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A Year Remembered

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

From Horsetrader staff reports - December 18th, 2014 - Cover Story, Show & Event News

1412BCoverJANUARY: Every year kicks off with hope and enthusiasm, and 2014 has been no different. After all, it’s the Chinese “Year of the Horse”, as well as a World Equestrian Games year.

Out of the gate, 2014 featured change, as the Sierra Empire Arabian Horse Association moved the 39th version of its popular January show from the Fairplex in Pomona to a new venue, the expanded George Ingalls Equestrian Event Center in Norco. Happiest of all may have been Gordon and Paula Jahr of Wrightwood, whose 6-year-old Half-Arab gelding, WW Ive Been Spotted, went home with the Supreme Halter Championship.

Halfway across the nation in Oklahoma City, Lakeside horsewoman Elisa Swenson was named the 2014 Miss Rodeo USA at a pressure-filled competition at the International Professional Rodeo Association World Finals. Upon winning, the 25-year-old San Diego County native credited horses and her supportive father, Thomas Swenson, for overcoming some of life’s stumbling blocks.

Reported in January, too, was the passing of a longtime fixture in the Los Angeles horse world, Stevi Fielding, who had touched and influenced many lives as both a horsewoman and a real estate professional.

FEBRUARY: The always-innovative team at Horse Expo Pomona returned to the Fairplex Feb. 7-9, and Robin Bond launched the start of a great year with her 6-year-old Quarter Horse mare, KaChoo, dominating Charles Wilhelm’s Ultimate Super Horse Challenge.

As they have for decades, Californians headed to Arizona for the Scottsdale Arabian Horse Show, and again the Golden State was well represented.

MARCH: Catching fire is the relatively new equestrian sport of mounted shooting, and the California Mounted Shooting Association’s State Championship event March 22-23 was proof. This fast-action timed event uses two.45 caliber single-action revolvers, each loaded with five rounds of specially prepared blank ammunition, and contestants are required to dress western – either in traditional style or in the old-time style of the late 1800s. Cathy Hendrick, a lifetime member of CMSA #214 who has been competing since 1998, won the Overall Ladies Division aboard Pal.

Also in March, the National Collegiate Equestrian Association announced its four-member All American Team, and Taylor Brown of CSU Fresno was one of the quartet to be honored.

APRIL: Leslie Berndl of Newcastle continued her climb into the elite competitors of driving, as she won the USEF National Single Horse Driving Championship in Southern Pines, N.C. “It doesn’t feel real,” the former airborne search-and-rescue paramedic said after winning the title for the second time. She and her 13-year-old KWPN gelding, Uminco, were extremely focused in surpassing their expected time.

Big news surfaced in April outside the arena, too, as the 1,390-acre Vessels Ranch in northwestern San Diego County – including the venerable 275-acre Vessels Stallion Farm – wentup for sale. Bill Thead, LLC manager for Vessels, called it impossible to speak of the property without thinking of Frank “Scoop” Vessels, the grandson of the founder of Los Alamitos Race Course, who died in 2010 in a twin-engine plan crash in Oregon.

MAY: The third time proved to be the charm for Joe Misner of Joshua Tree. Misner had ridden a young Mustang through the streets of Norco – twice before – but this time was different. Mixing a willing 4-year-old gelding along with wisdom gleaned from six years of Extreme Mustang Makeover challenges, he scored a decisive win on Kenai May 17. It was the sixth annual wild horse training event held in Horsetown USA, where entrants showcased their assigned Mustang’s skills in the arena and down the horse trails of Norco. The horses were virtually untouched before the training period began.

JUNE: When the dust settled in Will Rogers Memorial Center after the 2014 AjPHA World Championship Show June 27-July 5, it was clear that the APHA’s future was bright in California. Sixteen-year-old Drew Rogers of Bakersfield and 15-year-old Aubree Scobie of Paso Robles each returned home with respective 2014 AjPHA World Championship All Around titles. Rogers and Shez Eye Candy took the Youth 14-18 Division; Scobie and Gameplan were the All Around Youth Novice winners.

Across the pond in Sandringham, England, Californian Diane Kastama and her two FEI Para-Equestrian Driving teammates captured the Team Bronze in challenging competition. The U.S. finished just 6.8 points behind the Silver medal-winning Dutch team.

JULY: Closer to home, victories came in legislation for those who riding in our backyards and local trails. One such triumph came near the Sweetwater Valley reservoir, where the Bonita Valley Riders, led by Diane Carter, stayed on the ball and worked with other trail-users to re-establish access to a popular riding route that had been closed to protect fairy shrimp spotted in vernal pools.
When Ryan Melendez won his first Top Ten at the Arabian Horse Association Youth Nationals at age 8, it seemed like just a matter of time before he went home with a championship of his own. Now 16, Melendez enjoyed winning the roses for the first time this year – twice. Melendez was one of a contingent of California youth who returned home with titles.

AUGUST: Alexandra Fink and her 2007 chestnut overo gelding named Gallant Zippo climbed the AjPHA mountain in a remarkable 18 months. The Coronado teen-ager and “Gilly” earned over 700 points in 15 different youth events, along with 14 ROMs and five Superiors – all in less than two years. The result was a Superior Youth Champion title, an honor that rewards the most versatile of horse-and-rider teams.

SEPTEMBER: Microsoft founder Bill Gates purchased the 229-acre Thoroughbred training center in Rancho Santa Fe formerly owned by weight-loss icon Jenny Craig. Reports in the UT San Diego newspaper indicated Gates intends to turn it into a hunter-jumper facility. The father of a teen-ager who jumps competitively, Gates paid $18 million for the facility.

OCTOBER: Teresa Kackert, trainer at All American Horses in Menifee, was selected among hundreds of North American candidates as the 2014 Instructor of the Year by the Certified Horsemanship Association. She accepted the honor during the annual awards banquet Oct. 25 during the 47th Annual CHA International Conference in Lexington, Ky.

NOVEMBER: In the spotlight at the 2014 World Championship Appaloosa Horse Show was Jennie Shrout of Clements, who was a California connection among High Point Champions. Shrout took home the Reserve World Champion Non-Pro Halter Exhibitor honor.

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