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Welcome To The Mother Lode

by Melissa Walker

SANTA ROSA, Calif. - The Northern California show season came to a close on Sept. 1-3 at the Mother Lode Morgan Show in Santa Rosa, Calif. What that means is, Oklahoma is just around the corner and this is the last chance to qualify for the “big one.” Mother Lode is a wonderful show for that because the show committee has put in just about any class you can imagine! The Mother Lode offers Dressage (both western and classic), Carriage, Trail, English, Park, Driving, Western and Hunt, Jumping and if that’s not enough there are Costume classes. Phew! I’m not sure how they do it, but this year’s committee, Penny Lakatos (fresh off a successful Santa Barbara Medallion) and Kelly Dennison, were Johnny on the spot and the show ran like clockwork. This year, as with so many other California shows, the entries were down. But the 105 horses that competed were not to be taken lightly. Many of the horses in Santa Rosa already wear World or Grand National titles so everyone had their games faces on and rode hard for Judges Karen Homer-Brown and Bernard Parker.

This show also has a relaxed atmosphere outside the show ring that makes it so much fun to attend. The show starts off with a wine and cheese “meeting” and has the usual complimentary donuts and coffee each morning. Many people reading this may be saying to themselves, “I didn’t see any donuts?” Well, they had donuts, you just had to get there before Garn Walker’s dog, Hoot, got there every morning.


Friday night, Dragonfire Farm and Sandra Nelson hosted a fabulous barbecue for all, and Saturday night was the ice cream social, once again hosted by the Klooster family. And of course, all these were well attended. That’s the fun of these smaller shows…the wonderful time we have to talk and catch up on what’s happening to each other outside the show ring.

Some of the highlights were the trail classes that were designed by the famous and world-class designer Tim Kamura. These were first class and really flowed from one obstacle to the next, offering a real challenge to the riders and their horses. The always well-attended hunt classes were filled with old and new faces. Sandra Nelson is having a great year with her new horse and this show was no exception when she won the Hunter Pleasure Amateur Stake on her pretty CHC Blue’s Shining Star, trained by Dragonfire Farm. A new face to this division and reserve in the class was MSV Rock Star, catch-ridden by Julie Chan, owned by Anne Marie Bumb and trained by Garn Walker. The Open Hunter Champion was a relatively new face of Diane Hastie’s named VCF Sahara. Ridden and trained by Julie Adams, they put on quite a show. Diane’s VCF Naughty But Nice, ridden by Jose Mendosa was reserve, making it a clean sweep for Valencia Farms.

The western pleasure division had some familiar faces too, but there were a few surprises here also. Virginia Adams won the Amateur Western Stake on her DLH Dakota Blues, with Kathy Papola on the pretty Futurity’s Such a Twist in reserve. They repeated the order in the Western Pleasure Ladies Championship. In the open division, however, there was a new kid in town. While the ever-steady and beautiful UDM Gold Mine had another “gold” ribbon ride and won the championship with Garn Walker for Mike and Karen Burridge, it was Melissa Walker on Dr. Bombay taking the reserve. Dr. Bombay is owned by Mike and Sara Foy, but is being leased to show in the amateur division with Melissa Walker.

The English classes were small but mighty. Linda Sheridan and her very exciting A Winter Day won the Pleasure Driving Championship, directed by David Young, and took home the blue in the amateur class as well. Not to be outdone by her stable mate, Connie Locher won the Open Pleasure Driving class with FRF Exodus.

Hopefully, lower gas prices and good weather will bring more horses and riders to the Mother Lode show next year. But all of us who attended were glad we did. It was fun and good practice before we go off to the Grand National. Good luck to all of you going and we’ll see you there.

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