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A Year Remembered

Some memorable news from a year in - and out of - the arena

From Horsetrader staff reports - December 19th, 2013 - Cover Story, Show & Event News
Smart Boons

Smart Boons

JANUARY: On the heels of a dominant year in working cow bridle competition, Smart Boons was retired from the show pen as he embarked on his new career as a breeding stallion. Under trainer Corey Cushing, the striking 8-year old red roan stallion (Peptoboonsmal X Smart Little Easter) recorded two major wins in his first year in the bridle — the Magnificent 7 at Horse Expo and the World’s Richest Stock Horse event — and pushed his lifetime earnings to almost $200,000. The 2009 National Reined Cow Horse Association Derby Open champion, owned by Kevin and Sydney Knight, is at the top of Cushing’s rides in the arena. “He’s been a great horse for a long time,” said the trainer. “I think the most important thing if you want to have a breeding stallion is to finish when he is at the top of his game. With the success Smart Boons had this year, we felt he was at the height of his career, and this was the best time.”

Rich Fellers was the first American in 25 years to win the Rolex/FEI World Cup Final, highest placing U.S. Equestrian at the London 2012 Olympic Games, and winner of all four observation classes he entered. Rich Fellers kicked off this year Jan. 19 with the 2012 USEF Equestrian of the Year award at the Pegasus Awards. Also recognized was his mount through the successes, Harry and Mollie Chapman’s small but spectacular Flexible, who was named USEF International Horse of the Year on Jan. 18.

The World Cup Finals of dressage and jumping for 2015 were withdrawn from Guadalajara, Mexico, and International Equestrian Federation announced in January that Las Vegas had been asked to step in to host the only annual global championships of the two Olympic disciplines. The FEI Bureau said the organizers at Guadalajara, which hosted the 2011 Pan American Games — the second largest multi-discipline sporting event in the world –”have been unable to meet in full the requirements imposed by the FEI Bureau when the Finals were allocated to Guadalajara at its meeting in June of last year.” The FEI said that Guadalajara was unable to fulfill all of the contractual obligations within the specified timeline. Reports from the city indicated the organizers ran into difficulties finding an indoor venue suitable for the World Cup that is typically held in April as the final of leagues around the world. The World Cup Finals have been hosted only in Europe and North America except for 2006, when the Final for Jumping was in Kuala Lumpur, Malayasia.

Julie Krone

Julie Krone

FEBRUARY: The United States qualified a vaulter to compete in the FEI World Cup Vaulting Final for the first time in 2013, as Californian Gabe Aniello was among six of the top male vaulters in the world to qualify to compete in March’s 2013 Final in Braunschweig, Germany. The Redwood City vaulter is no stranger to international competition after having represented the U.S. at the 2012 FEI World Vaulting Championship, where the 21-year old placed 10th in the Individual Male championship. He has qualified for the FEI World Cup Vaulting Final on the strength of competitive performances in CVI-W competition in Paris, France, Leipzig, Germany and Bordeaux, France.

Lisa Kursinski, whose impact as a hunter-jumper trainer and competitor had touched equestrians nationwide, passed away at age 48 after a battle with a rare form of liver cancer. She had trained the last four years out of Farndale Stables in the Los Angeles Equestrian Center in Burbank, where she had been working as a coach with amateurs and young and up-and-coming riders. Lisa, a sibling to Olympic rider Anne Kursinski, paid her dues and learned every aspect of horsemanship from the ground up and continued as a working student in California and on the East Coast. In her junior years, she was Pacific Coast Hunter-Jumper year-end ‘A’ Champion Hunt Seat Equitation rider – 14 & under; ‘A’ Champion Junior Working Hunter rider, 14 & under; Champion Hunt Seat Equitation, 15 thru 17, and Champion Junior Working Hunter rider, 15 thru 17. Lisa went to college at Westmoreland David Equestrian Institute in Leesburg, Vir., and completed the two-year program in one year. She trained and rode with top professionals including George Morris, Jimmy Williams, Tad Coffin, Jimmy Wofford, and Kamila Dupont. As an adult, Lisa won the Regional Championship in Three Day Eventing in Las Vegas and the Green Hunter Classic at Spruce Meadows, Calgary, Canada. From 2005 through 2008, she successfully competed on the ‘A’ hunter/jumper circuit in California.

Master Remedy, a gifted performer and extraordinary Quarter Horse sire with the kindest of natures, died of age-related, natural causes at 33. The 1980 stallion was one of only four horses to sire three National Reined Cow Horse Association Snaffle Bit Futurity Open Champions, an elite group which also includes King Fritz, Nu Cash and Smart Chic Olena. The bay stallion’s competitive career focused exclusively on the cutting arena, where he earned more than $194,000. He also became a superior sire of versatile performers, with 69 foals who earned $756,295 in reined cow horse, cutting and reining money. “He was absolutely incredible,” John Ward said. John and his late father, Ward Ranch founder and NRCHA Hall of Fame Horseman Greg Ward, both showed Master Remedy during his decade-long show career. “He had so much talent. To lope him around, it felt like you were loping on a cloud.” He sired three NRCHA Open Futurity Champions and a Non-Pro Futurity Champion, and he was the sire of Sugar Babe Taffy, who is the dam of Black Pearl, the mare on which John Ward won the Snaffle Bit Futurity on in 2008.

Rich Fellers

Rich Fellers

MARCH: Julie Krone, legendary jockey and San Diego County horsewoman was announced as a 2013 inductee into the National Women’s Hall of Fame alongside Nancy Pelosi, the House Democratic Leader, and Betty Ford, the former first lady. Krone one of nine women enshrined this year, joined past inductees including sharpshooter Annie Oakley, pioneer aviator Amelia Earhart and first woman astronaut Sally Ride. The list also includes some of the country’s greatest women athletes and competitors like Mildred “Babe” Didrikson Zaharias, a track and field star and outstanding pro golfer who founded the LPGA and tennis great Billie Jean King. The honor caught her completely by surprise. “When I got the invitation in the mail, I thought maybe they made a mistake,” Krone said with typical self-effacing humor. “To be honored by the Racing Hall of Fame, that’s my peers saying I deserved it. But when the nation puts you alongside women who have done some remarkable things like these women, I’m still in awe over it.” Born in 1963, Krone recorded more than 3,700 wins, including the 1993 Belmont Stakes, to become the leading female thoroughbred jockey of all time. She retired in 2004 and lives in Carlsbad with her husband, Jay Hovdey, an Eclipse Award-winning Daily Racing Form columnist, and their daughter, Lorelei Judith. She was the first woman to win a Triple Crown race, the Belmont Stakes in 1993 on Colonial Affair, and the first to win a Breeders’ Cup race, the Juvenile Fillies aboard Halfbridled in 2003. That same year she was the first (and still only) woman to win Del Mar’s $1 million Pacific Classic, on Candy Ride for Sid and Jenny Craig and Hall of Fame trainer Ron McAnally. She is the first and only woman jockey to appear on the cover of Sports Illustrated (May 1989).

APRIL: By spring, detailed bankruptcy reports surfaced of the defunct Valitar show that closed in Del Mar the previous November, and although $600,000 had been recovered by federal bankruptcy court, employees, acts and vendors were still heavily owed. Reports said the recovered $600,000 included about $217,000 in net proceeds from an auction held in January of five large tents and other equipment used for the show. It also included about $255,000 that producer and Rancho Santa Fe resident Mark Remley took after Valitar closed and subsequently returned, according to court documents. Equustria Development Inc. — the company formed by Remley and his wife, Tatyana, to launch Valitar — still owed more than $14 million to roughly 100 creditors. According to published reports, the largest creditor was Remley himself, who invested nearly $10 million, according to a report filed in court by Victor Vilaplana, an attorney for Equustria.

NRHA Million Dollar Rider and NRCHA World’s Great Horseman Randy Paul started a new chapter in his brilliant career March 1 when he moved into Bob and Laura Day’s Day Creek Ranch in Simi Valley. Paul, who had been training non pro Laura Day and a variety of her horses in recent years including NRBC finalist Easy Slider, said he would focus on both reining and reined cow horse at the 260-acre Day Creek facility, which also is the home of eventing trainer Michelle Emmermann and hunter-jumper trainer Stacie Ryan. “I am happy to be here,” said Paul, the 2009 NRCHA World’s Greatest winner on Smokeelan. “I enjoy it. Laura and her gang here are fun to be around, and I think we’re going to have a lot of success.” A conversation late last year between Day and Paul spawned the move, as Day Creek was undergoing changes and Paul had just finished a year training in Pilot Point, Texas, after decades of success in Arizona.

JUNE: The National Reined Cow Horse Association announced it would be moving its first Premier Event of 2014, the Celebration of Champions, to Fort Worth, Texas. The event, scheduled Feb. 14 – 22 in the Will Rogers Equestrian Center, previously had overlapped the popular Arizona Quarter Horse Association Sun Circuit show and Super Bowl weekend. The Celebration of Champions includes a Derby for 4- and 5-year-old reined cow horses, as well as the World Championship Show, featuring the top qualifying horses and riders from the NRCHA’s eight geographic regions. Those riders will compete for World and National Championships in 12 different divisions. A signature highlight of the Celebration of Champions is the World’s Greatest Horseman competition, a grueling four-event contest in which a single horse-and-roder vie in herd work, reined work, roping and fence work. California trainer Ron Emmons and Olena Oak are current two-time defending champions.

JULY: The future looked bright for Californians in the American Paint Horse Association, as competitors from the Golden State returned from the Will Rogers Memorial Center with respective AjPHA Youth World Championship and Reserve honors. Ally Fink of Coronado, riding Gallant Zippo, won the All-Around Novice Youth World Championship, and on her heels was All-Around Novice Youth Reserve Champion Gabrielle D’Agostini of Mount Aukum, who rode Invited Only Zippen.

AUGUST: The Aaron Ranch of Texas paid the sale-topping price of $850,000 for A Shiner Named Sioux to highlight a historic Carol Rose Dispersal Sale Aug. 15-17 that attracted hundreds nationwide. Rose, the AQHA All-Time Leading Breeder of Performance Horses, sold all but five horses at her dispersal, which one source said unofficially averaged $52,000. When Rose, an inductee into the American Quarter Horse Hall of Fame, opened the sale, the crowd gave her two standing ovations as she explained her reasons for dispersing her horses. Her mother, she said, had urged her to downsize the herd. “I love all my horses, and the ones I couldn’t part with, I didn’t sell,” Carol told the AQHA Journal. “I just want to own a few horses. I just want to do what my mother told me to do, because she has never been wrong. This is dedicated to Mother, and I know she’s watching, and I know how happy she is.” Aaron Ranch was the predominant buyer.

SEPTEMBER: Owning and boarding horses in San Diego County became easier Sept. 11 when the Board of Supervisors approved a revised, tiered horse ordinance that could reinvigorate the region’s equestrian industry. In the works for several years, the Equine Policy and Ordinance Development project updated the county’s zoning ordinance with regard to equine uses in unincorporated areas. With the Board’s vote, a long-standing need to obtain a major-use permit for small stables was eliminated — only operations with more than 100 horses on 10 acres or more now face such a requirement. “The zoning ordinance hadn’t been revised in more than 30 years, and it was needed,” said Michell Kimball, who created the San Diego County Equestrian Foundation in 2010 to work with county staff and equestrians to see the changes through. “This is exciting. Horse activities can increase in the county now.” Kimball said that in the 18 months prior to the SDCEF’s founding, 69 San Diego County ranches had closed. County representatives and staff were receptive to public input, including complaints that regulations were stifling the industry and leaving many stable owners out of compliance.

The American Quarter Horse Association filed a notice of appeal to overturn a jury verdict that the AQHA had violated antitrust laws by excluding cloned Quarter Horses from its registry. On Aug. 22, U.S. District Judge Mary Lou Robinson had issued a final judgment in the case, ordering the association to immediately begin registering clones and their offspring. She also awarded nearly $900,000 in attorney fees to the plaintiffs, who had demanded $5.7 in damages. In July, an Amarillo federal jury determined an AQHA committee and top AQHA officials violated state and federal antitrust laws by conspiring to bar cloned horses from its horse registry. Jurors, however, awarded no damages to rancher Jason Abraham and Greg Veneklasen, two AQHA members who sought to register their cloned horses. In 2012, Abraham and Veneklasen sued the 280,000-member organization, seeking to overturn Rule 227a, which has barred cloned horses from the AQHA registry since 2004.

OCTOBER: Los Angeles celebrated the Day of the Horse on Oct. 2, and the city put horses front and center at City Hall. The Los Angeles Equine Advisory Committee (LAEAC), created by City Council, with the help from Councilman Tom LaBonge, advises Los Angeles City Council on equestrian issues. The LAEAC is working with the City’s Planning Department to preserve endangered agricultural and horse keeping areas within the City of Los Angeles. With L.A. City and L.A. Recreation and Parks support, the LAEAC erected two pipe corrals provided by East Valley Feed & Tack and placed horses in them on the South Lawn of City Hall. The LAEAC members put the corrals in place and removed them later in the morning to highlight the speed of installing “pipe corrals” for horse keeping. City Planning regards pipe corrals as permanent structures requiring the same building permits as needed for a barn. The City Council and the public were invited to view these corrals and horses before the Council met for the Day of the Horse Event.

If someone said Lindsey Spencer skated away with the 2013 California Reining Horse Association Reiner of the Year Award, they wouldn’t be far from the truth. The former ice skater now Riverside area horsewoman rode her Otoe Chant Pine, aka “Patches,” to the 2013 California Reining Horse Association “Reiner of the Year” title in a highlight at the CRHA’s Challenge event at the Los Angeles Equestrian Center.

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