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Big D: A Show Full of Surprises

by Ann Bullard

IRVING, Texas – What next! That might have been the mantra for all exhibitors at the annual Big D Charity Horse Show. Saddle Horses, Tennessee Walking Horses, racking horses and Rocky Mountain horses gathered April 30-May 3 at the Las Colinas Equestrian Center for the annual spring bash to benefit the Scottish Rite Hospital. Good competition was expected; torrential rains, at times near hurricane-force winds, flooding and federal inspectors were not.

Show Manager Peter Fenton, Secretary Janie Hamilton, board member and master-of-all-trades Nancy Lassiter, the Las Colinas staff and volunteers had their hands full shuffling entries, schedules and stalls.

"It was an incredible challenge with the weather, the USDA and the USEF," Fenton said, adding that the USEF "never was any problem. As difficult and challenging as it was, the trainers stepped up in a big way and the entire staff did a great job. Saturday was the worst continuous day of weather I’ve experienced in a long time."

It was the second worst long-time Big D goers remember; in 1994, the lights went out with a ring full of Saddlebred western pleasure contenders in the arena and a warm-up area full of walking and other horses. Fenton stayed in contact with weather experts tracking storm cells, delaying academy classes until it was safe. Judge Kim Cowart of Statesville, N.C., certainly performed admirably under very difficult circumstances.

Trainers pitched in to help one another move horses and tack from flooded stalls. The facility shored up tents and provided extra shavings to help keep horses as comfortable as possible. Fortunately, the high winds that caused the roof collapse at the Dallas Cowboys training facility missed the show grounds.

Yet the show did go on, with some unexpected new combinations adding to the weekend excitement.

Jack Magill and his clients can be expected to add excitement to any show. Saddle Horse watchers saw a new side of the Magill family. Long-time Dallas instructor and former Magill client Debbie Graves inaugurated an academy program at the Arlington, Texas, barn just after the early March San Antonio show. Tatum Winans represented Magill and Graves in academy competition. The petite blond rode The Diamond Chip to win her academy equitation and academy performance qualifiers and championships. Alexandra Eagle picked up and blue and red ribbon in 11-17 Walk & Trot Performance and equitation in her debut under the Magill banner.

Two newcomers presented their brand-new-to-them mounts in winning style. The transfer of Supreme Spotlight from Joan Cantrell to Bryce Investments hadn’t been formalized when Ashley Bryce rode off with the Junior Exhibitor Show Pleasure blue. On Sunday afternoon, she came back, taking on 14 other good entries in the Three-Gaited Show Pleasure Championship, the deepest class of the show. Among the top competitors: CH She-Bop and Becky Taggart, winners of the adult qualifier under Magill’s direction.

Newcomers claimed only a portion of Magill’s titles. Ann Burger’s Night Of A Thousand Stars added another Five-Gaited Grand Championship and qualifying blue to his resume with Magill in the irons. Coe London brought the Amateur Three-Gaited tricolor back to a very damp tack room, with another winning ride on Mega Star, while Joan Cantrell and Bluebonnet’s Challenger followed their pair of Oklahoma City wins with two at Big D.

As might be expected, the Milligan Stables crew kept busy all week long with 24 ribbon winners coming through the gate. Patty Milligan and Tony Ricker’s Heir’s Treasure trotted off with the Fine Harness Jackpot title, while Jenn Holdren-Buchanan rode Fox Grape Farm’s Madeira’s Love to another pair of Three-Gaited Open titles. Not to be outdone by his recent bride, Michael Buchanan included the Park Open and Stake victory with Denise Hurst’s lovely Apt To Dream in his week of winnings.

Rachel Shupp’s big smile and the blue streaming from Attache’s Heart Of Gold’s bridle told the story of a very good Amateur Five-Gaited class. Holdren-Buchanan headed them for their victory pass as Patty Milligan cheered from the in-gate.

As one might expect, Big D Country Pleasure classes were deep and large. However, CH Mahvelous Guy and Randi Barnes picked up the pace, winning the qualifier and stake. Milligan veterans Allison Simpson and Katie Kirkland brought home the blue and tricolor from the Amateur Park competition and the Saddle Seat Show or Pleasure Equitation blue respectively.

Candee Carlson’s academy riders remained a dominant force at Big D. In addition to Lauren Amos’s several wins, Morgan Hardee earned the Academy Maiden Equitation 17 & Under blue.

Bluebonnet Farm and Cascade Stables have worked well together for years. At Big D, Bluebonnet trainer Sandra Currier teamed Barbe Smith’s son, Scooter Scheurich, and 13-year-old Rachellle Drygalla with two proven performers, introducing the two horses to junior exhibitor ranks. Scheurich and ‘Annie’ (Reedann’s Talked About) racked and trotted off with the Junior Exhibitor Five-Gaited blue. Drygalla and the white-legged Uncut Jewel rode out with a pair of yellow ribbons, first in the Junior Exhibitor Show Pleasure qualifier and finally in the 15-entry Show Pleasure Championship.

Big D is the final leg on a spring season for Texas barns. Currier brought a limited number of horses, but returned home with the Junior/Novice Three-Gaited blue earned by Bepop Lady, the Junior/Novice Park Pleasure title with Uncertain Times and the Three-Year-Old Five-Gaited blue with Sapphire’s Chosen One.

Cascade riders stepped up big time. When trainer James Nichols moved to New Orleans, he brought several excellent teams with him. Jacque Nance and Under Oath added Big D’s Five-Gaited Show Pleasure Adult qualifying blue and championship to the tricolor they earned at Pin Oak. Jan Beth Small rode her Supreme Heir son, The Proof Is In the Heir, to win the Amateur Three-Gaited qualifier, coming back as reserve in the championship. Nichols teamed Crystal Renee Sanders’s Warfaire to win the Park Pleasure Open and Championship.

Young Georgie Wilson won the Academy Performance Walk & Trot for riders 17 & Under, earning reserve titles in her other three classes.

Steve and May Chadick brought a small number of SGF Winning Ways Farm clients and horses to Big D. Steve Chadick’s winning ride aboard the park pleasure three-year-old Walterway’s Custom Made, owned by the Chadicks and her sister, Margo Urad, led the way. Sherry Frankel had an outstanding ride to earn reserve in the Three-Gaited Adult Show Pleasure qualifier, while May Chadick picked up a reserve aboard Larry Nunley’s Vegas Dot Com in the Park Pleasure Junior/Novice Horse competition.

With Big D sandwiched between Oklahoma City and UPHA Chapter Five, Randy Cates elected to bring a smaller-than-usual number of contenders. Claire Talley earned a blue and a tricolor respectively, with Indigo Joe coming back to win the Junior Exhibitor Five-Gaited Stake and CH The Champagne Tiger taking the top spot in the Five-Gaited Junior Exhibitor qualifier and reserve in the stake. Carly McKenney represented Cross Creek Stables in a blue-ribbon academy performance.

Top ribbons were carried back to Lone Star Saddlebreds tack room, with Milo Jones winning the Junior Five-Gaited title aboard Henry and Sharon Moritz’s Totally Kool, to Paul Cates Stables, winners of a pair of academy classes and the Roadster Pony to Bike qualifier and championship, Victory Lane and Miracle Farm.

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