SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — Caleb Heinz, 9, of Greenfield, the son of Matt and Alecia Heinz, is already reaching high places as a youngster on his horse.
Heinz went Saturday, July 10, with his mother to the Palomino Horse Breeders of America World Show, held on the Illinois State Fairgrounds. From that event, Heinz earned two world championships—in the trail and horsemanship divisions—and two runner-up finishes, in English equitation and in trail on another horse.
Trail and horsemanship are similar, but they’re different classes, Heinz explained.
“Horsemanship [and trail] is a riding pattern class. This year’s pattern was one I had already done,” Heinz said, explaining that you start at one cone, walk up to it, trot to the next cone, stop, back up a horse length, trot a big circle, trot another big circle, stop at the second cone again, and then leave the arena.
“Trail has more complex obstacles, like logs to go over,” Heinz said.
Pattern classes are his “jam,” Heinz said. He finds remembering the required patterns while in the arena a good challenge, but rewarding in the end.
Heinz’s love for horses didn’t appear overnight, he’s grown up around them. His grandparents, Alvin and Karen Havens, have been instrumental in his love for riding.
“I love horses because they’re always your best friend. They listen,” Heinz said. “One of my horses, Sonny, whenever I would ask him something, if it was true he’d nod his head, or if it wasn’t he’d shake his head. You could tell he was listening.”
One of the horses that Heinz rode in the trail competition was borrowed from a family friend, while the other one was his, named R.J.
“Caleb is the only one who rides [R.J.]. We don’t have a trainer, so he’s done all the work on the horse this year,” said Karen Havens. “That’s the amazing part.”
Heinz explained that being able to work with horses is a gift, but he admits that it’s actually teamwork between the rider and the horse that brings about true success.
“That’s basically what horse shows are about—teamwork with your horse,” Heinz said. “That’s the good part.”