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Region One: August 15

Stealing the show in ranch pleasure, Sally Sutherland proves there’s a first time for everything at the AQHA Region One Championship.

By Tara Matsler
The American Quarter Horse Journal
August 15, 2013

Sally Sutherland and Smoknsmart Chocolate accept their third buckle won August 15 at the 2013 AQHA Region One Championship in Monroe, Washington

Sally Sutherland and Smoknsmart Chocolate accept their third buckle won August 15 at the 2013 AQHA Region One Championship in Monroe, Washington. (Journal photo) Scroll down to view more photos from the event.

It proved to be a day of firsts for Sally Sutherland. On August 15 at the AQHA Region One Championship Show in Monroe, Washington, the competitor won thrice over – a new feat for herself – and two wins of which came from a brand-new event to her: ranch pleasure.

Day 2 of the Region One Championship started with a full slate of reining classes, then moved into ranch pleasure and wrapped up with trail. By the time the reining was winding down, the rain clouds had moved into the Monroe valley, with precipitation falling that ranged from a drizzle to sprinkles, then to a downpour. Of course, those words are commonplace in Northwest vernacular.

Sally kick started her morning with a strong run in Novice amateur reining aboard Smoknsmart Chocolate. The ride was good enough for a Montana Silversmith belt buckle, Regional Championship title and an invitation to the 2014 AQHA Novice Championship shows.

Next on the order was Select amateur reining, where “Cocoa” had a slight stumble.

“We had a trip in our large fast, so I kind of drug a lead change a little bit, but I was really happy because I recovered better than I ever would have a year ago,” recalls the Duvall, Washington, horsewoman, who has a career as a medical assistant for Swedish Medical Group. “We still ended up in third, so that was pretty fun.”

By the Smart Chic Olena son Chocolate Chic Olena and out of Doc Chex My Smoke by Call Me Quick Draw, Smoknsmart Chocolate is a gray 10-year-old mare with quite a bit of experience in the reining pen. Sally is no stranger to the event either. She and Cocoa had regularly been competing at National Reining Horse Association events in the last year, even qualifying and vying for the 2012 NRHA Rookie of the Year showdown during the NRHA Futurity, thanks to a rookie win down in Rancho Murrieta, California, at the NRHA regional championships. But prior to all of that, Sally actually competed on the Arabian circuit.

“This is my first Quarter Horse show since I was 13 years old,” Sally says of the Region One Championship. “I showed my Arabs and I loved them. I rode saddleseat and did reining a little bit on one Arab that was supposed to be a saddleseat horse.

“Then I came to (trainer Darren Stancik) with my Arab mare and started showing a little bit in NRHA and really was enjoying it, but I knew I needed more horsepower to be able to do well in it,” Sally recalls. “Cocoa came up for sale in the barn and I really wanted to do rookie and I asked, ‘Darren, is the horse I should get?’ And he said, ‘Oh yeah, that’s the horse you should get.’ ”

So there Sally found herself on August 15 at the Region One Championship, her return to the American Quarter Horse circuit. Well, if you’re going for firsts, why not go all the way?

“This was the first time I’ve ever even seen the ranch pleasure class,” she adds. “My friends have been getting together on weekends for the last two months, and (my friend and fellow competitor) Cathy Martin has been teaching us how to do it and showing us how to do it. We’ve been working at it.”

Working at it, all right. Sally and Cocoa cleaned house in the open ranch pleasure class, picking up a second buckle that day.

When it came time for her the amateur ranch pleasure class, Cocoa’s fourth run of the day, Sally had a game plan: “Do exactly what I did in the first one.”

She adds, “That was even better because that run was a 76, 75.5 and a 75.”

Not too shabby for a ranch pleasure newbie.

The buckles, the wins and the quality of horse underneath her are just a little hard for Sally to believe at times.

“I just love her,” Sally says. “Darren had four or five different owners that have had Cocoa and she stayed in his barn the whole time.

“She’s not going to get sold again,” Sally promises with a hearty laugh. “I’m having way too much fun! She’s gonna be my baby for the rest of her life.”

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:

  • August 14: Age is just a number for Carol Arkell and Mity Chex, competing at the AQHA Region One Championship in Monroe, Washington.
  • August 15: Stealing the show in ranch pleasure, Sally Sutherland proves there’s a first time for everything at the AQHA Region One Championship.
  • August 16:With more entries than last year’s event, the AQHA Region One Championship sports many returning competitors, including Canadian Tina Maynard.
  • August 17: The Rehms keep speed in the family when they’re running their homebreds at the AQHA Region One Championship.
  • August 18: Laurie Hughes and Plumb Dry Tequila claim the AQHA Trail Challenge buckle at the 2013 AQHA Region One Championship.
  • August 21: Congratulate the 2013 AQHA Region One Championship all-around winners, and meet a family from British Columbia who does it all.