Quite a pair: Madison Ketchem and Tommy taste success in Pinto World Show
Madison Ketchem took one look at Tommy and fell in love.
She wears his name around her neck in a custom-made pendant.
When people ask, “Is Tommy your boyfriend?” or ask her mother, Cheryl, why she would let her 12-year-old daughter wear her boyfriend’s name in a necklace, they just smile.
“Tommy’s my horse,” Madison says.
When the Grand Junction girl and her mother started searching for a show horse a little more than one year ago, Madison’s trainer, who lives in Texas, found a possibility in Michigan.
“His personality is so funny,” Madison said of what drew her to Tommy, whose registered name is VR Tommy Go Te. “His ears are always forward. He’s always interested in everything. He’s good-minded, he’s a good moving horse and we care about each other. We both have respect for each other.”
They make quite a team, winning two world championships and a reserve championship in the Pinto World Show in June in Tulsa, Okla.
Madison and Tommy competed in the Novice Youth class in both English Under Saddle and Western divisions. They competed in several events in each division, being judged on everything from how they navigated a pattern in a walk, trot and lope, and how Madison handled her horse as she led him through patterns.
In only her first year competing, Madison not only won two world championships, she earned the coveted high points title. With that award came an ornate show saddle, which is displayed prominently in her grandfather’s office at Reimer’s Rainbow Ranch on 25 Road. The Ketchems own property on the ranch, and Madison, who has been riding horses since she was 3, spends several hours every day with Tommy.
Behind Marlo Reimer’s desk are dozens of ribbons, and a portrait of Madison, in her English riding habit, being nuzzled by Tommy.
Tommy is a registered pinto and paint horse. Only a couple of weeks after getting home from the pinto show, they were off to a paint show in Fort Worth, Texas. Tommy stayed in Texas with Madison’s trainer until the shows were over and was then trucked back to Colorado for some well-deserved rest — and lots of pampering.
When people think of a pinto or paint horse, they think of patches of white and brown. Tommy is chestnut, but has a patch of white on the side of his mouth, which is long enough to qualify for pinto and paint status.
“At some shows, the judges look for color, loud horses will place,” Cheryl said. “We have a gelding that’s wildly colored. Some years they’re looking for more subdued. It’s just like fashion.”
The horses aren’t the only ones that stand out in the ring.
“Most people that show, they have these bright outfits,” Madison said. “Bubble gum pink, neon green. We’ve gone with a different look. I have a white shirt and rust chaps. I stand out in the show ring because everybody has all these bright colors on and I’m just in a plain white shirt. It’s more … classy.”
Her mother said several girls in Madison’s division spend thousands of dollars on their outfits.
“We bought my shirt at JC Penny,” Madison said, giggling as she rubbed Tommy’s nose.
“She wears a scarf and pearls, just very basic, classic,” Cheryl said. “I thought it was going to be a non issue, but there’s a buzz on all the websites, who is this girl? She came out of nowhere.
“Some of them don’t like it, they say she dresses like an old lady, but she’s out there winning. I told her if they’re talking about her, something’s right. At both shows, I had judges and ring stewards come up to me and say, ‘Do not change a thing. It is so refreshing to see a young girl go out there and not try to bedazzle you to death.’ ‘’
Madison, who took one first and one fifth in her first show last January at the National Western Stock Show in Denver, will move up to the 13-under division.
She got the necklace at the stock show, which has Tommy’s name encircled in a rope pattern. Her grandfather bought her the necklace, which was fitting — he bought Tommy for Madison.
They were looking at another horse, which didn’t check out with the veterinarian. Then Madison rode Tommy.
“We knew he was a good horse,” she said. “I had just ridden him all day to see how he was, and we fed him and I went over to say goodbye to him. He left his food and came over so I could pet him.”
That did it. On the flight back to Grand Junction, Madison kept telling her mother, “I want Tommy.” She was told they’d discuss it when they got home.
“One night my family was over and my grandpa gave me this paper,” Madison said. “I opened it and it was Tommy’s papers and it said, ‘Love, Papa.’
“I started crying.”