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A year of ‘whoa!’ and ‘let’s go!’

From Horsetrader staff reports

A funny thing happened when we sat down to put together our annual Horsetrader Year In Review, a traditional December look back at our newsmakers for the year about to end. Actually, it wasn’t funny at all: There weren’t many headlines because of the year’s biggest newsmaker — a pandemic that shriveled shows and activities..

COVID-19 didn’t erase all stories, it just made them harder to find after March. And the ones that surfaced revealed the heart, grit and community of the horse world.



• Our annual look at the award winning reiners, including CRHA Reiner of the Year Casey Bibb.

• A 7-year-old Paint ranch horse named Rockstar fetched $77,000 at the Twombley Performance Horse Sale in Las Vegas, making him the all-time high-selling Paint at the sale.


A lifelong endeavor
Excerpts from Richard Winters article:

RICHARD: You know, I’m almost wondering if it’s some gene or something inside of us, because I have a sister that doesn’t care anything about horses. My daughter has a brother, Joseph, who doesn’t care anything about horses. But there’s some of us that, for some reason, we’re hooked on these horses — and it does inspire me to want to go out.

Horses are the great equalizer. They don’t care where you are from, or who you are, or how much money your family has. But they are constantly teaching us, and since we can never get it all figured out, every day is a new chapter. It seems like the farther I go in my horsemanship, the farther there is to go. It’s like climbing a mountain — if I just get to the top of this mountain, will I be there? Well, I get to the top of that mountain and what do I see? Five other mountains ahead of me that I couldnt even see until I got there. And that’s the way my horsemanship is.

(link to full article: http://bit.ly/01winters)



• Tacked up with a new season, new energy and a fresh venue at Tucalota Ranch, the Southern California Reined Cow Horse Association kicked off its five-event 2020 season.

• Justin Wright became a One Million Dollar Rider in the National Reined Cow Horse Association. It was a benchmark that culminated 17 years in the sport for the 33-year-old who grew up riding on his family’s San Juan Bautista ranch. His father, Walter Wright, took him to his first NRCHA show to compete at age 14.

• Young Grant Berg, whose positive attitude in the face of difficult health challenges inspired those who knew him, passed away. Grant, son of Mike and Kristi Berg, lost his battle with aplastic anemia, a rare condition that prevents the bone marrow from producing new blood cells. He will be remembered for being quick to smile, even when he didn’t feel well.

• A long-awaited bridge in Atwater Village spanning the Los Angeles River, built to accomoodate equestrians, was closed before its grand opening celebration when a horse had to be euthanized following a January accident on the new structure.


Silver artistry
Excerpts from Jon Peters profile

Away from school, he surfed the many great breaks along the California coast and did part-time work on ranches east of San Diego. He had a grand childhood growing up with a father and grandfather who were both mechanics and helped him learn the ways of tools, tool-making and generally how to fix things. He found that if he were shown how to do something, he would catch on quickly and figure the best ways for him to work further.

“I enrolled at San Diego State and started taking classes in applied arts, which included silversmithing and metal forming,” he told me from his studio at home. “The more I worked at it, I found I was attracted to working on bits and spurs for cowboy friends in ranching who were interested in the traditional bridle bit designs of the California vaquero.

(link to full article: http://bit.ly/02HTpeters)



• In the last normal days before the COVID-19 resgtrictions, the California Reining Horse Association and Los Angeles Equestrian Center hosted the CRHA Sweetheart Reining Show. Tom Foran took first and second in the Open class on Taylor Sheridan’s Rey Town and Day Creek Ranch’s Smoking Hot General, respectively.


Horseback vacations
Excerpts from our vacation issue

Triangle X Ride Tetons, Dude Ranchers’ Association

Serenity and solitude are concepts not often discussed, much less experienced, amid the turmoil of life in these early years of the 21st century. You’ll find them at Geronimo Trail Guest Ranch.

Here, beneath the tall ponderosa pines in the cool higher elevations of the Black Range Mountains of southwest New Mexico, the quiet is such that you can hear the approach of an eagle from the beat of the air beneath his wings. Large herds of elk frequent the meadows, streams and lakes nearby.

Eighty-five miles from the nearest stoplight, evidence of the intrusion of modern man is virtually absent. Yet the mountains and canyons evoke the heritage of the American cowboy and abound with relics of Native American societies who have gone before us. After a few days at the ranch, guests lose track of the date. Then they find they don’t care anymore. As has often been observed, it is hard to have a bad day on the back of a good horse.

By horseback you will explore the pristine, 3.3 million-acre Gila National Forest with its landscape of spectacular deep canyons, crystal clear spring fed streams, high mountain overlooks, open meadows and sweet smelling Ponderosa forests.

(link to full article: http://bit.ly/03HTvacation)



Finding Social Distance

Fenced in now by quarantines and restrictions, Horsetrader readers were asked to submit text and photos of their horse time. Here are a few.

I’m enjoying rides on my horse Brooks The Dunn in beautiful, rural Temecula Wine Country, taking in the springtime “bud break” of new growth on the grapevines. It’s an annual sign of LIFE and HOPE that comes to the dormant wintering vines. I wish LIFE and HOPE for America and the rest of the world…

–Juanita Koth, Temecula

I had to shut down my massage practice, so I’m filling my time by spending more time with my horse. Staying in the arena and disinfecting everything I touch at the barn where I share with others. The silver lining for me is that I can use this as an opportunity to improve my riding…

–Laura Sadler, Burbank

From the second that I get on, the rhythm of riding relaxes my whole self. The trail is in front of me, the horses quietly flick their ears and plod along — and for a while, there is no virus. Just us.

–Juliet Johnson, Los Angeles

(link to full article: http://bit.ly/04HTdistance)



• ‘Making lemonade’: The unlikely coupling of a Quarter Horse nurse mare and an orphaned Clydesdale newborn makes for a feel-good chapter in the midst of tough news.

(link to full article: http://bit.ly/05HTfeelgood)


The Return is…near?

What would ‘the new normal’ be like once we return to our horse routines, post-pandemic? Once again, Horsetrader readers shared their viewpoints as quarantines and restrictions grinded on toward summer.

I hope it will be like it was before. The only thing I would like to see would be people washing hands and being aware of spreading any germs, including common cold.

— Phil Smith, Phelan

One-on-one lessons can be done with social distancing. Group lessons would be more difficult to maintain distancing, but it can be accomplished.

— Deb Burken, Tehachapi

Today, there are no shows/events, and there should not be any events until the Corona virus is defeated. No matter how long we wait, we will wait healthy and alive. Ride the trail, be safe—and healthy.

— John O’Hara, Petaluma

Thank heaven for trails – where one can be out in the open, breathing fresh air!

— Ka Duvall, Tehachapi

I do not believe that there will be any difference in trail riding. If there is social distancing in the world, it is when we are on horseback.

— Linda Fullerton, Shadow Hills

(link to full article: http://bit.ly/05HTreturn)



• Equestrian advocate Dale Gibson shares his insight into the glue that helps keep equestrian communities intact.

(link to full article: http://bit.ly/06HTcommunity)


Committed to a Comeback

Leaders of California’s top associations and facilities look ahead resolutely as they prep the relaunch of their show seasons.

As for the biggest challenge in this transition, I think not just as a company, but for each of us individually, it is about coming to terms with the loss of what was and embracing the new. In the words of Helen Keller, “Alone we can do so little, together we can do so much”. We are all in this together, so my expectations are high and I believe we will overcome this and emerge stronger and united.

— Melissa Brandes, Blenheim EquiSports

All of the show managers are working hard to create a safe environment for riders to return to showing. Some large facilities have construction crews to remodel show office space and smaller venues have created other distancing measures. Riders need to keep informed about current protocol so the shows can continue safely. Each show premium will have a best practices protocol for riders to follow.

There will be no spectators, no scoreboards, no gathering. But riders will have a chance to get out there and show, and try out that new level or test, and enjoy the sport they love with their horse.

— Paula Langan, California Dressage Society

Top concern is the seemingly endless areas of cleanliness we need to address to make sure our riders are safe for their return. What might be OK for one person could be questionable for another and even unacceptable for some. It is our goal to achieve success with all.

—Robert Kellerhouse, Galway Downs

Do all participants feel safe enough to travel to a show facility after almost three months of a “stay at home” order? How can the common-sense health directives to wear a mask, maintain social distancing, sanitizing hands and surfaces and “no contact” food service —- come on, we’re horse people! — we play in the dirt, we are gregarious, we help our barnmates and our families congregate on the sidelines to cheer us on! IEHJA show managers have worked extremely hard to address these and other issues that Covid 19 has created.

—Patti Schooley, Inland Empire Hunter-Jumper Association

(link to full article: http://bit.ly/06HTcomeback)



Trail to a new home

The BLM commitment to place wild horses and burros into adopted homes is a deep one. Amy Dumas shares fascinating details on the path from the range to the stable.

The wild horses and burros do remarkably well out in the desert despite the pretty harsh conditions under which they live.

The burros actually evolved in the hot deserts in north Africa, so they are very well-suited to the areas in which they live. The horses have adapted very well to where they live. They don’t have many predators these days to help keep the herds in check.

The BLM tries to reduce the numbers to a level where the animals will not damage their habitat. We do that to protect the herds and the habitat in which the animals live. If you have too many animals out there, they end up overgrazing the habitat, or there may not be enough water for them, or other wildlife, and the animals suffer. That’s not what we want to happen. Our job is to make sure that these animals do not suffer and always have a place to live in the wild.

(link to full article: http://bit.ly/07HTadoption)



Too legit to quit
Excerpt from Marty Bales and Sparky feature:

Bales regards the eye episode as perhaps the most difficult one she has experienced with any horse.

“You know how big of a heart and how sweet the horse is, and to watch him go through that and do everything to try to save something — and then, to ultimately lose the eye,” she says. “And as a trainer, it was also hard to have a client and a friend I had not seen in seven years —- who took a chance on something he initially didn’t want to take a chance on —- then to have an accident and lose his eye. That was hard.”

Trainer Marty Bales and White Tye Affair, aka “Sparky,” owned by Robert Heindl. (Shezashootingstar.com photo)

How does a bigtime performance horse overcome loss of an eye? How does a reiner unable to see to the right perform a rollback that direction? Bales sought, mulled over and consumed advice.

“What I do is give him a little more feel on that side, and I use my leg a little bit more for a release, so he feels me more than he is worried about the void.”

At the NRHA Derby, Bales and White Tye Affair punched their ticket to the Open Finals with a strong go-round performance.

(link to full article: http://bit.ly/08HTsparky)



• Jessica Smith on Haute Couture (Durango Farms, owner), Katalina Rickard on her Lost In Blue, and Payton Potter on Khaled (Dick Carvin, owner) captured the 22-over, 14-under and 21-under titles, respectively, at the CPHA Foundation Equitation Championships in San Juan Capistrano.


Cow horse gate re-opens
Excerpts from ‘SCRCHA returns’ article:

Like everyone else, Danielle Stanton was eager to get back to the show pen, but when her Go Tell That Fox sustained a leg injury weeks before the show, her plans changed.

Stanton would take her “No. 2” horse instead, her beloved practice horse, her 16-year-old Elanaboonsmal.

“I wanted to go support the club and I wanted to show, so I took Elanaboonsmal (Peptoboonsmal x Elana Lena), and she was just fantastic!” says Stanton, who trains her horses at her East San Diego County ranch. “I hadn’t really been showing her — she is my back-up practice horse.”

The duo won the $1,500-added Jimmy Flores, Sr. Memorial Non Pro Bridle Spectacular — by two points over reserve Debby Sanguinetti on Chelano

(link to full article: http://bit.ly/09HTcowhorse)



• Held offsite the Foxfield Riding School in Westlake Village for just the second time in 49 years, the Foxfield Medal Final went to Lanie Walkenbach, a student at Texas Christian University.


Sliding through the pandemic
Excerpts from SCRHA article:

Kirstin Booth on Babys Got Blue Eyes (Katie Wise photo)

Enthusiastic reining and ranch riding brought the Hunter Equestrian Center in Escondido to life Aug. 8, as the Southern California Reining Horse Association resumed its 2020 season.

Managed by Track One Events, the show featured NRHA classes and counted toward the popular SCRHA Saddle Series.

SCRHA President Lori Riis said the uncertainties that have popped up in 2020 have forced members and the club to approach the season one month at a time — evaluate and then adjust.

“Although COVID has definitely created some challenges, our exhibitors have all been very respectful of the social distancing guidelines,” said Riis. “We want to be mindful of the trainers and exhibitors who aren’t able to show yet.”

(link to full article: http://bit.ly/10HTreiners)



• Resilient and resourceful, the Los Angeles Hunter Jumper Association hosted all seven of its 2020 medal finals at the National Sunshine Preview Show, held Oct. 23-25 and co-produced by LEG Shows & Events and the Desert International Horse Park.


High steppin’ in the High Desert
Excerpts from HiDHA article:

Young, not-so-young and everything in-between have their places at HiDHA shows. (Evon Kurtz photo)

Obstacles play a big part in today’s popular horse show classes, but this year, obstacles also have gotten in the way of many 2020 shows. Eight months after COVID’s kickoff in March, some lockdowns remain in place at municipal show facilities, but like a clean trot over poles, some clubs managed to navigate problems and stitch together their show seasons.

Much to its members delight, the HiDesert Horsemen’s Association is one of those associations, and after two early-season shows were canceled, a pair of double-point events in September and October were heartily welcomed — and attended. Even before this crazy pandemic year, HiDHA events had seen increased popularity — a good sign that equestrian life is active and vibrant in this part of the Inland Empire.

(link to full article: http://bit.ly/11HThidesert)

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