Tordoff told us that ending Sterling’s career with a win in the Horsemanship at the World Show was a dream come true. Photo © GoHorseShow

Sterling Version and Olivia Tordoff End Their Perfect Ride Together with Gold

Our September GoMag cover features the now retired and 2017 AQHYA World Champion, Sterling Version. We recently wrote the cover story briefly discussing Olivia Tordoff and Sterling Version’s love for one another, but we decided that Olivia had so much more to say about her beloved equine friend that we had to do a follow up. Click here to read the cover story in case you missed it.

At the 2017 AQHYA World Show, this team went out as champions when they brought home the gold in the Horsemanship. Sterling is now retired at the Tordoff’s place, Wild Oats Farm, in Delaware, Ohio.

“Sterling is so special and sometimes I feel like I can’t even find the words to describe why. First of all, Sterling is 21 years old and a big, beautiful, breathtaking, grey gelding,” Olivia fondly tells us. “He has a huge heart, and up until he was retired, he would get excited when he got to the cone. He loves being the center of attention and he has so much ‘try’ and never quits.”

Olivia remembers that often times he was difficult to show. “If a pattern was simple, he thought maybe an extra lead change or an extra spin should be added so he could show off,” Olivia says. “But at the end of the day, he can read me and see inside my soul. If I am having a difficult time, he puts his head low and lets me bury my face in his long forelock, or he will nibble at me until he makes me smile. I really feel like when I doubted myself, he pushed me to keep trying.”

Tordoff told us that ending Sterling’s career with a win in the Horsemanship at the World Show was a dream come true. “Sterling and I are both very passionate about the Horsemanship, so to win the World Show in our favorite class was truly spectacular. He has given me everything and I just feel honored to finally be able to give something back to him. I wanted nothing more than for him to end his career with ‘World Champion’ next to his name.”

Olivia also talked to us about how special it was to make the finals of the Horsemanship with her sister, Alexia, who was the only 13 and under competitor to make the finals.

Unfortunately, a few weeks before the show, their grandmother passed away. During the lineup for the finals, one of their Grandmother’s favorite songs, Seven Spanish Angels, played in the Jim Norick Arena. “Alexia and I winked at each other before they called our numbers,” Olivia says. We knew Grandma was with us.”

It just so happened that the lights went out just before Olivia’s go in the finals. “We wondered if my Grandma was trying to get everyone’s attention. Unfortunately, she didn’t realize that my best friend, Nya Kearns, was not done with her pattern,” Olivia says and laughs. “When the lights finally came on, Sterling and I went to the cone and Sterling nickered rather loud. He has never done that in all the times I have shown him. For some reason, it didn’t rattle me, and he never even raised his head. He continued to nicker a few more times during our pattern, but he never missed a beat.”

Olivia says that she wasn’t sure if he was talking to their Grandma; reminding Brent Tincher (her trainer) that he promised retirement if they won; or if he wanted everyone to pay attention to him as he did his last pattern at the Youth World.

“All I know is that I felt like Sterling and I were one, and we were going to try to have a very special pattern and rail work. Luckily, we did just that.”

Also at this year’s Youth World, Olivia and her other horse, Too Blazin Cool, took home the gold in the Hunter Under Saddle. At the Congress, they plan to show in the 15-18 Hunter Under Saddle, 15-18 Equitation, NYATT Hunter Under Saddle, and the Maturity LTD Non-Pro Hunter Under Saddle. She also hopes to show her new horse, Lookin Lazy (Mariah), in the 15-18 Horsemanship.

“It is a pretty tall order to show the horsemanship with anyone other than Sterling and she is just learning the Horsemanship and is pretty green, so we will just have to play that one by ear. It will definitely be bittersweet to be at the Congress without Sterling, but he deserves to retire.”

Tordoff’s future goal is to ride on a NCEA Equestrian team in college. “I am so grateful that the NCAA Equestrian program is doing so well because riding is such a big piece of my life. It is such a great opportunity for me, so many of my friends and, I think, our entire industry.”

Finally, Olivia would like to acknowledge that her win at the Youth World was truly a team effort. She would like to thank her parents, trainer, Brent Tincher, who always put Sterling first and gave them both 110%, Dale Hamilton, who helps coach her, and Dr. Derek McFadden who was his vet the past six years, Dr. Allison Gardner and the whole team at The Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine for saving Sterling’s life last year, Terry Stevers for being the best farrier, Brynne and Kevin Ketner for treating her like family, and finally, her sister, Alexia, who taught her to just be herself.

Click here to view Olivia and Alexia’s ad in the September issue of GoMag

View a slideshow of them below through the years