Hunter did odd jobs to earn money for the trip, and also got a financial boost from his other grandparents, Leo and Janice Smith, of Ocala. Janice made the trip as well, and watched with Suzanna as Hunter made it through the ranch pleasure preliminaries to the championship final and finished seventh out of 62 original qualifiers.
“It's been a joint effort,” said Suzanna Rucks. “We're so proud of him and the little mare.”
That “little mare” is officially named Chex With Me and is owned by Suzanna Rucks. Hunter calls the mare “Tango” and said they have a special bond.
“I go out there and talk to her a lot,” he said. “We ride twice a week and on weekends.”
And he's not getting out of his schoolwork. Hunter brought it with him and he says there's a lot of it. So he's learning — from his books, from his horse and from his World Show chaperons. As a result, his strategy in the show pen was simple:
“Do what Grandma says.”