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FORT WORTH, Texas — Alexandra Fink and her 2007 chesnut overo gelding named Gallant Zippo have climbed the American Junior Paint Horse Association mountain in a remarkable 18 months.

The Coronado teen-ager and “Gilly” earned over 700 points in 15 different Youth events, along with 14 ROMs and five Superiors, all in less than two years. Gilly’s specialty were the over-fences classes, which was a new sport for Fink, but Gilly was the perfect teacher for his owner. Now Fink regards jumping as their strongest event.

After seeing her trainer’s daughter win the Superior Youth Champion title, Fink decided that goal would be perfect for her and Gilly. The title of Superior Youth Champion is a hard one to come by, as only 66 youths have held the title since 1978.

The Superior Youth Champion title rewards the most versatile of horse-and-rider teams. To clinch the achievement, they needed at least 270 Youth points—including at least 30 in halter, 240 in performance classes, Superiors in four different event categories and Registers of Merit in four additional categories.

Fink received the honor at the AjPHA World Championship Show held June 27-July 5 at the Will Rogers Coliseum, along with one other youth, Sydney Schmidt from New York. Fink recieved $2,500 and a Cowboy Bronze crystal ice trophy.

“I love doing the speed and the true all-around events,” she said. “My best event is probably jumping or hunter under saddle. Achieving this award just proves all my hard work has paid off.”

Aside from being a great teacher and willing partner in the show ring, Fink loves Gilly’s loving personality.

“If he was any other animal, he would be a dog because he’s always on top of you,” she said.

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