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The “Ayes” Have it for Big D

by Ann Bullard

DALLAS, Texas – Dark skies or sunshine, rain, winds and (on occasion) even tornados; whatever the weather, like the U.S. Postal Service, the Big D Charity Horse Show delivers. And deliver it did the first weekend in May as exhibitors walked through sloppy grounds, dodging all but a few rain showers as they celebrated the 37th annual event on May 4-7.

Overall entries were up with the Saddle Horse contenders holding steady this year and Tennessee Walking Horses showing a slight increase. The Texas Saddle Horse barns gave the show their full support and garnered most of the top honors. Still, some remained for the two out-of-state operations: Randy Cates’ Cross Creek Stables from Edmund, Okla., and Marjorie Judd out of Baton Rouge, La. Every stall at Las Colinas Equestrian Center was full.

Big D is one of the few remaining shows in which Saddle Horses show with Tennessee Walking and Racking Horses. The two groups do more than co-exist; they share responsibilities on the Board of Directors and all committees.

It is a well-run event designed to provide good competition and raise money for the charity, The Scottish Rite Hospital. Officers Janie Hamilton, president; Becky Taggart and Ken Wright, vice-presidents; Allison Simpson, secretary; Nancy Lassiter, treasurer and board members Pam Bever, Ann King and Margo Urad head a year-long effort which begins within weeks of the previous show’s end.

The fundraising effort goes beyond traditional sponsorships and donations. Patty Milligan hosts a fish fry and silent auction for horse people and volunteers each spring. This year, it added an estimated $10,000 to the show’s coffers. Chair Becky Taggart expanded the scope of the traditional junior judging to a contest for amateurs, raising an additional $500. “Trainers’ Doodles,” part of the on-site silent auction, offered students, parents and friends an opportunity to own some unusual art work.

By the time Show Manager Peter Fenton, Secretary Maryann Meiners, and the rest of the team stepped on the grounds, things were ready to roll. Richard Obenauf of McHenry, Ill., marked the cards in all Saddle Horse and academy classes. Bill Whitley of Cary, N.C., handled the ringmaster’s duties with his wife, Mary Lynn, as USEF steward. Larry Bright kept the show’s pace moving with his music. Howard Schatzberg and his team were on hand to take pictures and turn out digital proofs in record time. Mark Farrar handled the announcing duties.

From start to finish, this year’s show simply was fun! Saturday night ended on a high note with one of the few five-gaited stake workouts in recent years. Sandy Currier had won the ladies stake aboard Reedann’s Talked About, while Jack Magill and Twice Charmed had racked off with the open blue. They led a group of six contenders for the Five-Gaited Grand Championship tri-color.

Currier and her ladies horse stepped up to show the form and speed held in reserve in the qualifier. They were challenged at every step by Joan Cantrell and Jan Myers’ mare, Twice Charmed, with Jack Magill putting on his usual enthusiastic show. The primarily-Texas crowd cheered each of the six entries and yelled its approval when Obenauf called Currier and Magill back to the rail. Trot, slow-gait, rack and then reverse and do it again. Ringmaster Whitley called for the two to line up. Farrar announced the results. Screams of approval greeted Currier as she picked up the tricolor silk and for Magill, who rode out with the red-dominated ribbon.

Bluebonnet Farm supporters had more to cheer about than Currier’s winning rides. Kevin Berman won his first grand championship with Albert Kaponey, much to the delight of his grandparents, Ed and Ada Perwien. Mother Elly Berman had her share of good rides as well, including a winning go aboard CK One in adult show pleasure.

Patty Milligan unveiled Fox Grape Farms, Ltd.’s newest team, introducing Dr. Owen Weaver on her birthday present,
Madeira’s Love. The big chestnut mare had spectators oohing, aahing and screaming their approval as they marched off with the Junior/Novice Park Horse blue. Chardonnay Farms’ trainer Mike Breeggemann rode Callaway’s King’s Ransom to reserve.

Texas show pleasure driving stars hold their own anywhere. Nancy Lassiter with Callaway’s Head Over Heels, and Edmund A. Perwien driving his Shoobop Shoobop daughter Xuxa each began their season in winning form. They met for the first time at Dallas with Lassiter driving off with the blue and tricolor and Perwien picking up the red silk in a repeat of last year’s honors.

The American Flag simply has been sensational with owner Suzanne Bradshaw in the saddle. In Bradshaw’s absence, Milligan asked the seasoned Stephanie Ritter to don western attire. Results were the same: Ritter rode out with the country western pleasure qualifying blue and tricolor.

Anna Marie Dempsey showed her need for speed at Pin Oak and Oklahoma City where she earned multiple top honors for Milligan Stables with the roadster pony Long Time Gone and road horse Geronimo. Big D was no exception as Long Time Gone earned the Roadster Pony Open blue and Geronimo trotted off with the Open Roadster to Bike blue in his only appearance.

Magill’s young riders dominated the junior exhibitor three- and five-gaited divisions. Sarah Singer teamed the typey bay I’m Bewitched to win both junior exhibitor three-gaited classes after Magill warmed the mare up on Thursday night by topping the Open Three-Gaited class. Calee Dillon and Suki Snowlet followed suit in the five-gaited competition, adding the Big D blue and tricolor to their earlier winnings at Pin Oak and Oklahoma City.

Lauren Greenwald led the SGF Winning Ways Farm’s victory parade. She rode CH Worthy’s Hale Bopp to win both Junior Exhibitor Three-Gaited Show Pleasure classes and Anacacho Dance Again to a pair of five-gaited pleasure victories.
Farm owner Sherry Frankel-Deal made her driving debut with Remember This Day, earning the Open Fine Harness blue.

CH Ragtime’s Lady Jazz is well known for her expression and high-stepping gait. Trainer Steve Chadick had her well in hand as they marched off with the Three-Gaited Park tricolor. This followed their reserve placing to Milligan Stables’ trainer Liz Cortwright and CH Like An Admiral in the qualifier.

Francis Deal already had proven himself with roadster ponies. This weekend, he stepped into the “big bike,” driving Bunker Buster to a reserve and championship in the open roadster horse division. He and Heartland Talent Star sped off with the blue in the Amateur Roadster Pony Stake.

Marjorie Judd brought a select group of horses and riders. Emily Burglass, whose older sister Caroline is known for her rides on My Ways Just A Dream, spent most of last season in academy. During the winter, Judd selected CH Callaway’s Blue Agate for Burglass’s country pleasure mount. They brought the blue and tricolor back to Louisiana.

Big D stepped away from the “normal” academy schedule, mixing the newcomers’ rides between performance classes. The number of these riders and their abilities promise good things for the industry’s future.

Barns posting multiple blue ribbons included Randy Cates’ Cross Creek Stables, Lone Star Saddlebreds, Mill Creek Stables, Paul Cates Stable and Miracle Farm.

Complete results may be viewed, searched and printed by clicking on Show Results.

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