My Salute to the AAOTR Arabian National Top TenTrail horses!
What do a California attorney, an ER doctor, a Canadian patent agent and an Ag science student from Wisconsin all have in common?
Well in this case, they were all part of the 2014 US Arabian National Top Ten in AAOTR Trail (western flavor)! While I congratulate ALL of the Top Ten winners, in this posting I can't feature every awesome pair! Instead, this is just my way of saying "way to go" to a few riders that I've had the good fortune to meet in person or on line via social media.
As a trainer who has competed in trail I know EXACTLY what it takes to get a horse through its first Class A show, let alone all the way to Nationals!
The "walk through" a ritual that amateurs and pro's alike take equally seriously"
One of the things I've always liked about riding is that it's a sport where skill, cunning and experience can be every bit as important as raw athletic ability. This is true of both horses and riders as evidenced by the average age of horse in the Top Tens in the AAOTR which was 15.5! Another reason is that horses seem to be a lodestone for the most interesting people. Individuals can be very, very different and yet, share an equal passion for not only the animal, but for the sport of riding. And yes, while many people ride for recreation and enjoyment, some people take things a step further and work very hard to improve their skill and physical proficiency as riders, and (for the purposes of this posting) I'm calling it a sport!
Let the salute begin!
Karlan and PKampossibledream
Karlan (neurosurgeon) Downing's beautiful mare PKampossibledream (Emmie) is no stranger to high level competition, and neither is Karlan. Karlan has had horses pretty much all of her life and growing up did just about everything a girl could do with a horse! Since that time she's focused on breeding beautiful, athletic horses! Karlan competed in her first Nationals in 1975 (23 years before before Emmie won her first trail class in 1998),kicking off a show career that includes dressage, hunter hack and carriage driving and titles at not one, not two, but three Arabian Nationals! Emmie has won Top Tens or better at US, Sport Horse and Youth Nationals!
Nan and Agracie Girl+++//, Scottsdale 2014
That means that Nan (attorney) Walden's stunning mare, Agracie Girl+++// (Gracie), foaled in 2001, wasn't even born when Emmy and Karlan were getting started! Nan and Gracie came to the US Nationals from a very different perspective, but with an equal amount of passion, because there's no horse girl like the one who has waited for her chance and can finally run with it like Nan has, proving you can sublimate the desire for a horse, but you can't actually kill it! Nan put off horses during education and career, but when the opportunity presented itself...Rancho Sonado was born. Says Nan, "In my forties, I met and married Dick Walden, a man who had been riding and roping since he was 3. I talked Dick into going to a Sheila Varian open house. He was skeptical about Arabians, having grown up with quarter horses, and he was worried that they were too hot for a green rider like me. The rest is history. Dick is now the biggest fan of the breed and we use our horses (even our show hack horse) to push cattle. We rope off of a number of them too. We have won many Nationals titles, but I guess the point for me is that it is NEVER to late to follow your dreams!
Lorriane and Jayded Moon +/, Canadian Nationals
The Reserve National Champion awards were hauled home a long, long way! I'm not sure if anyone knows which horses and riders actually travel the longest distance to get to Tulsa, but Lorraine (patent agent) Prowse is sure to be in the running for that, since she hails from Alberta, Canada! Her pretty grey gelding, Jayded Moon+/, at 12 years of age, is just short of being "the baby" of the group of Top Ten horses. If you noticed that I couldn't find a picture of Lorraine for my "non horsey" portrait collage, it's because such a picture does not exist...tells you something about Lorraine right there!
Which brings us to my final gal, Mikaela (Agricultural Science Student)!
You may have noticed that with each horse/rider comboI've featured, there is slightly less text. That's because, in each case, less of the story has actually unfolded. I've told you about them in order of experience, starting with Karlan (39 years of National level show experience) and am finishing with the youngest rider in the class, Mikaela (only 20 years old) who graduated from high school in 2012.
As much as I totally admire and appreciate each of these ladies and their horses, I get a special warm fuzzy tingly feeling for Mikaela and her 18 year old gelding Khou-Rajah (a horse who when she got him in 2011 was supposed to be "washed up"). Why the "warm, tingly feeling? Because, Mikaela is still in the beginning chapter of her story-the one where I think we all start, and, if we're lucky, we never stray too far from. She's the one who was excited to simply be at "the big dance".
She's the one who got a buzz from just being in "the main arena" at the biggest show that the Arabian community has to offer and to be just a part of the bigger history that was being made!
So, even though I didn't know it when I started writing, this post is for Mikaela and Rajah...who are mirrors for the best part of all us "horse girls" ... the part that is simply happy every single day, that we get to ride a horse!
Mikaela and Khou-Rahjah, Canadian Nationals 2013.