2011 US Nationals News & Reviews, Monday
Story by Beth Ellen Hunziker
Welcome to NEWS & REVIEWS from the 2011 US National Arabian Horse Championships! This is it! This is the show everyone has been working toward - some for a year, some for even longer. The energy is fantastic and spirits are high. I've spoken with people who have been attending and competing at the show for more than 25 years. I've also met and spoke to some people who are here at the nationals for the very first time! Everyone is excited and happy to be here.
The halter and breeding classes of the show don't begin until Tuesday, the 25th, but there has been plenty of competition to see and enjoy. The performance classes are large and full of absolutely GORGEOUS and TALENTED horses. This show proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that the Arabian is still the most versatile, and beautiful, horse in the world. I love halter competition, but watching these riders - amateurs and professionals - and the bond they share with their horses is inspiring. Standing in the warm up area with friends while they prepared their horses, I could feel the earth move as the powerful horses cantered and trotted past. The energy, the smells of the horses, the colorful and elegant attire of the riders - it was magic! Watching the faces of the riders as they entered the arena, I could see a mix of emotions; concentration, determination, excitement, nerves, and total bliss! They exited with looks of personal satisfaction, appreciation, and pride for their accomplishments. Much to my surprise, and delight, I did not hear one negative comment from any riders, trainers or owners - even those who didn't make their cuts, commented, "We had a great ride. I am so proud of my horse and just to be here - what a blast!"
The Arabian performance horse offers something for everyone: the understated elegance of Western pleasure, the lovely tradition of a beautiful hunter, the sophistication of the Show Hack, the raw power and excitement of the English divisions. It is amazing to see the level of skill displayed by the riders and handlers of all ages. In fact, I spoke to one woman who candidly admitted she was into her 60's - she could have passed for 45! - but, this was her first national competition. She is living proof of my personal mantra, "It's never too late to live happily ever after!" Owning and competing with an Arabian horse, and even being a working member of this community, certainly brings joy to our lives like nothing else.
There is no doubt that the US National Championships is the premier event for performance competition. Sadly, the halter and breeding classes have been on a decline. However, with the assistance of some extremely dedicated members of the community, efforts have been made to enhance the experience in the halter arena, and hopefully bring back some of the glamour and excitement that made the halter classes - especially the Senior Mare and Senior Stallion championships on finals night - highlights of the show. Hopefully the festive atmosphere and ambiance will rise to the level of the quality of the horses being presented - which is still at an all time high. The halter classes, and the prestige of the title US National Champion, has once again drawn international champions from around the world to vie for the honor. But we will have to wait a bit more for that part of the show.
Until then, enjoy these pictures from the show. Check back everyday for a glimpse of what's going on around the show - outside the arena - because there is definitely a lot more going on for you to enjoy!
For show results visit: www.arabianhorses.org