By Kaytlyn L. Sheldon

Special to the Osceola Edition

REED CITY – Horse owner and exhibitor Coleen Bull has a lot to be thankful for.

“I’ve had a pretty incredible month, but this year has been unbelievable!”

Earlier this month, Bull and her horse, Timeless Assets, showed and won several titles at the American Paint Horse Association (APHA) Open/Amateur World Championship Paint Horse Show.

Competition in Fort Worth, Texas, was fierce with more than 900 Paint Horses and over 2,500 entries from around in the world.

Bull’s week of competition was off to a great start when she won her first class, the Masters Amateur Showmanship world championship.

“This was our second year earning that title,” said Bull. “Last year was the first year I showed in the Masters Amateur Showmanship. I was hoping to repeat the world title.”

This title was judged with all 42 participants doing the same pattern. The top 15 were called back to perform a second pattern before receiving the final placings. Bull was unanimously placed in first place by all five judges. One judge stated that Bull received the highest score she has ever given in a showmanship pattern.

“I ended up winning,” enthused Bull. “The last judge even told me: ‘the other exhibitors showed with the hope of not making a mistake, you came out hoping to win the class.’ That was so nice to hear. It’s the kind of thing I only dreamed about!”

One of Bull’s most exciting moments was winning the Masters Amateur Hunt Sea Equitation world title. This moment was made all the more special when good friend and fellow horse exhibitor Wendy Noder earned the reserve champion title.

“For the two of us to win the top two spots was just amazing!” raved Bull.

The friends live about one mile from each other in Reed City.

“It’s always nice to share experiences with your friends,” added Noder. “We had a great time. Coleen was the star, that’s for sure.”

Horse exhibiting has definitely been a group effort for Bull.

Growing up across the street from a county fair ground, Bull fell in love with showing as a teenager.

“A friend of mine had a horse and convinced me to become involved in the local 4-H program,” explained Bull. “The 4-H leader had an extra horse that I could use, since I couldn’t afford one.”

“Things kind of changed three years ago,” said Bull. “I continued to compete locally, but this horse had so much more to offer that I branched out to do bigger shows on a more national level.”

In fact, it was Noder that helped Bull find her horse, Timeless Assets, out in Arizona. Together, they both flew out to look at him.

“Wendy has kept me interested in showing when I probably would have given it up,” said Bull.

Bull’s husband, Kit, nicknamed the horse “Tucson” since that is the city he came from.

“My horse is an overo paint horse, which means he has big splotches and doesn’t have any white that passes over the center line of his back,” explained Bull. “He’s simply amazing. He loves everything and is happy all the time. He loves life and I’m so lucky to have him.”

The horse showing season runs from May to October in Michigan. However, Bull’s trainers, Garth and Sonessa Gooding, like her to compete in bigger shows, so she competes all year.

Bull also earned the Masters Amateur All-Around title in Fort Worth for earning the most number of points while competing in at least three divisions of classes.

Bull and “Tucson” are currently number one in two national divisions: the Masters Amateur Top Twenty and the Open Top Twenty, which is open to any horses and riders.

“When I began this season, my only goal was to repeat the world championship in showmanship,” said Bull. “We did not come in with a bunch of goals, but found ourselves in these positions and wanted to stay there.”

Bull is also hoping “Tucson” will be the highest earning Breaders’ Trust horse for the second time in a row. This program pays cash dividends for points earned by nominated horses at APHA-approved events. The Trust is designed so that everyone responsible for the success of an outstanding foal is rewarded financially: the stallion subscriber, foal nominator and horse’s owner.

“It’s a pretty big deal,” said Bull. “We have more points at this time then we did last year. I think we’re in good shape.”

After the month they’ve had, both Bull and “Tucson” have earned some much needed rest from all of the traveling.

“I am a driven person and competing gives me a place to focus my energy,” added Bull. “I have met so many wonderful people who have become some of my best friends. I might not have met otherwise.”