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Victoria resident J.R. Burns takes home world champion pole bending title

By ALLISON MILES
Sept. 21, 2010 at 4:21 a.m.

J.R. Burns, right, and her sorrel gelding, Pete, took the world champion pole bending title Sept. 2 at the American Quarter Horse Association's Adequan Select World Championship Show. Also pictured, from left, are Joycalyn Wininger and Darby Freeman with Adequan, and Don Treadway Jr., executive vice president of the American Quarter Horse Association.

Did you know?Hes A Hot Topic, a.k.a. Pete, recently overcame medical obstacles.

A while back, his owner, J.R. Burns, was cleaning out his stall but, when she went to toss manure into a bin, accidentally hit the horse in the eye with the fork.

She called veterinarian friends who checked him out and deemed him OK to compete in an upcoming show. If his eye color changed, however, they urged her to contact a veterinarian immediately.

They reached the dome where Pete's show would take place, but Burns noticed the eye had, in fact, changed color. Burns said she worried because the arena was nearly empty.

"God is so good because the only other person in there was a vet, and I knew his father," she said.

Pete sat out that show and, in January, spent three weeks recovering in Elgin.

"There were a lot of prayers," Burns said. "I laughed because my Sunday school class said they were praying for him. But he could have lost his eye."

Luckily, Pete pulled through and has done well in recent shows.

"He's a neat little horse," Burns said.

WANT TO KNOW MORE?Additional information, as well as photos and a video of J.R. and Hes A Hot Topic's run are available online at www.aqha.com/showing/shows/selectshow/2010winningrun/polebending.html.

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.

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