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Great Big D Winds Up Southwest Circuit

by Ann Bullard

IRVING, Texas – Wildflowers, blossoming trees and bright-blue skies led exhibitors from Louisiana, Oklahoma and Texas into ‘Big D,’ or more properly Irving, Texas for the 40th annual Big D Charity Horse Show. Saddlebred entries were up. The addition of a good representation of Tennessee Walking Horses and United Mountain Horses, a new breed this year, helped bring total entries to the highest number in years.

Thunderstorms and heavy rains have plagued Big D in the past. This year, the show enjoyed what Show Manager Peter Fenton called ‘California weather’ with unseasonably cool temperatures and bright blue skies. Competitors filled virtually every stall at the Las Colinas Equestrian Center.

Big D faces several challenges, not the least of which is that it is the final of four Southwest circuit shows that take place in less than two months and less than three weeks after the Oklahoma Centennial. Several Saddle Horse trainers elected to leave some of their top horses at home in preparation for the long summer ahead. Still, from the standpoint of numbers and quality, the final show of the 2008 Southwest circuit was a success. Volunteers from The Scottish Rite Hospital, again the show’s designated charity, helped ensure that the paddock and out-gate areas ran smoothly.

The multi-year relationship between Scottish Rite Hospital and a number of well-experienced volunteers helps ensure the show’s success. Since its first year, Big D has generously contributed to its designated charities, raising moneys not only from the event itself, but from very successful fish fries and auctions, held annually at Milligan Stables, and special ‘at the show’ extras.

This year, exhibitors, fans and friends tossed pink rubber pigs, attempting to hit the center of a hula hoop. Margo Urad headed the ‘Big D Pork Committee,’ which sold out for each of the three ‘tosses.’ The $750 pot was divided between the ‘tosser’ and charity. Two winners returned their earnings to the charity; matching donations raised more than $4,800 during the three entertaining contests.

Both Herbert and Sam Sorrell, who judged the walking and mountain horse classes, worked efficiently. Still weekend sessions ran long since junior exhibitor performance and academy classes could be held only on Saturday and Sunday. And if one wondered about the future of Saddle Horses in this tri-state area, they only need look at the academy entries. Many classes had to be split. And all rode well.

Saddle Horse trainers are known for trying something different. Where the Texas/Louisiana circuit is known for its hot show pleasure driving competition, two of the three showed in different divisions. Mary Lynn McMains’s inability to get to Dallas brought trainer Marjorie Judd and I’m An Early Riser into the fine harness division. They won the open and Jackpot Stake classes. Edmund Perwien and Xuxa tested the waters in Country Pleasure Driving, with Perwien earning a reserve in the qualifier and grandson Kevin Berman picking up the reserve in the championship. This left CH Callaway’s Head Over Heels and Nancy Lassiter as the sole entry in the Show Pleasure Driving class. Despite running around the show grounds as a key volunteer, Lassiter enjoyed her usual stellar drive.

Jack Magill’s team enjoyed the little time they had to sit and observe between their volunteer work and being in the saddle (or cart.) The bay Night Of A Thousand Stars racked and trotted with style and speed when Magill teamed Ann Berger’s bay gelding to the Five-Gaited Open and Jackpot victories.

Judd returned to the winner’s circle with Claude and Sharon Pennington’s CH Mahvelous Asset, riding out with the championship tricolor in the Three-Gaited Stake.

Patty Milligan always has something interesting at Big D. This year, ‘interesting’ meant the black mare, Apt To Dream. Bred by Milligan’s long-time client, Anna Marie Dempsey, the four-year-old daughter of Periaptor and Keep Dreaming (Attache’s Born Believer x Dream A Dream) represented Mary Sally Aylward’s ownership. Michael Buchanan, a South African who joined the Milligan team in the fall of 2007, introduced the mare to the show ring, winning both the Junior/Limit Park qualifier and Park Stake.

As with many shows today, the open divisions were light but with very good entries. Amateur classes were better and the junior exhibitor division featured more than one entry that would be at or near the top in Kentucky competition. While the bigger barns earned the lion’s share of the blues, every professional had at least one blue or red ribbon hanging from his or her tack room.

Jack Magill kept busy between putting horses in the ring and heading them for victory passes. Becky Taggart, among Magill’s longest-term clients, kept busy with her volunteer work and showing three different horses. She rode her CH She-Bop to reserve in the Three-Gaited Show Pleasure Adult qualifier and tied reserve to World’s Champion Harlem’s Moving Man and Taylor Lafargue in the combined 11-entry Adult/Junior Exhibitor Show Pleasure Championship, one of the most competitive classes of the show. Taggart drove Lily Bart to the Country Pleasure Driving blue and tricolor for owner Ashley Victoria Lenz. Lenz came back on Sunday to ride her mare to the Country Pleasure Championship. With Joan Cantrell and Jan Meyers unable to make Big D, Taggart stepped up on CH Mariachi to earn a reserve in the Five-Gaited Pleasure qualifier. They did not show back.

Magill’s junior exhibitors rode off with the three-gaited, five-gaited and show pleasure tricolors. Calee Dillon had Suki Snowlet in mid-season form when she rode to the six-entry Junior Exhibitor Five-Gaited blue after a reserve placement in the qualifier. Sarah Singer and I’m Bewitched stepped up to best not only other junior exhibitors but amateurs in the combined three-gaited championship.

Harlem’s Moving Man and Lafargue earned the Junior Exhibitor Show Pleasure blue on the way to the Show Pleasure Championship win. It was the fourth victory of the season for the Dallas area-based team.

Bonni (Brown) Morales rode as a junior exhibitor with Patty and Dale Milligan. An accomplished catch-rider, she often steps up for Magill and his clients. At Big D she earned a reserve in the Park Pleasure Stake aboard Jan Myers’s Matrix. Kerry Ann Bunde shared catch-riding duties, taking Margaret Tirkes’s Carolina’s Top Gun to reserve in the Park Pleasure qualifier.

Patty Milligan kept busy coaching riders on the rail and heading them for victory photos. Allison Simpson enjoyed a pair of good rides with Georgie’s Sweet Conclusion, winning the Amateur Three-Gaited Park qualifier and championships. Jenn Holdren split her time between coaching other riders, and stepping up herself on such horses as Madeira’s Love, winner of the Three-Gaited Open and reserve in the championship, Denise Hurst’s Park Pleasure Open winner, Roseridge’s Night And Day and Katherine Goodwin’s True Blue Cat, the Ladies Five-Gaited Champion. Rachel Shupp stepped up in the Amateur Five-Gaited Stake to win the tricolor aboard Attache’s Heart Of Gold after placing reserve in the qualifier.

Rachel Shupp had an outstanding ride aboard Attache's Heart Of Gold to win the Amateur Five-Gaited Stake. Jenn Holden of Milligan Stables joined her on the way back to the barn.

On the amateur side, Lindsey Sowell and her mother, Suzanne Bradshaw, each picked up top ribbons. After a reserve in the Five-Gaited Pleasure qualifier, Sowell came back to win the competitive six-horse championship aboard All The Moves. Bradshaw jogged off with the Shatner Working Western Pleasure blue aboardThe American Flag in their only appearance at the show. Katie Fisk tied reserve in the Working Shatner aboard Bob Mullenax’ Red Hot Mama.

Stephanie West and Commanche Kid have been dominated the western country pleasure in the Southwest since she bought the gelding before the 2007 Big D show. They went three for three at this year’s show, winning the Shatner Western Pleasure and Country Western Pleasure qualifier and stake.

Katherine Kirkland and Laura Curry led the Milligan team in Saddle Seat Equitation, with Kirkland winning the 17 and under class and Curry picking up reserve in the stake. Avery Bul stepped up to win the Pleasure Equitation Medallion.

Nancy Lassiter’s Once Upon A Time and Anna Marie Dempsey with her proven Long Time Gone brought home top ribbons in the Hackney Pleasure Pony and Road Pony Open and Stake classes respectively.

Milligan, Holden and Candee Carlson, who has headed Milligan’s academy program for almost two decades, brought 10 academy riders. Brenna Hurst won all four advanced academy classes, riding Highpoint’s Miss Behavior to the equitation and performance titles for rides 17 and under. Eric Bennett won the adult performance blue and tricolor, adult equitation blue and reserve aboard Sir Narcissus. Rebecca Barr and Lauren Amos pinned blue and reserve ribbons on Milligan’s dark blue and white tack room.

Kevin Berman celebrated his outstanding drive in the Roadster Pony Junior Exhibitor class with his grandmother, Ada Perwien, and mother, Elly Berman. Elly had a blue-ribbon ride aboard the stocking-legged bay, Uncut Jewel, in the Adult Show Pleasure qualifier.

Elly and Kevin Berman’s family commitment in Houston on Sunday limited Bluebonnet Farm’s participation. Elly rode the sporty Uncut Jewel to the top of the five-entry Adult Show Pleasure qualifier, but did not show back. Kevin and Albert Kaponey put on a demonstration of Junior Exhibitor Road Pony excellence in their single appearance. The teenager also stepped into the pleasure driving cart, showing Xuxa to reserve in the Country Pleasure Driving Stake after Ed Perwien qualified the mare.

Trainer Sandra Currier showed two of the farm’s youngsters. The white-stocking chestnut three-year-old, Ipod, added another UPHA Three-Year-Old Park Pleasure blue to his spring collection. Bebop Lady and Currier tied reserve in Junior/Novice Park competition.

Megan McLellan had Heather Criswell’s Cheeten Lady in good form to tie reserve in the Show Pleasure Limit class.

Holly and James Nichols joined Holly's son, William Nalty, after the second of his Walk and Trot Equitation wins.

Barbe Smith’s Cascade Stables concentrated on equitation and academy competition, with Smith’s son, Scooter Scheurich, being the only exception. William Nalty won his seventh walk and trot equitation blue of the season aboard Vuarnet. Blayken and David Doyle each earned reserve ribbons in walk and trot equitation and academy competition.

Barbe Smith and Scooter Scheurich.

Katie Hanshe enjoyed a stellar debut on Windsomes Tomcat, winning two blues and two tricolors in Maiden Academy Performance and Equitation qualifiers and the Maiden/Limit Championships. Taylor Hurd also picked up a reserve championship aboard the seasoned Right Wing in one section of the Academy Performance Walk and Trot Championship.

Scheurich stepped up on CH Albelarm Tradition for a reserve tie in the Junior Exhibitor Three-Gaited Stake. Cassandra McGuire recently purchased the multi-titled gelding, bred by the late Mrs. Alan R. Robson. Smith paired Scheuerich with the horse for his debut under the Cascade Stables’s banner.

Multi-colored ribbons decorated Randy Cates’s Cross Creek Stables tack room. Katie Cunningham won the Junior Exhibitor Three-Gaited qualifier aboard CH The Super Nova. They returned later in the week to tie reserve in the Saddle Seat Equitation qualifier in their only appearance in that division. Claire Talley enjoyed her Big D experience, winning the Junior Exhibitor Five-Gaited qualifier with Indigo Joe. She rode The Champagne Tiger to reserve in the Junior Exhibitor Five-Gaited Show Pleasure class.

Christy Bennett brought only one of her several horses. She and Zara Spook racked and trotted to the blue ribbon in the Five-Gaited Amateur qualifier. The Rainbolt-Forbes sisters of Rainbow Princess Farm LLC each picked up reserve ribbons. Eleanor rode Callaway’s Viscount to reserve placement in the Walk and Trot Equitation 10 and Under class while Caroline drove her pleasure pony, Cherry Royale, to a pair of reserve placements in the Hackney Pony Pleasure Driving.

Haiden Hisey and Rebekah Davis added red silk ribbons to their personal collections. Cates’s academy riders also enjoyed a good week, with Clair Armstrong, Bailey Jordan and Bailey Vance earning blue or red ribbons.

Paul Cates’s Harrodsburg, Ky., and Austin, Texas connection has paid off for the grandson of the late Elton and Beulah Cates. Cates has several of Dr. Albert Alexander’s young horses in training and has sold several others by Alexander’s Madeira’s Caramac to clients. Madeira’s Taste Of Reality, Madeira’s Flame, Madeira’s Mystical Moment and Madeira’s Will each represented Alexander’s program with blue and red ribbons. Madeira’s Caramac also is the sire of Fox Grape Farm’s World’s Champion Madeira’s Love.

Kristen Dunn, aboard Madeira’s Mystical Moment, Alli Denman aboard Chardonnay’s Phancy Lady, the Park Amateur Reserve Champion and Catherine Coleman with (SA) Rinanti Cock Robin, added to the Cates blue and red ribbon collection.

Sofeea Tackett showed two different academy horses under Paul Cates's direction, winning one section of the Academy Equitation Walk and Trot 17 and under class. She is pictured after her victory aboard Romeo in the Academy Performance Walk and Trot Championship.

Cates brought a half-dozen academy horses. Sofeea Tackett and Katherine Mitchell each won several blues and reserves, with Bo Ashlyn Cates and Emma Collins earning reserve titles.

Lauren Greenwald and Santana On Broadway won the UPHA Challenge Cup at Big D in their first show together.

Sherry Frankel’s Winning Ways Farm elected to rest many of their top horses after showing at San Antonio, Pin Oak and Oklahoma City. Frankel’s daughter, Lauren Greenwald, moved into pleasure equitation in her final junior exhibitor year. Trainers Steve and May Chadick paired her with Santana On Broadway; Greenwald won the UPHA Challenge Cup and a reserve in the Saddle and Bridle Pleasure Medallion. Tiny Sydney Young earned a red ribbon in one section of the Academy Performance Walk and Trot section.

Trainer Michael Beasom of Victory Lane Farm congratulated Stace Rust after her Country Pleasure win aboard Mountainview's Good Day Sunshine.

Victory Lane Farm of Boerne, Texas put several winners in the ring, with owner/trainer Michael Beasom heading his riders on their victory passes. Dr. Stace Rust, who recently purchased Beasom’s five-gaited contender, Keaton, rode her Mountainview’s Good Day Sunshine to win the Three-Gaited Country Pleasure qualifier. Beasom was up on Alexandrea Jane Stair’s Lucky Son Of A Gun to take the Park Pleasure qualifying blue.

Victory Lane’s four academy riders brought home four blues and championships and a pair of reserves. The riders shared Tri-Color Dream Catcher, with Kristen Eichler and Jessica Wheeler earning blues and tricolors in Walk and Trot Equitation and Performance and Amanda Wheeler taking a pair of reserves in Maiden and Limit Equitation competition.

The Lone Star Saddlebreds group enjoyed Saturday night's exhibitors' party.

Sara Bratcher represented Koren Mercer and Milo Jones’s Lone Star Saddlebreds with a winning ride in the Show Pleasure Limit Rider class. Fay Stephens stepped up to take reserve in the Junior Exhibitor Show Pleasure Stake aboard Simply Unpredictable. Mercer and Jones teamed up with Mercer’s proven five-gaited horse, Bueno Day, with Mercer taking reserve in the Ladies Five-Gaited class and Jones a reserve in the Five-Gaited Stake.

Marjorie Judd’s tack room sported several blue and red ribbons in addition to the championships she won with I’m An Early Riser and CH Mahvelous Asset. Victoria Reich McKown rode her I Made You Look to win the Three-Gaited Country Pleasure Limit Rider title while Diana Satterlee and Windhover’s Royal Rhythm claimed reserve in the Country Pleasure Three-Gaited qualifier. Caroline Burglass rode her multi-titled Mr. Teddy Bheir to a reserve in the highly-competitive Junior Exhibitor Five-Gaited Stake.

Tommy Benton brought only three horses from Baton Rouge. He won the Park Pleasure Stake aboard Dr. Cheryl Brown Tilghman’s Silhouette of Roses.

Ashley Bryce Heath represented Debbie Graves’s Shenandoah Stables with winning and reserve rides aboard Man Of Style in academy performance and equitation. Nicole Briscoe’s Foster Farm, comparative newcomers in the Dallas area, fielded the Academy Equitation Adult Championship team of Andrea Yanez and The Diamond Chip and the Academy Performance Adult qualifier and stake reserve champion, Leah Kunard and A Lot Of Time.

Bill Marple and Kalarama’s Shooting Star represented Philip deBruyn with a reserve in the Park Pleasure Open class.

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