Top Horse-Show Moments of 2013

Relive the American Quarter Horse show industry’s 10 most inspiring moments of the year.

By Tara Matsler
The American Quarter Horse Journal
December 30, 2013

SF Check Me Out and Christy Brasier

SF Check Me Out is the very first amateur ranch horse please world champion. (Journal photo) Scroll down for photos that depict the 10 most inspiring moments of the year.

To sum up 2013 for the American Quarter Horse show industry, “upward and onward” would do just fine.

From wildfires, floods, tornadoes and a historic blizzard, horsemen across the United States were reminded this year to count their blessings before they lay their heads down at night. But despite all the loss and heartache, those impacted by the worst in 2013 did not suffer alone. Truly, horse people can always be counted on to band together when horses and horsemen are in need.

Consider it another mark on the horse’s scoreboard, but this year, American Quarter Horses proved again and again why they are the world’s most popular and most versatile breed.

These are 10 of the most inspiring moments from the 2013 American Quarter Horse show industry.

  1. Supreme Celebrity – Racehorse-turned-halter-and-performance-star Fly The Red Eye joined the elite club of AQHA Open Supreme Champions in June. The 2006 sorrel stallion touts points in halter, performance halter, heeling and reining, plus a speed index of 97 on the track. Talk about versatile! 

  2. Dressage Icon – Competing in dressage, A Cash Vantage became the first American Quarter Horse to earn AQHA points at the Federation Equestre Internationale level. The dressage horizon is looking bright for 2014, as dressage may now be offered as a class at AQHA-approved shows and special events. 

  3. Ranch Horse Pleasure All-Star – While the first youth and Select ranch horse pleasure world champions were crowned in 2013, the first amateur ranch horse pleasure world-title earner, SF Check Me Out, reigns in a class of his own. Not only has the bay gelding earned a berth back in every AQHA ranch horse pleasure world show finals class ever held, but SF Check Me Out has earned top-10 placings every time, as well. 

  4. Record-Breaker in Reined Cow Horse – Trainer Chris Dawson of Jacksboro, Texas, rode into the National Reined Cow Horse Association records books in June when he swept all four 2013 NRCHA limited aged event championships for horses 4 years and older. Chris won the NRCHA Celebration of Champions Derby, the Stakes and Derby aboard Travelin Jonez, and he captured the NRCHA Hackamore Classic crown on A Spoonful O Sugar.  

  5. Banding Together in Spite of Loss – After tornadoes ripped across Oklahoma in May, a tenacious group of AQHYA members organized forces to deliver hay to in-need horse owners, and AQHA staff rounded up donations to be delivered from Amarillo to the Oklahoma City area. Despite summer wildfires and fall flooding, Colorado horsemen had something to be thankful for, due to the good deeds of their fellow horse folks. And after a freak early blizzard in October buried South Dakota under 30 inches of snow in three days’ time, area ranchers and horse breeders counted their losses, but also the generosity of others.  

  6. The Beginning and the End – It was an ending of an era; that’s the sentiment shared by horsemen across the industry when it was announced that AQHA Ranching Heritage Breeder Haythorn Land & Cattle Co. would host its final on-site production sale in August, and that Carol Rose Quarter Horses was hosting its own sale in August, where the longtime breeder’s herd was auctioned off in a dispersal sale. Fittingly, a new wave came in the horse-sale world in September when AQHA Ranching Heritage Breeder Wagonhound Land and Livestock hosted its first production sale.

  7. Making Strides for Equestrians With Disabilities – The first-ever Para-Reining competition in the United States debuted November 15 at none other than the 2013 AQHA World Championship Show. The event marked the maiden Para-Reining within the U.S. Para-Equestrian system and a launching of efforts to bring the discipline for equestrians with disabilities online as a fully recognized sport in 2014.

  8. International Feat – Several of AQHA’s international members took coveted prizes back to their home countries in 2013. Starting the international crusade off was German exhibitor Andre Weber, who earned the amateur reserve world title aboard Josephs Catchum All, at the Zoetis AQHA Versatility Ranch Horse World Championship Show in March. Next, youth competitors from Australia, Brazil, Canada, Germany, Sweden, Switzerland and Venezuela flocked to Oklahoma City in August for the Built Ford Tough AQHYA World Championship Show. Then in November, An Tao, competing in open ranch horse pleasure, became the first Chinese exhibitor to ever compete at the AQHA World Show.  

  9. Homebred Heroes – Owner-breeder-exhibitors were the big winners this year at the National Cutting Horse Association Futurity. Craig Crumpler’s homebred Junie Wood captured the coveted NCHA Non-Pro Futurity title. “We raise ours – that’s the only way I get to do it,” Craig told the Journal after his illustrious win. “I can’t go buy them, so we’re just fortunate enough to have some good bloodlines left.” In the unlimited amateur division, owner-breeder-exhibitor Kayla Norris also earned a sweet win aboard CD Kual Gun. “He’s homebred, and he’s really special,” Kayla told the Journal.

  10. Extended Outlook – Standards are aligning, thanks to the very first Industry Show Summit, hosted December 8 by AQHA and the American Paint Horse and National Snaffle Bit associations in Irving, Texas. One of the big goals from the show summit was to align judging standards across the industry, specifically in western pleasure. Especially at the 2013 AQHA World Show, western pleasure horses were stepping out with a lengthened stride. That’s a change that judges would like to see across the board, which means great things for horses, exhibitors and spectators in the coming show season.  

There you have it, the 10 most inspiring moments from the American Quarter Horse show industry in 2013.

What should make horse-show enthusiasts all the more enthused is the prospect of what’s on the horizon for 2014. Between the rule changes that go into effect January 1, the AQHA leveling program going full steam ahead, plus the inaugural Zoetis AQHA Cattle Novice Championship Show in April, 2014 is already looking like a good one. But what else can you expect? We are, after all, kicking off the Chinese Year of the Horse.