En dit is zonder meer de mooiste "tribute" die ik in tijden heb gezien:
Bij deze foto hoort een artikel dat in de archieven staat van de Painthorsejournal. Ik had wat problermen om het artikel te vinden, en zet het daarom hier maar neer. Is wat makkelijker voor jullie..
Mud Sweat and Cheers
By Ross Hecox
Mud slinging sliding stops and large-fast circles in a torrential downpour are not typically part of a major reining event.
Neither do riders usually watch the bridle drop from their horse's poll--and then continue the rest of the pattern bridleless and earn a score of 218.
Reining classes at the United States Equestrian Team's (USET) Festival of Champions, held June 2224 in Gladstone, New Jersey, saw just those kinds of things happen. The event included the Young Rider Medals class, the Futures Championship, the Invitational Freestyle, the Nations Cup and the Cosequin/USET Reining Championship.
However, one of the most extraordinary occurrences was expected.
Simply from hearing the crowd clustered around USET's outdoor reining arena as Colonels Smokingun galloped in for the final round of the Reining Championship, it was clear that they fully anticipated the sorrel overo Paint to pull out a winning performance.
"Gunner" responded by scoring a solid 222. Added to his first round score of 226.5, the 1993 stallion by Colonelfourfreckle (AQHA) and out of Katie Gun (AQHA) built a lead that no other horse could overcome. His 448.5 combined score was nine points better than that of second place horse Cattitude (AQHA), and earned him $31,780.
The day prior to the final round of the Championship, driving rain turned the arena into mud and standing water and caused one horse to slip down during the Invitational Freestyle class. Although arena crew workers improved the ground dramatically before the final day of competition, Gunner's rider, Bryant Pace, said it was still difficult to gauge how the footing would affect the stallion's last run.
"I never appeared nervous, but I was real nervous," Pace said. "You're nervous because you're scared to death that something might happen. If you slip and fall down, it's all over. I had a nightmare last night that we slipped and fell.
"I knew I had to have a really good run. The conditions made that a little harder. But Gunner is the same way every day. He gives 100 percent every time."
Gunner wasn't the only Paint to compete in Gladstone. Mark This Spot, by Sargent Freckles and out of Cactus Christy, also qualified for the Championship. Ridden and owned by Clint Haverty, the bay tobiano stallion scored a 213 in the first round, but did not perform in the second round due to concerns about inflammation.
Smokin Chic Olena, by Smart Chic Olena (AQHA) and out of Smokin Wildfire, competed in the second annual Nations Cup Competition. Ridden by Craig Johnson, the sorrel overo stallion scored 433.5 in two rounds, helping the United States win the silver medal as a team and earning another silver with the second-highest individual score in the class. Smokin Chic Olena earned $2,900 for finishing Reserve individually.
Under the gun
After marking a 229 at the USET Open Qualifier and a 233 in the semi-finals, Gunner was considered the favorite to win the USET Championship.
The first day of competition featured plenty of excitement. Guy Vernon watched his bridle come apart and slip out of his horse's mouth after completing his spins early in the pattern. After a brief pause, he rode Endeavor Doc (AQHA) bridleless through the rest of his run and scored a 218.
Colonels Smokingun performed next to last. Earning a 226.5 to win the first round poised the stallion to meet the lofty expectations placed on him.
"He's a great show horse," Pace said shortly after the completion of the first round. "[During warmup], I was turning him around. He felt kind of doggy, kind of lazy. I had to bang on him some, [saying] 'C'mon, let's go.' But when we went [in the show ring], he turned all by himself. That was all him."
Debra Sloan, who with her husband, Kim, owns Gunner, added, "If you watch, when he walks into the ring, the first thing he does is look at the crowd as if to say, 'Okay, are you all looking?' "
Gunner was bred by Eric Storey of Henagar, Alabama. The Sloans stand the horse at their farm in Newfoundland, New Jersey. They purchased him from Paul and Pam Rohus after the 1996 NRHA Futurity, where Colonels Smokingun finished as Reserve Champion. Gunner also won NRHA's Saddlesmith Open Champion title in 1997 and earned a World Championship in reining the same year. During his career, he has earned more than $160,000.
"The horse loves to show," said Kim Sloan. "He's been retired three times and told us three times he wanted to come back. And each time he comes back better than when we retired him. Right now, I'm not going to say whether we're going to retire him or not. He's going to tell us."
The Nations Cup Competition pits teams comprised of four horses and riders against each other in two rounds. The class featured four national teams--Canada, Germany, Japan and the United States. Clint Haverty, Kim Horn, Craig Johnson and Pete Kyle represented the U. S.
Team Canada surprised the Americans with a strong surge in the second round, surpassing the favorites in combined scores 1,304 to 1,299.
Smokin Chic Olena's 433.5 score led the American team. The 1994 stallion is owned by Susan Mason of Fairmont, West Virginia. Jim Babcock of Gainesville, Texas, bred the horse.
"Flash" earned World Championships in reining and working cow horse in 1998, and last year finished third in the USET Reining Championship.
"I'm real proud of him," said rider Craig Johnson. "I might have left a couple points lying out there, but he's a good horse and steps up every time.
"We've spent the last five months just roping, and only the last 10 days doing reining again. It didn't take him long to figure out the reining again."
Smokin Chic Olena, Colonels Smokingun and Mark This Spot put the Paint breed in the spotlight at an event gaining more and more international attention.
The Nations Cup competition represented the first International Equestrian Federation (FEI) sanctioned reining competition in the United States. The FEI adopted reining as a discipline in 2000, which is a major step in the event becoming an Olympic sport. Reining will also be included in the World Equestrian Games for the first time next year in Spain.
Jeff Fox, USET director of reining activities, said Paints such as Gunner and Flash help the discipline gain recognition.
"If we could have more horses like them, we would be in good shape," said Fox. "[Their performance] says that Paints are stepping up, and it bodes well for the Paint Horse breed."