and meet the challenge,” Cole says.

Martin adds, “We have been truly blessed with great horses and customers and we look forward to doing it all over again next year.”

Jason Martin’s Western Riding Tips

  • Don’t Over PracticeJason says that many exhibitors practice too much, and they leave
    their best lead changes and rides in the warm up pen. “It is like
    over spinning too much in the warm up pen before showing in the reining.
    You shouldn’t change your routine, and the rider needs to be confident in
    their horse and their abilities to not over work their horse to the point
    the horse is tired, and stressed out.”
  • Practice Parts of the Pattern – “I don’t practice the
    whole pattern, but we always have a line set up, and I practice it every
    time I ride a horse,” Jason explains. “There was a time when we
    used to be afraid of practicing the pattern because we were thinking that
    it would cause a horse to cheat and anticipate–but the lead change is
    like a gait–you don’t stop practicing the jog. So, I think it is important
    to practice parts of the pattern. We have more patterns now so it is less
    likely for horses to get sour since we are constantly changing the
    patterns.”
  • Show in the Trail – Jason emphasizes that many
    trainers show in the western riding but they never practice the log. They may
    have gorgeous lead changes, but have trouble getting over the log clean.
    “I would recommend everyone to show in trail to get used to loping
    and maneuvering over the logs. Work on your timing and feel confident
    about the log as much as you do your lead changes. Some people end up in
    full panic mode over this one maneuver.” Martin says that he
    practices logs every time he rides. “Even our two year-olds and young
    horses go over logs everyday, so, it is a normal thing for them to do and
    doesn’t seem like anything difficult or challenging later on in their
    training.”
  • Lope Transition, the Log and Stop and Back
    – Jason explains that you should put as much emphasis on the log, stop and
    back, and lope transition maneuvers as the lead change. “It is worth
    as much as the lead change. If you try and get a plus half maneuver from
    each judge, and there are three judges–that will add a point and a half
    to the overall score. It is important to practice on getting a pretty lope
    transition and try to finesse these maneuvers that are largely ignored.
    You will be a step ahead by trying to add extra points to your
    score.”

For more western riding training and showing tips from Jason Martin and Charlie Cole, CLICK HERE to purchase their two training videos, “Teach Your Horse to Change Leads” and “Prepare and Show Your Horse in Western Riding”.

Photos © K.C. Montgomery, The American Quarter Horse Journal

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