Novice youth champion Skylar Duleba’s gelding, Trinitys Merada, may be green in the cow pen, but their work ethic carried them to a national title.
Riding 8-year-old gelding Trinitys Merada, Skylar Duleba consistently placed in the top 10 of every event at the National Ranch and Stock Horse Alliance National Championship Show. That consistency, and the 17-year-old’s focus on riding for the all-around, helped earn them the novice youth all-around championship.
Ranch Horse News caught up with Skylar to visit about her win on this reining-trained turned versatile gelding.
RHN: First, tell me about your horse.
Skylar Duleba: His name is “Deuce” and his registered name is Trinitys Merada. I’ve owned him a year and a half, and when I got him he had never done versatility ranch horse. He did not know what a cow was! We’ve put a lot of work into him and he’s become a great horse. At 8 years old, he has an insanely playful personality. He’s a great horse. He is all cow bred; he is a Cats Merada. We knew he would have cow sense but he was all reining trained. Jeff Petska sold him to us. Thankfully, we were able to see that he did have interest in a cow before we bought him, though he didn’t know exactly what to do.
RHN: Does your horse have a “day job” during the week?
SD: I’m in school so he is mainly ridden in the evenings and on weekends. We have a small arena where I work on transitions and pole work. We live out in the Hill Country so I do get to take him out on trails.
RHN: What NRSHA affiliate association did you show in to qualify? Was qualifying a goal all last year?
SD: I show in Stock Horse of Texas, which is an amazing organization. It was definitely a goal to qualify and I was really excited when I got my letter in the mail. SHTX is one of the best organizations to qualify through because it is really competitive and pushes you to be your best.
RHN: What class challenged you the most at the national show?
SD: It was cutting, definitely. Cattle classes are hard at a show because you never know what cows you’ll get. He is so green on cattle; I don’t have cattle to work at home. It was a challenge, but he was amazing and did everything I asked him to. We ended up fifth place in that class. I ended up top 10 in every class: fourth in ranch riding, sixth in trail, sixth in reining, fifth in cutting and fifth in working cow horse. It was an amazing show for sure.
RHN: How do you prepare for the all-around versatility shows?
SD: The all-around is extremely hard to ride for, and I started preparing for this show months in advance. His stronger classes are ranch riding because he is a calm horse and a really good mover. At home, it is easier to practice for those events. I worked hard at trail and on transitions in ranch riding. My weaker events, like reining and the cow classes, I went to my trainer, Ben Baldus, and worked on cutting and reining to be fully prepared.
RHN: What was your first thought when you were announced champion?
SD: The week had gone well so I hoped I would be champion, but you never know how the week will play out. I was so happy and proud of Deuce considering this is his first world show and only my second.
RHN: What are your future goals in ranch horse events?
SD: Next year is my last year as a youth. I qualified for the AQHA Versatility World next year and will try to bring home a championship there and in NRSHA. I’ll also be attending Texas A&M University in fall of 2020. I’d love to bring Deuce to school with me and compete on the Texas A&M Ranch Horse Team.