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Tragedy claims victory at show

By Paul Huggins
DAILY Staff Writer 340-2395

PRICEVILLE — An exuberant stranger gave Barbara Agnich a bear hug and proclaimed, "You got it wide open for everybody now."

Though she didn't know the man, deep down Agnich hoped he was right. Moments earlier, five judges had awarded the racking horse world grand championship to Tragedy, making her the first woman to train the champion.

The 6-year-old stallion, owned by Tommy and Sharon Vivian of Mount Sterling, Ky., got his name by being the son of a walking horse named JFK — named for the assassinated President John F. Kennedy.

Agnich, 38, said it's important for a woman to accomplish the feat, but she conceded she wanted to be the first.

"It's a man's world, and I have to work twice as hard," she said. "I guess I feel like a guy could make a few mistakes and the judges can overlook it, but a woman has to be flawless to win."

That could explain what happened to Agnich two years ago when she rode If Only to second place for the world grand championship.

Three of the five judges marked If Only first, but a more critical judge scored her much lower, dropping her score slightly below that of the champ, Gold Plated S.D.

When the finals of the Racking Horse World Celebration started Saturday night in Celebration Arena, Agnich and Tragedy entered the show ring in what looked like a soap-opera script.

They faced Gold Plated again, but with a different trainer than in 2003. It just happened to be Agnich's boyfriend and training partner of the past 14 years, Rick Parish.

She also faced her former horse, If Only, now trained by Casey Wright, who guided Gold Plated to the title in '03. And just to make it more interesting, 2002 champion Unreal joined the mix of seven horses.

The final score put Unreal, trained by Jamie Lawrence, second. If Only was third, and Gold Plated was fourth.

Agnich's win tied her with her boyfriend for world grand championships. Parish won in 1997 with Guaranteed Perfect.

She could hold it over him that she won on the same horse he finished third on during last year's finals. Rather, she credited Parish with being a perfect teammate and noted their styles complement each other. They currently train 33 horses at their Rockmart, Ga., stable.

She also pointed out that Parish rode Tragedy when they won the 3- and 4-year-old world grand championships in 2002 and 2003. She also shared credit with the Vivians for encouraging her to show Tragedy in the finals.

Agnich thinks she brings a feminine touch to training by insisting she trail-ride them regularly.

"I spend a lot of time just taking them through the woods, across the creeks, just getting them to relax," she said. "It lets a horse just be a horse.

"I think they are like people, athletes. They don't want to do the same thing over and over again. You get burnt out."

Saturday night's finals were Agnich's third try for the top title. The Dallas native has competed in horse shows since age 5.

Besides training show horses, Agnich competes in barrel racing.

"I'm just so competitive," she said. Saturday night's win won't let her relax. "I want to do it again."

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