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Crown Point woman wins national championship

CROWN POINT Heather Huchro Overbeeks busy schedule of shoeing horses and running H&H Quarter Carat Farm in Crown Point has helped build the competitive nature that has brought her national attention as a reining champion. From truck and trailer at the fairs to cruising across Interstate 80, Overbeek has experienced showing horses since she was 4 years old. Now, having made her mark in horsemanship by winning the National Reining Horse Associations Limited Non-Pro, she placed seventh in the world in her division. Over laden with buckles, ribbons, plaques and a pewter horse, Overbeek shyly admitted she worked hard to win at Congress, the worlds largest single breed horse show. I rode hard and half way through the year, I was ranking with the top 20 contestants by mid-year, said Overbeek. It was at this point Overbeek decided to ride for top 10. Overbeek rode harder than before and had slid into to fourth place when she over spun her horse and was disqualified and was pushed back to seventh place. I really wanted to win a buckle and ended up with more than one, said Overbeek. Overbeek met her companion and perfect match (the horse) when she was shoeing horses in Northern New York. A registered American Quarter Horse, Praline Pauline, whos barn name is Tiger Lil, found her way into Overbeeks heart and the twosome have made whirlwind performances throughout the Northeast. Tiger Lil has a mind of her own and we had some things to work out, said Overbeek. We are a match now. We trust each other and she works exceptionally well for me. Overbeek attributes her interest in reining horses to Ann Lamb of Ticonderoga, the areas first female reining horse trainer, who shows nationally and is well-known throughout the reining world. If it wasnt for Ann insisting I ride her horse, I would never be where I am today, stated Overbeek. She is the person who really got me involved in reining. Reining, a sport of riding a horse that has been trained to work patterns in the arena, is designed to show the athletic ability of a horse. According to the National Equestrian Federation, contestants are required to run one of 10 approved patterns that are divided into seven or eight maneuvers, including small slow circles, large fast circles, flying lead changes, 360 degree spins done in place, and exciting slide stops that are the hallmark of the reining horse. Despite the seemingly relaxed attitude of both horse and rider and the loose reins typical of the discipline, reining is a high level competition sport requiring concentration and high riding competence. Reining competitions have grown from three events in 2001 to 41 in 2006. Competitions are held in Italy, France, Switzerland, Czech Republic, Israel and Brazil as well the United States. Overbeeks husband, Harald, found a way to support his wife, other than driving the truck and helping with stable chores. He lip-syncs to the music that is played while I ride, beamed Overbeek. He is entertaining and the crowd loves it when he strolls up to mouth the words of famous country-western singers. Without her friends and family, Overbeek claimed she couldnt have made it this far. However, Tiger Lil bucks up against that theory. My dad and mom have been so supportive of me all my life, and my mom, Johanne Huchro, would have been proud of me, smiled Overbeek. Overbeek is preparing for the 2008 competitions now and hopes to move up to the Rookie Professional Division. Just because you come from a small town doesnt mean you cant compete with the professionals, smiled Overbeek. Im proud of what I have accomplished.

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