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White City youth guides gelding to world title

Photo from Tamara Chastain

WHITE CITY ­ Brad Chastain's mother says her son was born to ridea horse.

Brad was riding before he was born, says Tamara Chastain,mother of the 16-year-old who was recently crowned world horsemanship championamong riders 14-18 at the American Paint Horse World Championships at FortWorth, Texas. He's been riding ever since.

Chastain is the son of Larry Chastain, an accomplished former world championin several divisions of horse showing.

Larry and I have always ridden and I rode while I was pregnantwith Brad, says Tamara. Brad has been a very natural rider sincehe was 2 or — years old.

He's always had good balance and natural position on a horse. Heseems comfortable on horseback, and I think he instills confidence in hishorse (8-year-old gelding Whata Sockett.)

Brad won his world championship on July 5, two weeks after winning thepinto national championship in the 14-18 age division at Tulsa, Okla.

I never thought I would win a world championship, says Chastain.I guess I dreamed of it, but you really can't expect to be a worldchampion. I'm proud to be one.

Chastain, who will be a junior at Crater High School, rode Whata Sockettin both the world and national contests. Whata Sockett qualifies to competein both the pinto and paint divisions because he has enough white coloringto qualify for both classes.

Chastain traveled to Fort Worth with Monica Jesinghaus of Murphy, whowon a world title in 14-18 western riding. Also along on the trip was TamaraChastain, as chaperone, coach and proud mother of Brad.

Tamara Chastain, an equestrian rider since age 12 and national championin the hunter under saddle competition in 1982, opted not to compete inthe women's division in order to concentrate on supporting her son in theworld paint horse finals.

In the competition, Brad had to put Whata Sockett through a series ofdisciplines in a sport where speed and raw power aren't nearly as importantas horse-rider trust and ability to work together.

The disciplines in the paint horse competition, which featured 70 ridersand horses in 90-second performances, were the lope (a three-step synchronizedgait maneuver); walk; a series of 360-degree turns; and jog (medium gait).The final discipline requires the horse to go inside and outside of conesmarked on the course.

Riders are judged jointly for poise, consistency and body position. Horsesare judged on manners and poise during competition.

Brad Chastain says there is a positive chemistry between himself andhis gelding.

He's fast, he's very trainable and he has a great heart,says Brad. He's very smart, and I think he understands pretty wellwhen it's time to compete. We have a good feeling for each other.

He's been on six trips to world championships. Whether he's goingaround barrels or jumping, he seems to be able to get pumped up and excitedwhen he needs to.

In the past, Whata Sockett won a silver buckle as reserve world championin 1995 and in the 13-and-under division of English Equitation (the Englishequivalent to western horsemanship in pattern work. It's accomplished witha smaller English saddle.)

At the pinto nationals meet, Chastain and his horse won the divisionsof hunter hack (two major jumps in a ride); horsemanship (general handlingof the horse) and showmanship (a pattern maneuver with rider walking alongsidethe horse, holding a halter and lead shank).

Whata Sockett really performed well, says Brad. Hewas on that night, and it makes a difference.

Horses can have off nights, too, depending on the conditions andhow they feel. But he was really on. That made it easy for me.''

Brad Chastain works for the family business ­ Copper Bottom HorseFarm in White City ­ during the summer months.

When school starts, that's his priority, says Tamara. Wedon't allow him to miss any school to ride.

But Brad still finds time to sneak out to the barn and visit his favoritehorse most days.

He sees me coming and he seems happy because he knows he's probablygoing to eat, says Brad. But it also means he might have todo some work.

Brad says he would like to follow his parents' lead and be a horse trainer.

I want to go to college first and learn something else, hesays. But I can't imagine not being around horses.

Brad Chastain, 16, has won world and national titles.