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TEMECULA — Springtime in Southern California wine country is hard to beat for a horse show venue, and the Southern California Reined Cow Horse Association struck up a winner the weekend of May 19-22 when it hosted the inaugural Jimmy Flores, Sr. Derby at Casner’s Ranch.

The four-day event included the club’s popular Non Pro Triple Crown and a full slate of NRCHA and AQHA classes on Sunday, making for a big draw and a huge success. Numbers pleased SCRCHA President Christy McSweeny, especially in the Derby Open (21 entries), the Triple Crown (37) and the final day’s horse show (110).

“We had a really good show,” said McSweeny, who found the open slot in the show schedule when the Arizona Reined Cow Horse Association moved its Sherri Gilkerson Memorial event to Arizona. “Everybody was happy. The schedule was really good because the open riders got to be done with their horses and their event before the non pro riders went, so everybody was able to have their trainers there to help them. There were no conflicts.”

The new Derby commemorates Jimmy Flores, Sr., who passed away last September after a life dedicated to horses in general and the reined cow horse sport in particular.
Big winners included Nicolas Barthelemy in the $7,000-added Open Derby on All That Boon, owned by Sheri Jamieson. Barthelemy, now based in Simi Valley, topped Tucker

Robinson on Charlie and Kit Moncrief’s Mo Style to win the first Jimmy Flores, Sr. Open event and earn $2,433. Robinson picked up $1,912 in reserve.
In non pro competition, Sarah Bradley enjoyed a dominant show on her Very Smart And Sure, taking titles in three divisions  of bridle competition including the Non Pro Bridle

Spectacular, the Intermediate Non Pro Bridle Spectacular and the Novice Non Pro Bridle Spectacular, totaling nearly $3,000.

Another non pro with big reason to smile was Lisa Fonden, who took her ARC Pleasin To Shine to the $5,000 Non Pro Limited Spectacular Championship for her first buckle.
“I can’t believe I won a buckle!’ said Fonden, a nurse at Children’s Hospital in San Diego who trains with Roy Rich in Temecula. “It was my goal for this year to win a buckle.”
Fonden, 55, rode hunters and jumpers most of her life, then stopped riding altogether for about 15 years while she raised a family. About three years ago, she was ready to return to the saddle and leased a hunter.

“I was getting bored,” she said. “A friend recommended Roy as a trainer, and I’ve been doing reined cow horse since.

“I love it,” she added. “It’s so much fun, although it’s a huge learning curve for me and a completely different position than riding hunters and jumpers. I’ve had to learn to shift my weight way back and not be gripping with my legs like you do when you’re jumping. The horses are trained a lot differently, although I feel like it’s so much harder than it appears!”

She says the greatest take-aways from her new sport are the relationships.

“Oh my gosh, the people are just wonderful to be around,” she said. “They totally embrace you — at the horse shows, at the ranch.¬† I’ve developed wonderful friendships.”
She says she loves going to reined cow horse shows to watch, including the NRCHA World Championship Snaffle Bit Futurity each fall in Reno, Nev.

“I get a lot of inspiration just by watching,” said Fonden, who has qualified for the AQHA World this year and hopes to compete in November. “It’s amazing. It gets me really fired up to come home from the Snaffle Bit and keep trying to master it.”

She says she has yet to compete “going down the fence”, but she’s ready to next year when she’ll compete in the two-rein with Bebe, who is 11.

“My horse loves going down the fence, but we’ll save that for next year,” said the SCRCHA leading rookie rider to date. “Roy wanted me to get a solid year of boxing in this year as a foundation. I trust she can do it — and I can get out of her way!”

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