Victoria resident J.R. Burns takes home world champion pole bending title
Sept. 21, 2010 at 4:21 a.m.
Two Victoria residents made names for themselves at the American Quarter Horse Association's Adequan Select World Champion Show.
J.R. Burns, 52, clinched the world champion pole bending title with help from her brown sorrel gelding, Hes A Hot Topic.
"It's not me that did the work," Burns said with a chuckle. "It's him."
The Sept. 2 show, at the Amarillo National Center in Amarillo, was open solely to amateur riders age 50 and older. The Victoria duo competed against 13 others in their event.
It was the Florida native's first time competing in a world championship show, but she's no stranger to horses.
Burns developed a love for riding during her childhood, she said, explaining she trained and competed throughout school and college.
"The only thing that has ever been easy for me to do is ride a horse," she said. "This truly, truly is my passion and the one thing I feel very blessed to be able to do."
Competitions ceased after she graduated college, but a close friend urged her to enter Hes A Hot Topic - known around the barn as Pete - into the select show.
Burns and her husband, Gary Burns, purchased Pete as a yearling and, although he didn't come from outstanding breeding, the horse developed into a calm animal that worked well with his handler.
"He's like a big old dog," Gary Burns said of 4-year-old Pete. "He's just a good-natured horse."
Pete is a personable horse that loves peppermint, J.R. Burns said, and loves attention from people.
"Everybody that meets him literally falls in love with him," she said.
Gary Burns, said he was proud of his wife's win.
She's a talented rider, but was up against two other world champions, one who'd won five times, he said.
"She was kind of the dark horse nobody knew about," he said. "Nobody knew her from Adam."
The duo's winnings included a belt buckle, neck wreath, trophy, Cripple Creek jacket, rosette with medallion and cash prize, according to an American Quarter Horse Association news release.
It can be intimidating to compete at that level but it doesn't pay to panic, J.R. Burns said.
"You can allow yourself that or breathe deep and say ... 'I've done all I can, I've prayed all I can and I'm just going to go do it and see what happens,'" she said.