2014 Arizona Sun Circuit Sizzles
Photos and story by Kristen Spinning
January 28, 2014-Any memories of last year’s torrential rains quickly evaporated as the 2014 Sun Circuit got underway with blue skies and warm temps this weekend. The forecast is for plenty of points and plenty more sun for this year’s event. That’s welcome news to Show Coordinator Doug Huls and his whole management team as they hope to best last year’s record-breaking 16,928 entries The exhibitor buzz around WestWorld in Scottsdale, AZ is that the show already looked bigger, and the youth haven’t even arrived. Class sizes the first two days seemed to confirm what people are feeling. Junior and Senior Cow Horse entries have doubled over last year, Cutters were up 15 in the Junior and 10 in the Senior, while the Western Riding pen saw an additional 17 amateur riders over last year. The increasingly popular Ranch Horse Pleasure class challenged 86 horses between Open and Amateur. Versatility Ranch Horse had a whopping 32 exhibitors “We’re seeing amazing growth all the way across,” said Huls. “The amateur and select block of reining has run around 60-65 over the past few years, but on Saturday there were 110 entries.” To handle the increase, Huls and his crew quickly opened another arena and split the block. “We were able to get everyone finished by 7 PM,” he added.
Anticipating large classes for 2014, some adjustments to the schedule were made. Classes were moved to reduce conflicts. The trail arena was split in half to accommodate two trail courses and move more riders through in one day. Exhibitors in Western Riding and Trail are encouraged to sign up in blocks to keep classes running. The efficiency of the staff, from the gate, to announcers to the crew keeping the pens in shape, has been a big factor in managing the large numbers. Sun Circuit staff work hard to be exhibitor friendly, and to provide the best experience possible, and it is seen in every detail. Judge Dean Bogart, commented that this was his favorite show to judge. “This is the 4th year I’ve judged here,” said Bogart. “ It’s well run, well organized and they keep things running smoothly. I just love coming out here. The horses are great and it’s a fun show.” Bogart added he also enjoys the Scottsdale location with its mountain scenery, shopping and restaurants.
On the opening day, exhibitors were treated to a Welcome Party with a free dinner courtesy of the Johns, Tobins and Searles families on the Equidome Concourse. Party goers enjoyed a delicious meal and could watch the Cow Horse action in the arena.
Sun Circuit’s vendor expo has expanded as well, with shopping in the Equidome, the South Hall and outside. A dizzying array of items from clothing, show goods, equine supplies, equipment, tack jewelry and home decor are on display.
The expansive facilities at WestWorld are being utilized to the max, with literally every bit of ground and every arena available for classes or warm ups. The new, climate controlled Equidome got quite a workout as the venue for Roping and Working Cow Horse. Exhibitors were pleased with the footing, and the facilities. Cory Cushing, who was showing both rope horses and cow horses was stoked about the class sizes. “This show has been absolutely outstanding. The number of horses here, the quality of the horses that have shown, the cattle have been great, it all makes it a really good show.”
It’s not a horse show with out a little excitement. On Saturday, that came in the form of an unexpected visitor to Novice Amateur Showmanship. A steer escaped the Equidome cattle classes and ran into The Equine Chornicle Arena. Glenda Roberts was setting and quartering her horse, First Time Everytime, when the steer ran past. The pair must have trained well and have a remarkable amount of trust in one another, because neither the steer, nor the cowboys who rode in after it flustered them. Now that’s showmanship! They didn’t win a ribbon for their effort, but they certainly won the hearts of the audience, and will never forget that day.
Sun Circuit is undoubtedly off to a fantastic start. With day four underway, the total number of entries are up by 600 over last year’s first half. Yet the well-organized team and the exceptional facilities are keeping pace. It’s no wonder that exhibitors are happy. There is plenty more action to come, with some of the biggest events scheduled for the second half of the show. See SunCircuit.com for complete details.