by Sharon Manning
Posted April 15, 2002
INDIO, Calif. - The 2002 edition of the annual Desert Classic Horse SHow was staged once again at the spacious Desert Horse Park in the heart of the Coachella Valley area fifteen miles due east of Palm Springs. The April 6-7 event featured two performances each day for a total of sixty classes that encompassed all phases of Walking Horse competition.

Judge Tommy Loid of Bowling Green, Kentucky was selected to evaluate the entries, with management details handled by Rose Ann Allard and Donna West. Long time horse show announcer Malcom Rossol was behind the microphone, with Ring Steward Chuck Herb, Paddock Steward Marilyn Herb, Ring Clerk Nina Lovejoy, Gate-man Dave Preszler and farrier Don Beekman rounding out the officials roster. Quince Tree Photography preserved the special moments with amazing speed, thanks to their new digital equipment.

Participants at the Desert Classic were put to the test, weather wise, and suddenly true grit took on a whole new meaning. While extreme heat and have plagued the show in the past, the nonstop wind that blasted the Saturday performance was a first, leaving man and beast covered with thick layers of sand and grit that precluded any hope of the well groomed image that visiting judges usually encounter at California shows. Riders resorted to holding the reins in one hand while hanging onto their hats with the other, and everyone present sought relief for involuntary dermabrasions. Sunday dawned with more typical Indio sunshine, much to the delight of all concerned.

The show’s concluding class saw history repeating itself as the high energy Motown Delight and Russ Thompson were called to the winner’s circle for the third consecutive year. Eva McClure is the very dedicated owner who sponsors the handsome 15.2 chestnut stallion who has been a dominant presence since his arrival on the west coast.

Team Thompson posted twenty six blues and tricolors on the ribbon wall for their Indio effort. Susan Gordon and her WGC A Specialist entertained the crowd with a classic walking demonstration, while the Gordon family-owned Jazz In Dixie added the Gentlemen’s Open Specialty award to the count with trainer Ray Reis in the saddle.

Time To Glo and Kylee Sargenti landed the Ladies Specialty and Amateur Stake titles with a pair of powerful performances for the Sargenti and Reis ownership. Will Carter and his Coin’s Night Flight followed up their Scottsdale victory with another Novice Specialty blue for the Carter and Carter team.

Keeping it all in the family, Guylene Ozlanski contributed the Amateur Three-Year-Old honors with her direction of Diamond Buster, while her Park PLeasure mount, COuntdown’s Cordell Walker, marched to the divisional Amateur Specialty Four and Under and Amateur Specialty Stake ribbons. Another Arizona-based property, Ask Not, was called for the Junior Rider recognition with Ashley Munson Child making a good Scottsdale followup appearance for the DJC, LLC ownership.

The Thompson pleasure horse stars were front and center for the top ribbons. Papa’s Queen Lady and Summar Shamma scored four Trail Pleasure blues and a championship in ENglish and Western events for the Shamma and Alkire partnership. The legendary WGC Genius’ Dixie Chick and owner Sheila Kyle logged Lite Shod Amateur and Amateur Specialty preliminary blues and the Specialty tricolor with trainer Trish Wooten riding to the Western Open honors. Wooten was also in direction as Bad NEws Gold Hard Cash strolled to the Park Pleasure Western Open award and the divisional English Open Stake recognition. Dawn Bransfield also rode Cash to the Western Amateur Specialty blue for proud owner Nadea Watt.

Another Wooten-directed property, Magical Illusionist, walked to the Lite Shod Open Four and Under preliminary and Open Stake recognition for Mike and Cheryl Reidy. Wanda Schroeder credited Jamey Thompson’s training for her success in Lite Shod Pleasure Novice and Amateur Specialty Stake classes with her Sudden Decision.

The Golden West team accounted for nineteen blues and tricolor ribbons at the two day event. The Legacy Walkers stock rose to the occasion for a pair of Open and Amateur blues in the FOur-Year-Old division; trainer Greg Bryant and new exhibitor Pat Harrington made awesome rides with Walking On Thin Ice to collect the rewards. Scott Benham introduced He’s Pushin’ The Ritz to the show world with an Open Two-Year-Old Stallions victory for the Legacy ladies, Pat and Sue Harrington. A major accomplishment was toasted as Sue Harrington fulfilled a year long goal by regaining her health enough to ride to the Lite Shod Pleasure Amateur Specialty blue in a debut performance with Coin’s Sweet Dream.

Nevada B Ranch proudly sponsors the Open Three-Year-Old Stallions champion, General Custer, who was teamed to the title by Scott Benham. He also directed the winning ride for the Three-Year-Old Mares and Geldings blue aboard Generating This Kiss for the delighted Tom Steves family.

Charles Wharton and the handsome Invictus were singled out for the Amateur 15.2 and Under honors after a strong performance for the Poplar Creek Farms ownership. Golden West contenders cornered the Show Pleasure market, what with a tricolor ride by Tim Schamber and his Score's Charm for the Amateur Specialty Stake recognition; the Novice and Open Specialty blues awarded to Classic Score with Gerre Mann and Greg Bryant, respectively, for owners Mort and Gerre Mann; and the divisional Amateur Specialty preliminary winner, Gold's First Paige, who made the victory lane appearance under the direction of catch-rider Demara Nuzum for Mike and Marilee Moran.

Mark and marcy Drummond are proudly campaigning their Double Java, who starred in the Lite Shod Novice Specialty with Marcy in the saddle, Open Three-Year-Old with trainer Manuel Rodriquez and in the Junior Rider class teamed with Nadia Moeller. Dream's Magic Bum and Arnie Axler followed up their Scottsdale success with another Park Pleasure blue in the novice category for Arnie and Gwen Axler.

Chief Sierra and Manuel Rodriquez also did a Scottsdale repeat to earn the Spotted Saddle Horse English and Western blues for Frank and Linda Woodbury. Another spotted property from the Golden West reservation, Chief Battle Cry, landed the Trail PLeasure Novice ribbon with Tara Beck filling in at the last minute for the Hughes and Hofstee ownership.

The Utah-based Enchanted Gait contingent, which is always a welcome addition to any show, earned for well deserved blues for their road trip effort. WC Elegance Of Design was on her game for the Park Pleasure Open and Amateur Three-Year-Old recognition with Craig Swagerty and Bruce Lovato, respectively. Nancy Lovato has great expectations for her New Millennium Generator, who marched to the Lite Shod Amateur Three-Year-Old honors under Nancy's direction. The Lovato's lovely teenaged niece, Meredith, was letter perfect in the Park Pleasure Junior Rider victory with her very own Tiger Lily's Storm.

Eca McClure's Courtesy Stables team produced the Halter Grand Champion, Memory's Twist About, who also prevailed in the Yearling qualifier with Raul Pentes at the lead. Puentes also had the Model Champion in Delight's Midnight Threat, who is owned and promoted by Kathy Beard.

Sue Wittick's Step Aside Stables fielded winners in the Lite Shod Pleasure Open Stake with Allied Commander and Dana Kanstul for the Thomason and Wittick ownership, and with Lite Shod Pleasur Junior winners, The Gentleman Is Armed and Rebecca Themelis, who represented Kathy Atwater in the winner's cicle.

Jenny Earhart is doing a good job of training her Trail Pleasure mount, Royal Prince Charlie, who was recognized for the Western Amateur award, as well a the Halter Two and Over blue, both with Jenny at the controls.

For the complete show story, see the printed edition of Walking Horse Report dated April 15, 2002.