By Julie Alonzo with photography by Kellee Campbell, DVM
In October, WE United celebrated the inaugural running of the Southwest Classic, an A-Rated Working Equitation Show judged by Wayne Hipsley, S, Kentucky and Polly Limond, R, California at the Great Southwest Equestrian Center in Katy, TX.
In all, 23 horse/rider teams from four states (California, Illinois, Texas, and Wisconsin) competed, while members from six states (Arizona, California, Florida, Kentucky, Oregon, and Texas) helped staff the event.
California resident Angela Langen rode to a first-place finish in the three-entry Introductory level class, with an average Dressage score of 67.40% and an average Ease of Handling score of 72.91% on the Lusitano Gabarito da Cerca, owned by Sierra Nevada Lusitanos. Kris Blacklock, who drove from Wisconsin for the event, was a close second in both trials on her Quarter Horse mare Boon Ocean Blue, with an average Dressage score of 66.60% and an average Ease of Handling score of 71.10%. She rode her Rocky Mountain gelding Gambler’s Jackpot to a third-place finish with an average Dressage score of 62.60% and an average Ease of Handling score of 66.88%. Angela was recognized as the top Open rider in Introductory class, while Kris won the Champion Amateur rider award.
With seven entries, all from Texas, the Novice A class was the largest at the show. When the dust settled, Lisa Harding and Sandhaven Celebration, an Australian Stock Horse owned and bred by Sandhaven Performance Horses, were Overall Champions. Lisa was also Champion Open Rider in the Novice A level. She and Sandhaven Celebration came in third in Dressage (64.48%) and first in both Ease of Handling (66.11%) and Speed (2:19.4).
Young rider Madison Waller rode her Lusitano gelding Diablo DC to a first-place victory in Dressage (67.18%), a third place in Ease of Handling (65.56%) and a fourth place in Speed (2:50.8) to win Overall Reserve Champion as well as Champion Youth Rider and Champion Amateur rider for the Novice A class.
Lisa Harding and Sandhaven CatCandu, another Australian Stock Horse bred and owned by Sandhaven Performance Horses, came in third place overall, with a fifth in Dressage (64.48%) and second in both Ease of Handling (65.70%) and Speed (2:20.4). Christine Potocki kept herself quite busy, riding three horses (Australian Stock Horse Sandhaven Viper, and Andalusians RDL Zanetta HGF and Brillante RDL) in the Novice A class, while Michael Vermaas rode Andalusian Alazan HGA.
The lone entry in the Novice B class, Texan Prissy Rumel and her Half-Andalusian Morita AAA earned quite respectable scores (61.55% in Dressage, 63.06% in Ease of Handling, and a Speed time of 2:40.83) on their way to the Novice B Champion Open Rider award.
Carlos Carneiro, a California resident and native of Portugal, and his Lusitano stallion Flash won the four-entry Intermediate A class, with first-place finishes in Dressage (66.67%) and Ease of Handling (71.71%) and a third-place finish in Speed (2:43.95).
Texan Jade Watts Gonzales and her Quarter Horse gelding Fineleehetouchedme came in second in Dressage (62.01%), Ease of Handling (69.08%) and Speed (2:35.53) to win Overall Reserve Champion and Champion Amateur rider.
Jade’s sister Deidra Keithley rode her Gypsy Vanner Kiss My Angel to third-place finishes in Dressage (61.39%) and Ease of Handling (66.58%) and came in first in Speed (2:16.10) to finish third-place overall (she and sister Jade were tied, with 9 points each, but Jade’s slightly higher Dressage/Ease of Handling average secured her the familial victory.
Jade and Deidra’s mom Terri Watts also competed in the Intermediate A class on her Lusitano gelding DEM Latte Con Leche, and Deidra’s young daughter Lily rode Kiss My Angel in a special Lead Line Ease of Handling class (talk about cute!).
Carlos Carneiro and Lusitano Cielo da Cartuxa, owned by Sierra Nevada Lusitanos, swept the five-entry Intermediate B class (Dressage = 68.08%, Ease of Handling = 75.40%), in the process turning in the fastest Speed time of the event (2:07.1). Two competitors each earned nine competition points: Illinois resident Mario Contreras and his Andalusian Maximo finished third in Dressage (60.58%), second in Ease of Handling (66.85%), and fourth in Speed (3:00.4) and Texas resident Lisa Harding and Australian Stock Horse Sandhaven Shameless finished fourth in Dressage (60.06%), third in Ease of Handling (65.66%) and second in Speed (2:13.8). The tie breaker of combined Dressage and Ease of Handling score brought Mario the Overall Reserve Champion title.
Meanwhile, Andrea Galbraith McNeal and her Andalusian stallion Dylan Cassimoro came in second in Dressage (61.48%) and third in Speed (2:28.5) to earn the Champion Amateur Rider award. Dawn Metzger and her Andalusian Corrado M had a very successful second WE competition experience, making great strides in their approach to the retrieve a pole obstacle in particular.
The sole entries in the Advanced class, Carlos Carneiro and Andiamo 2005, a Lusitano stallion owned by George Domb, impressed the crowds with their 67.39% in Dressage, 69.47% in Ease of Handling, and Speed time of 2:35.5. The pair won Champion Advanced Level honors.
Texan Doreen Atkinson and her Half-Lusitano gelding Obadi del Dios and California resident Carlos Carneiro, riding Sierra Nevada Lusitanos stallion Verdilhao, battled it out in a very competitive two-entry Masters level class. Doreen came in 1stin Dressage (65.37%) and second in Ease of Handling (68.29%) and Speed (2:41.8) to finish as Reserve Champion overall. Carlos came in second in Dressage (65.19%) and first in Ease of Handling (70.79%) and Speed (2:24.51) to win Overall Champion at the highest level.
We would like to offer a special thanks to Sandhaven Performance Horses, breeder of award-winning Australian Stock Horses, for being the Premier Sponsor of the first Southwest Classic A-Rated Working Equitation Competition.
Sandhaven Performance Horses, located in McDade, Texas, is well-known for breeding beautiful, good-minded athletes who excel in a variety of sports including Working Equitation, Polocrosse, and Camp Drafting. Their support made it possible for us to hold this event. Not only did they provide the obstacles, owner Kellee Campbell worked non-stop as the official Working Equitation photographer throughout the three days. Thank you, Kellee and Sandhaven Performance Horses!
We would also like to thank Waller Farms for bringing obstacles for the warm-up arena and for providing such beautiful Champion Open and Amateur prizes for each level. The keepsake embroidered chairs will no doubt be used for years to come. Thank you, Waller Farms!
In addition, we would like to thank the Watts Way crew (Jade Watts Gonzales, Terri Watts, and Deidra Keithley) for bringing several of the obstacles used in both the main competition and the warm-up arena.
Ashley Bowers from Arizona served as the Technical Delegate, verifying score tabulation each day and also assisting with set up/tear down of the obstacles. Heather Walters, Florida, and Elisabeth Crabtree, Texas, volunteered their time as Scribes throughout the three-day show. They also stayed late to help pick up the obstacles at the end of the Speed trial – truly service above and beyond!