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Horses, Riders Star at UPHA Almost Summer Show

By Ann Bullard


DENVER, CO – The lure of a Rocky Mountain vacation and a competitive horse show drew exhibitors from such diverse places as Arizona, California, Iowa, Texas and Colorado to the 12th Annual UPHA Almost Summer Horse Show. Held June 15 – 17 at the National Western Events Center in Denver, the show featured a full array of American Saddlebred, Hackney Pony, Morgan and miscellaneous classes. It never was dull.

“Six months ago, Farra (Baker) called to
say we weren’t going to have a horse show;
we were broke. I told her, ‘we are going to
have a show and you’re going to put it on.’ She
went out and helped raise the money to do so,”
Martin Cockriel told the Sunday afternoon crowd.
He and ring steward Jerry Mavor presented
Baker flowers as one way of thanking her for
her years of work on this show.


Michele Macfarlane, Don Trunk and trainer Joel Aguilar may have set a one-week travel and horse-showing record by the time they returned to San Diego, Calif., from Denver. The first weekend in June, Macfarlane showed CCV Casey’s Final Countdown and CH Like Thunder at Rock Creek. Days after flying the horses home, Macfarlane rode the stud and CH Sprinkles to blue ribbons in the Open Five-Gaited and Five-Gaited Show Pleasure classes at Del Mar. That night, they put CH Like Thunder on the truck with the stud and Sprinkles, finishing the 1000-plus-mile trip to Denver early Thursday morning.


“We got in at 7:15 a.m.,” Macfarlane explained quietly. “We were in a hurry to get here because we didn’t want to miss the white water rafting trip.”


Macfarlane and Trunk joined Teri Yount, Chuck Hetherington, Bo Ashlyn Cates and Kristen Dunn on their raft for the Thursday morning trip. More than 30 adventurers braved the medium-class rapids and cold mountain streams for what was one of the weekend’s highlights.


Exhibitors enjoyed the white water rafting

 trip on the day before the show began.


On Saturday night, the warm-up arena became a playground where exhibitors played volleyball and competed in sack races, tugs-of-war and ‘blind’ chariot races while enjoying a pizza party and birthday cakes. Millennium Saddlebreds and the Lawrence family hosted an outstanding catered barbecue lunch during the break between Sunday performances.


The horses and riders themselves made this Denver weekend exceptional. Numbers were up slightly; the quality was outstanding. As Macfarlane put it, “Every important class – open, amateur and pleasure – was filled with good horses.


If there were a negative to this year’s show, it was that the ‘Saturday night’ horses showing on Sunday afternoon. Management moved the event from Thursday, Friday and Saturday to a Friday, Saturday, Sunday format to better accommodate exhibitors’ work schedules. Friday and Saturday featured 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. performances, with a good break between each. Sunday simply was a long day, beginning at 10 and ending seven hours later. Millennium Saddlebreds excellent catered barbecue lunch provided a welcome break between sessions.


The lack of Morgan entries not only was a disappointment, but may change the show’s future format. The Far West Region 8 in Redmond, OR, and Morgan Gold Cup Regional in Springfield, Ohio, both beginning on June 19, drew many exhibitors from the Denver event. Mary Cockriel and Bob Kellert of Rivers Edge had entries in almost every class, with Stephanie Flutie, Heidi Brunette, Kim Vogel and a few other trainers saddled a few ribbon winners. While a number of top teams appeared at the Almost Summer Show, in many instances it was Rivers Edge riders against one another and/or one and two-horse classes.


  Mary Cockriel of The Rivers Edge (left)
and Teresa Amen
watched one of the
Morgan classes together.
Amen and her
husband, Bill, own Amen Acres
in the
Denver area. Instead of showing,
she provided
emergency services for
this year’s event.


To call the Saddlebred show entertaining would be an understatement. Fans who might never get to Louisville had the opportunity to see several teams that are serious contenders for world’s championship honors.


The six contenders in the Five-Gaited Championship would have done well at any venue. Macfarlane’s CCV’s Casey’s Final Countdown seemed to thrive on the short rest in between each of his last three shows. On Sunday afternoon, he already had earned the blue ribbon from the open qualifier for the California-based team. Paul Cates and the Louisiana-owned Tabasco’s Lady From New York had ridden hard for a reserve in the qualifier with the veteran Martin Cockriel and his High On Champagne in third. Add the winner of the Novice Horse Class, Desert’s Double Memories with Yount Horse Services’ assistant trainer J.W. Steencamp in the irons, the Amateur Five-Gaited Reserve Champion (SA) Rinanti Cock Robin with Cathy Coleman, and Cockriel assistant Pablo Quintana on Callaway’s Millennium to the mix – and the battle was on.


Macfarlane and her mount burst through the gate on Sunday afternoon, with the stud’s head high, ears pricked and trotting with speed and brilliance. Cockriel brought every bit of his experience and his seasoned mount’s talent to the competition; Cates and the bay mare kept up the pace. Although the number of Sunday-afternoon spectators was small, their screams and cheers urged the horses on.


All good things must come to an end – and this class did so with Macfarlane making the final victory pass. Cockriel and Cates swapped places in the championship, with the horse show chairman taking a ‘reserve’ victory lap. Cates and his ‘red-hot’ mare earned the yellow-dominated ribbon with Callaway’s Millennium in fourth, Desert’s Double Memories fifth and Rinanti Cock Robin sixth.


The three-gaited championship marked another ending – the show ring career of the popular CH Starmaker’s Bouquet. Stacey Kipper made the final victory pass aboard her multi-titled mare in what was announced as her last time in competition. She will retire at the July Queen City Horse Show. Steencamp and Florenza were reserve for Yount, with Cates and Dr. Albert Alexander’s Madeira’s Mystical Moment in third.


Fine Harness horses were in short supply at Denver as they have been in many shows around the country. Jackie Rongish had the sole entry in the open division, with Sultan’s Irish Aire putting on two nice performances.


CH With Authority won his first Louisville ribbon (a reserve championship) in the Yearling Breeders Stake in 1993. A three-gaited world’s champion as a three-year-old, the gelding has been a consistent winner throughout his career. Teri Yount purchased the big, typey chestnut a little over a month before coming to Denver. He put on a show reminiscent of his early days, winning both the Park Open and Grand Championship. Tom Volz rode the never-back-an-ear bay gelding, Illicit, to a solid reserve in both classes. Brenham, Texas-based Dan Flowers coached Nancy Moreno and her multi-titled Jigsaw Johnny to the Amateur Park blue and third in the grand championship.


From a percentage standpoint, Michele Macfarlane was the standout winner, topping eight of eight classes in which she competed. Since beginning her Louisville Five-Gaited Pleasure career in 2001, the chestnut and white Chubasco daughter CH Sprinkles has won five world’s championships and three world’s champion of champions titles. She came through the gate at the National Western Events Center as if she thought it was a hot August night, winning both the Five-Gaited Pleasure qualifier and championship. Sprinkles’ full brother, CH Like Thunder, has been a winner in harness, three-gaited, show and country pleasure, park, park pleasure, show and country pleasure driving. Macfarlane repurchased the gelding from Sandra Dondlinger in the winter of 2006 and began working the 17-year-old as a western horse. They made their debut May 10, winning the UPHA Chapter One Western Pleasure qualifier and championship. Thus far, the team has won 13 of 13 classes, including the Western Pleasure Owner to Ride qualifier and championship and Western Pleasure qualifier and championship at Denver.


Paul Cates and his team brought 19 horses more than 900 miles from Austin, Texas – and what a week they had! Cates rode his Whiskey Bay to win the Junior Five-Gaited title. The third-generation Texas saddle horse trainer has several horses by Madeira’s Caramac for Dr. Albert Alexander of Harrodsburg, Ky. Madeira’s Will won a small but quality Junior Fine Harness Class and Madeira’s Mystical Moment was reserve in the Open Three-Gaited class with Cates in the irons. Megan Pepper won the Junior Exhibitor Five-Gaited title aboard Madeira’s Deliverance, returning to tie reserve to stablemate Cathy Coleman aboard Parchment Moon in the Amateur Five-Gaited Championship. Coleman qualified SA Rinanti Cock Robin for the grand championship stake with a reserve title in the Amateur Five-Gaited qualifier.


Megan Pepper and Cathy Coleman
of Paul Cates Stable

took home the red and blue ribbons in the

Amateur Five-Gaited Championship.


Bo Ashlyn and Craig Cates caught the eyes of both Judge Waller and the audience. It’s hard to believe that until December 2006 Bo was showing in 10 and Under Walk and Trot classes. Teamed with the beautiful mare, Limoges, she topped a good field of four other older and more experienced riders to capture the Amateur Three-Gaited Championship. They qualified by winning the Junior Exhibitor Three-Gaited title. Craig Cates spent last season showing in the Academy division or behind a roadster pony. In March, he made his performance under-saddle debut, riding his father’s stallion, Knit To Fit. They followed with good shows at Oklahoma and Big D – and hit their stride in Denver – racking and trotting with style and speed to win the Novice Rider Five-Gaited title.


Cates recently selected Chardonnay’s Phancy Lady for Alli Denman. They made their show ring debut, earning a solid reserve in the Amateur Park qualifier and a fourth-place tie in a very good Three-Gaited Park Stake. Helen and Kristen Dunn enjoyed the rafting and winning performances. Helen Dunn rode Paramount to win a pair of Academy Equitation titles while her daughter tied reserve in Saddle Seat Equitation 17 and Under competition.


Dan Flowers’ Miracle Farm and Rob Kritzler represented the states of Texas and Iowa in rounding out the out-of-state competitors. Each had good shows.


Chris Tresten picked up the Amateur Five-Gaited blue aboard It’s Star Spangled Hammer. A pair of consistently good rides aboard Life’s A Dance ERB earned the Flowers-coached team the reserve placing in the Five-Gaited Show Pleasure qualifier and championship. Nancy Moreno rode her seasoned Jigsaw Johnny to win the Amateur Three-Gaited Park title and a third in the Open Championship.


The Yount blues didn’t stop with CH With Authority. Shortly before her husband, Barry’s, death, the couple selected Desert’s Double Memories from Walter Bush’s Desert Oasis Ranch. The big, sporty gelding and Steencamp racked and trotted off with the Five-Gaited Novice blue. Erin Rae Smith proved equally adept in the English and Western Pleasure divisions, riding the big Friesian Kieran of Carisbrooke to a pair of blues in Open English Pleasure competition and El Patron to the Junior Exhibitor Country Western Pleasure blue. The pair coached Kirsti Martin to the UPHA Saddle Seat Medal blue.


Jamie Bridgewater and Tom Volz of Parker Valley Farm posted several wins. Molly O’Connor stepped up on Callaway’s Reveler to win the Park Pleasure Amateur title and followed it with a reserve in the Park Pleasure Stake. C.J. Rongish and CH Pop Music, Emily Homel and This Buds For You, Rebecca Muir aboard Fanning the Flame and Jordan Maxwell with Rhianna added to the barn’s collection of top ribbons.


Patty Savage Wooters’s riders didn’t have far to come for the show – or a long drive to bring home a stack of trophies and ribbons. Petite Brandi Parker and CH The Great Pretender remain a formidable combination. Brandi won the Show Pleasure 17 and Under qualifier and a reserve grand championship aboard the chestnut and white gelding. Susan Schaffner came back to win the Show Pleasure Driving Championship with Firestorm of Genius after a reserve in the qualifier. Wooters’s daughter, Kayla, celebrated Father’s Day with her dad by winning the Adult Country Pleasure title aboard Undulata’s Paper Doll. She also earned several reserve western country pleasure titles aboard the gray One Tin Soldier. Denver was a special occasion for Katherine Harmon as well. She won the Country Pleasure Novice Rider class aboard Heir Walk in her first class out of Academy.


Kim Vogel left the warm Florida sun for a state with four seasons in late 2005. She fielded a good team of riders, with David Bruce winning the Novice Three-Gaited Show Pleasure title aboard Reedann’s All Aglow and the Shatner Western Pleasure title aboard his well-named Charismatic. Vogel’s daughter, Kayla Rose, rode I’m Some Babe to win the Open Hunter Pleasure Novice class and a reserve in the Open Hunter Pleasure competition. Donna Kinard’s Worth A Chance qualified for the UPHA Three-Year-Old Park Pleasure Finals with Kim Vogel making the winning ride.


The Denver area has a number of outstanding amateur-owner trainers. Totsy Rees and Zeppelin added to their collection of top prizes with the Country Hunter Pleasure tri-color and reserves in the Country Hunter Pleasure and Hunt Seat Classic classes. Lisa Cheney, a school teacher in ‘real life,’ rode her home-trained Cameron Mills to win the Amateur Three-Gaited Championship. She also earned good ribbons in the Adult Three-Gaited Show Pleasure and Shatner Western Pleasure classes.


Kris Bayes, Desire Brott, Mindy Danskin, Chelsea Ferguson, Nancy Goodwin, Anthio Marcos, Pam Meskimen, Barbara Nesse and Don Owens also fielded top teams in Saddlebred, Morgan, and all-breed competition.

These are the highlights of the 12th annual UPHA Almost Summer Horse Show. Results can be viewed, searched and downloaded at by clicking here.

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