Remington W takes rare path from near death to National Champion
Beckey Downing first set her heart on a national championship when she was nine years old. When 2016 started, she felt this would be the year, and she had good reason. After three years, her gelding, Remington W, was coming along nicely under both her as an adult amateur and also her trainer, Joelle Roberts of Temecula. With the Arabian Sport Horse Nationals returning to Nampa, Idaho, the stars seemed to be perfectly aligned this year.
Until the morning of Jan. 13.
Downing, of Anza, received a 6:30 a.m. phone call from Roberts that Remington W was found bleeding severely from his nostrils and clearly in stress.
“We had, and still have, no idea what happened to him,” said Downing, who sped to Roberts’s Delacreme Equestrian facilities at Galway Downs with trailer in tow. “He was ataxic and his right pupil was completely blown.”
They took the horse to the San Luis Rey Equine Hospital in Bonsall, where the equine medical team of Dr. Nick Huggons, Dr. Lindsey Porubovich and consulting internist Dr. Rob Franklin used new CT scanning equipment to diagnose skull fractures that had eluded X-ray diagnosis.
Supporting young riders and young horses and giving them the stepping stones to excel in the sport of show jumping is essential in developing the next big stars. The stage has been set for that in 2016 by Blenheim EquiSports, with the support of sponsors such as Fairbanks Valley Farm, Interactive Mortgage and Markel Insurance.
To give up-and-coming grand prix horses a chance to gain solid miles, Gregg and Evette Delong have worked with Blenheim Equisports to develop the Interactive Mortgage 10-and-Under Futurity Series that just wrapped up its fourth year. Comprised of qualifiers throughout the season, it culminated in the final at the Showpark All Seasons Summer Tournament.
The 2016 $20,000 Interactive Mortgage Horses 10-and-under Futurity Final winner was Supernatural, a powerful bay, with Bjorn Ikast in the irons. Hailing from Denmark and based in Mexico City, Ikast’s home is in the saddle. A three-time winner of the Danish national championship, Ikast met his wife Clara vacationed in Mexico and never returned to Denmark. They ran a private stable in an idyllic setting in the mountains outside of Mexico City, and are now based in the mountains further north in Parker, Colo. But they spend at least six months a year traveling with their young daughter, Isabel, on the show circuits in the U.S.
Kelby Phillips wins NSHA Futurity on Duals Lucky Charm
Phillips, who’s been Dean Tuftin’s trainer at DT Ranch in Bend, Ore., about 18 months now, rode him to the National Stock Horse Association Snaffle Bit Futurity Open Championship Aug. 21 with a solid showing that earned $16,438 for owner Mike Stewart of Munday, Texas.
“After the AQHA World, I went by my friend Jake Murray’s place in Texas, tried him out, and we bought him,” Phillips said. “He was just good-minded. Everything I done with him, he took it real good. Loped real pretty. The thing for our deal is they got to be pretty movers, and he was a pretty mover. He also had a lot of stop.”
Nine months later, all those traits put Phillips and “Will” on top the NSHA Futurity Open leaderboard as they headed into the fence work with a 4.5-point lead. Their 220 in the reining was one-point off the high score, and they had the best herd work with a 224 — a feat he credits to herd crew Mark Luis, Phillip Ralls, Zane Davis and Clayton Edsell.
Five courageous ladies make history as first to ride reopened trail
Last month, led by 81-year-old Ruth Gerson, the Cowgirls covered 67 miles of spectacular but rugged terrain from Pt. Mugu State Park in Ventura County to Will Rogers State Historic Park in Santa Monica. Yes, the six-day journey was a challenge, but the group’s objective was to bring attention to the Backbone Trail, not them.
“I rode this ride for a lot of reasons,” said Gerson, a former Tevis Cup endurance rider whose drive to completion remains intact. Her passion to share a trail ride along the inimitable Backbone Trail, just recently made contiguous after decades of effort, is as strong today as it was 25 years ago when she last rode it.
The ride, she says, was to inspire others to be adventurous, and to show her gratitude that she could make the trip.
Cool awards and friendly competition — plus terrific weather — made for a nice three-day reining event by the California Reining Horse Association Aug. 5-7 at Galway Downs in Temecula. Circuit champions went home with a new bicycle, and reserve circuit champs received super sharp knives.
Although it was not an NRHA Affiliate event, the two-slate show featured CRHA and National Reining Horse Association classes, as well as PCHA, AQHA and APHA classes. Dave Belson and Linde Von Koding were judges.
The next CRHA event will be the association’s big year-end Challenge Show, scheduled Oct. 26-30 at the Los Angeles Equestrian Center.
More online: Http://bit.ly/608B_CRHA
Dr. Karen Donley and Royal Patron have the right prescription for victory at 100-mile, one-day ride
Since Dr. Donley purchased “Winnie” eight years ago, they have logged about 50 miles a week in a partnership that last month took endurance riding’s greatest prize, a win at the Tevis Cup. It may have been a 100-mile race, but the journey was much longer.
This year’s version of the venerable one-day race along the challenging Great Western States Trail took place July 23, attracting 165 riders from 20 states and nine countries. Horse-and-rider pairs take off at 5:15 a.m. with only 24 hours to finish a course that features 21,000 feet of descent and 17,000 feet of climbing. A dozen vet checks along the route inspect each horse with an acute focus on their condition, inspecting heart rate, metabolism, and soundness.
Riding, training and competing with kindness leads to a popular movement
When pressed to provide a moment that spawned Cowboy Dressage, Debbie Beth-Halachmy had one memory for Jessica Black, author of the exquisite book, Cowboy Dressage (2015, Trafalgar Square Books). It was her husband Eitan’s victory pass aboard Holiday Compadre at the 1993 American Morgan Horse Association World Championships.
“They wouldn’t let him leave the ring,” she said, recalling the standing ovation as the new Morgan Western Pleasure World Champion “jogged, trotted, cantered in zigzags with flying lead changes, galloped and stopped on a dime.”
That day in Oklahoma sparked a passion to share her husband’s approach, an approach as unique as Eitan’s five decades of experience before that victory pass.
Gorrell and 'Gadget' take Bridle Spectacular, as NRCHA Derby draws out the best
PASO ROBLES — After getting close the last few years to the National Reined Cow Horse Association’s wealthiest bridle contest, Jake Gorrell and his longtime partner, Smooth N Cash, just plain took it.
The Hanford-based Gorrell and Roloff Ranch’s gritty 2005 gelding topped the field of 14 elite equines to win the CD Survivor Memorial Bridle Spectacular. Held in conjunction with the NRCHA Derby June 13-19 at the Mid-state Fairgrounds, the CD Survivor Memorial is a $50,000-added contest named in honor of the late, great stallion owned by NRCHA sponsor Holy Cow Performance Horses.
It was the first time for Gorrell and the little sorrel he calls “Gadget” to win this particular coveted title, although they have come close before.
“It’s awesome. It’s nice to put it all together, finally. Last year I fell down [in the fence work], the year before I had a switch [penalty in the herd work], came back and marked a 232 [down the fence] and almost got a check, but this was the first time for me to win it,” Gorrell said. “We worked hard at it. We worked and worked and it finally paid off.”
A life-threatening disease has only made Ryan Melendez take the reins of his life even more firmly in hand
“I am sure my dad had me on horses as soon as I could sit up by myself,” Ryan, who’ll turn 18 in July, says of Bill Melendez. “I remember riding like six or seven horses a day, and it was a lot of fun.
“He didn’t always put me on the best of the best horses,” he adds. “I felt like he put me on horses that were going to teach me how to learn to ride — that’s probably the best thing that he could have done because to be a really good rider, I wasn’t going to get there by riding just the easy horses.”
His main ride, a mare named AM Liberty Parade, tried to buck off the 7-year-old Ryan in their very first horsemanship class, a 10-under test at the Scottsdale Arabian Show. They stayed together and years later, in 2014, they won an Arabian Horse Association Youth Nationals Championship in Horsemanship.
“That’s my most memorable, best championship,” Ryan says. “Years and years of hard work. In the beginning, she definitely was not happy with being out there. One year at Youth Nationals, she actually flipped over on me, and then we went in the class and got Top 10. I like challenges — what’s the point, if you are not going to work hard for it?”
Topsails Rien Maker, the only 3-time NRCHA 'World's Greatest,' dies at 17
WYNNEWOOD, Okla. — The reined cow horse world lost one of its greatest champions May 22 when Topsails Rien Maker, the only three-time winner of the National Reined Cow Horse Association’s “World’s Greatest Horseman” competition, died of kidney failure at the ranch of his longtime trainer and co-owner, Russell Dilday.
The 17-year-old stallion was a popular favorite in the reined cow horse community, and the pairing with the gutsy, colorful Dilday made for a memorable record-setting run of aged events over the last decade.
His wins are NRCHA Hall of Fame material — the three World’s Greatest titles, two National Stock Horse Association World’s Richest Stock Horse crowns, NRCHA National Championships — and other accomplishments that speak of an ability to close the biggest of deals. Not to just compete at the highest level, but to finish on top.