A growing number of equestrians are taking up arms, as shooting on horseback continues to attract new competitors to its ranks.
Lured by the challenge and the camaraderie, memberships are swelling in the Cowboy Mounted Shooting Association — especially in California and the birthplace of CMSA, Arizona, where the Arizona Mounted Shooters Association had three January events to start the year.
With names like Roy Rogers Rangers and the Tombstone Ghost Riders, how can anyone resist a peek at this fast-action sport that requires horsemanship — and a special horse.
Six-year-old Katherine King may not have much experience in the saddle, but you can bet she was among the nation’s leaders in ribbons won this year.
The youngster from Placentia, known in her circles as “Katherine The Brave”, lost her battle to a rare illness, Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma (DIPG), but a village of supporters grew to include trainer Heather Spies and clients at HS Performance Horses in Riverside. After devoting themselves to give Katherine a special day with a unicorn via the Make A Wish Foundation, the barn dedicated itself to the youngster and her family.
“No National Championship moment, no Regional Championship or any ribbon will ever compare to that day,” said Spies, whose former horse, a retired Arabian now owned by Lori Chiodini, made the perfect unicorn.
After a courageous struggle that inspired many and raised awareness of DIPG, Katherine died in June.
Big names filled the field at HITS Therma’, including Olympic Gold Medalist and five-time World Cup finalist, Will Simpson of Westlake Village and Olympian and World Cup Finals champion Rich Fellers and Flexible, owned by Harry and Mollie Champion. It would be Los Angeles equestrian Chris Pratt, who had won over $150,000 in Week III of the HITS Desert Circuit alone, and owner Eddy Sepul’s stunning Dutch Warmblood gelding, Edesa’s Basantos, who would take home the well-deserved victory in the $350,000 HITS Thermal Grand Prix Feb. 7.
As the crowd gathered to watch the $100,000 Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping in Thermal on Feb. 13, the international line-up of horses and riders for the final West Coast qualifying opportunity — and a $100,000 prize purse – was impressive.
Egypt native Nayel Nassar, a winner of the 2013 HITS Saugerties $1 Million Grand Prix, and his own Lordan showed they were ready to compete in 2016, qualifying for the jump-off in the last go, then flying through the final round in their deceptively fast yet careful style for victory. Two weeks later, Rich Fellers and Flexible topped a strong field that included Will Simpson, Susie Hutchison and 43 others in the $25,000 Smartpak Grand Prix at HITS Thermal.
Hutchison, who had just won the $5,000 Brook Ledge Welcome two days earlier on Ziedento, tipped her hat to her victorious colleague.
“They are just on an unstoppable tear” said Hutchison, who had made the jump-off on Ziedento. “Flexible seems like he’s still 10 years old. It’s an amazing duo to watch.”
CRHA hosts year-end show, NRHA Southwest Affiliate Championships
BURBANK — Not even badly needed rain showers could dampen spirits at the California Reining Horse Association’s 2016 Challenge Show, held Oct 26-30 at the Los Angeles Equestrian Center.
Exhibitors from all across California as well as Nevada, Arizona, Wyoming and other points north, south and east came to participate in National Reining Horse Association Finals, Year-end Special Award Events, parties, futurities, derbies, an inaugural para-reining class, youth meetings, and more.
Events kicked off with a CRHA-hosted omelet Bar on Friday morning, setting the tone for Saturday night’s exhibitor party sponsored by longtime CRHA supporter Danny Gerardi. Italian food, a well-stocked bar and a deejay got spirits flowing in time for the evening’s exciting NRHA Open Futurity, where Nicolas Barthelemy, riding Manny Rojo’s WRS Shiney Diamond, swept all divisions L1, L2, L3 and L4, marking a 150 for their big win.
As Reno hosts its final NRCHA Snaffle Bit, the Futurity Finals is one for the ages
RENO, Nev. — In its final go at the Reno Livestock Events Center, the National Reined Cow Horse Association’s Snaffle Bit Futurity played out Sept. 19-Oct. 1, and while tradition was on center stage throughout the event, so was its future.
Top riders and horses in all divisions sparked intense competition that made goosebumps and fed anticipation for next year’s Futurity at the Will Rogers Coliseum in Fort Worth, Texas.
“I heard from several people, it’s one of the best finals they’ve ever seen,” said NRCHA 2 Million Dollar Rider and Open finalist Todd Bergen of Eagle Point, Ore. “I think that just shows where this sport is going, how good it’s gotten, how good the horses are, how good the trainers are.”
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.