Where Are They Now: Big League Potential
AQHA World and Congress Champion Big League Potential is still making dreams come true in and out of the arena. We spoke with his past owners, Peyton and Jenny Bivins, who donated the now 16-year-old gelding to Dove Creek Equine Rescue located in Amarillo, Texas.
The 2003 bay gelding, affectionately known as “Bentley” was a 2010 AQHA World Champion in the Senior Hunter Saddle with Kim Reynolds and back-to-back champion in 2009 and 2010 at the All-American Quarter Horse Congress. This gelding, by Gota Lota Potential and out of Kizzy Nostra, made his mark on the industry with Jenny Bivins as a youth exhibitor in AQHA events.
Jenny remembers her very first show with Big League Potential was the 2010 Quarter Horse Congress. She recalls, “It was really scary, but we just went for it.” The dynamic team did “go for it” that year by qualifying for the AQHA Youth World Show in 2011 where they earned Reserve Champion in the hunter under saddle class. That same year, Jenny and Bentley became champions in the 14-18 Youth Hunter Under Saddle at the Quarter Horse Congress.
When Jenny recalled her show career, she said, “Bentley was always on the lazier side and liked to take naps in the morning. If you couldn’t find him, he was most likely laying down, but he was always a sweet horse that aimed to please in the show ring. It was so much fun and such a pleasure to show him and cross those milestones with him. I’ve shown a lot of horses, and he was one of my favorites.”
Their last show together before Jenny left for college at the University of Texas was the 2013 AQHA Youth World where they received another Reserve World Champion title in the hunter under saddle division.
After a very successful show career, Bentley was retired. Recently, the Bivins family chose to relocate him to a rescue facility owned by their family friend, Laurie Higgins-Kerley (pictured left). Dove Creek Equine Rescue was chosen as the ideal sanctuary because of how the program valued the bond between humans and horses.
Dove Creek Equine Rescue is a 501-C non-profit dedicated to making a difference in the unwanted horse population. Kerley founded this rescue after a small herd of horses healed her state of grief when her husband passed. Inspired by how these horses helped her, she decided to assist them and offer them a second chance. Her goal is to place unwanted horses in homes that benefit both the horse and owners while honoring that special human and horse connection.
Initially established in September of 2012, Dove Creek Equine Rescue has re-homed 75% of the horses they have received while expertly maintaining the 25% that are not adoptable. This sanctuary allows the horses to rehabilitate both physically and mentally. When the horses are ready, they can join the training program run by Frank Castillo.
Bentley created a difference in all the Bivins family’s lives, and it is significant that he gets to share his personality and talent with others now. “It was rewarding for him to go to Dove Creek because he was always there for me,” Jenny Bivins told us. “I think it’s awesome that he can assist others and make connections. Although he isn’t a show horse anymore, he isn’t sitting in a pasture; he’s helping others and getting to be a horse on a ranch.”
Peyton Bivins further explained that Bentley was not an unwanted horse. Bentley is utilized as a therapy companion and trail riding horse. “This organization is unique and different from a lot of other rescues. Dove Creek values training, and horses aren’t just turned out and forgotten.”
In 2017, Kerley was certified as an equine therapy facilitator so that she could expand her rescue to include an equine assisted healing program. “Bentley had what it takes to be a part of this program. He has a big heart and loves people.”
The rescue also helped Bentley, “When he first arrived, he didn’t know how to act around other horses, and so the herd taught him how to be a horse,” Laurie explains. “We have a real natural setting with around 600 acres. Since we’re near the canyons, there are also hills and valleys, so he has plenty of room to run, play and be a horse.”
Kerley adds, “I am always humbled. We help horses here, but they’re always helping us way more than we are helping them.”
About the Author- Anneleise Ritzi shows her mare, Man Im Sassy, in Western All-Around Events as an Amateur Exhibitor. Currently, she is a junior at the University of Findlay, majoring in Western Equestrian Studies and English General Writing. She is a member of Findlay’s IHSA Western Equestrian team and competes in the Open Division.