Back from Tulsa: Natchez teen places top 10 at Pinto World Championships

Published 9:56 am Saturday, July 16, 2022

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NATCHEZ — It has been a year since Faith Anne Johnson first rode at the Pinto World Championships in Tulsa, Oklahoma. This year she was prepared and knew what to expect.. 

“My horse Mickey has a lot of personality and he is one of those you have to take around the arena so it was good he saw everything last year and was a lot more comfortable,” Johnson said. “It’s important to be comfortable because if you are nervous and worried, he is nervous too. It’s not good to have two anxious competitors.”

They were both comfortable in the arena during the June competition.

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Johnson took third place in Ideal Pinto-Western Pleasure, her best finish to date; seventh in Bareback Horsemanship; eighth in Western Pleasure; and ninth in guided rail. Johnson also made it out of the first two cuts in showmanship but did not place in the top 10 in the final round. 

Heat was a factor this year, she said, but her horse Mickey, his registered name is “My only Appointment,” was able to stay in an air conditioned barn. 

The biggest difference between last year and this year was her trainer Stoney Richard of Lafayette. He helped her prepare for the events in training sessions on the weekends. His knowledge at Pinto Worlds helped with the day of competitions too, her mom Chreita Johnson said. 

“He helped her in knowing what to do and what to expect. It was amazing,” Chreita said. “If you don’t have help or you don’t have a trainer with experience, it is like being in a pool of sharks. When I’m in the stands I’m on pins and needles. It is something else.” 

Johnson said as a rider she can feel the pressure in the competitions especially Guided Rail and Showmanship, where riders have to follow a routine kind of like the game Simon Says. 

“It is nerve-wracking. You are trying to remember a pattern and you can’t see what is going on in the arena,” Johnson said. “You have worked so hard and you don’t want to bomb.” 

Horses take a lot of time and care. Johnson wakes up early in the morning to feed them, give them fresh water, brush them, spray them with horse fly repellent and clean their stalls before going to school at Cathedral. 

A member of the Emerald Tide dance team, she leaves dance practice after school, goes to ballet, comes home to eat dinner and does her evening chores before finishing homework and going to bed. It’s hard but she does a lot of bargaining with her father Randy Johnson. 

Her parents are supporters of her horse riding passion, so when she took third place in Ideal Pinto-Western Pleasure on Fathers Day, it meant a lot to her. Nearly a month later, she spoke through tears about the accomplishment and sharing a hug with her dad after the competition. 

“My dad is my biggest supporter, he is always helping me. He got me into horse riding when I was little,” Faith Anne said. “He is always there for me no matter what. He saddles my horses on competition days. We couldn’t do this without him. I’m so grateful it was Father’s Day when I took third place.”

“He lives to follow her around. He loves it. I think he is relieving his youth and love of horses through her,” Chreita said. 

Johnson has big dreams for the next few years. She has a learners permit and is getting closer to college. Her hope is to attend Auburn University and ride with their Equestrian Team. 

She hopes to place higher at the Pinto World Championships next year. There is no age limit but riders do compete in different age categories. 

Next Year, she plans to take a trip to Fort Worth, Texas, to ride in the Painted World Championships too. Already, she is looking forward to visiting the Horse Association Hall of Fame and Museum in addition to seeing the cattle drive there. Competing at Painted World means she will need to acquire a new horse. 

“Friday we are going to get a new horse. His registered name is ‘Scene as Lazy’ but his stable name is Jay. I’m excited I think it will give me a challenge,” Faith Anne said. “Unlike Mickey, Jay is all feet cues. Mickey takes some hand cues. It will make me a better rider. Of course, it will mean two more horses to get ready for competition, two to bathe and get stalls cleaned.”