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Sierra Empire Arabians kick off ’10 show season

From Horsetrader staff reports - February 18th, 2010 - Cover Story, Show & Event News

POMONA — The nearly 50-year tradition of Southern California’s Arabian riders and horses starting the new year at Fairplex continued Jan. 29-31, except the “Whittier Lions Show” as it was known became the Sierra Empire Arabian Horse Association’s Annual Show.

After hosting the first, major Arabian show of the new season for the past 48 years, the Whittier Host Lions Club decided to stop running this show and focus on other activities.

The Whittier Lions Show, usually held the last week of January, had become known as the annual, pre-Scottsdale show for many Californians who compete at the prestigious Scottsdale Arabian Horse Show held Feb. 11-21 at Westworld in Scottsdale, Ariz. With the Whittier Host Lions Club pulling out, the Sierra Empire Arabian Horse Association changed its 35th annual show dates from April to January, and took over the Whittier Lions Show at Pomona Fairplex.

“They decided to call it quits, and Sierra Empire moved up our show dates, so people would still have a nice warm up before Scottsdale and keep that first show of the year going,” said Sheri Odom of Wrightwood, Calif., SEAHA secretary and trainer at Windwitch Arabians.

Compared with last year, the number of exhibitors and 175 horses who competed in the Sierra Empire-hosted January 2010 show was an increase over their April 2009 show. One of the most popular classes was a trail class. “We originally had 36 entries and ended up with 60, so a lot of people came up to especially ride in the trail course,” Odom said.

Smooth transition for Sierra Empire

Gordon Jahr of Wrightwood, Calif., SEAHA president and the show’s barn manager, said they were more than pleased with Sierra Empire organizing the traditional, Arabian kickoff show with less than four months notice that Whittier Lions was dropping out. “The numbers are up, especially in trail and performance classes, and people seem to be having a good time and enjoying themselves,” Jahr said. “We’re going to make a few changes, but other than that, we’re very happy with the turnout this year, especially with the switching of show management, economy and everything related. Overall, the show ran smoothly and all the people who donated their time have been fantastic.”

Sierra Empire Arabian Horse Association plans to hold the show during the last week of January again in 2011. “We’ve put on our own show for 35 years, but this time we’re just changing time periods,” said Jahr. “This came open with Whittier Lions, but it’s an idea slot as the annual kickoff for the Arab industry. It’s very important so people can get their horses out into the arena with other horses, see how they’re going to perform or what they need to do to make their horses better. The offseason is over; it’s time to get their horse ready.”

Eirene Olsen of Mira Loma, Calif., SEAHA activities director and the show’s ringmaster, shared popular sentiments about how the SEAHA show was lucky to stay dry in between two, winter rain storms in Southern California.

“I was so pleased that it didn’t rain this weekend, so we were not out in the cold and wet weather–it was beautiful this weekend,” Olsen said. “It rained heavily right before the show started–and after it was over. We need to thank the weather gods for deterring the expected rain that this so common to this particular show each year.”

Arabian show attracts other breeds

New this year, the SEAHA show also included open, all-breed classes for carriage pleasure driving, freestyle reining, walk/trot, and UPHA Challenge Cup Qualifiers.

“We’ve added some all-breed carriage driving classes that most of our exhibitors are not used to seeing and they enjoyed it–the Arabian industry got a treat,” Odom said. “In the carriage Driving classes, we had a World Champion Andalusian, World Champion Hackney Pony, Haflingers, and some Arabians who were showing in the carriage driving as well. Because Arabian Sport Horse Nationals now has carriage-driving classes, we’re giving Arabians some time to school because it’s a new division that’s coming up in the Arabian industry.”

Outside of traditional horse-show classes, show organizers said they also tried to keep the show fun and exhibitor friendly with evening activities, such as dog races and youth egg-and-spoon races.

“These kids are having a great time and are active; the kids pitched in setting up and are doing a good job helping out,” Odom said of the many youth who also sold raffle tickets toward a gift basket, with proceeds going toward the SEAHA youth program.

But show organizers also offered green, adult riders a chance to have fun. “We had an Arabian Walk/Trot class for adults–trying to get those moms and dads who are afraid to canter into there, too,” Odom said. “Mom and dad spend all the money, so it’s about time for them to get in the ring and have a good time, too. We had a lot of people take part and people enjoyed it.”

Another popular class was the all-breed UPHA Challenge Cup, a saddle-seat equitation class with top-placing riders qualifying for one of the various divisions of the United Professional Horsemen’s Association Challenge Cup Finals, held at different shows like Arabian Youth Nationals.

Successful start to the show season

Among the many riders who successfully started their new year at the SEAHA show was trainer Darcy Edwards of Lakeside, Calif. Edwards and her Basksera Knight won the HA Hunter Pleasure Novice Horses class. The team then rode to the tri-color ribbon in the HA Hunter Pleasure Championship.

“We’ve been together for only a few months, but have shown and placed extremely well,” Edwards said.

Kharnival TBA with Edwards and the horses’ owner, Sandra Webb, placed second in the Pro-Am Hunter Pleasure, and also earned other ribbons in the Hunter Pleasure division with Webb.

Emily Kaye, who trains under Edwards, rode her LA Aristotle+/ to a second-place finish in Arabian Hunter Pleasure AAOTR 18-39. In September, Edwards plans on taking their horses to the Arabian Sport Horse Nationals in Nampa, Idaho.

During the last day of the SEAHA show on Jan. 31, Diane Powers hit a win streak each time she entered the arena. She won three championship classes in a row, taking the Arabian Western Pleasure AOTR Championship, HA/AA Western Pleasure ATR Championship, and Arabian Western Pleasure ATR Championship.

The High-Point Adult Amateur for the show was Stella Brown of San Diego, who rode her Hoku Alii++//. Brittney Yehling of Temecula rode her Soilder Field to earn the High-Point Junior Exhibitor award.

With their club’s show finished, the SEAHA is looking at possibly holding a competitive trail ride later this year. “Something at the lower levels – so it’s fun for everyone, Odom added.” Check out the gallery for some photos taken by Horsetrader photographer Daniel Lew.

For information about the Sierra Empire Arabian Horse Association, visit: www.sierraempireaha.org

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