Three members of the same family from Missouri – all riding home-bred Missouri Fox Trotters – have won National Championship titles for the past North American Trail Riding Conference season.
Bill Hinkebein and his granddaughters Josie and Jessica Reeter all won open level championship ribbons for the NATRC 2016 ride season.
This adventure began in 2015 when the granddaughters of Bill and Jeanne Hinkebein rode in the novice division, with Bill riding Competitive Pleasure. With their granddad, Josie, 14, and Jessie, 11, rode registered Missouri Fox Trotters born, raised and trained at the Hinkebein’s Indian Creek Equine Center northwest of Chillicothe, Missouri – Jessie on Shady Sunset WH, Josie on Country Mocha WH, and Grandpa on Roho Honoy Mocha WH. Grandma Jeanne had meals ready and helped when needed with hauling the three horses.
After finishing their last ride of the 2015 season, Josie suggested to her sister that they should ride Open the next season. Jessie looked at her and said, “Are you crazy? Do you know how long that is?” Josie quietly said “Yes, but we can ride faster, and besides we would have the opportunity to try for a National Championship which will give us a nice belt buckle to wear, and it really isn’t that much longer.” Before long her sister said, “Okay, we can give it a try.”
The 2016 season began shortly after that in November at the Renegades Roundup ride near Cherryvale, Kansas. All three finished the ride and, along with a friend, rode into camp cheerful and laughing. The 2016 season had begun on a happy note.
Rides came and went and points mounted up. About midway through the season, Bill told the girls that they had a good chance of reaching their goal of a National Championship. But they were all disappointed with the cancellation of the Von Holten Ranch ride: They needed points and placings, and the ride was so close to home.
Finally, the fall rides started, and the summer heat was not as big a factor as it had been for two of the three horses. Another disappointment came at Indian Cave in Nebraska when rain made some of the trails dangerous, resulting in the two-day ride officially becoming a one-day ride, so they earned only half the points. Nevertheless, the three persevered.
Kanopolis Canyon was the next ride. It was about 300 miles from Chillicothe, which meant Josie and Jessie had to miss school on Friday. Upon completing that ride, Jessie found out that her horse had made the needed points to be a National Champion! Grandpa’s horse had also made her points but still needed a second or first outside of Kansas. Josie’s horse had her placings but was three points short.
The trio then headed on to their last ride of 2016, Cedar Creek outside Columbia, Missouri, trying to fulfill their goals. It was not a good ride … it was a fantastic ride! Grandpa’s horse had her placing, and Josie’s horse earned the needed three additional points. To say the trip home was joyful is an understatement.
Their region, Region 6, made up of Missouri, Kansas, Illinois, Wisconsin, the upper peninsula of Michigan, Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota, and South Dakota, is blessed with friendly riders. Marilyn Marston and Marla Stucky are adult sisters who ride together. US Veteran Alan Bouska enjoyed teasing the girls, and it did not take them long to figure out how to tease back. Steve Lindsey was constantly offering to buy Jessie’s horse, and every time, Jessie, with a little smile, declared that her horse was not for sale. John Zeliff, a former high school agriculture instructor, would quiz Josie who was practicing the FFA Creed while being on the trail. Another very good friend for this troupe of riders was Ruth Mesimer who was crucial in making sure all the paperwork and necessary signatures were in order when the riders checked in.
In February 2017, they all flew to the national convention. The busy weekend involved touring Chattanooga’s huge aquarium, meeting old friends, attending fun and informative seminars, and attending the awards banquet.
Jessie’s horse received second and Josie’s third in the nation in the Open Junior Horse Division, and Josie were second and Jessie third in the Open Junior Horsemanship Division. Jessie was also awarded a ribbon and a blue jacket for the High Average Open Junior score in both horse and horsemanship. Both girls were awarded the 2-foot red, blue and yellow ribbons for their horses’ National Championships.
In addition to Grandpa Bill’s National Championship, he received a signed and framed horse print from the NATRC’s Bev Roberts for attaining 10 National Championships on 10 different horses, a first in the NATRC. He also received a blue ribbon for the Region 6 High Point Open Horse and Rider Combination.
Bill ended the ride season with 14,200 miles of competition over 33 years of NATRC riding, and Jessie and Josie ended their two years of competition with a 500-mile chevron.
Sadly, because of an illness, the National Championship buckle artisan could not complete them in time for awards. However, at the family Easter dinner, Jessie, Josie, and Grandpa Bill each received a gift. Their belt buckles had arrived, and everyone in the family was able to congratulate them.
The convention was a celebration of success. For Josie and Jessie, achieving that success involved a ride season of packing their clothes in sport bags, bringing their cowgirl and mud boots, raking mounds of manure, making sure the horses had grain, hay and plenty of water, riding numerous miles of trails over all types of terrain in summer heat, rain and cool fall temperatures, learning to follow their maps and spotting trail markers, listening to the veterinarians and horsemanship judges, and of utmost importance, making sure their horses stayed sound and healthy.
Theirs was a true adventure of two granddaughters and their grandparents driving thousands of miles, knowing the good eating spots, fussing with each other, singing with the songs on the radio, just enjoying each other’s company, and attaining their goals set in October 2015. It was a time of “making everlasting memories”. How could it be any nicer?
The 56-year old NATRC is the premier long-distance competitive trail ride group in the USA invites all riders to see what they and their horses can achieve. Open to all equine breeds and disciplines, its rides cover measured and marked trails that have to be completed within defined windows of time.