October 1 - 5, 2014
Las Vegas

September 30 - October 5, 2014
Murfreesboro, Tennessee


October 3, 2012

SmartPak Novice West Begins

Competitors at the SmartPak West AQHA Novice Championship wouldn't have missed it for the world.

By Christine Hamilton
The American Quarter Horse Journal

Sandy Ivelich and Mark Mitchell of Reno, Nevada, are ready to show at the 2012 SmartPak West AQHA Novice Championship in Las Vegas.

Sandy Ivelich and Mark Mitchell of Reno, Nevada, wouldn't have missed the 2012 SmartPak West AQHA Novice Championship in Las Vegas. (Journal photo)

When Sandy Ivelich and her husband, Mark Mitchell, saw the announcement for the first SmartPak West AQHA Novice Championship in Las Vegas, they wanted to come.

“I knew it would be big!” Sandy said, and they knew it was right up their alley.

Mark and Sandy show together two to three times a month, in whatever they can. In addition to local open and AQHA shows, Mark also shows his mare, Miss Dosa Star, in National Reining Horse and National Reined Cow Horse association shows, and Sandy her hunt seat gelding, Payday Advance, in United States Equestrian Federation events. She’s eager to show her all-around gelding, Pages Mr Spats, in ranch pleasure.

“We have to seek out top trainers,” Sandy said, because they live in a rural area. “As a rider, you have to be proactive with your training, and have a plan for your horse for the year.”

They ride year-round and often haul in for lessons. Mark has ridden with cutter Martin Bunyard and reiner Ricky Nicolozzi, and Sandy with dressage trainer Suzan Strahan, among others.

“We depend on the Journal as our other trainer,” she said; the two read every training article they can.

Mark is an eye doctor in Reno, Nevada, and Sandy helps with the practice – she retired several years ago from Barnes & Noble where she was a buyer in New York.

“We moved to Nevada because we wanted to have a horse lifestyle.”

Sandy has never qualified for an AQHA world show, but she has shown at the Region Seven Championship. They just bought Miss Dosa Star back in March for Mark. The AQHA Novice Championship showing opportunity came up at a perfect time for the showing couple.

“It right away caught our eye,” she said, “and we knew we wouldn’t miss it.”

The show starts at 8 a.m. October 4 and continues through October 7, at the South Point Arena and Equestrian Center. In addition to Novice amateur and novice youth class winners, the show will award halter Champion of Champions and high-point and all-around winners.

The show also features Nutrena Ride the Rail/Ride the Pattern clinics, free and open to all comers. The clinics feature AQHA Professional Horsemen giving tips on riding the specific patterns called for in the show.

If you’re showing in Las Vegas, don’t miss the exhibitor part at the South Point Saloon, which overlooks the arena, on October 4 from 5 to 7 p.m.

The American Quarter Horse Journal is in Las Vegas, at the South Point to provide online show coverage, slide shows and winners’ photos.