Skip to content

Talent Contest - His Name Was So Very Appropriate

by Leeann Mione

Boasting an incredible pedigree containing 12 Broodmare Hall Of Fame mares in four generations, and the great CH Wing Commander on both sides, CH Talent Contest was aptly named. He was destined to win talent contests.

Sired by Talent Town and out of Rainbow Valley (BHF), CH Talent Contest was bred by Alvin Ruxer Farms and foaled April 20, 1983.

As a three-year-old he was teamed with George Schmid and they were in the top three in the Three-Year-Old Fine Harness class at River Ridge. He made the switch to the gaited division the following year and with Schmid up had respectable showings in junior, limit and novice classes in 1987 and 1988 at shows including Rock Creek and the Kentucky State Fair.

Nancy Strand showed the chestnut gelding at Louisville in 1988 to a top three finish in yet another division, and the one where he would truly shine for the remainder of his career: the three-gaited division. They were third in the Three-Gaited Ladies Over 15.2 Stake.

Having made the switch to walk-trot, it was the great Donna Moore who would be responsible for his next partnership.

According to Sunrise Stables trainer Melissa Moore, "Mom bought him for Bill [Shatner] in 1989 and he won the Amateur Gentleman Three-Gaited World’s Championship with him. He won at shows across the country such as Lexington, Rock Creek, St. Louis, Devon, Madison Square Garden, Kentucky Fall Classic and Hollywood Charity Horse Show with Bill. 

"Melinda [Moore] showed him a few times when she was getting him ready for Bill to show. I showed him four times in 1992, at Lexington and Louisville and won all four classes; the Three-Gaited Ladies Over 15.2 qualifiers and Ladies Three-Gaited Championships.  

"Judy Shepherd bought him for Victoria [Shepard Bleeden] for Christmas in 1992 and she showed him till he retired. He was the Reserve World’s Champion Amateur Three-Gaited at Louisville in 1993 for Victoria. 

"Judy left him a trust and he has been at Sunrise Stables since he stopped showing. He has had a good long life out in the field with his girlfriends and he has raised numerous crops of yearlings for me every year. He was a very special horse to me as I worked him for both Bill and Victoria and I loved him dearly. He will be greatly missed and I think it says something special about Judy that she left a trust to take care of her horses after she was gone. 

Moore continued by saying, "The year I won the world’s champion of champions title with him all the clients gave me a Jack Russell Terrier and I named him TC after Talent Contest. Anyway, TC died in January of this year at 16 and a half years old. I knew shortly after that Talent Contest would soon die too. It’s funny, I think the horse was waiting on the dog. They were both very special."

Bleeden had this to say about her beloved world’s champion. "We have owned him for the past 17 years. He was very special to our family and will be missed greatly. It saddens me that I didn't have the chance to see him recently, (I live in California) but my memories of him are many and wonderful. 

"My mother purchased him for me to show in 1992 from Bill Shatner. While I had had a pleasure horse before, he was my first "performance" horse. I had always admired him and it was a huge surprise when she gave him to me for Christmas that year. He was such a wonderful horse because he was so patient with all my amateur mistakes but he taught me how to ride. I won a reserve championship at Louisville the first year I had him. 

"Sadly, he had to retire early in his career due to a suspensory injury but lived out a happy life with Melissa Moore. He was the last horse living which my mother and I owned so his passing has had a huge impact on me," said Bleeden.

CH Talent Contest was one of the great ones – one of those horses who thought a lot of himself and worked hard to make each and every one of his owners and trainers shine in the spotlight.

More Stories

  • Bobbie Jo Jaakkola Wins AMHA Young Adult Alliance Judging School Scholarship

    The American Morgan Horse Association Young Adult Alliance (YAA) presented their fifth annual Judging School Scholarship to Bobbie Jo Jaakkola of Northwell, Michigan. The Professional Development Project created by this passionate group awards a $1,500 scholarship to one individual aged 21-40, professional or amateur, who is interested in attaining their Morgan R judging card. Read More
  • Spring Fling Horse Show to debut in its new location of the Equestrian Center at Kirkwood in Cedar Rapids, IA, April 5-8, 2018

    Spring Fling Horse Show to debut in its new location of the Equestrian Center at Kirkwood in Cedar Rapids, IA, April 5-8, 2018... Read More
  • Des Moines Springfest announces location

    The Des Moines Springfest Horse Show is scheduled for April 26 – 29, 2018.   We are pleased to announce the show will be held in the beautiful, state of the art Jacobson Arena at the Iowa State Fairground, Des Moines, IA. Read More
  • Coming Home Again

    Kevin Michael made a triumphant return to the show ring at Carousel Charity Horse Show Friday morning behind the elegant and high-stepping Hackney Pleasure Driving Pony CH Heartland Resplendant owned by Sandra Surber of Calistoga, California. Read More
  • ASHA Seeks Executive Director

    The American Saddlebred Horse Assocation (ASHA) is currently seeking to hire its next Executive Director. Founded in 1871, the ASHA’s mission is to safeguard the integrity of the American Saddlebred breed, to promote the use of American Saddlebreds, and to expand the public knowledge of the American Saddlebred.  Read More
  • Prize Lists Available for Asheville Saddlebred Classic

    The inaugural Asheville Saddlebred Classic is fast approaching and prize lists are now available at The entries closing date is April 20th and entries can be submitted online until that date. Hard copies of the prize list are available upon request... Read More
  • Blue Ribbon Opening

    Read More
  • Hall of Famer Dies

    Ronald E. “Ronnie” Graham passed away on Tuesday, March 13, during the Gasparilla Charity Horse Show. The horse world mourns the loss of this talented trainer, astute ground man, and friend to all. The recipient of the 2015 UPHA Tom Moore Professional Horsemen’s Hall of Fame Award, Ronnie was the first to lend a hand to those in need... Read More
  • Royal Crest's Mister Stone Now Being Offered For Your Consideration

    Consistently in the ribbons, this wonderful gelding has proven to be an absolute star in whatever division he is entered in: Walk and Trot Equitation, Open English Pleasure, Junior Exhibitor Country Pleasure - he can do it all and he is ready for his next young rider! Direct inquires to Country Meadow Farm. Read More
  • HS Queen Of The Castle Now Being Offered For Your Consideration

    A lovely mare that will get you noticed! Shown successfully in Junior Exhibitor and Adult Show Pleasure and Park Pleasure with lots of wins to her credit. She is suitable for a more advanced rider - let her win for you! Direct Inquiries to Jennifer Dixon. Read More