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Saluting a year’s worth of highlights and heroes


CELEBRATING THE CHALLENGE—Each year, the California Reining Horse Association puts on “the show of shows” on the West Coast, and last January’s issue was the one to celebrate “The Challenge”. It also was time to to honor the club’s list of 2018 Year-end Champions and Reserve Champions.

Southern California’s biggest reining competition drew top horses and riders from throughout California, Arizona, and Nevada. Coming away with special awards in the season-ending show were Charmain Sauro, who rode Zins Rowdy Whiz to the CRHA Reiner of the Year Award; Rex Ross, recipient of the Rick Flathers Sportsmanship Award; Marilyn Scheffers, who rode Gunna Juice You to the Gatolotto Memorial Buckle; and Allison Williams who took home a trailer as well as the Rebecca Goss Memorial Trophy after the duo swept the CRHA and NRHA Rookie Level 2 events. http://bit.ly/9YIR-Jan

ALSO CELEBRATING the previous year’s top reiners was the West Coast Reining Horse Association. A memorable season was memorialized Jan. 19 when then WCRHA held its year-end awards banquet at the Murieta Inn and Spa, the beautiful, new facility owned by Carol Ward, who owns the Murieta Equestrian Center. http://bit.ly/9YIRfeb

THE RECORD-SETTER—When the dust had settled from December’s Twombly Performance Horse Sale, a record-setting sale-topper and an overall average of $25,800 lit up the Mandalay Bay Resort in Las Vegas. Held during the National Finals Rodeo in the Roper Cowboy Marketplace, the sale-topper went for $100,000 and attracted bidders from 26 states and Canada.

The top five averaged $50,900, and the top 15 average was $34,500.

When the hammer fell on Lot 4, “Pumkin”, became Twombly’s all-time, high-selling horse. The beautiful Palomino gelding, an own son of HF Mobster, went to a repeat buyer in Arizona, show officials said. http://bit.ly/9YIRjan2

UC DAVIS RECOGNIZED—The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals announced in January that the University of California Davis would receive a $50,000 grant in support of the university’s efforts to create one-of-a-kind, innovative programs that keep owned horses out of risk and in their homes.

With the grant, the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine said it would study the impact of free veterinary clinics and individual care for horses in underserved communities in Northern California and Nevada, using supervised veterinary students to provide essential veterinary care, educate owners, and promote routine preventative medicine.

OUT OF THE GATE—A new reined cow horse show with a popular new class made for a fresh start of the 2019 season for the Southern California Reined Cow Horse Association, as the inaugural Cowhorse Kickoff brought Casner Ranch to life Jan. 11-13.

Despite some wet weather, SCRCHA members eagerly returned to the show pen for a full line-up that included open boxing and popular ranch riding classes.

Among top winners at the Cowhorse Kickoff were Sunni McCormick, who swept the Limited Open Hackamore by taking first on her Sioux Per Boom and reserve on Devon Camilleri’s Just Call Me Earl. Camilleri and Just Call Me Earl also picked up a check in the 1000 Non Pro Limited where she took second behind winner Amy Finley on Truckin Lil Miracle. http://bit.ly/9YIRfeb3

Sunni McCormick, here taking Devon Camilleri’s Just Call Me Earl to a Limited Open Hackamore title, shined at the SCRCHA January show. (Danger Dingo photo)

RAINS PACK A PUNCH—The entire state felt winter’s downpours. With nearly six inches of rain over two days, the Fallbrook area had more precipitation than it could handle—and Hoof Haven Farms was an example of an “all hands on deck” situation.

More than a third of the farm’s 40 horses had to be evaculated when a small creek swelled to a raging current on Feb. 14 that overtook a crossing to several pens on the property, then changed course and wiped out all the pens that boarded senior horses.

About half of the 10-acre property was under water. Neighbors from Bonsall and Fallbrook helped evacuate, and the horses all survived. http://bit.ly/9YIRfeb4

WORKING WITH THE CITY—Horses are assets to a community, say San Marcos city staff, and future improvements to equestrian facilities are on the way. That was the message from Buck Martin, City of San Marcos Parks and Recreation Director, and Art Sotelo, Public Works Manager for Parks and Landscape, at the Feb. 25 community forum held by the Twin Oaks Valley Equestrian Association.

Working with the community horse group, the city has provided improvements like trees, irrigation and basic maintenance (including a monthly grooming of the arena) to help keep up the county’s only remaining municipal horse show facility.

REIGNING REINERS—Casey Bibbs was a Non Pro star and Tom Foran claimed the big Open circuit titles as the California Reining Horse Association launched its 2019 season Feb. 1-3 with its Sweetheart Reining at the L.A. Equestrian Center.

Bibbs rode Spooks for the Chicks to circuit championships in three divisions including Non Pro, Intermediate and Limited Non Pro.

Foran captured the Open Circuit Championship on Taylor Sheridan’s Walla Walla Starbuck.

Another multi-circuit champion winner was Rae Stambuk on Hes Smart With A Gun, winning a trio of Rookie circuit titles, in L1, L2 and Prime Time, respectively

320 miles… with a mission!

One afternoon last winter in Norco, Mike Williams returned home to Fourth Street with his 16.1-hand Mustang gelding, Cowboy, after a day of what he loves most — trail riding.

Mike Williams and Rebekah Wan ride 300 miles to promote trails.

This breezy January ride went 20 miles, a perfect distance to get Cowboy ready for a 320-mile journey that he and others had been planning for more than a year. The three-week trip left Norco on May 3 and arrived in Bishop May 22, taking Williams and co-rider Rebekah Wan on urban routes out of Horsetown USA, up and beyond the Cajon Pass, across the Mojave Desert and ultimately into Owens Valley along the Eastern Sierra.

It was the longest ride ever undertaken by Williams, an avid Backcountry Horsemen member whose list of credentials include San Bernardino County search-and-rescue certification, FEMA large animal rescue and Wilderness First Responder. Same for Wan, a BCH member whose younger years were spent in a dressage saddle and on jumpers as well as on the trail and in horse camps. Trail-riding and wilderness is part of both of them, and with this journey they wanted to educate and inspire others to hit the trail.

“My favorite speed is three miles per hour,” says Williams, whose living room walls are adorned with scenic photos of himself, his wife and chief support crew, Sigrid, and their horses in spectacular settings accessible only by trail. “I really enjoy taking everything in—the land, the scenery. Good day, bad day, windy, rainy—it doesn’t matter. I just like it all.”

The riders also share a heartfelt bond to save trails for horses. The adage “use them or lose them” holds true—whether the pressure comes from developers in urban areas or cuts in public lands.

“The trails probably will always be there, but the question will be, who gets access?,” said Wan, Administrator at SoCal Equine Hospital in Norco where her husband, Paul Y. Wan, DVM, practices. “The last 10 or 15 years, it’s been a battle. I hope our ride brings awareness that these trails are needed for equestrians.”

Follow the ride here!: http://bit.ly/9YIRfeb2


GOIN’ FOR THE GOLD—The weather finally heated up in March, and the competition did, too, at the Southern California Reined Cow Horse Association Pot O Gold Show. There were some big classes and top open riders at the Pot O Gold at Casner’s Ranch.

Herd work classes drew strong entries with the Open and Non Pro classes totaling 33 between them. Richard Winters, riding his A Spoonful Of Jonez, took first in the 19-horse Open with a 73, a point ahead of Roy Rich on the Rocking J Ranch’s Very Smart Luck (Very Smart Remedy x Gunna Be Lucky). Nicolas Barthelemy rode White Tail Ranch’s KK Sugar Twist to third place with a 71.5.

In Non Pro bridle cow horse action, Carol Williamson rode High Brow Shiner (Shining Lil Nic x High Brow Meow) to championships both days, marking a 144 on Sunday after winning Saturday’s class with a 142.5.

Devon Camilleri continued her hot start to 2019 with her Just Call Me Earl, winning the 12-entry $1,000 Non Pro Limited and Select Non Pro Limited classes on Sunday to go along with a reserve in the $5,000 Non Pro Limited class. http://bit.ly/9YIRApr1A

DOUBLE TROUBLE—An enthusiastic crowd enjoyed a beautiful SoCal afternoon, cheering on 19 entries at the April 13 $25,000 Markel Insurance Grand Prix in San Juan Capistrano. After five went clear and advanced to the jump-off, Nicole Haunert and Concolue topped the field. Making the day extra special, she also placed second aboard Jamaico Drum van de Breepoel.

The course was designed by Olaf Petersen Jr. of Germany, who earlier in the week was selected to be the course designer at the upcoming FEI World Cup™ Jumping Finals Las Vegas in April 2020. Petersen built the 1.45m track with 16 jumping efforts, including a triple combination oxer/vertical/vertical toward the in-gate. http://bit.ly/9YIRapr

Rider Nicole Haunert, here on winner Concolue, took first and second at the April 13 $25,000 Markel Insurance Grand Prix. (Amy McCool photo)

VERSATILITY TAKES OFF—If a horse show class list has the word “ranch” in it, chances are that it has a growing number of number of entries. With five different ranch riding classes now sanctioned by the American Quarter Horse Association, those classes increasingly are among the most popular at Southern California western shows.

The explosion in popularity has multiple causes, not the least of which is that ranch riding rewards a solid, well-broke horse that shows most suitable for getting the job done on a working ranch—a horse that rides and works with purpose.

Birdie Avery shared why she moved over to ranch riding.

“I was inspired to compete in the ranch riding for many reasons, but really the number one would be its fun!,” said Avery, who has competed in a range of disciplines from stock horse and intercollegiate rodeo to reining. “It’s a challenge for your mind learning a new pattern to follow each event, keeping your horse going forward in a natural moving gate, not too hard on the horses body, like many other disciplines. And it’s a easier on the pocketbook!”

The AQHA Versatility Ranch Horse competition promotes the athletic ability and versatility of the horse and is demonstrated in five classes – ranch riding, ranch trail, ranch reining, ranch cow work and ranch conformation. There are divisions for open, amateur, cowboy and youth, and all levels are embracing the classes. http://bit.ly/9YIRapr2

HOPEFUL FIRST WIN—Coming into the handy round in third place, young professional Jamie Sailor moved up to win the $15,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby aboard Hopeful, owned by Astrid Van Leeuwen. Both horse and rider earned their first derby victories, as the pair finished with a two-round total of 370.5 points.

The Oaks International Grand Prix Field welcomed 20 hunters over the gorgeous course set by Canada’s Peter Holmes. Twelve horses advanced to the second round, where open gallops, tight inside turns, and rollbacks combined to show off a hunter’s handy traits.

After galloping the handy course on her two other mounts, Sailor gave the 7-year-old Hopeful a confident ride, earning them both their first USHJA International Hunter Derby victories. http://bit.ly/9YIRapr4

RAIN CAN’T DAMPEN REINERS—Weather was the concern heading into the first affiliate show for the West Coast Reining Horse Association. Record amounts of snow over the Sierra Nevada had resulted in road closures, which made it impossible for eastern members from Nevada to attend. However, massive rain and high floods in the northwestern part of the state didn’t impede competitors from coming—it just took them a little longer than usual to make the drive to the show, held for the third year at the Rolling Hills Equestrian Center.

Classes were full as riders were eager to start the show season. In addition to the regular slate of NRHA- and WCRHA-approved reining classes, the show offered AQHA-approved reining and ranch riding classes, providing a little something for everyone.

WCRHA shows always have had a bit of international flare, as trainers and members from all over the world have relocated to Northern California—including from Austria, France, Australia and Germany. Unique to this event was the participation of Tzvika and Amira Knaani, who flew in from their Double K Ranch in Sharon, Israel, to compete in the show. The Galilee area residents say that reining is very popular there. In fact, the whole family– dad, mom, and the kids—all ride and show, although Dad was the sole exhibitor at this event.

NEW EXPO, NEW HOME—The Murieta Equestrian Center was like a festival May 9-12, as record crowds at the Western States Horse Expo embraced its new home. After 20 years at Cal Expo in Sacramento, the event moved 13 miles east into horse country. New programs like Equus Masters were well-received, too, featuring top tier clinicians like Chris Cox, Pat Parelli and Eitan Beth-Halachmy observing and commented on the progress of other clinicians like Brandi Lyons, Wylene Wilson and others. Mark you calendars for 2020: May 7-10 at the MEC.

10 ROSEY YEARS—The 2019 Rein for the Roses was extra special, as show exhibitors and attendees celebrated the 10-year anniversary of the Derby on the Derby, held at the beautiful facilities of the Brookside Equestrian Center. The Derby on the Derby went back to the basics by holding one special event on Saturday, which proved to be very well attended and entertaining. Brookside welcomed back judges Kristen Lilley and Dave Belson to judge the show, which was the second NRHA affiliate show of the season for the West Coast Reining Horse Association. http://bit.ly/9YIRmay1

REMEMBERING JIMMY—The old song, “It Never Rains in California,” was out of tune in May, but raindrops didn’t dampen spirits of the SCRCHA at its Jimmy Flores, Sr. Memorial.

The event at Green Acres Ranch drew top competition from the region, and in the the high-profile Bridle Spectacular classes, Jason Grimshaw rode Heather Vatcher’s Sippin Boons Farm (Smart Boons X Peppy Nicolena) to a cumulative 225 and a decisive 3.5-point win the $1,500-added Bridle Spectacular Open, collecting $923. Reserve Champion Roy Rich, aboard Rocking J Ranch’s Soula Shining Star (Docs Soula X Shining Suzana) earned $692.

The show’s memorial namesake, Jimmy Flores, Sr., died in 2015 a week shy of his 88th birthday after a distinguished career that spanned eight decades and touched thousands internationally. He began training in the 1940s and settled in the Perris area in 1966. In 2009, he was named the National Reined Cow Horse Association Stockhorse Man of the Year. He is also fondly remembered by the thousands he encountered at shows throughout the U.S., representing his Jimmy Flores Cowboy Gear.


Surf, turf… and healing

Now in its 11th year, good vibrations are still going strong for the Surf N Turf Cow Horse clinic—for everyone. The fund-raiser for Surfers Healing, a non-profit foundation for autism, was the brainchild of Izzy and Danielle Paskowitz. Izzy, a former world champion surfer, and Danielle, a talented non-pro cowhorse competitor, founded Surfers Healing in 1996 after Izzy one day discovered the rejuvenative power surfing had on their autistic son, Isaiah.

Each year, the three-day Surf N Turf blends Danielle’s passions for horses and her life’s work with Surfer’s Healing, raising awareness and having fun along the way.

“This year, we added team roping,” said Danielle. “One day of team-roping competition, one day of cowhorse clinic with three of the world’s best, and one day of surfing with Izzy and the Paskowitz surf camp team. Doesn’t get much better!

Cow horse legends Russell Dilday, Corey Cushing and Jake Gorrell are the instructors, and the team roping and cowhorse clinic will take place in Rancho Carillo. The surf clinic takes place on the beach in San Diego.

Surfers Healing takes kids and adults on the autism spectrum surfing at no charge, and there are many camps in the U.S. and abroad, reaching about 6,000 kids each year.

Danielle says the ocean and surfing was very therapeutic for Isaiah, now 28, when he was a toddler.

“Izzy and I wanted to share the aloha—and Surfer’s Healing was born,” she said. “It took off!” http://bit.ly/906_surfers

For a heartfelt cause, cow horse clinician Corey Cushing takes part in the Surfer’s Healing event. (Courtesy photo)

GROWING TRADITION—Junior and Amateur riders from across the West Coast made up a field of over 90 competitors vying in the American Tradition of Excellence Equitation Challenge, presented by Whitethorne.

Only in its third year, this unique educational event was larger and more competitive than ever. After a riders meeting and course walk, Phase One, held on Tuesday, welcomed 94 entries over a flowing, hunter-type track of 3’3” fences set on the Oaks International Grand Prix Field.

At the conclusion of three phases and a work-off by the top six, 16-year-old Payton Potter earned the 2019 championship honors with a final point score of 269.5. http://bit.ly/9YIRjun

ON TARGET—Talented equestrian marksmen—and women—brought the Tejon Equestrian Center to life for the California State Mounting Shooting Finals competition. Hosted by the California Peacekeepers, the South Pacific Region the event lasted three days and featured top shooters from California, Arizona and Nevada.

Dylan Lawson of Valley Center captured the Overall Championship, and his sister Rylee was Reserve Overall Champion and the top Ladies Division rider. Rounding out the family affaire was Kenny Lawson, who was the Open Rifle Champion.

“This was one of the most fun competitions I have ever participated in,” said Dylan, who rode his 9-year-old Quarter Horse, Leos Carrisa MR L 36 (aka “Clifford”). “There was a lot of attention to detail and the buckles are great! I am very excited to have shared this win with my sister, too.” http://bit.ly/9YIRjun2

SWEET CAROLINE—The Showpark Summer Festival in Del Mar proved to be a weekend to remember for amateur rider Caroline Ingalls aboard Concerto. The pair was unstoppable, earning Grand Champion honors after taking every class and earning a perfect 40 points. By doing so they also claimed the Grand Hunter Championship, presented by USHJA Zone 10, out of the two rated amateur-owner divisions. The pair had a very successful week, also taking a reserve championship in the USHJA National Hunter Derby on Friday night under the lights indoors. http://bit.ly/9YIRjul

Close encounters

Trail clinic brings horses and bikes together

What could possibly be more desensitizing for a group 14 trail horses than to line them up, facing across the arena from a similar amount of spooky mountain bikers?

How about sending everyone—riders and bikers—circling the arena at once? At different speeds!

Those were just two scenes during a thoughtful one-day clinic called “Learning to Share the Trail,” put on by the San Diego Trail Alliance at the River Valley Equestrian Center. After a “horse-and-rider only” morning of drills and coaching designed to desensitize horses to a variety of common trail encounters, SDTA members enjoyed a pizza lunch with members of the San Diego Mountain Biking Association, who participated in an afternoon of group exercises and discussions designed to edify both groups—riders and bikers—about their trail counterparts.

The SDTA is a volunteer group with three objectives: 1. Keep trails open for all recreational users; 2. Foster good communication between all recreational user groups; and 3. Maximize usage of recreational for all.

“Getting more out of the trail means learning more about the people we share the trail with—and about what they enjoy about the trail,” reads an SDTA flyer. “And, most importantly, how to safely share.” http://bit.ly/9YIRmay3

Trail riders and bicyclists took to the River Valley Equestrian Center arena during the “Learning to share the trail” clinic put on by the San Diego Trail Alliance. (California Horsetrader photo)


ROSE PARADE-BOUND—A group of Temecula horsewomen on Jan. 1 will ride together down Colorado Blvd. in the 131st Tournament of Roses Parade — the culmination of talent, commitment and teamwork. The journey won’t end with the 5.5-mile route, though, because there’s a purpose beyond the campaign: promoting equestrian and rural lifestyles in their community.

The Temecula Cowgirl Color Guard Team members recognize how special their slice of south Riverside County is, and they want to keep it. The teamwork that makes a color guard special can also enhance a community—improving communication, cementing relationships and coordinating efforts that lead to good things.

The Pasadena Tournament of Roses will have 17 equestrian groups. Joining to ride in the 131st Rose Parade on New Year’s Day, and the list includes 13 units from California—including the Horsewomen of Temecula Wine Country (California Horsetrader article, August issue). http://bit.ly/908_rose

PETALS TO THE MEDALS—With 113 equestrians in three age sections, the equitation arena in the California Professional Horsemen’s Association Foundation Equitation Championships at Showpark was quite a busy place.

Adult rider Abby Steller topped an eight-rider work-off in the 22- over section to earn her first medal final victory. Avery Glynn won the 14-under section, and Juliette Joseph and Efendi captured the 21-under section. http://bit.ly/9YIRaug

WINNING TIME—The Southern California Reined Cow Horse Association wrapped up a super 2019 season with its September Classic and Year-end Awards at Green Acres Ranch. Familiar names as well as some new ones surfaced atop the standings, as a year’s worth of dedication and competition paid off with championships.

In Open Bridle, Roy Rich took both the Champion and Reserve Champion spots on a pair of Rocking J Ranch horses. Competing in 10 shows aboard Soula Shining Star, Rich accumulated 49 points to earn the top spot and its $1,875 payout.

Ranch Riding proved a very popular class in 2019, and sitting atop both the Senior and Amateur standings was Birdie Avery, who took her NicInTheMix (aka “Talley”) to 39 and 66 points, respectively, to win two buckles. http://bit.ly/9YIRsep

SEVENTY-SEVEN ENTRIES from across the nation descended on a beautiful Southern California weekend at the Del Mar Horse Park Oct. 10-13 for the 2019 North American Working Equitation Championships, an A-Rated show licensed by WE United.

Suzi Vliestra brought her Halflinger mare, Aurelia of Genesis, and took home some top honors — as well as great memories.

“This has been our first year in working eq with Lia and it’s been great,” said Vlietstra. “The Working Eq gang is a really welcoming group of people who cheer for everyone and encourage each other.” http://bit.ly/9YIRoct

This Haflinger mare, Aurelia of Genesis, was one of 77 entries from across the U.S. who converged on the Del Mar Horse Park for the 2019 North American Working Equitation Championships. (Courtesy photo)

One comment has been made on “2019 Horse Headliners”

  1. Felicia Soto Says:

    I love to read the Horsetrader magazine,such beautiful horses. Very interesting articles.

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