Scottsdale 2024: The Judges Speak


Above: Scottsdale Senior Champion Mare *Perfinka.
By Allyssa Baird

As featured in the Spring 2024 issue of Arabian Horse World.

Arabian Horse World caught up with some of the 2024 Scottsdale Arabian Horse Show judges. First-time Scottsdale judge, Ashley Toye, was elated by the experience. “This was unlike any other show I have judged before,” she says. “The quality was off the charts, and being center ring with so many judges was a unique experience.” 

Although not a horse that Ashley personally judged, there was a horse and rider team that stood out to her. “Katie Burr Solek and Starrboy’s performance was electrifying,” she gleamed. “The expression, talent, and connection between them was beyond impressive.” Another first-time Scottsdale judge, Bridget Fitzpatrick, agreed and noted the powerful Half-Arabian as a favorite.


9-year-old Starrboy is owned, bred, and shown by Katie Burr Solek of Temecula, California. He is sired by SF Specs Shocwave, and out of Dutch Harness Horse mare Petra C. “Scottsdale has always been the most magical show for me since I was a young girl.” Katie continues, “The energy, excitement, and passion for the Arabian horse make it so special. To show Starrboy in such an electric and thrilling environment will always be at the top of my list for most memorable rides.”

Starrboy and Katie Burr Solek.

Scottsdale Halter Panel 3 consisted of Bruce McCrea, Mike Beethe, and John Rannenberg. 2024 was Bruce’s eighth time judging the horse show, but the first in many years on the halter panel. John has judged four times but has attended since 1979 and has never missed a year. While this was Mike’s first time judging, he has competed since the 1980s and never missed a year. 

The consensus from Halter Panel 3 was the same. Senior Champion mare *Perfinka (Esparto x Perfirka) with Rodolfo Guzzo was an unforgettable and emotional final dance to an incredible career. She is owned by Abdulaziz Bin Saleh Bin Abdulaziz Rajhi of Al Rajhiat Stud and bred by Bialka State Stud in Poland.


The Junior Champion filly Bella Z (Dominic M x OFW Bella Mara) also made a memorable appearance with Carlinhos Souza for Sam Peacemaker of PCF Arabians who purchased Bella as a weanling from breeders Duke and Renae Mendel.

Scottsdale Senior Champion Mare *Perfinka.
Junior Champion Arabian Filly, Bella Z (Dominic M x OFW Bella Mara).
Owned by Sam Peacemaker. Bred by Duke and Renae Mendel.

First-time Scottsdale judge, Tyson Randle, found it fun and challenging to judge the Ranch Riding classes. “The youth classes tend to be my favorite,” he says. “Being a trainer and having coached many kids, I’m aware of the time, effort, and commitment by riders and parents. It’s nice to help bring the experience full circle for them.”

Gambler’s Choice winner AM Aqaba++// with Kristin Hardin.

Clint Sawyer has been in the Hunter/Jumper industry for 35 years. He’s judged everything from National Hunter Derbies and National Grand Prix Jumpers to short stirrup ponies. He judged the Sport Horse divisions at this year’s Scottsdale. “It’s always a pleasure to step into an Arabian horse show and see the quality of the Arabian Hunter evolving,” he says. “I look forward to the future of the sport within the purebred and Half-Arabian horses.” He also enjoyed watching the Gambler’s Choice class that was won by Kristin Hardin on AM Aqaba+++// (Bremervale Andronicus x AM Miss Missile) for owner Robin Clarke.

Van Jacobsen, David Mikosz, and Cathy Vescey were other judges who commented on their experiences at the show. They all agreed that the weather was exceptional, the volunteers and staff do an incredible job putting on a show that levels up each year, and judging on panels with other influential horsemen and women is icing on the cake.