By Linda White
All 50 states--even Hawaii and Alaska--are represented in the Arabian Horse Association’s 18 Regions. Hawaii is included with southern California in Region 1, and Alaska joins Washington, northern Idaho and western Montana in Region 5. Western and eastern Canada, respectively, constitute Regions 17 and 18, but the Region 14 Championships has become one of North America’s largest Regional shows. In 2014 and 2013, more than 500 horses came to the Region 14 Silverama pre-show, the Bill and Betty Zekan Memorial Youth Show, and the Region 14 Championships that followed. Very few shows can boast those kinds of numbers.
“And it looked even bigger, because they’re buying more stalls,” said longtime Region 14 Show Manager Cindy Clinton, who also oversees stabling. “We sold close to 900 stalls this year: nearly 400 extra stalls for tack, hospitality rooms, dressing rooms, and so on. Region 14 may be the only Regional that hasn’t raised our fees. This year, the Horse Park raised their prices, so we had to raise the cost of a stall $10 or $15, but that’s the first time we’ve raised them in the 20 years I’ve managed the show. We try to keep people’s costs down.
“Sometimes people complain that, with the exception of the few shed rows beside the covered arena, the stabling is too far away from the show ring, but with over 500 horses …. Sure, it would be nice to stable everybody right next to the main ring, but that’s not possible. It’s inconvenient to go from the youth ring to the main ring, but logistically, there is no other alternative. We realize that some people come from as far away as Texas, and spend a lot of money to get here, so of course we try to give everybody preferential treatment, and to see that everybody has a good time. It’s especially important to us to try to get all the youth qualified.
“The pre-show is so tough that the Regional show seems like a breeze. On Wednesday, doing the pre-show, which included the Youth Show, the Silverama, the dressage and Sport Horse classes, and carriage driving, we had five rings going! It’s hard, but when we’re through, I think the exhibitors and trainers appreciate how hard we try to serve them. People don’t realize it, but it’s also hard for the show’s secretarial staff, to have all the Silverama and the Youth pre-shows running at the same time. On Wednesday, Show Secretary Jean Hedger and her ladies were up all night. Still, they haven’t raised their prices. We have such a great group of staff and volunteers; they don’t get the thanks or recognition they deserve.”
Clinton had high praise for Dave Daugherty, her right hand man, and could only say good things about Paul DeVroomen, who works the paddock. She not only respects Paul but realizes how important he is to her horse shows. “We have put together a group of staff and volunteers that is the best in the country,” she added. Hardworking Bill Pennington, who manages the Sport Horse rings, also assists with Sport Horse Nationals.
The Kentucky Horse Park’s Bluegrass locale and horse- and visitor-friendly ambience make it a popular Arabian horse show-goers’ destination. Kentucky’s unpredictable summer weather is notorious, and relentless heat and wind-and-rain combos do disturb the peace almost every year, but horse people are uniquely flexible in the face of such adversity. Two years ago, the heat was so oppressive that many classes had to start late in the afternoon and evening, causing the show to run into the wee hours, but exhibitors never complained.
“Weather is always our biggest hurdle,” Clinton conceded. “One of the good things about the Kentucky Horse Park is that the wonderful new footing in the outdoor rings isn’t affected much by the weather. It rained twice this year, but both times, the rain came during the last class. One untreated ring looked like a lake afterward, but the rings with the new footing were dry and useable in less than 20 minutes. The KHP is a fun, safe location for horses and people, making Region 14 Championships week a great possibility for family vacations.”
Mindful of exhibitors’ desire to compete for Region 14’s championship honors, the show committee and show management work together to create a pre-show slate that provides plentiful opportunities to qualify for them, and experienced, knowledgeable people to oversee those efforts. “Gloria Bush handles dressage, which is her area of expertise,” offered Clinton, “and Jeff Caldwell has headed the trail division for as long as I can remember.” Hank Gendron, DVM, a breeder of champion Egyptian Arabians, was again the show’s official veterinarian.
This marked the 19th Bill and Betty Zekan Memorial Youth Show, initiated by the late Richfield, Ohio breeders and benefactors whose generosity and passion for the Arabian horse continue to touch many lives. Each year, the Youth Show offers young exhibitors a chance to experience top Regional competition. Angela Sullivan judged the 2014 event.
“I was really impressed with the numbers, and with the excellent quality,” the Illinois horsewoman told us. “The KHP provides a fun atmosphere anyway, and exhibitors had a great time. Although this was a prestigious Regional show, I didn’t see any stress or anxiety, and the kids weren’t uptight, showing in a separate, outdoor arena, as they often are in a huge, indoor coliseum. And I saw kids relaxed in the lineup, talking with each other, and not preoccupied with their rides. It was a privilege to judge such a well-managed show, where the staff went above-and-beyond to see that everyone had fun.”
Virginia Godwin judged the Silverama pre-show, with Sarah Michaels judging pre-show dressage; and Jennifer Benoit deciding the pre-show Sport Horse and carriage driving winners. Main ring judges were Donnie Bullock, Chris Culbreth, Debbie Reid and Jack Thomas. Heidi Berry called the Regional dressage and Sport Horse classes, and Karen Homer-Brown judged carriage driving.
Advancing awareness and support of the Horsemen’s’ Distress Fund has been an important Region 14 task for the past two years. They raised more than $11,000 this year. “Last year, Region 13 and other Regions started raising funds to help offset the costs of Terri Dellbridge’s illness,” stated Clinton. “Lori Foster and Paul Day, and all the people that donated and or purchased items, deserve our heartfelt thanks.” Proceeds from a silent auction headed the 2014 fundraising efforts. Bidding was brisk for a US Nationals package that included a free stall; week-long lodging in desirable vacation locales; race track and concert tickets; original jewelry; and lessons and clinics donated by leading performance and halter trainers. Dozens of folks donated elaborate gift baskets that were raffled.
Next year’s weather prospects may be fair or foul, but neither rain nor sleet, nor gloom of night, should deter Arabian horse aficionados from attending the 2015 Silverama and Region 14 Championships and Bill and Betty Zekan Youth Show at the Kentucky Horse Park, in Lexington, Ky. For more information, log onto www.aha14.co,/silverama/ or call Cindy Clinton at (937) 962-4336. The Kentucky Horse Park and city of Lexington’s websites too are filled with persuasive images and data that will quickly have you reserving next year’s lodgings.