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    Dressed for success

    Ryan Melendez enjoys break-out year at the 2014 Arabian Youth Nationals

    From Horsetrader staff reports - August 7th, 2014 - Show & Event News

    No, that's not ZZ Top winning the Youth Arabian Nationals Freestyle Reining title -- it's Ryan Melendez of Valley Center, one of California's 2014 stars.

    No, that’s not ZZ Top winning the Youth Arabian Nationals Freestyle Reining title — it’s Ryan Melendez of Valley Center, one of California’s 2014 stars.

    Ferrara photo

    ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — At age 8, Ryan Melendez claimed his first Top Ten at the Arabian Horse Association Youth Nationals, and those who watched him agreed — it would be just a matter of time before he’d finish with National Champion roses.

    That time was last month for Melendez, the 16-year-old son of trainer and judge Bill Melendez of Temecula. Riding AM Liberty Parade +/// — the same mare that carried him to that first Top Ten in 2007 — Ryan claimed his first Youth National Championship, winning the Half-Arabian Western Horsemanship 14-18 title. He then claimed his second, riding his Western trainer Jessica Bein’s 12-year old reiner, Khaarga Escobar Slik, in the Freestyle Reining competition.

    “It’s been a long time in the making for him,” said his mother, Kristal Melendez-Raiger. “He’s one of those kids, even though his father is a horse trainer, he doesn’t have the easy horses. He’s really worked hard.”

    Ryan, who is entering his junior year at Valley Center High School in northern San Diego County, also came away from the Youth Nationals with Reserve Youth National titles on “Libby” (AM Friars Moon x AM Lightening Raid) in Half Arab Trail JOTR 18-under and Half-Arab Sport Horse In Hand Mares JTH, as well as in Half-Arabian Western Pleasure JOTR 14-18 on his parents’ In Search of Diamonds +// (LBA LodeStar x Hy Dazzle Diamond +/). He also rode Bein’s reiner, “Slik”, to Top Tens in Half-Arab Reining Seat Eq 14-18 and Half-Arab Trail JTR 14-18, respectively, and Libby carried him to a Top Ten in Half-Arab Trail JTR 14-18. In Search Of Diamonds, aka “Rocky”, teamed with Ryan for a Top Ten in Half-Arab Western Pleasure JTR 14-18.

    Riding three horses, Ryan Melendez claimed five National Championships or Reserves and four Top Tens at Youth Nationals in Alubuquerque, N.M.

    Riding three horses, Ryan Melendez claimed five National Championships or Reserves and four Top Tens at Youth Nationals in Alubuquerque, N.M.

    Ferrara photo

    His success in Albuquerque may have squelched any thoughts that Ryan, who just turned 16, may have had about hanging up his horse career as he heads toward college and competitive golf. The 4.0 student hopes to attend Stanford University, get his law degree and become a sports agent or attorney.

    “He was thinking when he came into this Youth Nationals that this was going to be his last one because it’s been hard for him to juggle golf and horses,” said Kristal, adding that Ryan made the second round of the CIF San Diego Section tournament last year as a sophomore. “But I think he has been bitten again by the horse bug, so he has no plans to retire right now from the horses.”

    In addition to the ribbons, Ryan returned home with satisfaction from helping to start a new sportsmanship award. He was moved when another competitor at the show had supported others through social networking, and then learned that her own horse had been stolen from their New Mexico ranch before the show — its tail cut off below the tailbone and left in the stall. The horse was eventually recovered with her show saddle and returned in time for the Youth Nationals.

    Ryan discussed the idea of a Sportsmanship Award at Youth Nationals with Mary Trowbridge, board member of the Arabian Horsemen’s Distress Fund, and days later, after a tragic accident resulted in the death of a PAF Hollywood Toi+// in the arena prior to Ryan’s Freestyle Reining class, officials put into place a plan for a Hollywood Toi Memorial Scholarship fund.

    “It all came together to honor such an incredibly talented horse, PAF Hollywood Toi+//, who’s own spirit can live on in giving youth riders the gift of scholarships to enrich their futures,” said Kristal. “There is no bigger gift than recognizing the efforts of those who are supportive of others by the selfless actions they demonstrate within the elements of competition.”

    Donations can be made to the Arabian Horsemen’s Distress Fund, earmarked for the Hollywood Toi Memorial Scholarship fund. Any checks made out to the fund directly are tax deductible.

    MORE ON MEMORIAL: http://www.horsemensdistressfund.com
    MORE ON YOUTH NATIONALS: http://bit.ly/408A_arab

    2014 Arabian and Half-Arabian Youth Nationals
    July 19-26, 2014 * Expo New Mexico, Albuquerque, N.M.
    California Champions

    Rider/ Horse/ Class

    Holland Stevens/ Khontroversy PGA/ Arabian Western Pleasure JOTR 14-18
    Capt Jack Sparrow PGA/ HA/AA Ladies Side Saddle Western JTR 18 & Under
    Capt Jack Sparrow PGA/ HA/AA Western Pleasure JOTR 14-18
    Capt Jack Sparrow PGA/ HA/AA Western Pleasure JTR 14-18

    Kori Lynn Kelley/ He Be Jeebie/ HA/AA Hunter Pleasure JO 13 & Under
    He Be Jeebie/ HA/AA Hunter Pleasure JT 13 & Under
    TR Skid Mark/ HA/AA Reining Seat Eq JT 13 & Under

    Hannah Feldman/ Malieka/ Arabian Ladies Side Saddle English JTR 18 & Under
    Malieka/ Arabian Hunter Pleasure JOTR 14-18
    Malieka/ Arabian Hunter Pleasure JTR 14-18

    Ryan Melendez/ AM Liberty Parade/ HA/AA Western Horsemanship JTR 14-18

    Karli Kelley/ EA Yankee Doodle/ Arabian English Show Hack JT 13 & Under

    Nicole Krueger/ Penelope Krewse/ HA/AA Mare Breeding Saddle Pleasure JTH

    Gianna Gotelli/ Lets Get Loded/ HA/AA Western Pleasure Walk/Trot 10 & Under

    Alana Chanelle Becker/ JS Starina/ HA/AA Hunter Pleasure Walk/Trot 10 & Under

    Isabelle Lurie/ Delirious PGA/ HA/AA Hunter Seat Eq Not To Jump Walk/Trot 10 & Under

    Paige Browning/ Mags Gambler/ A/HA/AA Dressage Training Level JTR 14-18
    Mags Gambler/ A/HA/AA Dressage First Level JOTR 14-18

    Caitlin Pigott/ TA Prelude/ Arabian Ladies Side Saddle Western JTR 18 & Under
    TA Prelude/ Arabian Western Pleasure JTR 14-18

    Sarah Esqueda/ CP Rumor Has It/ Arabian English Show Hack JOTR 18 & Under
    Mama Mia Loa/ HA/AA English Show Hack JOTR 18 & Under

    Maggie McCarthy/ EC Cause To Celebrate/ HA/AA Hunter Pleasure JTR 14-18

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