GoSmart with Charlie & Jason: Celebrating 25 Years with Client, Harriet Yakatan
GoHorseShow, in partnership with SmartPak, is pleased to continue the highly popular column, GoSmart with Charlie and Jason. Team SmartPak riders, Charlie Cole and Jason Martin have achieved success beyond compare. Since founding Highpoint Performance Horses in 1992, they have trained over 100 World Champions and 200 All-American Quarter Horse Congress Champions.
Exclusive to GoHorseShow, GoSmart with Charlie and Jason give you access to these top trainers like never before. Charlie and Jason have a long track record of successfully finding the perfect horse for their client and have built a reputation in the industry as being great matchmakers. Their next GoSmart column deals with their special 25 year relationship with their long-time client, Harriet Yakatan. Cole and Martin have an outstanding ability to match the ideal horse with the appropriate client, and Harriet is no exception.
Almost 25 years ago, Harriet Yakatan became a client of Charlie Cole, who was located in Chino Hills, California. Harriet did not become involved with horses until she was in her forties, so she was a late bloomer. However, it didn’t take her long to become one of Cole’s best clients and one of his best friends.
Cole immediately secured a new game plan for Harriet and found her a new horse named The Yellow Page. In 1993, one year after Charlie and Jason formed Highpoint Performance Horses, Harriet showed at the All-American Quarter Horse Congress (pictured right with Cole and Martin) and Jason Martin won his very first AQHA World Championship title, not surprisingly in Junior Western Riding. He was also Reserve World Champion in Trail on Harriet’s new mount. Over the last 25 years, Martin has won several Congress and World Championships for Harriet as well as Harriet, herself, has had Top 10s at the Congress.
Throughout the past 25 years, Harriet has been fortunate to have owned and shown amazing horses over the years including: Harley D Zip, Mr Rusty Moon, RL Tune Up, The Yellow Page, Pars Silver Bar, GPS Legal Version, Potential Advantage, and All A Glow to name a few.
Harriet grew up on the East Coast but has lived almost three decades on the West Coast. When she moved to California with her husband, they bought a mini farm and that’s how she finally got involved with horses. Her daughter got a pony and Harriet took some English riding lessons and then switched to western.
“I was a true novice in my forties,” Harriet recalls. “We were stuck in with the amateurs because they didn’t have a novice program back then. It was tough competing with the young riders, but Charlie and Jason never put any pressure on me. They want the selects to have fun. I think these days they are more excited when their clients do well, more than themselves. They have kept their ego in check and have stayed true to themselves. They are very hard workers and became successful the old fashioned way– through hard work and staying grounded.”
Harriet believes strongly that Charlie and Jason have been successful largely due to the way they treat their clients. “Nobody really leaves. I keep saying I’m tired and I’m going to retire from showing but I’m still here,” Harriet says. “They want their clients to be true horseman. They share their knowledge and they don’t want their riders to be in the dark. They want everyone to be educated and their riders to be hands on.”
Harriet also believes that, “One of their strengths is matching horses to their riders. They never match green riders with green horses. They will find you a safe horse appropriate to your skill as a rider, and they give you the tools to build your confidence and be successful in the show pen. I’m very proud to call Jason and Charlie my friends and it has been a fun 25 years watching them succeed in all aspects of the horse industry.”
Cole and Martin mention that most of the funny stories they have from the horse shows all revolve around their good friend, Harriet.
“She’s like a female version of Mr. Magoo,” Jason Martin says and laughs. “Everyone loves Harriet. She’s a little Jewish lady and she is quite a character. She has a big personality who likes to talk to everyone. She is in tune with what’s going on in her world, but is pretty much oblivious to what’s going on around her.”
In case you are too young to know about Mr. Magoo; he is a cartoon character created in the late 40s. Mr. Magoo is a wealthy, short-statured retiree who gets into a series of comical situations as a result of his nearsightedness, compounded by his stubborn refusal to admit the problem. However, through uncanny streaks of luck, the situation always seems to work itself out for him, leaving him no worse than before.
“Harriet is just like Mr. Magoo because she causes mischief but never seems to get hurt or intentionally cause it,” Martin explains. “It would be like her to walk down a barn aisle completely oblivious to the fact that horses are trying to kick her but they miss her every time. She always comes out on the other end unscathed and unaware that she was even in danger.”
Martin adds, “I remember one time at the AQHA World Show when she came out of the bathroom with a long piece of toilet paper tucked in her pants. It was trailing behind her, and she was walking everywhere with it. She walked through the warm up pen several times with it, but we never told her. She never realized it was there! Her life really needs to be made into a sitcom.”
Cole and Martin shared a few other funny memories involving Harriet. “I remember one time when we first started and Charlie was giving Harriet a lesson,” recalled Martin. “Her first horse, The Yellow Page, was an AQHA World Champion western rider. Harriet had seen the pattern hundreds of times. All Charlie wanted her to do was go down the line and weave the cones. He didn’t want her changing leads; his instructions were just to go from one side to the other. Apparently they didn’t teach how to weave in college where Harriet went to school. After about the 100th try, Charlie’s voice was getting louder and louder and his face was getting redder, and he was so frustrated that he slammed his hat down on the ground and said, ‘How can you not know how to weave cones, you have a college degree!’ Finally, Harriet stopped and told him, ‘Charlie Cole, if you have the time, I have the money!’ Charlie laughed and said, ‘Do it again!’ Charlie admits that wasn’t one of his finer coaching moments, but still to this day we all get a great laugh from it.”
One of Cole’s favorite Harriet stories involves her showing in the showmanship one day. “This was when they still lined up and showed side by side and came out of the line. The Yellow Page wasn’t very good in the showmanship and Harriet didn’t care for it much either, but she was attempting to show in it.”
Cole continues, “For some reason she was in her own little world and when the judge nodded, she thought he was nodding at her. However, he was actually nodding at the exhibitor next to her, but Harriet proceeded to trot out too, so, there are two different ladies coming toward the judge at once,” Cole recalls. “She was completely oblivious that it wasn’t her time to go. The judge jokingly asked her if she had her coffee this morning. Needless to say that was the end of her showmanship career,” Charlie adds and laughs.
Martin adds, “Harriet is like our Goodwill Ambassador. She has always had our back and we trust each other completely. I think that is why we have been friends for so long. She also had a great set of eyes and is very knowledgeable about the horses, and I value her opinion. She doesn’t begrudge us and has always wanted us to be successful. She is more like family and I know she is proud of us. There have been times when we have bought her several horses sight unseen. We have genuine respect for each other and that’s one of the reasons why our relationship has lasted through the years.”
GoHorseShow talked to some of Harriet’s friends who happen to also be Highpoint clients: Tammy Dyer, Bonnie Sheren, and Kerry Papendick. They all shared some thoughts about their beloved friend, Harriet.
Harriet and Bonnie Sheren have been friends for about 23 years. They met when Sheren brought a horse to Charlie and Jason when they were living in Chino Hills, California.
“Harriet and I hit it off right away and became close friends,” Bonnie (pictured far right) remembers. However, Sheren soon got out of horses due to other things going on in her life. “About five years ago when I was wanting to get back into showing, I knew I had to call her for advice. We reconnected and it was like we never were apart. We have been traveling to shows together ever since. It is amazing that we ever even make it to the show grounds because we always get lost no matter where we are or how many times we’ve been there before. It usually starts in the rental car center when we can’t find the way out and then proceeds throughout the trip. We ask Siri, Google maps, get directions from real people and Mapquest, but it doesn’t matter. We can get lost driving in a straight line with no turns. When we are not cursing at Siri, we are cracking each other up all the time!”
Tammy Dyer also remembers a funny memory at the Congress involving Harriet. “She was in warm up area about to jog in. A lady was going in front of her and all of a sudden, she decided to go,” Dyer recalls. “She didn’t even see the lady she ran over. After class she said, ‘Did you see that lady cut me off?’ We died laughing. I don’t even remember who it was. But I do remember Jason apologized to the lady. Harriet meant no harm. She just gets tunnel vision and doesn’t know what is going on around her. We all love her very very much. Harriet is the best.”
Kerry Papendick who owned the legendary Harley D Zip (pictured above left and right) later in his career tells us about the first time she saw Harley and Harriet together.
“My first sighting of both Harley D Zip and Harriet (pictured right) occurred at the same time. We were at the Oklahoma City fairgrounds with our then trainer, Troy Compton. Cyndi Compton told us that Harriet Yakatan was riding a super cool horse and to go watch it. This horse was Harley,” Papendick remembers. “The memory makes me smile because as I watched this beautiful bay horse go around the warm up pen I couldn’t help but notice that the rider (Harriet) was slightly top heavy and seemed to be swaying from side to side on the horse. She was not the least bit bothered by her riding style and neither was Harley. They were a winning team in my books from then on. We love Harriet and Harley, forever, like family.”