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Monday, May 2, 2016

Brazil cowboy takes first out west

Thursday, July 28, 2005

After placing in the top 12 in the Walk-Trot Western Equitation classification earlier in the day, when 11-year-old Jed Thomas of Brazil sat astride the saddle and tugged at the reigns to lead his horse into the arena at the Appaloosa Youth World Championships in Oklahoma City, Okla., on July 1 there were still a few jitters to contend with.

It was the first time for the Walk-Trot Western Pleasure classification at the event, there were 44 other participants, many with better and more expensive equipment and riding pure-bred horses, and this was Jed's first competition at this level.

The Walk-Trot Western Pleasure class is an artful, but extremely technical, display of showmanship, where the rider must maintain complete control of the horse at all times.

"It's supposed to look easy, like you're having a fun ride, but it's really very difficult," Jed said. "It's a lot harder than it looks."

He's been training for only two years with Steve and Elizabeth Heiss of Heiss Performance Horses of Coatesville, Ind.

"Jed's come a long way in such a short time of training," Elizabeth Heiss said. Jed had practiced around 200 hours with the Heiress before the event. They were there the evening of the event. "Charlie is a spirited horse for an adult rider, but Jed controlled him beautifully."

Five judges went through three different splits of technical ability among the participants to determine the final competitors and the ultimate winner.

As Jed waited for the announcement of the final judging, it was clear to his family watching from the stands that the young man was tired from the day's competition.

"It was late in the evening when they announced the winner," Jerald Thomas said. "We knew what was happening, but he didn't put it all together right away. He just had this look on his face for a minute before he got it, then he realized he'd won. I was so proud of him."

As the 2005 Appaloosa Youth World Champion Walk-Trot Western Pleasure rider, Jed won a bronze statue/trophy, a blue ribbon and medal, a jacket with his name and the championship title embroidered on it along with a picture taken shortly after winning the event.

"It was a lot of hard work, but it was fun," Jed said of winning. "I really liked winning."

He's become a role-model to his younger sister, Brandy, who dreams of winning a championship herself in the future. He offers winning advice to her and anyone who will listen on how to succeed.

"Outside of the obvious thing about practice, I'd have to say if you want to win, you just have to stay in the saddle," Jed said, smiling. "Staying in the saddle is the main thing."

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