Canadian exhibitor, Sharon Forbes-Hanks earns All-Around title
at the 2019 AQHA Select Amateur World Championship Show
Hot Lil Assets with Sharon Forbes-Hanks, Glen Hanks, Jill Briggs and John Briggs
Sharon Forbes-Hanks of Pilot Mound, Manitoba, became the first Canadian and the first International exhibitor in the event's history to earn the prestigious All-Around title at the 2019 AQHA Select Amateur World Championship Show presented by Adequan®.
The event was held between August 27 and 31, 2019, at the Will Rogers Memorial Center in Fort Worth, Texas, and is the world's largest, single-breed world championship horse show open exclusively to amateur exhibitors age 50 and over. It is the pinnacle for select amateur competitors who were required to qualify between June 1, 2018 and May 31, 2019 by earning a predetermined number of points to secure a spot in each of the classes, representing English, western and halter disciplines.
Forbes-Hanks showed her 2009 American Quarter Horse Hot Lil Assets, a sorrel mare by Protect Your Assets and out of Barbies Hotrod, bred by Cheryl Lang of Humboldt, Saskatchewan. They accumulated 50 points winning a Reserve World Championship in Showmanship, placing third in Horsemanship and Hunt Seat Equitation, fourth in Performance Halter Mares and ninth in Western Riding.
Originally from Lashburn, Saskatchewan, Forbes-Hanks attended Lakeland College in Vermilion, Alberta, graduating in 1985 with a diploma in Business Administration with an accounting major. She worked in a variety of managerial and accounting positions in western Saskatchewan, including a fourteen-year stint as office manager and accountant at Heartland Livestock Service in Prince Albert. During her working career Forbes-Hanks also coached youth exhibitors at the regional level.
When did you begin your horse showing career?
"I began showing as a youth in the early 1970's, at gymkhanas, 4-H, and open shows. In 1976, I began showing at AQHA shows with my really good youth show horse, Rip Off Roanie, a red roan mare owned by my sister, Nancy. I went on to compete on the AQHA youth circuits in Alberta and Saskatchewan, with Kidnap Pine Rose, Otoes Barbie Doll, Willy Glitter and Ole Bar Flash. Flash and I competed on the Saskatchewan Youth Team at Quarterama in 1981 in Toronto, Ontario and at the AQHA Youth World Championship Show in the USA that same year. After youth competition, I took some time off from showing for my working career but resumed showing as an amateur exhibitor in 1994-95 in the prairie provinces, not venturing outside of Canada again until 2000, when I attended the North Dakota State Fair, in Minot."
How did you acquire Hot Lil Assets (a.k.a. Lexi)?
"Actually, my family raised Lexi's dam, Barbies Hotrod, who was not shown due to an injury, but we kept her as a broodmare. I sold Barbies Hotrod to Cheryl Lang of Humboldt, Saskatchewan, who raised a couple of foals, including Lexi. Lexi was foaled in my training barn in 2009, and the next year I showed her for Cheryl in Yearling Longe Line at the Thanksgiving Classic Quarter Horse Show in Manitoba, where I reconnected with Glen (Hanks). Glen and I bought Lexi from Cheryl as a two-year-old and she became part of our new family when Glen and I married in 2011."
What was there about Lexi that made you believe she could carry you to this level?
Lexi chillin' at Briggs Show Horses the day after the big show
Lexi comes from a very strong mare line... my family owned her granddam, Canadian Barbie, and that mare's full sister, Otoes Barbie Doll. These mares were both sired by the great Canadian sire, Otoes Gent. Canadian Barbie was injured as a young mare, but Otoes Barbie Doll was another one of our really good show horses, back in the late 70's. My parents bred Canadian Barbie to Hot Pretense, another great Canadian sire. That cross produced 4 full siblings, including Barbies Hotrod, Canadian Jetsetter, Hottest Barbie Yet and Barbies Pretense. Barbies Hotrod was the only one not shown (due to injury), but the other three went on to win numerous awards and were all Superior Event award earners and World Show qualifiers.
Barbies Hotrod has been a great producer, with six foals who are all AQHA performers, including Macs Good N Hot, who has multiple AQHA Superior awards and too many accolades to list, and Macs Smokin Hot, who was recently the Bronze Champion All Around Level 1 Youth at the 2019 AQHA Level 1 Championships in Las Vegas. Given Barbies Hotrod's background, we knew she had potential to produce great foals, and Cheryl crossed her with Protect Your Assets. I would say that the cross was very successful. Lexi was athletic with very good movement, but perhaps being a mare, she was initially slower to mature mentally, so we took our time developing her as an All-Around horse."
What are the future plans for you and Lexi?
"That's still up in the air! In 2018, we did an embryo transplant out of Lexi and Mechanic, resulting in a sorrel stud colt born in 2019. His barn name is "Magnum" and he has very big shoes to fill!
"Currently, John Briggs is training Lift Kit, a three-year-old gelding also by Mechanic, whom we purchased as a yearling. He's showing a lot of promise as a future all-around horse. In his debut this summer at the NSBA World Championships in Tulsa, he placed eleventh in NSBA three-year-old Trail out of 33 entries. We plan to continue to develop him into an All-Around horse."
Tell us about your show team?
"My husband Glen has been amazing, so supportive and I'm lucky to have him. He's always with me at the shows and is there to help wherever needed, whether it's feeding, cleaning stalls, or bringing the grooming bag to the show pen. He also videos my runs which is so helpful when reviewing my performances, and he keeps our friends back home up to date on our travels through Facebook. I would not be in this position without him. In 2012, Glen and I made the decision to chase my dreams, even though I would have to wait until 2015 to regain my amateur status.
"In mid-January of 2012, we travelled to Briggs Show Horses in Pilot Point, Texas for a couple of months of training. We stayed to the end of March so I could take lessons on Macs Good N Hot (my show horse at that time) & Lexi. In the fall of 2012, we sent Lexi to John for a couple of months of training and again we spent mid-Jan thru March being coached by the Briggs. This has become our routine ever since, as our farming lifestyle allows us the flexibility to do it. During the spring and summer months, we came back to Manitoba to farm, practise and show locally.
"I can't say enough about John and Jill - their integrity and honesty as trainers and coaches! They have in-depth knowledge about the preparation it takes to reach the highest levels. As Lexi and I developed over the years - the more we learned, the more they added to our training program. It's been a gradual evolution to where we are now. John and Jill inspired us to create a plan for each show. Plans don't always work out, but we always have one and adjust when necessary. We come home from every show with a list of things to work on before the next one.
"Our plan for the Select World show was to concentrate on my three core events, however we entered the other classes (Performance Halter Mares and Western Riding) needed to qualify me for the All-Around. It can be very easy to lose your focus when competing in five events at the top of your game. So, my strategy was to take it one class at a time and not even think about the end-result."
Any other tips about how others might follow in your footsteps?
1. Be willing to put in the time and the effort.
2. You need to find a coach you respect and can work with.
3. Don't be afraid to put yourself outside your comfort zone, it's scary but until you do, you won't know how you stack up against the competition. You might be pleasantly surprised.
4. Growth happens when you go out and compete, because it always gives you something to work on.
5. Preparation is key. Study and practice your patterns.
6. My goal each time I show is to do the best I can, and to improve on my previous show. I study the score sheets for tips and to see what the judges liked or didn't like."
What went through your head once you learned you had earned the All-Around award?
"When I first found out, it was disbelief - I was physically and emotionally exhausted. Then, with all the excitement of the award presentation, the win photo, an AQHA Journal interview, and packing up to go home, it took a few days to really sink in. Once it did, I was very proud of my horse, and doubly so, since she's a product of our family's breeding program going all the way back to my parents. It was really satisfying for us to know that all the work, training, and planning had come together - so many things can go wrong - but our stars were in alignment. And, I was thrilled to have represented and earned recognition for Canada."
CQHA is extremely pleased to be able to congratulate Sharon Forbes-Hanks and Canadian-bred Hot Lil Assets on their outstanding accomplishments at this world-class level. We trust you will continue to treasure the journey as much as the destination and all the accolades that came with it - a Lisa Perry All-Around Select Amateur Champion gold trophy, an AQHA World Champion Show jacket, a silver belt buckle as the Reserve World Champion in Select Amateur Showmanship, and two bronze AQHA trophies, one each for placing third in Select Amateur Horsemanship and Hunt Seat Equitation. You are both truly All-Around Champions and will be role models for generations of Canadians.
Content by CQHA
Photos courtesy of Shane Rux, AQHA and Sharon Forbes-Hanks
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