Small Fry Trail

The smallest exhibitors and those with disabilities took center stage again on Sunday at the All American Quarter Horse Congress as exhibitors worked their way through Trail and Horsemanship Patterns, Western Pleasure as well as Working Hunter events for Open, Amateur and Youth riders.

Following The Trail
The day began with new champions in the Trail pen in Cooper Arena. Natalie Hudson and her show partner Hello Im Johnnycashh swept both the Congress and NSBA trophies in Small Fry Trail with a score of 226. "We've only been working together a couple of months," Natalie said. "This is just my third time to show him. My mom grew up showing horses so she got be started. The pattern was pretty tough. I think the back through was probably the hardest part."

Often one of the most nerve-wracking divisions for parents and trainers, Small Fry classes are an opportunity for the youngest exhibitors to participate. "My trainer, Becky George, just told me to take a deep breath, smile and have fun," Natalie said. And that's great advice for any exhibitor!

EWD Supported Trail

Scarlett Southwick and Lazy Lovin took home the Congress and NSBA win in Equestrians With Disabilities Walk Jog Trail Supported Level 1. Scarlett had trainer Ryan Cottingim on the lead.

"I've been riding horses since I was a year and a half old," Scarlett said. "I love it."

"Scarlett has attention deficit disorder as well as low muscle tone," noted her mother. "Riding and showing has helped her posture as well as be able to direct her focus and control her enthusiasm. The horses really motivate her to be patient and follow directions. This is her second year to show at the Congress, and she is so excited to be here."

EWD Independent

In the Equestrians With Disabilities Walk Jog Trail Independent Level 2, as well as the Equestrians With Disabilities Walk Trot Western Pleasure Independent, Evan Zaloudek and Cuition All Deckedout captured the NSBA trophy as well as reserve Congress champion awards.

"Evan is autistic, and he didn't start riding until he was 21," noted his mother, Lorna Zaloudek. "That was 12 years ago. Nine years ago, we went to the first NSBA World Show that offered the Equestrians With Disabilities classes, and we've never stopped.

"I can't tell you how much difference it has made for Evan to compete in EWD. His speech has evolved, and his personality has changed. He doesn't know a stranger at a horse show. People know him at horse shows that we don't even know. He loves it."

The Zaloudek family competes at approximately ten shows per year, and works with Partners For Progress. "We start at the March To The Arch and we go to the Gateway Classic in Missouri, the Cap Gun Circuit, the NSBA World Show, Gordyville, and Jackson, Mississippi. Evan gets so excited to go to the horse shows that we have to write it in code on the calendar so he doesn't anticipate it so much," she said.

More EWD Classes

Amy Bentler and Setting The Stage had a huge day on Sunday. The duo earned the Equestrians With Disabilities Walk Trot Hunter Under Saddle Independent Level 2 Congress and NSBA titles, then later won the NSBA champion and reserve Congress champion awards in Equestrians With Disabilities Walk Trot Horsemanship Independent.

"I've been riding for 17 years. I went to a summer camp program for a week at Equest, and I enjoyed it so much that we decided to keep riding," Amy said.

"Amy has a condition known as fragile x syndrome," noted her father, Jim Bentley. "It basically causes her cells not to produce a protein they should. It can cause behavioral, intellectual and learning disabilities. It's hard for her to sequence things, and having to balance on a horse, and learn to do patterns - the therapeutic value to Amy has just been phenomenal.  

"It has helped give her the ability to think things through. And, to overcome adversity - when you don't win in one class, you have to come back and try again in the next one. Her self esteem has just grown so much by riding and competing.

"We started competing about four years ago, and the social and emotional support she receives and that even I receive by being around other families who have children with disabilities is something I can't even measure. It's a tremendous positive experience for all of us."

In the Equestrians With Disabilities Walk Jog Hunt Seat Equitation Independent class, Sara Grace Carowick and Socks Gone Wild took the Congress and NSBA top awards.

"Sara has Touretts syndrome," noted her mother. "This was her first time even showing here at the Congress, and we're all so excited for her. She was never very social, and pretty shy, but horses have really helped her get more involved. When it means something to you, you want to do good, and she really tries when she rides. The pattern classes are especially good because they make you use your memory, and repetition is good too. Competing is helping her learn to control her anxiety and given her more confidence.

She's only been working with this horse for about a month.

Working Hunter Champions

In the Hunter pen, Lori Bucholz and Larks Happy Days made a comeback of sorts in their NSBA win in the Amateur Select Working Hunter, where they placed third in the AQHA division. "I just had meniscus surgery six weeks ago, so I've been off for a while," Lori said. "I guess you could say I'm back in the saddle. This is really the first big horse show I've been to since the Select World in 2015, because I broke my leg two years ago."

Lori's mount is known as Fonzie. "I've owned Fonzie for almost ten years now, and I think he feels better and looks better today than he has in the last five years," she said. "He's a great boy."

Other Working Hunter champions on the day included Sportin A Neon Tan and David Miller, riding for Kristen Atchley, winning Level 1 AQHA and NSBA Working Hunter Level 1 (David actually had the top three NSBA rides in the class); Levites and Chuck Briggs, riding for Sandy Vargo, AQHA and NSBA Progressive Working Hunter; Deeep Pockets and David Miller, showing for Shannon Roberson, Junior Working Hunter; My Secret Past and Abigail Hardy, Youth Working Hunter 13 & Under AQHA and NSBA champions; and Chandler Runnells and Dance If You Wanna, AQHA and NSBA champions in Youth Working Hunter 14-18.

In the Working Hunter Classic, Classic Circle and Madeline Keyes took the average while in the Non-Pro Working Hunter Classic, Stacey Roberson showed Zip Up My Blumers to win the average.

Small Fry Pleasure Success

Alyssa Moyer and Charming Hot Pine won the Congress and NSBA divisions of Small Fry Western Pleasure. The nine year old has been together with her horse for two years, but this was her first time to compete at the Congress.

"It was hard getting up to practice in the middle of the night the past two nights," Alyssa said. "We practiced Horsemanship on Friday night, and we made the finals in it. It was pretty fun."