Helen Hogan of Texas didn’t let being 82 years old stop her from competing in her second show on The Moniet Nevaeh.
Hillary Akers of Kansas won L1 Amateur on her mare OTC Ayasha
Linda Frasier of Kansas won L3 Open on Star Lights Red Cat
December 8-9th, 2023 saw Texas working equitation enthusiasts gather for the final show of the 2023 season. Every competition level from L1 to L7 was represented by the twenty seven horse and rider pairs who rode down center line for “S” judge Rebecca Algar of Florida.
This show came to reality via a dream and a “Yes”. Doreen Atkinson envisioned a special show to finish out the Texas Hot Shots 2023 competition series, and Britt Callahan said “Yes” to being the organizer. Britt arrived in Texas in August 2022, and quickly jumped into the Texas scene with a passion for promoting her favorite horse sport. Britt says, “It was a pleasure to manage my first WE show at the beautiful Willow Draw. While the weather was cold by Texas standards, it was a beautiful weekend. The show would not have been possible without the amazing volunteers who stepped up and did anything I asked of them! Y’all saved me! What a great experience to see it all come together. Thanks to Doreen Atkinson and show secretary Aimee Edwards for their vast knowledge of managing horse shows to help everything stay on track and keep me from freaking out. Looking forward to 2024!” The venue of Willow Draw is a peaceful, park-like property. Located twenty miles west of Fort Worth in Weatherford, owners Tre and Janet Book also host clinics, eventing, driving, dressage, and Pony Club. Both organizers and competitors brought Christmas decor to give the dressage ring and obstacle courses a fun and festive flair.
Everything is bigger in Texas, they say, and Technical Delegate Chris Stanko commented that this was the largest arena she has had the opportunity to design a course for. Since this was the last 2023 show in Texas, Chris wanted to make the course a little bit more complicated. In the speed course, she designed for corners that could be cut to get a faster time. For the ease of handling, she provided lots of lines for the riders to think about. Chris said, “It was a thinking course, and riders were able to show handiness as well as using the straighter lines to allow the horse to go forward as well.” Chris commented that the course rode smoothly overall. Some of the Introductory riders struggled a bit with finding the correct line due to inexperience. The upper level riders had some harder sections, but they all managed it beautifully with a nice flow.
Not all the riders were from Texas. Linda Frasier of Huchinson, Kansas competed at Novice B with her horse Star Lights Red Cat. “I’ve competed in Working Equitation since 2017. This is my last season to show my horse at Level 3 – we will be moving up to Level 4 next year. The reason that I wanted to come to Texas was that I think that I have been selected as a rider for the Train to Win international clinic, and this trip gave me an opportunity to see the facility and acclimate my horse.”
Hillary Akers of Wichita, Kansas traveled with Linda to compete at L1 with her mare OTC Ayasha. “Stella” is three quarters Arabian and one fourth Quarter Horse, and the pair has been together for five years. “We’ve been doing western dressage for three years and this is our second WE show. I came to this facility because I am going to return in January to audit the Train to Win clinic and I just wanted to see everything. It’s a beautiful facility – and the jumps look really scary on the cross country course. Stella did really well. We earned a good score in dressage, we made it through every obstacle, and that was the goal.”
Helen Hogan of Texas competed at Introductory with her Arabian, The Moniet Nevaeh. Eighty-two year old Helen was looking for something to keep the fourteen year old Arabian interested, and the ease of handling courses are proving to be just that. Helen has had an extensive equestrian career including fourth level dressage, point-to-point racing, foxhunting, carriage driving, and training another Arabian to Legion of Honor. When her trainer Meg Fletcher found Working Equitation via a clinic advertisement, it was a great fit and this was her second show.
The show drew spectators as well. Kenda Firkins is a trainer, instructor, and clinician in western dressage and cowboy dressage, who drove from Hot Springs, Arkansas to watch the show. She said, “We were here for two full days so we witnessed Dressage, Ease of Handling, and Speed. What I wanted to learn from this particular show are the intricacies – what the judge is looking for with all the horses that are here and the different levels of riders. We would like to be able to get this going in Arkansas and maybe, since we are in the same region, be able to have some shows together. I train and instruct, and I have a group of clients all over the US. So we were invited to come to the show to get that idea going.”
Judge Rebecca Algar commented, “One of the things that is very important to remember, especially as you are going up the levels, is that it is not enough to just do the movement. The purity of the gait is very important. One of the things that I see very often is a canter that is either lateral, meaning both legs on the same side at once, or four-beat or just verging on four-beat. So remember that it is not just the fact that you are trotting, or cantering, or that you did your transition in the right place. Make sure your gaits are pure and clean and show your horse to the best advantage.”
Great advice for all of us to carry forward into 2024!
Article written by Sharon Miesen, reporter for Central Zone USAWE