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X-Tremely Enthusiastic



            Ryan Barlowe has come a long way since he and Jason Harrell came to Louisville three years ago to spend the week and watch the show. Ryan had no idea then that it would be life changing.

            Jason Harrell has been in the horse industry his whole life. His dad bought him a Shetland Pony for $75 (including the saddle and bridle) when he was six years old and that started his family’s involvement. He grew up to make a career as owner and trainer of La Mirage Stables in Farmville, North Carolina and put many a champion Morgan, Saddlebred and Hackney in the ring with and for his customers.

            From the first moment that Ryan saw the cob tail ponies come down the ramp and burst onto the green shavings he was hooked. He knew immediately that he wanted to someday show a Hackney at Louisville in the amateur gentlemen’s division. It was the break that Jason had been looking for. He knew that now he had a chance of making Ryan a horse lover after all.

            In October of 2014 the show string at La Mirage Stables was showing at North Carolina State Fair where Jason purchased Hackney pony Craycroft Sultan as a surprise for Ryan. The pony known as “Olaf” was the first and will always have the distinction of being the one that started 14 more.

            Ryan needed to get show ring experience so he debuted with the Harrell family’s Morgan CBMF Audition at the 2015 Raleigh Invitational where they were crowned the Morgan Classic Pleasure Driving Grand Champions after winning the qualifier as well.

            In November of 2015 Ryan and Jason added to their string with X-Tremely Grand. Bred by Jim Spurrier and Pam Ahrens and sired by X-Treme, the cob tail had been extremely successful with former owner Kathy Comeau under the direction of Rodney Hicks including Kathy’s  two good drives at the 2015 Royal Winter to be named the Amateur Hackney Pony Reserve Grand Champions and amateur reserve champions.

            Jason Harrell debuted with X-Tremely Grand and won the Hackney Pony Championship and Open Hackney Pony class at the 2016 Raleigh Invitational in April. Ryan then showed their new pony at Southern States and they won the open championship and qualifier. The pony went three for three at Blowing Rock with both Jason and Ryan showing and after Blue Ridge Jason showed to good ribbons at Louisville in the amateur cob tail division.

            Ryan and the pony started this season at Raleigh Spring Premier and won the Open Hackney Pony class. Devon has become a favorite of the La Mirage group and they returned this year to be reserve champions in the Amateur Hackney Pony class.

            Lexington and Blue Ridge followed and the pony added more top ribbons to his total with Jason and Ryan showing respectively.

            The good drives at Blue Ridge just added to the faith that Ryan Barlowe had in his beloved pony and he knew that all would be okay when they got to Louisville. All was good indeed and Sunday evening on the green shavings Ryan Barlow fulfilled his dream of showing a Hackney Pony at Louisville. They were top three in the amateur gentleman’s class.

            When asked how it felt to show the pony here, Ryan said “I wasn’t sure we had the right to be in there with such good company but I knew I had a cool pony. We get better every time we show.”

            “I swam competitively for many years so I drew from that to keep my focus and concentration but it was still unreal. I’m honored and thrilled to be here and just as always he was in full control and I knew I was under his wing. I was just along for the ride.”

            “When I was at Louisville in 2014 and saw Ali DeGray in that gorgeous green gown with her cob tail pony (Heartland High Tech - that year’s Open Hackney Pony World’s Champion) I had never seen anything like that and I told Jason “I want to do that!”

            In just a little more than two and a half years the ex-competitive swimmer has gone from zero to 60. Fourteen Hackney Ponies, three Saddlebreds and one Morgan live at La Mirage Stables which Ryan co-owns with Jason and Kevin and Ryan is a member of the Southeastern Hackney Association Board of Directors.

            The real estate business is going great but it’s now the ponies that have his heart and he’s jumped in full force with both feet. He jokingly said “I keep asking Jason if I can be fired from the real estate agency so I can just spend all day every day at the barn.”

            He can now cross showing at the World’s Championship Horse Show off his bucket list. 

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