IALHA Nation Show – A Time to Shine

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Although the Andalusian and Lusitano horses are gaining popularity, they are still rare gems among the horse world.  With just a few shows on their circuit, the National Championships is a unique time for these beautiful and versatile breeds to make their mark on the world. October 11-16, 2011 the IALHA National Championship Show was held at the Will Rogers Memorial Arena in Ft. Worth Texas. The signature event was a benefit for the United States Para Equestrian Association and aptly themed “Making Dreams Come True.”

“It was really exciting to raise money for this cause,” said Show Chair Christina Cardenas. “The IALHA is donating fifty percent of its profits from the show and the American judges each donated a portion of their service equating to about $400 each being contributed too,” Cardenas added.  Back by popular demand the show offered competitors a super saver entry fee. By paying one flat rate competitors could enter any class they wished! With multiple ways to qualify for different events, it made for an exciting show with some large classes. Entries were up from 106 in 2010 to 140 this year with competitors from around the country as well as Mexico. Show management is hopeful they will continue to see such a trend.

Thirteen stallions entered the ring to strut their stuff in the Open Senior Stallions class.  Handlers ran alongside the immaculately presented stallions flaunting their high powered trots and exquisite manes. Topping them all was the 5yr old Bandido JM owned by Yeguada Coyote.  His handler, Megan Holt said, “He did really well considering we’d only been working together for a month. But he’s a very good horse and had a really good year.” The stallion was presented again in the Senior Stallion Amateur to Handle class winning it as Unanimous Champion Stallion in the Amateur division.  Holt, who also catch-handled at the show, said that “it was a very nice show with a lot of new faces which was great to see.”

One new competitor was Terry Waetcher owner of Watchman PRE. Though she sent only one of her horses it was a profitable outcome. Her yearling colt, Ramses WAE was named National Champion Young Horse for colts three years old and under in the Dressage Sport Horse Prospects In-Hand class. Judge Hilda Gurney (S) scored the horse at a %78. “It was my first time to send a horse to Texas, but I would do it again,” she said of the colt she bred by her stallion Fugitivo and out of a mare by Dominante XXIX. “Next year is going to be about promoting our young horses by Fugitivo. Shows like this are important for that,” she concluded.

For breeders, competitors and enthusiasts, there were plenty of opportunities to learn about the many talents and skills of their breed. Throughout the week various clinics were conducted on topics like Doma Vaquera, classical dressage, piaffe and passage, halter and showmanship, and the morphology of the Andalusian horse. The latter was taught by one of the judges from Spain.  It was the hot new sport of Working Equitation that drew in a good crowd though including some riders who own other breeds. Taught by Hon. Jose Manuel Correia Lopes, who has judging credentials in Portugal for Working Equitation, the clinic prepared riders for the three events of competition. The classes for these events did not offer National Championships, however great prizes were still to be had.  Similarly, reining was again held with a clinic offered to educate participants about the suitability of the Andalusian horse to this discipline. A competition was held Saturday before the big Extravaganza. Reiners competed for up to $1000 in prize money including other prizes like a trophy buckle from Kathy’s Show Equipment and a custom designed trophy by sculptor Bob Hadley.

“I was amazed by the prizes this year,” noted Cardenas. “Lots of cash prizes were out there. $4000 in the various Working Equitation events, $1000 for the Dancing Horse which showcases Spanish walk, piaffe and passage and $1000 for the reining class. Saddles, small trophies, and event unique fine art were all donated to be prizes,” she said.  Thousands of dollars were also divided among the champions in the range of futurities the association offers for breeders--$1,971.25 for each purebred futurity winner and $684.56 for each half-Andalusian futurity champion.

If the event wasn’t impressive enough, it held its traditional extravaganza on Saturday night beneath the lights. Parades of champions and exhibitions showcased these gorgeous Baroque horses bred for centuries for their beauty, their athleticism, and their trainability.  Like fine gemstones, they showed with befitting brilliance.

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