We are very fortunate to have Dixie Lee from B.C. Canada, reporting for us LIVE from the Arizona Sun Circuit. We hope you enjoy her reports and photos from sunny Scottsdale!
And That’s a Wrap…..
It was inevitable that the reality of heading back home was going to set in and I wasn’t even out of my pajamas when the neighbors pulled away in their rig first thing in the morning. The rest of the day followed the same way, barn decorations came down, classes ran with less competitors, rigs moved in and out as competitors started to close down.
I couldn’t resist just one last visit with Carrie at Just Peachy. One of several amazing vendors full of new & consignment show clothing, I just seemed to have connected with Carrie and couldn’t resist her amazing smile nor the beautiful apparel that hung in her trailer. I have to admit that I sometimes bemoan the prices of show shirts these days and wonder if I’ll ever hang one in my closet but wow……..I sure want one. The stone-by-stone level of art & workmanship that goes into these items is just beyond my imagination. Carrie seems to have the right amount of “helpful” while not making me feel like I should shake my pockets out before I leave. Being a looky-loo was just a-ok!
On that last day, I quickly stopped in to good-bye to my new friend. We chatted about their young family at home and how Just Peachy started. I learned that Carrie is owned by her very own Barbie horse, Sheza Peachy Sevens – hence the name, Just Peachy. As she had became known on the show circuit for her blonde horse, she made many friends and so that transition from showing – to family to her successful business “Just Peachy” seems to have fallen in place for Carrie. Carrie fondly recalls so many people who had a palomino they remembered with a story to tell. I know the feeling, my own dad has a “palomino” story too – his special horse in his life was “part palomino and part mustang”. I later saw photos of dad’s horse and learned she was a buckskin – but admit there is something about a yellow horse that stays with your memories.
Traveling all the way to Arizona from Ohio, Carrie and her husband are headed back home and you can find her online at Just Peachy Show Clothing.
I continued past the barns & trailers that were packing up as I headed up to write send yesterday’s news. All week I have made my way up to the show office to use the spare computer and so I snapped a few last photos as I went. I had expected this day in the show office to be no different than any other, planning to write my daily blog while happily chatting with the girls “behind the scenes” in the show office as they made me so welcome all week. If the show rings were quieter than normal, that’s because they were all in the show office closing out their accounts and to watch this team in action wrapping up a 10 day event was something else. If anyone was getting rattled by the endless line up, they sure didn’t show it and for all appearances, it was a well-oiled machine that Arizona put together for the “important stuff” needing to be done in the show office.
Under the guidance of Connie Hay, AzQHA Secretary, and Show Secretary, Shawn Martin, the work behind the scenes is really not something we have a full picture of, most of the time, as exhibitors or spectators. Shawn & Connie have been working in the show office since March 1st……that’s a loooong haul as I chat with them on the 11th. And they aren’t done! Kelsey Nichols, Chelsea Dygert-Sutton and Heather Butler were not showing signs of wear either in spite of having started just one day later, on March 2nd. It was absolutely my privilege to watch this group of women handle the steady stream of people coming through the door as they make preparations to leave.
Hats off to the executive decision that put this group of women in place for the Arizona Sun Circuit – with my considerable time spent in the show office over 6 days and I would say that is a WINNING TEAM! Thank you ladies for your help and the spare computer – was absolutely my pleasure to spend time with you all week.
I’ve lived in the moments where memories are made, here at the Arizona Sun Circuit. Sunshine, friends, horses. Competitors have hit highs – and lows – horses show the wear and tear of 10 days at a busy horse show and the last day for exhibitors, many were finding shade for their partner to stay out of the sun while waiting for their class. Nothing beats the dazzle of silver on saddles or the bling of show clothes in an outdoor arena with the Arizona sun warming us all. I really hope to see this show become not only an event for tough competition, great times but a spectator event as well. The facility is wonderful, the sun is unbeatable, the fun put on by the Arizona Quarter Horse Association is first class!! Thanks Arizona – see you again soon!!!
I’m sending along a few more of my favourite photos of the week – enjoy – and until next time…my advice? Practice Practice Practice!
Saturday March 11th, 2017
I did catch up with one of my favourite Select Amateur Showmanship & Horsemanship competitors. Dan Yeager of Dallas Texas is a favourite to watch – and video – when you want to see what a top competitor can get done in his classes.
Sitting in the shade between Jason Martin & Dan, I made the comment that his recent showmanship class was almost musical, it flowed so well. I knew some of his competitors were videoing his “go” so they could study his style when they are back home. That ticked Jason’s funny bone and we proceeded to think of a genre of music that would suit Dan. I suggested Rock & Roll – Jason was heading way backwards to the 50′s. We sang, “She’ll be coming around the mountain….” amidst our laughs & jokes.
From Dallas Texas, Dan and his newest equine partner – Cracking The Code, have been top in their classes here at Sun Circuit and he’s truly humble as he tells me his placings! Dan rides with the gang and Highpoint Performance Horses and Dan says he is truly lucky to be a 45 minute drive from his horse so he makes several treks to Pilot Point weekly.
Winning a Congress Select Horsemanship title in 2016, Dan unfortunately lost that horse and they’ve had to bring out Cracking the Code sooner than anticipated. That doesn’t seem to have affected them – as a winning team in their first year, we wish them all the best as they head towards Select Worlds in 2017.
First image is Dan heading into his class and the second image shows his easy going smile and personality as he chats with a fellow competitor once he has completed his pattern. That easy going smile and twinkle in his eye will carry Dan a long ways, a long with his commitment to practice practice practice! Was so great to meet you Dan!
I also caught up with Cleve at his barn along with his beautiful wife Jana. Having met Cleve before, I know he’s just easy to talk to and we spent time taking about the show. Cleve thinks the date change for the Sun Circuit is a BIG PLUS! The later date helps travelers navigate road conditions a little more predictably (at least most years LOL). Cleve hopes to see the Arizona Sun Circuit become a DESTINATION show much like Congress – with warmer weather! And he believes the Arizona Sun, the proximity of a condo development close to WestWorld are going to make this show more popular every year!
I have to say, I’m inclined to agree. And for a Spring Show, Cleve says it’s a great time to check out who’s riding & winning – what’s the newest trend for any given year and it’s bringing out top notch horses. As we easily chatted about placings, I had to laugh when Cleve says, “Placings aren’t personal. Not that I’m happy if I’m not top 5 – in fact, I’m dang UNHAPPY if I’m not Top 5 – but I don’t take it personal.”
And he heads home knowing what’s out there and what he needs to do to achieve those top placings the next time he meets the top horses at shows this year.
I somehow was distracted – probably shopping AGAIN – during the Youth Western Pleasure but I did manage to watch quite a few Youth Trail.
I captured some cute photos of our youth trail and caught up with one young woman that absolutely captured me with their effort!
Alex Krebs and her horse Oh My Lord Charlie were the highlight of my day. Not just for the easy effortless trail pattern they executed but something about the pair just made my heart smile. I snapped endless photos and know that I will be able to get them off to Alex via her trainer, Chad Evans.
Alex flew 2 hours to get here while Chad & an entourage of horses traveled 15 hours to arrive in Scottsdale this year.
I asked Alex how she was doing and her big smile said everything…… When I pressed for placings or details, I learned that this young competitor hasn’t reached a top 10 yet but she has been absolutely HAPPY with her and Charlie’s classes all week. Love it when even on the last days, our youth are pressing ahead – staying in their classes and grinning when they are done.
If you thought I was the only one that had an eye on this pair, you thought wrong. A beautiful Sabrina Janis, watching the class while waiting for her own Youth 14-18 Trail class, came over and met Alex for the first time by saying she had really enjoyed watching her and her horse in that class. Now how COOL is that. Sabrina was an absolute charm and I was so impressed she took the time to say a word to Alex – encouragement & confidence are the KEY elements, in my opinion, for horse show competitors to keep going and striving to better themselves.
Alex & Sabrina – you two made my day – and my whole week at Sun Circuit.
FRIDAY MARCH 10TH, 2017
So I had a hiatus from horses yesterday when I met up with a friend I’ve known for 15 years. A friend I’ve known ONLINE for 15 years when we shared an interest in something on an online forum. In those 15 years we have spoke on the phone several times – kept in touch through email and FB yet our first face to face was yesterday afternoon when she drove up from Tuscon to visit.
I was not in the least bit surprised that a huge – a scan of each other’s faces for our later memories – and then let the talking begin. We have been involved in numerous volunteer projects online over the years and we really did just enhance a relationship that was as easy in person as any other way we’ve communicated.
As I drove Patti back to her car on a borrowed scooter, I had the chance to cruise around West World and WHOA NELLY – this place is HUGE! A car show – a rodeo – and the Sun Circuit. Just amazing….and stopped to say hi to Officers Ed Chrisman and Aaron Bolin, I admired their trusty horses. Zeus is a Percheron/TB cross and Greyhawk – a Quarter Horse of course. There are 4 mounted officers in the area – 5 horses and a shift can be anywhere from 4-7 hours in the saddle.
As I made my way back to the show arenas I finally found Mike Hawkins in his golf cart and met Karen Graham at the same time. Mike moved from Florida to California in 2012 then in 2014 settled his training business in Cave Creek, AZ. Partner Karen Graham owns her own training facility in Cave Creek and our conversation was the MOST FUN and full of laughs!
Karen Graham with client Jan Bruner and Blazin Occasion.
I learned that they help each other train & show. When I asked how well THAT was working for them I SWEAR I saw Karen roll her eyeballs behind her sunglasses. Mike was quiet a moment and proceeded to tell me – it’s gotten better! As anyone with a spouse or partner, or even children, knows – teaching and critiquing each other takes a lot of tolerance and a healthy dose of patience and thick skin. It just takes awhile to get the groove for how to communicate to our loved ones in a way that they can be heard.
I’m glad to say that these two seemed to have this down to an art. Mike loves his Western Pleasure & Trail while he trains All Around Horses. Karen is a super talented All Around trainer with an easy smile and a way of communication that seems to work very effectively with her clients.
As they help each other train & show, it’s great to see their success is working well for them.
The Arizona Sun Circuit gives away over $50,000 in cash and prizes and I was the lucky winner of a Myler bit today! I found Dale Lytton, Executive Director of the Arizona Quarter Horse Club – driving in his golf cart with a TON of prizes! The word of the day “sunshine” and as I had added a second layer of sunscreen today it was a memorable word! Thanks Dale!!! Love my new bit from one of the indoor vendors, Texas Tack!!
I spent a lot of time today watching some amazing showmanship competitors – doubled with standing in the sun and making sure I turn myself around like a pancake for a tan on both sides of me
There is one competitor I hope to catch up to today – outstanding and everyone seems to stop talking when he enters the arena. I first saw him at 2016 Congress and I can’t wait to chat with him.
My next goal for today is Youth Pleasure – I’ve caught glimpses of youth horsemanship, hunter under saddle and I am looking forward to seeing them go today in pleasure.
THURSDAY MARCH 9TH, 2017
Could I please have had a day to spend with Sandy Arledge, AQHA President, and her good friend and AQHA Judge Suzy Jeane to hear the stories of these two women. I bumped into them on the show grounds and they were happy to chat with me. The comradery between the two was evident and Sandy tells me she and Suzy have been competitors and friends for more years than they care to count.
I commented to Sandy that not only had the Las Vegas Circuit had record entries, Arizona Sun Circuit is wonderfully successful too. Sandy agreed and feels that an upturn in the economy along with the hugely popular Ranch Division AQHA recently introduced are largely responsible for the success and numbers we are seeing.
Sandy steps down as President at the upcoming AQHA Convention in San Antonio Texas. Her year is up and I smiled the rest of the day, having met AQHA’s third woman president on my trip.
This is one of my favourite afternoons at any show – the Western Pleasure classes. Part of the enjoyment I admit – it’s faster than watching individual goes in classes like horsemanship and trail.
I am glad I’m not a judge – these are tough classes for even the most experienced horseman to judge. A stunning front leg – a deep hock – an ears forward happy bright look – they were all there. I found myself instead watching the riders. I’m always interested in riders that look effortless, not stiff and looking ahead in a relaxed and easy manner.
I picked Cleve Wells and Mike Hawkins as my two favourite riders in the Senior Western Pleasure Class. Great horses they were on and an effortless look as they navigate their way through a deep class of talent.
I may just search them out today and find out how they are enjoying the show.
WEDNESDAY MARCH 8TH, 2017
After giving myself a hefty dose of retail therapy, I wandered back towards the barn and caught a rare moment where Kristi & Dean McCann were relaxing together. As I stopped to say hi, I’m never disappointed by Dean’s infectious smile and sense of humour.
Kristi is always “music in the saddle”, not too mention a competitor never to be underestimated when she’s in a class so seeing her relaxed even for a short time was enjoyable indeed. Her favourite part of Arizona Sun Circuit? The Sun… you could see it in her smile, knowing she’s left behind a “real” winter that is still sharing white stuff in Graham, Washington where Kristi & Dean reside and train.
As I was about to move on, we all turned out attention to the Halter Class entering the pen. In the front of the class is the lovin’ & learnin’ Dr. Cory Seebach showing Cool Coastin Lady to Circuit Champioships in Performance Halter Mares, both Amateur & Open. In his short time that he’s entered the show pen, we think he’s one of the best horse show husbands out there and wife Dr. Candice Hall agrees. She stands cheering him on from the other side of the cone and it’s fun to see this husband and wife team enjoy their successes.
As I headed on to find some much needed shade and water, I stopped to enjoy “wine jumping” which brought many smiles for exhibitors and the crowd, saw a brave “hound” guarding his owners golf cart - or maybe just enjoying the sun like the rest of us.
And one last photo before heading for more retail therapy is the Canadian proud display on Gordie & Carol McEachen’s trailer.
As the warm desert sun heats up again today, I’m armed with sun screen and water heading out on the show grounds. I can’t bear to wear shorts as I am the proud new owner of a pair of boots that I refuse to take off until bedtime.
Soaking up every ray of sun I could, I watched a strong class of 19 entries in the Green Western Pleasure. Well done to these exhibitors showing in 80+ degrees and a super tough class of horses, it can’t be easy on these judges to place their cards.
Having slept on my big retail “must have” purchase, the minute the vendors opened in the morning I slipped on over and bought myself a pair of Logan Big Bass boots. I’ve been in love with the boots since I first saw them at congress and could say NO to myself not one more time.
So I proudly sported my new boots with my jeans ALL DAY in the Arizona Sun. I was sure I heard people whispering “check out her boots” as I walked by them. I paid for it – refusing to change into shorts in the 85 degree sun – and they convinced me I needed a glass of wine by the time I peeled them off in the evening when the day was done.
Evening Horsemanship classes were beautiful. The arena was lit up like a movie set, the temperatures perfect and the competition fierce.
As I walked behind the line of Level 2 Select Horsemanship exhibitors, I loved the quiet of the evening – as did the horses I’m sure.
I caught this pretty photos of Karen Lee Tegner-Manseth who’s poise during the class was so noticeable.
TUESDAY MARCH 7th, 2017
I had to go shopping. Just could not resist the retail therapy offered only at horse shows – the bling of vendors, the smell of new
clothing and leather. That was on my agenda. As I wandered past arenas and barns I watched a showmanship class going on, and the who’s who of High Point Performance Horses enjoying the morning outside their barn.
It so happens the best coffee shop on the grounds is right outside the vendors so adding a few extra shots of espresso to my cappuccino was intended to keep me lively through a long day.
Thinking of shopping, I was distracted by the view of cutters in Arena 6. Unable to resist watching these amazing animals, I sipped my coffee and enjoyed the action!
Seeing Bob Avila my first time was certainly as good as the sunshine on my face and the coffee in my hand. However I quickly fell in love with Cowboy Caleb who helped hold the herd while his dad was cutting. Caleb looked right at home on his trusty steed Don’t Mess with My Chic. Horses are a family affair for Corey and Kristen Cushing from Scottsdale, AZ. Son Caleb dismounted his horse and was off to pre-school after being up at sunrise to ride with Dad. Sister Capri was dressed for success as she and Mom (Kristen) were cheering from behind the rails.
MONDAY MARCH 6TH, 2017
Monday morning I dusted the snow off my truck in the never ending winter that has hit all of British Columbia, Canada this year. The anticipation of sunshine, horses and friends was with me the whole flight.
My first afternoon here, didn’t disappoint. I quickly shed my winter long sleeves for short tee’s and headed across the show grounds to find the who’s-who and the what’s what for the day.
One of my first stops was hunter over fences, a favourite class because it seems to have such action to it.
As I wandered down the barns I couldn’t help but stop by Searles’. As I chatted
with Stephanie Conti ( a fellow Canadian), I learned how this barn runs just like clockwork. It was clean, organized and a red bag reminding me a little of a Christmas present hung on each stall. It is impressive for it’s organization and Steph credits Deanna Searles with how smoothly things go at the shows.
This is Steph Conti (right) putting in a tail for Elvis – The Best Cookie – who’s getting ready for his class. Steph says it’s all team work in the Searles’ barn – everyone knows to just dig in to get horses and riders ready.
I continued to wander past umpteen busy barns and stayed for a few minutes to watch working cow. What a great class. The Equi-Dome is a covered arena keeping it cool for the working horses & cattle and tends to draw a crowd for it’s events.
As the sun set on my first day…. For every trailer on the grounds there is a horse show dog to go with it. Our young adorable mini-aussie named Doc Holiday lovingly owns his Cave Creek roping & cow horse family, Rod & Lissa Stewart. He was happy for all the extra attention as he learns to greet everyone around him with a fast wag and a happy attitude.
I finally made time to sit down – amazed that my feet were aching after just 4 hours but also realizing I had traveled miles and not stopped smiling. I caught a glimpse of the vendors before I capture the sunset promising myself I will have plenty of time for shopping in the days ahead