2023 US NATIONALS JUDGES:
Reining/Ranch Horse/Cow & Herd Work
Canadian Halter Futurities
By Morgan Moore
As featured in the Winter 2024 issue of Arabian Horse World.
Arabian horses have been selectively bred for millennia to rise to the call of their human counterparts. Wars were waged and won upon their backs. Long, tenuous journeys were navigated with their assistance. Today, we have replaced battlefields with manicured show arenas, but our intuitive equine partners seem to sense the importance of weighty moments in our lives- an echo of their original charter. They synthesize our happiness and our sadness, and without question, they feel our nerves as we prepare for competition.
There is no question that the beautiful bay mare understood the importance of her performance when she trotted into Ford Truck for the Country English Pleasure Select Championship with Stuart Vesty, her owner, upon her back. Ears perked, intently listening, under the guiding hands of her rider, who emanated determination, joy, and love as he stood in the irons. When the pair was announced as having earned the Reserve National Championship, the emotion from the crowd was palpable. Rebecca Durr Vesty, who recently passed away, was originally slated to ride Olivia Pope (Come to Poppa x Natalie D) at US Nationals. Unfortunately, that dream was not realized before her passing. Thus, Stuart fulfilled her vision for her and sported a pink tie (in honor of Rebecca’s battle against breast cancer) alongside the multi-colored roses.
US Nationals is more than just another horse show with fabric roses and bronze statues. It’s often the apex of the stories that move the Arabian horse community. Every ring has a rider or handler with a cause, a memory, or a passion so inspirational that it fuels fellow enthusiasts to dream bigger. It’s also one of the rare opportunities to see the convergence of many disciplines in one location, which allows a greater sense of community to develop.
Stuart Vesty and Olivia Pope (Come to Poppa x Natalie D) as they “Rode for Rebecca” in Tulsa.
In the halter arena, Rodolfo Guzzo entered the ring after many months of being unable to compete due to injury. He returned with a vengeance to capture the title of US National Champion Senior Stallion with the enigmatic gray Brazillian import *El Jahez WH (Jiuliusz De Wiec x Chilli Pepper V) owned by the Romanian-based Danubius Arabians. *El Jahez WH was the last premier stallion of the late Lenita Perroy’s Haras Meia Lua, and he honored the tradition of his ancestor *Ali Jamaal, the cornerstone of Lenita’s program. This final jewel in her decorated crown as a breeder and Arabian horse owner paid homage to a life of significant contribution to the Arabian horse.
US National Champion Senior Stallion, Brazillian import *El Jahez WH (Jiuliusz De Wiec x Chilli Pepper V).
US National Champion Junior Stallion Aria Valiant (TS Khidam El Shawan x BH Beijings Velvet).
US National Champion Senior Mare Exxaltress (Excalibur EA x Vesperra).
US National Champion Junior Mare Wiezas Diamond ORA (Supreme Justice ORA x Wieza Noor ORA).
In the working western divisions, the 23-year-old Half-Arabian / Half-Warmblood Maurizio+// (Veneziano x Madam Magyar) owned by Patricia Gerdes, entered the ring for his final trip after a decorated show career. Maurizio embodies the versatility of the Arabian horse. He competed with owners, trainers, and youth riders, capturing National Championships in Dressage and Trail at Canadian Nationals, Youth Nationals, MidSummer Nationals, and US Nationals. This talented gelding has wins in Sport Horse under Saddle, Sport Horse in Hand, Training Level Dressage, First Level Dressage, Ranch Riding, English Trail, Western Trail, and Hunter Pleasure. His final ribbon was a 2023 US National Top 10 earned in English Trail AAOTR.
23-year-old Half-Arabian / Half-Warmblood Maurizio+// (Veneziano x Madam Magyar).
US National Champion Arabian English Pleasure AAOTR 19-49 Heirs Noble Love (Afires Heir x Noble Aphrodite).
The 14-year-old Heirs Noble Love (Afires Heir x Noble Aphrodite) had an unprecedented US Nationals. Not only did her championship roses in the Arabian English Pleasure AAOTR 19-49 make this a memorable event for her, but also that 4 of her offspring captured titles at this same show. Undulata’s First Love (x Undulata’s Nutcracker) was Champion HA/AA English Pleasure AAOTR Jackpot, and Champion HA/AA English Pleasure AAOTR 50 & Over, Prosuaded by Love (x Prosuasion) was National Champion Arabian English Pleasure Junior Horse, One True Love (x Inception) was Reserve National Champion Country English Pleasure Maturity, and Love and Roses REH (x Prosuasion) was National Top 10 in the English Pleasure Futurity.
In the AHPA class, established breeders Stella Bella Arabians made a mark with some of their first home-bred Hunter Pleasure horses to debut nationally. This diverse program continued their winning tradition in the halter ring by taking home multiple sets of National Champion roses in gelding and Half-Arabian halter, but it was the US National Championship won by Diva SBA (KM Bugatti x Major Primadonna) with Liz Bentley in the $100,000 AHPA Futurity that punctuated their commitment to breeding exceptional performance horses. Diva SBA was also named 2023 US National Reserve Champion in Performance Halter Mares AAOTH and 2023 US National Top 10 Hunter Pleasure Junior Horse. In this same class, Stella Bella also bred the 5th place winner Thor SBA (Inception x SF Marwhambra), who also captured a US National Top 10 in Performance Gelding Halter AAOTH. The AHPA class is a form-to-function competition focused on rewarding horses purpose-bred for the sport who exhibit the unique qualities of the Arabian horse. These individuals also capturing wins in halter further underscores how successful Stella Bella Arabians has been in accomplishing this goal.
US National Champion Arabian AHPA Futurity Diva SBA (KM Bugatti x Major Primadonna).
Endeavor TDF (PA Phoenix Kid x Wish Granted TDF) owned and bred and owned by Kentley Dean won National Champion in the Western Pleasure Select AATR and National Champion in Performance Mare Halter AAOTH.
Similarly, Endeavor TDF (PA Phoenix Kid x Wish Granted TDF) owned and bred and owned by Kentley Dean won National Champion in the Western Pleasure Select AATR class out of 46 entries and National Champion in Performance Mare Halter AAOTH out of 30 entries. Her incredible wins come on the heels of a 2022 US National Championship in Mare Breeding AAOTH and a Reserve Championship in Arabian Performance Mare Halter AAOTH. Kentley’s passion for the Arabian horse is palpable, as is her love for Endeavor’s sire, whom she also owns. Her beloved PA Phoenix Kid was able to uniquely secure Reserve National Champion Stallion AAOTH and Reserve Champion Performance Stallion Halter AAOTH with Kentley on the lead this October. This was the first time a stallion and his daughter captured Performance halter roses at the same event- a nod to the generational excellence of producing athletic and beautiful Arabian horses.
Kathy and Lindsay Williams own and operate a boutique breeding program in Texas called Legacy Arabians. For 20 years, they have bred horses that excel as show and pleasure horses. Together they train, ride, and show their own horses. It’s a labor of love. This year, Kathy announced her retirement from breeding, which made this show bittersweet. They will still show and promote the horses they have, but their focus on breeding is coming to a conclusion. This year, the mother-daughter pair celebrated Legacy bred horses winning 7 National Championships and Reserves in the trail arena captured by: Legacy Nitedance Kid+ (Midnte Pleasure L x Lilith D), Legacy Fire Dammage+// (Flame Ison x CSP Mamazing), Legacy Night Vixen (Midnte Pleasure L x Ebony), and Legacy Black Sabbath+++/ (Midnte Pleasure L x Legacy Silk Nitey).
Legacy Black Sabbath+++/ with Jim Hitt winning National Championships in Arabian Western Trail Junior Horse and Western Trail Futurity.
National Champion Arabian Working Cow AATR Amerikan Eagle+// (R CLassic Touch+++/ x State of Liberty) and Marlena Burns and National Champion Arabian Working Cow Horse EAF Hesa Artist (Hesa Zee+/ x Artymusme) and Eddie Ralston. Both horses are owned by Gary and Nancy Howard.
Family legacies are powerful at the National Show. Zee Triple Zee (Zee Impressive x Zee Trixie Lou) was the last horse ever bred by Trevor Miller’s grandfather and, perhaps, one of his greatest accomplishments as a breeder. Trevor has stewarded the horses from his family’s incredible 65-year-old breeding program. Trevor Miller continued the tradition of excellence at this year’s nationals by winning Arabian Reining Intermediate Non-Pro AAOTR, Reserve Champion Arabian Reining Intermediate, Top 10 Reining AAOTR Jackpot, and Top 10 Reining AAOTR on Zee Triple Zee. He represents generations of this program. Equally as impressive, this horse made history in 2022 by being the first Arabian to qualify for the Open Non-Pro in the prestigious “Run for a Million” reining event. Trevor’s efforts continue to yield opportunities for the Arabian horse to reach new people outside the industry.
In the western arena, Khohinoor MW (Kharismatic PGA x Ladys Dance) made his final appearance in the open western pleasure division. This dark, nearly black bay stallion won the Unanimous US National Championship on his final trip on the green shavings with Brett Becker. Supporters of the stallion donned purple in the stands, and his owner, Marta Wasiak, cheered him on the entire way. She dreamed of him before he was born. She purchased a breeding to his father and painstakingly searched and selected his beautiful dam. She has managed his career alongside Brett and Marjie Becker from the moment of his conception and her dedication to him is impossibly endearing. His win marks only the fourth Arabian to win open Championships at the Canadian Nationals, US Nationals, and Scottsdale Show.
National Champion Western Pleasure Khohinoor MW (Kharismatic PGA x Ladys Dance) makes his final show ring appearance.
In every arena, behind every photo, there is a story about a horse carefully crafted by a breeder, loved by an owner, and guided by a trainer. Each horse has a team that readied him or her, carefully groomed and trained, and meticulously obsessed over every detail of their preparation. Each journey can inspire an aspiring equine enthusiast. Covering all the moments that evoked powerful emotions throughout this show would be impossible. If you haven’t had the opportunity to experience the show, a story is waiting to find you from US Nationals and encourage you in your journey with the Arabian horse.