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2018 Horse Headliners

Saluting a year’s worth of highlights and heroes

- November 30th, 2018 - Cover Story, Show & Event News


headliners_1_1812aTHE TRAUMA OF DECEMBER’S WILDFIRES—and subsequent mudslides a month later in some areas—was far from forgotten in communities from San Diego County to Central California. In many places, victim needs still outstripped supplies. But signs of recovery were appearing, slowly.
While the toll of the terrible trio—the Lilac Fire in Bonsall, Creek Fire in Los Angeles and Thomas Fire in Ventura County—was still being calculated, groups formed both formally and informally to mutually support and educate neighbors in respective communities.
Deer Springs Equestrian in San Marcos, a few miles due south of the Lilac Fire, conducted a two-hour equine microchip clinic on Jan. 13, where Dr. Emily Sandler of Pacific Coast Equine Veterinary Services microchipped and registered horses.
The local advocacy group, the Twin Oaks Valley Equestrian Association, sent out a comprehensive self-evacuation guide that could be a difference-maker in preparation for a future event. The guide is rooted in the Cal Fire Volunteers in Prevention campaign after the June 2008 Lightning Strike Fires in Tehama County.
In the area struck by the Creek Fire in Los Angeles, equestrians banded together to educate, plan and communicate using lessons learned from the Dec. 6 firestorm that devastated longtime equestrian centerpieces in their community like Middle Ranch and Gibson Ranch.
At Gibson Ranch, volunteers worked several months, lending skills and effort toward a common vision: the return of the horse ranch to normal.

TWELVE YEARS TO THE DAY after his passing, Samsung Woodstock, the chestnut gelding who won scores of show jumping honors and the hearts of fans worldwide, received the California Professional Horseman’s Association Equine Lifetime Achievement Award.
The presentation, made to his career-long partner, Susie Hutchison, was a highlight of the Jan.5 Awards Banquet held in San Diego.
“There was never a course I walked that looked too high or too wide—that I didn’t know we could do it,” said Hutchison, still a top competitor on the circuit.
Her first win on the 16-1-hand “Woody,” in the 1987 Derby in Pebble Beach, came just days after the German-bred Westphalian had arrived from Europe. Their final victory at the 1997 Los Angeles National Grand Prix capped a career that featured 20 grand prix wins, plus qualifications for the World Equestrian Games and three World Cup Finals, the 1990 PCHA Horse of the Year Award, and the 1992 AGA Rider of the Year honor. In 1997, Breyer Animal Creations issued the Samsung Woodstock model horse.
This was a team of three, though. The late Jimmy Williams influenced this pairing from the day he acquired the horse from Paul Schockemohle for owner K.H. Lee, then Chairman of the Samsung Electronics Corporation, before the 1988 Seoul Olympic Games.
LINK: Watch Susie and Woodstock’s memorable 1993 Volvo FEI World Cup Final: http://bit.ly/1812_woody

AFTER TRADING SPOTS BACK-AND-FORTH atop the National Reined Cow Horse Association World’s Greatest Horseman competition, Kelby Phillips and Hickory Holly Time (One Time Pepto x Hickorys Holly Cee) edged Paso Robles trainer Phillip Ralls and Call Me Mitch (Metallic Cat x Miss Hickory Hill) for the prestigious title during the NRCHA’s Celebration of Champions Feb. 9-17 at the Will Rogers Coliseum in Fort Worth, Texas.
Both entries in the bridle horse competition finished top three of each of the four phases—herd, rein and cow work plus steer-stopping—with Phillips, from Bend, Ore., coming out in the final composite, 890.5 to 888.0. Phillips and Hickory Holly Time, owned by DT Horses, LLC, earned top prize of $40,000. The duo won the herd work (220.0) and steer work (224.5) while taking second in the reining (222.5) and third in cow work (223.5).
Ralls and Call Me Mitch, owned by Estelle Roitblat, received $25,000 for second place after a similar track, finsihing first in herd work (220.5) and cow work (225.0) and third in both rein work (221.5) and steer work (221.0).

JANUARY IS THE TIME of year when hopes are high and anticipation for the show season rises. For many Arabian and Half-Arabian competitors, it’s also the doorstep to the venerable Scottdale Arabian Show,so any schooling in a live arena is golden.
The Southern California Half-Arabian Association and the Arabian Horse Association of the San Fernando Valley conducted a golden opportunity for both clubs’ members to meet whatever January objectives they have. The dual-qualifying show for Region 1 and Region 2 attracted a variety of barns from throughout the state, including several keen on this month’s 63rd Annual Scottsdale showdown Feb. 15-25. The Los Angeles Equestrian Center was buzzing with classes that included sport horses, dressage, youth, amateur, trail, western dressage, and ranch horse pleasure. Special awards were issued for High Point Dressage Horse and High Score Sport Horse, and in addition to the previously mentioned regions, the event was a qualifying show for Pacific Slopes and the U.S., Canadian and Sport Horse Nationals with AHA, USEF and USDF approvals.

A LITTLE LOVE—the love of reining, that is—was spread around the L.A. Equestrian Center when the California Reining Horse Association opened its 2018 show season Feb. 2- with its new Sweetheart Reining Show. There was a lot of excitement building up to the event with the addition of ranch riding classes to the 2018 schedule. CRHA also celebrated the successes of its members with a year-end awards party during the show.
On the heels of the season-opener, the innovative CRHA hosted a free reining clinic a week later at the LAEC that featured trainers Tom Foran, Brenda Brown, Monica Albair and Mike Berg.


AFTER DUST HAD SETTLED from an ambitious 2018 HITS Desert Circuit, the top prizes once again were pinned on Nayel Nassar, the 27-year-old Southern California-based rider who represents Egypt. Riding the 14-year-old Hannoverian Lordan, Nassar won HITS Coachella’s prestigious pair—the Longines $100,000 FEI on Feb. 11, and the AIG $1 Million Grand Prix March 18—in a sweep for the record books.
“I’m really trying to preserve him as much as I can,” Nassar told reporters after the FEI win. “He’s had a couple of injuries and we have a long year ahead. I’m just stoked to have him and to have him come out so strong. He’s a trier and we know each other well, which helps with the little intricacies on course.”
In the AIG $1 Million, Nassar earned $350,000 for the win.
Since purchasing Lordan eight years ago, Nassar and Lordan have vied in two FEI World Cup Finals (2014 and 2017) and the 2014 FEI World Equestrian Games in France (for Egypt). They also won a monster check in 2013, when they captured the Zoetis $1 Million Grand Prix in New York.
“He programs himself,” Nassar said of his longtime partner. “He knows when the big day is. He senses the atmosphere.”

FOR MORE THAN 25 YEARS, Atwater equestrians, “land-locked” by the Los Angeles River, had been asking for a bridge to access the trails in Griffith Park.
In 2012, when Atwater home owners finally were promised a new equestrian/bike bridge, it seemed like the long-awaited structure was within reach. But even with a philanthropic boost from Morton LaKretz, who had set up a fund of $5 million to build it, there were many setbacks to construction over the years and it remained in limbo as the delays—and the price of the bridge—kept growing.

After a magnificent commemorative ride before an adoring Del Mar crowd April 28, Steffen Peters and Legolas 92 share a moment in the dressage legend’s retirement ceremony at the Del Mar National Horse Show. (Terri Miller photo)

After a magnificent commemorative ride before an adoring Del Mar crowd April 28, Steffen Peters and Legolas 92 share a moment in the dressage legend’s retirement ceremony at the Del Mar National Horse Show. (Terri Miller photo)

This year, L.A. Councilman Mitch O’Farrell came up with a cost-effective, pre-fabricated bridge concept—maybe not as elegant as the previous designs, but still approved by the equestrian community as functional and safe for horses. A separate, parallel pre-fab bridge would go alongside for bikers and hikers.
“When this proposal for both bridges went before the L.A. City Council, the Council approved the original design at about three times the cost estimate to build the pre-fab bridge,” said Lynn Brown, Vice President of the L.A. Equine Advisory Committee.
The good news, Brown said, is that all permits are now in place, and the construction of this iconic bridge, now titled the North Atwater Bridge, began in April.

NICOLAS BARTHELEMY RELOCATED his training barn early this year to Moorpark, but one place you could still find the talented trainer is atop the standings at the end of the day.
Barthelemy was one of the stars of the 2018 Southern California Reined Cow Horse Association’s Jimmy Flores, Sr. Spectacular, held May 18-20 at Casner’s Ranch.
Barthelemy, riding Manuel Rojo’s WRS Shiney Diamond (WR This Cats Smart x Shiney Miss Hickory), outscored the field in the $1,000-added Open Hackamore Spectacular. In another prestigious aged-event class at the Jimmy Flores, Sr. Memorial, the $1,000-added Open Bridle Spectacular, Barthelemy rode Joel Jewett’s Im Smooth N Smart (Smooth As A Cat x Vandalena) to the reserve title behind Jason Grimshaw on Lauren Boychuk’s Mister OMG (One Time Pepto x Sallie B Badge). Barthelemy and Im Smooth N Smart also won the Open Bridle class.

A RETIRED NFL TIGHT END and a cattle contractor—both recreational team ropers—raked in $95,220 with their ropes at the 22nd edition of the #11 Reno Million.
Californians Bear Pascoe of Morro Bay and Steve Simons of Sanger roped four steers in 34.21 seconds to win the event and $47,610 total per man. They needed only a 10-second run to clinch the win, but finished in 8.8 seconds.
“I was just trying to not break out and go get him caught,” said Pascoe. “I knew Steve would rope him on the first or second jump.”
His partner did just that, motivating himself by thinking of a couple of things his wife could use with the money. Simons, formerly in the construction business, provides steers for ropings across California. He and Bear’s dad Sean Pascoe had roped for years together and he and Bear, originally from Porterville, are close friends.
“I haven’t been to this roping since I was 16 years old,” Pascoe said. “Corky (Ullman) and Daren (Peterson) have done a great job. The cattle were outstanding.”

Mike Berg and Special Mi, owned by Diane Yoder, were Open stars at the CRHA Reiner Shine summer event. (Mark Blakley photo)

Mike Berg and Special Mi, owned by Diane Yoder, were Open stars at the CRHA Reiner Shine summer event. (Mark Blakley photo)

The Reno Million was founded in 1996 by local real estate developer Perry Di Loreto and is now owned by Ullman-Peterson Events. It was designed to give equally matched amateur ropers across the country a chance at six-figure payouts, using a handicapping system similar to golf.
Pascoe, who spent five seasons playing for the New York Giants, caught four passes in their 21-17 victory over the Patriots in the 2011 Super Bowl. But he continued to rope during every off-season. Today, he and Katie ranch on land owned by her father, Hall-of-Fame steer wrestler John Jones.

TOP SOCAL REINERS battled it out at the CRHA Reiner Shine horse show June 8-10, and a pair of stars bubbled to the surface.
Riding her Gunna Juice You, Marilyn Scheffers marked a 72.5 and swept the NRHA Non Pro and Intermediate Non Pro classes in a Saturday highlight
Mike Berg earned Sunday’s highest score aboard Diane Yoder’s Special Mi. Marking an astounding 74.5, Berg earned blues in the NRHA Open and Intermediate Open as well as the CRHA Open classes. Berg’s big win, combined with his reserve placing on Saturday, earned him enough points to take home the CRHA Open circuit championship.
“He’s about as talented a horse as I’ve ever ridden,” Berg said of Special Mi. “Ultimately, the goal is for Diane to go show.”
The Bergs found Special Mi after the horse had won the 2016 Prime Time Open Futurity with Scott McCutcheon.


CAL EXPO CAME TO LIFE June 8-10 for the 20th Annual Western States Horse Expo, bringing together education, shopping, entertainment and fun for horsepeople like no one else.
One of the weekend’s highlights was the return of the Magnificent Seven All Around Stock Horse Championship. Phillip Ralls of Paso Robles took Estelle Roitblat’s Call Me Mitch to the title, thrilling the crowd and earning $8,372.

ACTOR WILLIAM SHATNER is an avid Los Angeles-based reiner who cultivated a career spanning 50 years as an Emmy and Golden Globe-winning actor, director, producer, screenwriter, recording artist and author. And—horseman. Shatner received the National Reining Horse Association Dale Wilkinson Lifetime Achievement Award this year.
In 2007, the NRHA Hall of Fame Committee initiated the NRHA Dale Wilkinson Lifetime Achievement Award, supported by the Reining Horse Foundation (RHF), and each year, the NRHA Board of Directors and past Hall of Fame inductees vote to approve a worthy candidate for recognition.
Shatner, one of pop culture’s most recognizable figures, received the award for his contributions as a horseman, horse industry promoter and philanthropist.
Shatner’s passions for horses and philanthropy were united through his involvement with AHEAD With Horses, a charity organization that gives physically and mentally challenged children the thrill of riding a horse—and boosts their confidence and self-esteem, often with life-changing results. For more than two decades, he has hosted the Hollywood Charity Horse Show at the L.A. Equestrian Center.
Shatner also has been successful as a breeder and exhibitor. A longtime dedicated breeder of American Quarter Horses, he has had smashing success with the beautiful American Saddlebred, developing and riding world champions “Sultan’s Great Day” and “Revival.” He has won numerous world championships in several equine events.

WILDFIRES AGAIN RAGED in summer. At one point in July, firefighters were battling more than a dozen wildfires across California, including two deadly ones, the Carr Fire in Shasta County and the Ferguson Fire in Mariposa County. In Southern California, the Cranston Fire in the San Jacinto Mountains in Riverside County, which burned tens of thousands of acres, was caused by arson, officials said.

Luca Fappani and Spooks N Jewels dominated the Derby Non Pro at the 2018 Reining By The Bay, sweeping levels 4, 3, 2 and 1 as well as taking the Youth 13-under Championship. (John O’Hara photo)

Luca Fappani and Spooks N Jewels dominated the Derby Non Pro at the 2018 Reining By The Bay, sweeping levels 4, 3, 2 and 1 as well as taking the Youth 13-under Championship. (John O’Hara photo)

FROM THE VENUE to the competition to the prize money, the Reining By The Bay is spectacular. This year’s 20th anniversary version, held July 23-29 at the Horse Park at Woodside, was no exception—so it was the perfect place for Luca Fappani to explode on the scene.
The 14-year-old son of Andrea and Tish Fappani, riding Spooks N Jewels, dominated the $55,000-added Non Pro Derby, sweeping levels, 3, 2 and 1. He also took the 13-under Youth Championship. All told, the teen-ager topped 45 other non-pro entries and boosted his career earnings—after just two years of competing—to almost $28,000. All but about $5,500 of that came from his Non-Pro titles in California.
“It feels good to do good on my mom’s horse,” the young reiner said. “He’s really fun to ride, and I like having him at home and my mom giving me the opportunity to show him.”
Luca’s dad, Andrea Fappani, fared well, too, winning both the $130,000-added Open Derby L4 title on Chic Dreamin, owned by Silver Spurs Equine, and the $65,000-added 3-year-old Open Futurity L4 crown on Designed To Spark, owned by Rancho Oso Rio, LLC. He also took the Open Futurity L Reserve on Diamonds In My Genes, owned by Rhodes River Ranch.


AS FALL NEARED, 119 equestrians in three age sections hit the books—the USEF Rule Book, that is—to practice the equitation tests that are uniquely built into the two rounds of the California Professional Horsemen’s Association Foundation Equitation Championships. Those who had put in extra hours with the counter-canter had an edge throughout the Championships, held late August at the Showpark Summer Classic at the Del Mar Horse Park.
Consistency paid off for Jaime Krupnick aboard Conux. Her 83 and 82 scores from Saturday and Sunday put her first in the 22-over four-pair work-off, which she nailed for an 85. With scores of 81 and 82, 13-year-old Stella Buckingham was sitting second going into the work-off. She and Nom De Guerre were smooth and efficient with the two lead changes the judges had requested as the work-off’s finish. She recorded an 84 score to secure the win in the 14-under section. Finishing the day, 16-year-old Sophia Sanders and Cipriani logged one of their biggest victories yet, thanks to 85.5 and 88 initial rounds and a commanding 88 score in the work-off for the victory in the 21-under section.
Krupnick, a mother and busy business-owner, has a full plate to keep riding at a top level since she returned to the sport two years ago, after an 18-year hiatus.
Riding Georgy Maskrey-Segesman’s Conux, Krupnick relished the challenging questions asked.
“With courses, the harder the better,” she said

IF WHAT goes over well in ‘Vegas, stays in ‘Vegas, than the National Stock Horse Association’s Snaffle Bit Futurity, Derby and World’s Richest Bridle competition has found a new home.
Participants and spectators alike embraced the first year that the August event was held South Point Hotel, and as good as the accommodations were, the competition surpassed them.
In the Protect The Harvest-sponsored Open Futurity, Justin Wright shined, finishing with four horses in the money and racking up about $42,500. He claimed $27,055 for his championship finish on Eric Frietas’s Scooter Kat, a son of National Cutting Horse Association (NCHA) Open World Champion Kit Kat Sugar out of Scooters Daisy Dukes, a mare by Dual Smart Rey that earned $93,217 in the cutting pen. Reserve Champions Phillip Ralls on Lil Time Reymanising (One Time Pepto x Reymanising) were 5.5 points back in the composite score and earned $16,378 for owner Holy Cow Performance Horses.
Clayton Edsall also was a star in Las Vegas in the NSHA Open Derby, taking Beverly Vaughn’s blue roan stallion, Bet Hesa Boon (Bet Hesa Cat x Flo N Blu Boon), to the win that paid him a total haul of $13,385.
In the Discount Tire-sponsored World’s Richest Stock Horse event, Shane Steffen of Oregon took Gunna Be A Smartie (Very Smart Remedy X Gunna Be Mine) to a composite 667 that was just enough to top Sarah Dawson by half a point and win both the World’s Richest’s Open and Intermediate Open divisions, netting more than $14,000.

MANY FOLKS told Madison Fay Wagner this would not be a good year for her to run for the Miss California Rodeo title. At 19, they said, she was too young—most candidates are in their 20s—and they also told her there were too many other strong candidates.
But the Valley Center native stuck to her plan and not only ran, she won the coveted title.
“I was told that I didn’t have a chance,” says Wagner. “I took this as incentive to ride even more, study even harder, and practice, practice, practice.”
This year’s pageant was held Oct. 3-6 in conjunction with the California Circuit Finals Rodeo, and over the three-day pageant contestants were put through a variety of events including speech, modeling, written tests on rodeo knowledge, horsemanship, and interviews. Contestants also participated in live media interviews promoting the Circuit Finals Rodeo and various sponsors.

Kristin Hardin competed hard all year and finished as the $25,000 GGT Footing Grand Prix Series Final Champion. (Sara Shier photo)

Kristin Hardin competed hard all year and finished as the $25,000 GGT Footing Grand Prix Series Final Champion. (Sara Shier photo)

THE 10TH ANNUAL Pink Classic Championships, a cancer-awareness horse event, features signs throughout the venue that display cancer facts and statistics, emphasizing early detection. Pink bandanas and wrist bands are free to exhibitors and spectators—pink wristbands symbolizing support and white wristbands for cancer survivors.
Ranch horse versatility classes have created a wave of interest this year. Robin Bond rode Lynn Rivers’s Sunkissed Peppy Rider to the championship with a 76½. The amateur high scoring ranch riding was Nicinthemix, (aka “Talley”), owned and ridden by Birdie Avery with a 75 ½.
“We now have qualified for the 2019 World AQHA Show!” added Avery—a huge achievement in their first AQHA show together with very little help. “We have basically trained each other.”

SWEEPING THROUGH DEL MAR was the Del Mar International—three consecutive weekends in October that showcased a spectrum of talent vying for series awards and medal finals.
One of the highlights was the $25,000 GGT Footing Grand Prix Series Final, presented by California Horsetrader and horsetrader.com. Eduardo Mendes took the final, but Kristin Hardin ended the year as the GGT Series Champion.

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