2012 Youth Working Hunter 14-18

Story & Photo by Laura Stevens | Paint Horse Journal | June 25, 2012

Mykaela Van Selus clears her first fence in Youth Working Hunter 14-18 aboard Post A Proposal.

Mykaela Van Selus proves good things are worth waiting for.

Hard work pays off, and no one knows that adage better than Mykaela Van Selus, whose years of dedication to over-fences classes culminated in a world championship on June 25. Mykaela guided Post A Proposal, her 5-year-old mare, to the top title in Youth Working Hunter 14–18, her first world championship. The Paint Horse Journal caught up with Mykaela after her win. 

Q: What was your plan going into the Working Hunter?

Mykaela: Well, it was my first class of the day, so I was just going in and wanted a soft ride. I wanted to make it smooth and quiet, the best I can, so the rest of the day would go smoothly. I guess we did that! She was very good.

Q: What was the most difficult part of the course for you?

Mykaela: I guess really keeping her nice and quiet and steady, trying to show her off the best I can. Obviously in working hunter you want the horse to look great, so that’s what I always strive for. She likes to jump a lot. Keeping her nice and slow and able to show herself off was definitely on the top of my list, for sure. It was the thing on my mind the whole time.

Q: Do you work with a trainer?

Mykaela: Yes, I ride with Karen Banister of Brighton, Colorado. I’ve ridden with her since I was 12, I think. I ride with her everyday and get to work with her everyday, so I love it. It’s a great barn.

Q: Tell us a little about your mare.

Mykaela: Her name is "Gisele." I don’t know how they got her name, but everyone says the supermodel. She’s 5 years old, and I’ve only actually been riding her for a little over a month. She is a good mare, I like her a lot. We’ve gotten along really well.

Q: Is it challenging to show a young horse on this level?

Mykaela: It is always a struggle, but that’s why I’ve done a lot of growing up. I’ve dealt a lot with young horses and green horses. Riding with Karen, she’s put me on a lot of different horses. It’s a challenge, but it’s good. I like it. I wouldn’t want to sit on a horse that just takes me around a course easy and perfect. I like a challenge!

Q: Who would you like to thank?

Mykaela: I’d like to thank Dr. Chris [Hauge] and definitely Karen Banister for helping me to come here. And of course all the girls and guys at the barn. I’d also like to thank my parents, for supporting my riding and sending me here. This is my first time here, and it’s been really cool. It’s been fun.

Q: What are your plans in the future?

Mykaela: I want to continue riding, definitely. I’m also going to school and riding on the University of Tennessee-Martin equestrian team. Horses are my future, I guess. 

Q: How does it compare riding Gisele here versus riding for the equestrian team?

Mykaela: It’s different. With the team aspect, you have all the other girls depending on you to help get the points for the team. But here, you want to do well for your barn but it’s also an individual event. Both ways of showing, there’s pressure to do well. But I don’t think a blue ribbon is necessarily winning or what everyone goes for— I think getting around, getting the ride you want, setting goals for that day and achieving them, that’s perfect. That’s a winning round for me. Both here and the equestrian team are different but fun. 

Q: What’s something we might find surprising about Gisele?

Mykaela: She likes to eat granola bars. A lot of our horses at the barn like to eat granola bars, which is weird I guess.

Q: What advice would you give to a younger rider?

Mykaela: I would say work hard. Not every day is going to be easy, or your best day, but those days are going to make you a good rider. It takes challenges to get where you want to be. Not everything comes easy, and it shouldn’t come easy.

Q: I noticed you have a blue-and-white ribbon pinned to your lapel. What does it represent?

Mykaela: It’s for my friend, for her little brother who recently passed away in April. His name was Jack. Everyone from our barn is wearing these ribbons in his honor. We’re riding for him. Hopefully he’s looking down on us. 

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World Champion Stats

Horse: Post A Proposal, 2007 bay overo mare
Pedigree: Impressive Proposal x Sondee On Broadway
Exhibitor/Owner: Mykaela Van Selus, Littleton, Colorado
Trainer: Karen Banister, Brighton, Colorado
Breeder: Darla and Kyle McCain, Royse City, Texas
Total Class Entries: 16

World Champion Prizes: Gist buckle, courtesy of APHA; monogramed jacket, courtesy of APHA and Tioga Territory; travel chair, courtesy of Paint Horse Journal; $50 APHA General Store gift certificate, courtesy of APHA; and AjPHA letter jacket patch, courtesy of APHA.