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Big D Sparkles Under Texas Skies

Judges and Officials

Judge: Fran Crumpler, Shelbyville, KY

Manager: Peter Fenton, Shelbyville, KY

Secretary: Maryann Meiners, MO

Ringmaster: Bill Whitley, Cary, NC

Steward: Stacey Wright, Shawsville, VA

Organist: Larry Bright, Tylertown, MS

Announcer: Mark Farrar, Shelbyville, TN

Photographer: Howie Schatzberg, Cave Creek, AZ

Videographer: HorseFlix

Farrier: Joe Bradshaw Jr.

by Ann Bullard


IRVING, Texas – Texas and Oklahoma moms celebrated Mother’s Day weekend with their families in the typical horse family fashion – at what someone termed ‘The Biggest Little Horse Show In Texas.’ The name of the person who did a takeoff on the name of a popular play may be lost, however it still works, although this year it might have been changed to ‘The biggest big horse show in Texas,’ with a total of 257 saddle and walking horses on the grounds.


While most Saddle Horse exhibitors came from Texas and Oklahoma, Jamie Bridgewater and Tom Volz of Parker Valley Farm in Parker, Colo., brought a nice group of horses, adding interest to the rematches of many area teams. Even the weather cooperated, making this one of the best overall shows for Saddle Horse and Tennessee Walking Horse exhibitors in recent years. Rather than experiencing the bumps many associate with having a multi-breed show, things behind the scenes and in the ring ran smoothly, with friends from one breed joining in cheering for members of the other.


“I couldn’t be happier,” Show Manager Peter Fenton said, explaining he had announced the show for 10 to 12 years before taking over as manager three years ago. “This is by far the best Big D we’ve had. Numbers were up in all divisions and we sold out of stalls. The footing was the best it’s ever been; we didn’t have one complaint from either group.”

The officials greeted spectators with a 'royal wave'
as they were driven into the ring Saturday night.


Many things make Big D a successful event. The dedication of its well-experienced board of directors and members and strong relationship with their designated charity, the Scottish Rite Hospital, head the list. That the Saddle Horse and Walking Horse members, representing several different barns, worked so well together is another huge factor. The show-ring competition pales in comparison with the yearlong cooperative efforts members bring to the organization. Janie Hamilton, a former trainer who has successfully moved into the amateur ranks, headed this year’s team. Becky Taggart and Ken Wright serve as vice presidents; Allison Simpson and Nancy Lassiter handle the secretarial and treasury duties respectively. Pam Bever, Ann King and Margo Urad round out the board.

(left to right)
Becky Taggart, chair of the Amateur Judging Contest,
presented Sherry Frankel and Bill Marple their tricolors
 as co-winners of the contest.

Final exams and standardized tests make it next to impossible for students to show at Big D during the week. Events end on Sunday afternoon, following performances of the ‘Saturday Night’ horses the previous evening.


Texas, like other areas, has had great pleasure classes but has fallen off in other divisions the past few years. Performance divisions seem to go in spurts. While the 2007 show lacked any fine harness and road horse entries and were comparatively light in number, if not quality, in the three-gaited and the five-gaited divisions were as strong as many regulars had seen in a number of years. Saturday night’s five-gaited championship pitted seven tough contenders riding hard for a share of the prize.


That class had a strong Louisiana connection, with both the grand and reserve grand champion being Louisiana-bred and raised. Earlier this season, trainer Paul Cates assumed direction of Tabasco’s Lady From New York, owned by Jan Henderson of Mandeville, La. They won Thursday night’s Five-Gaited Open qualifier. Michael Beasom and Keaton were popular reserve champions.


Henderson also raised Fox Grape Farm’s Parker Road, purchased from Dr. Fraser Mackenzie last December. On Friday night, Dr. Owen Weaver completed another sparkling ride aboard the exciting gelding. Due to Weaver’s travel plans, she and trainers Patty Milligan and Lonnie Quarles decided that she would challenge the professionals on Saturday night. Five other good teams joined them.


Judge Crumpler gave each of the seven teams an opportunity to make its move – and to be well seen by the enthusiastic audience. Cates had his hot mare well in hand, racking and trotting to the cheers of the crowd. Weaver and Parker Road stayed with them, giving the Texas trainer a run for his money. Beasom and Keaton, Jack Magill with Night of A Thousand Stars and Dianna Rannells aboard the Talleys’ Indigo Joe gave no quarter.


When the dust settled, announcer Mark Farrar called number 271 to the winner’s circle to the wild approval of Cates’s friends and supporters. Weaver and Parker Road received equally loud applause for their reserve tie.


“The best five-gaited stake we’ve had at Dallas in years” was the consensus among those who have been part of Big D for decades. Or, as Fenton put it, “it was a heck of a class, with everyone riding for it the second way.”


Seven good entries returned for the Big D Amateur Five-Gaited Stake. Laura Lassiter gave no quarter in riding the bay gelding Dinero to the top of the class. Joan Cantrell and her always-competitive Desert’s Favorite Memories rode out with the reserve title while Chris Tresten and It’s Star Spangled Hammer were third.


Five entries burst through the gate for the Amateur Five-Gaited qualifier. Parker Road was on the top of his game, taking the blue for Milligan Stables. Paul Cates coached both Cathy Coleman on Rinanti Cock Robin and his son, Craig, aboard Knit To Fit, winners of the red and yellow ribbons respectively.


Junior exhibitors put on quite a show in their two classes. Paul Cates sprinted into the arena to help put the tricolor sash around Madeira’s Deliverance’s neck. Megan Pepper made the winning ride for Jerry and Erin Armstrong. CH Callaway’s Independence Day and Victoria McCune brought a pair of reserve ribbons back to the Cross Creek tack room. The popular team of Calee Dillon and Suki Snowlet topped the qualifying competition. 

Jack Magill had Bluebonnet’s Challenger on the money to win the Junior/Novice Five-Gaited title for the sister act, Joan Cantrell and Jan Myers of J & J Horse Investments. Sandra Currier tied reserve with the Perwien family’s young stallion, Global Scene.


Texas three-gaited divisions have been comparably light in numbers, but not in quality. SGF Winning Ways Farm trainers May and Steve Chadick trimmed the always-in-contention park horse, The Paper Boy ERB. May Chadick stepped up on Lindsey Greenwald’s mount for his first appearance in the walk-trot division. They brought a reserve in the qualifier and grand champion tricolor back to Houston. Dr. Margaret Tirkes and Carolina’s Top Gun earned the reserve grand championship.

Jack Magill has shown Pam Singer’s I’m Bewitched in the open qualifier at every show this season. He added a third consecutive blue at Big D. Sarah Singer took over the reins in the junior exhibitor section, topping the small but talent-filled qualifier.


Katie Cunningham debuted with That’s Chicago at the Pin Oak Charity Horse Show. They tied reserve in the junior exhibitor qualifier, coming back on Sunday to win their championship.


Kerry Ann Bunde returned to the show ring, riding Debby Pond’s Miss Fancy Pants under Jack Magill’s direction. They picked up the blue in the Junior/Novice Three-Gaited class.


Owen Weaver brought several titles back to the Milligan Stables tack room. Her sparkling ride aboard the lovely Stella Santana WRF earned them the Three-Gaited Park Championship. Steve Chadick and It’s Double O’Deuce picked up the reserve title.


Ross Tarkington of McKinney, Texas may be best known as a trainer of world champion Arabians and National Show Horses. In recent years, he has kept at least one Saddlebred contender in the barn. He introduced his and Sheree Holloway’s Night Of Dance And Romance to the Big D crowd on Thursday night, winning the Park Open title. Chadick and It’s Double O’Deuce earned the reserve placing for SGF Winning Ways Farm.


The amateur park division featured six good teams, with Becky Taggart and CH She Bop leading the way for trainer Jack Magill. Blues Traveler and Sharon Moritz rode toward the top of the competition, bringing the reserve championship ribbon to hang on the Lone Star Saddlebreds tack room. Sandy Marple represented Chardonnay Farms as well as her husband, Bill, and herself in winning the red ribbon in the tough qualifying class.


The roadster pony division belonged to young Kevin Berman of Bluebonnet Farm and his Albert Kaponey. They earned top honors in the Road Pony Jackpot Stake after speeding off with the junior exhibitor title. Anna Marie Dempsey of Milligan Stables picked up the reserve jackpot championship after winning the single-entry amateur class. Lauren Greenwald drove Heartland Talent Star to reserve in the junior exhibitor class.


Kevin Berman had his characteristic grin

after winning the roadster pony championship

with Albert Kaponey.


Ron Mahle joined in the Bluebonnet Farm ribbon hunt, driving Party Spirit to win the sole-entry Amateur Hackney/Harness Pleasure Driving Pony qualifier and stake.


Colorado ruled the park pleasure division. Jamie Bridgewater and O’Connor Show Horses’ multi-titled The King’s Reflection brought the open championship trophy and qualifying awards back for Parker Valley Stables. Michael Beasom stepped up on Alexandra Jane Stair’s Lucky Son Of A Gun to earn the reserve open championship.


Allison Simpson of Milligan Stables topped the Amateur Park Pleasure competition aboard George’s Sweet Conclusion. Sandy Reed and Chardonnay’s Sundance picked up the red ribbon under Philip De Bruyn’s direction.


Tom Volz showed a pair of his own four-legged youngsters, winning the UPHA Park Pleasure Classic aboard the talented Callaway’s Cellular and tying reserve with Callaway’s Reveler in the junior/novice class.


Neartown Animal Clinic’s trophy case had to make room for Unlisted Number’s trophy from the Junior/Novice Park Pleasure class as well as the reserve ribbon in the championship. Sandy Currier teamed this youngster to his wins as well as picking up the UPHA Park Pleasure Classic Reserve Championship aboard Bluebonnet Farm’s Diablo Blue.


The younger set proved the best in the five-gaited show pleasure division. Jack Magill recently teamed Karmen Robles with the bay gelding Northbound. With one show behind them, they hit Big D ready to rock and roll. After tying reserve to Cross Creek Stables’s team of Claire Talley and The Champagne Tiger in the junior exhibitor qualifier, they came back to be judged the best of a dozen junior exhibitor and adult teams in the championship. Talley rode hard for the reserve title.


Karmen Robles and Northbound may be a
new team, but it didn’t show in the competitive

Junior Exhibitor Five-Gaited Pleasure Stake.


Magill’s team of CH Mariachi and Jan Myers earned another blue, winning the nine-entry adult qualifier. Parry Milligan and her team coached Carol Winters aboard Simply Spool to the reserve win.


Big D proved no exception to the Maquire Hall’s Catalyst Commander’s ‘command’ of the show pleasure division. He and Stephanie Ritter claimed the qualifying blue and Sunday afternoon tricolor. Jo Anna Been represented Michael Beasom’s Victory Lane in earning the reserve adult title.


Out Go The Lights and Lauren Greenwald stayed before Judge Crumpler and the audience’s eyes. They rode off with the red-dominated tricolor.


The junior exhibitor qualifier was almost as tough as the championship with each rider challenged to find a spot on the rail. Liz Cortwright headed Elizabeth Oseroff and Nancy Wiseman’s Callaway’s Sam Baker for the winning photo. Taylor Lafargue and Harlem’s Moving Man of Jack Magill Stables earned the reserve.


He Sure Is proved to live up to his name for owner/driver Judith Alloway of Chardonnay Farms. They picked up the show pleasure driving qualifying blue and tricolor. Mallory Adams had a good drive for reserve with Cross Creek Stables LLC’s Our Dreamcatcher for trainers Randy Cates and Dianna Rannells.


Big and beautiful is one way to describe The Bachelor Prince; Big D Country Pleasure Champion is another. Cates had the gelding and owner Christy Bennett in top form at Big D. They topped a field of 10 in the championship and seven-entry qualifier. Cameron Jo Rongish and Pop Music came all the way from Parker, Colo., to claim reserve in both classes.

The Bachelor Prince and Christy Bennett
with Diana Rannells.


The country pleasure driving division was comparatively light, with only two entries answering the gate call. Corinne Stith and Callaway’s Better Than Ever continued their winning streak, topping both the qualifier and championship for Lone Star Saddlebreds. Jan Carroll drove her Betcha By Golly Wow to another reserve title for Chardonnay Farms.


Top honors in Western Country Pleasure went to three different teams. Stephanie West stepped into the irons aboard her new mount Commanche Kid to win the stake class. Kay Marschel and the Jack Magill-trained Snow Shadows qualified for St. Louis by winning the Shatner class, earning the red ribbon in the stake.


Randi Wightman and her big, black Callaway’s Copperfield won the qualifier, coming back to pick up a yellow ribbon in the stake. Nancy Moreno earned a reserve in the Shatner class under the direction of Dan Flowers’s Miracle Farm.


Equitation wins were split between Cross Creek Stables LLC and Milligan Stables. Milligan riders Katie Kirkland and Avery Bul topped the Saddle Seat 17 and Under qualifier and stake. Kirkland rode off with both blue ribbons aboard Crowned Prince, with Bul in reserve aboard The Rose Merchant. The two swapped positions in the Saddle and Bridle Pleasure Medallion competition, with Bul turning in the winning ride.


The Heir To The Throne has proven a winner for every equitation rider he has carried in his outstanding career. Katie Cunningham stepped aside at Big D to allow young Eleanor Rainbolt Forbes to ride him in walk and trot equitation competition. They won both the 10 and under class and the UPHA walk and trot title. Fellow Cross Creek rider Wylie Falk earned the reserve placing with Get Over It.


These are the highlights of the 38th annual Big D Charity Horse Show. Results can be viewed, searched and downloaded by clicking here.

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