By Tara MatslerThe American Quarter Horse JournalAugust 14, 2013
Select amateur exhibitor Carol Arkell and Mity Chex compete for the very first time in boxing on August 14 at the 2013 AQHA Region One Championship in Monroe, Washington. (Journal photo) Scroll down to the slide show below to view more photos.
You can call them the Comeback Kids. Carol Arkell and her little sorrel mare, Mity Chex, are proving true that it’s never too late to return to the show pen.
While the Select amateur horsewoman and her 21-year-old teammate took time out of life to raise a few kids – or foals in “Flo’s” case – the team finds that it’s never too late to find your stride again.
Last year Carol and Flo partnered up for the AQHA Region One Championship, and they’re back again for the 2013 event, which is going on August 14-18 in Monroe, Washington. The first day of the Region One Championship kicked off with cutting, ranch sorting, working cow horse and boxing, the latter of which Carol and Flo gave a whirl.
“This was my first time showing in boxing, ever,” Carol said in an interview with the Journal. “It was a lot of fun. I went in there with expectations to just have fun, and we did. The second cow we had was a little wild, but the first one we handled well, so I really enjoyed myself today.”
Aside from cow horse, the Mill Creek, Washington, horsewoman now competes in reining, which was Flo’s forte before motherhood.
By Poppa Chex and out of Mity Mite by Indio 86 King, the 1992 mare was bred by Chown Quarter Horses of Gainesville, Texas. The sorrel mare’s accomplishments include a top 10 finish in the 2004 senior reining year-end high-point race, as well as open and amateur performance Registers of Merit and more than $4,000 in National Reining Horse Association earnings.
Carol comes from the other side of the tracks, with a long history in all-around events such as western pleasure and trail.
“I started actually in my backyard, going to 4-H, then B-shows, then A-shows and Quarter Horse shows,” she says. “I started from the ground up. My big love was pleasure and trail, especially trail. I was real successful in trail; I did compete at the (AQHA World Championship Show) in trail and did quite well.”
Showing the 1975 brown gelding Top Spur, Carol earned a top 5 placing in amateur trail at the 1980 AQHA World Show, and prior to that, a third place in senior trail at the 1975 AQHA World Show in Louisville, Kentucky, aboard Leo's Ace High.
“Then I took a break to become a mom, and had two boys – they are now 27 and 29. So now it’s my turn to get back into it,” Carol says.
Naturally, when it was time to get back in the pen, Carol knew it was time to test the waters in a new event, especially one she always wanted to try.
“I felt I had conquered everything – I showed trail, and trail’s kind of different now,” she says. “When I showed trail, it was more about the maneuvering, the fine-tuning. Now it’s kind of more of an agility class.
“But reining and cow horse have always been on my bucket list. So I’m fulfilling that bucket list and I’m really enjoying it.”
Aside from raising a couple kids, Carol has also been kept busy over the years with her career. With a father who owns a few radio stations, ever since high school Carol has worked at the stations, and has been the longtime traffic manager, coordinating contracts, program blocks, advertising and programming, and making sure all the pieces of the radio station puzzle fit properly together.
Several years ago Carol felt a pull to return to the show pen, and thanks to support from her husband, Bill, Carol and found herself in a place in life to get back into showing. And during Carol’s hiatus from the show pen, AQHA had added levels and divisions that have made getting back in the saddle that much more appealing.
“The Select amateur division gives a chance for people who have been there, done that to compete again with people in their own demographic, and with people who love the class, the sport and want to compete at the same level,” Carol explains.
“I’m just enjoying myself so much, and it’s just nice that I get the opportunity to compete with people at that level,” she says. “Otherwise, if I was competing with amateurs of all ages, it would be larger classes and then I wouldn’t have the opportunity to classify myself with my demographic.
“I like meeting all the people in my age group; we all share the same love, and that is competing, and doing the best that you can with what you have.”
But what she has is pretty special, and Carol was amazed at the connection she felt with a golden-aged mare just one year ago.
“I knew Mity Chex from when her prior owner was Roxanne Peters,” Carol says. “Roxanne did real well with her, then Flo had eight babies. When I started looking for a horse, I heard that Flo was available for sale. What concerned me was her age – she was 20 – but I went out and rode her and it was instant communication between horse and rider.
“The karma was just right there. I’ve never felt that way with a horse, and it was instant,” she recalls with a smile. “I’m 61, she’s 21 – we’re a good pair. After about 20 minutes we’re both tired. So we make a great pair.”
Knowing that Flo has special needs as an older horse, Carol is always a step ahead in the game to give her partner the best chance at success.
“We kept her legs up and kept her in condition, and she’s getting Nutrena Senior, SmartPak and everything for her joints to make sure she’s kept supple.” Carol adds, “I’m doing everything I can to make sure she has the best of care, so she can keep going as long as she can.”
And while Flo is making strides in the show pen once more, Carol hopes for a handful of grandkids in the future, giving Flo the chance to raise a few more kids. When that time comes, she knows of the perfect horse for them.
“She’ll love to take them on pony rides,” Carol says on behalf of Flo.
But until Flo is back to raising kids, “I’m just kind of taking it easy with her and really enjoying the ride.”
The AQHA Region One Championship was August 14-18 at the Evergreen State Fairgrounds in Monroe, Washington. Visit www.region1experience.com for the show schedule and more information.
Journal Region One Championship Coverage:
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