Cori Cansdale was the Level 3 Youth Circuit Champion in the western riding and showmanship and won the L3 14-18 All-Around. Photo © Cori Cansdale

Final Report from Sun Circuit with Mallory Vroegh

Editor’s Note: GoHorseShow debuted a “guest reporter for a day” series at last year’s Congress and AQHA World Show where exhibitors and trainers reported on exciting things that went on during the show. It was a huge success, so we decided it would be fun to do it again from the 2018 Sun Circuit in Scottsdale. Read our final report here from youth exhibitor, Mallory Vroegh.

Final Report – Youth Exhibitor, Mallory Vroegh of Granger, Iowa

Well it’s a wrap from Arizona. It was a huge show with fierce competition and great prizes. One of the toughest things to deal with showing horses as a youth is missing school. It is tough to get back into the groove of school after a long week of practicing, showing and traveling.

I talked to four of my fellow competitors to see how they handle juggling school and showing. Unfortunately, we all had to leave the beautiful views and weather in Arizona and head back to reality.

Read how some of the top youth win in both school and on horseback.

Cori Cansdale

Q: Did you miss school for the show?
A: Yes.

Q: How do you manage makeup work/missed tests?
A: I give teachers papers and work beforehand, and they tell me what homework I will miss. I do tests when I get back, and I have friends send notes.

Q: How did you do at the show?
A: I did pretty well. I was Level 3 Youth Circuit Champion in the western riding and showmanship and won the L3 14-18 All-Around. I loved the beautiful weather, and that it was a big show with a lot of my friends attending.

Q: What are your thoughts on missing school for a show?
A: I like missing, every teenager does. It’s hard to keep up with the work, but it’s worth it. If you are conscious of your work, it’s not that bad.

Q: Favorite classes for both?
A: Showmanship and horsemanship and school is English and History.

Giorgia Medows of Missouri

Q: Did you miss school for the show?
A: Yes, three days.

Q: How do you manage makeup work/missed tests?
A: I work out prearranged absences with my school. I go and get work ahead and then ask if they did anything extra and stay after to make up tests.

Q: How did you do at the show?
A: I have a new horse, Lover Treat Me Good. He’s green in horsemanship and we’ve come far and had great patterns at Sun Circuit. He’s teaching me a lot about the trail. It’s been a fun experience to learn something new.

Q: What are your thoughts on missing school for a show?
A: It can be hard with pressure from both sides. It is hard to miss school because there’s a lot to make up, but it’s great for learning to manage time.

Q: Favorite classes for both?
A: Horsemanship and English Comp.

Natalia DeVencenty of Vineland, Colorado

Q: Did you miss school for the show?
A: No, I attend an online school.

Q: How do you manage makeup work/missed tests?
A: I make sure I don’t get behind, and I make time to meet deadlines.

Q: How did you do at the show?
A: It is my favorite horse show, and I did well with my all-around horse, Chex Is The Choice, and my new horse, Moonlite Madnez was circuit champion in the L1 Trail and also the NSBA Riders Cup Champion in that class.

Q: What are your thoughts on missing school for a show?
A: It is more difficult, but if you have the passion for it, you have to work for it. If you don’t, there’s no coming back.

Q: Favorite classes for both?
A: Horsemanship and English.

Caroline Nielson of Las Vegas, Nevada

Q: Did you miss school for the show?
A: Yes

Q: How do you manage makeup work/missed tests?
A: When I go back, I spend a lot of time after school and talk to teachers before I leave to get work and take tests when I get home. A lot of the time, I don’t have time during shows to do homework, so I do a lot at the hotel.

Q: How did you do at the show?
A: I won the backup race. Trail was enjoyable although it was raining, and I did well in the western riding. We show paints mostly and just recently started showing BMQ The Jig Is Up and The Only Kiss To Envy at AQHA shows. This show was a good experience on the AQHA side of things. I was circuit champion in L2 HUS 14-18 with BMQ The Jig Is Up and L2 14-18 Western Riding With The Only Kiss To Envy.

Q: What are your thoughts on missing school for a show?
A: It is worth it. The show was long and I got a lot of experience. It’s hard to make stuff up, but all of the hard work pays off in the end.

Q: Favorite classes for both?
A: Trail and horsemanship and math.

Thanks girls for letting me interview you. Well, that’s it from Scottsdale! Everyone, please travel home safe and see you all down the road.

DAY 8 – Amateur Exhibitor, Julie Hoefling of Cave Creek, Arizona

Jody Peardon and her horse, Zippin Down The Range, show in the Level 1 Amateur All-Around events and just made their debut in the showmanship at this show.

The Arizona Sun Circuit started out as another sunny, beautiful desert day. To the surprise of many of us on the show grounds, the clouds rolled in, the wind picked up, and the rain started to come in the afternoon. For those who have attended this show in the past, you know it isn’t a day at the Sun Circuit without a little (or a lot) of rain.

The weather didn’t dampen the competitive spirit which you could feel pumping through WestWorld. Today was the last set of judges in some of the most significant classes at the Sun Circuit, and many circuit winners were announced in showmanship, horsemanship, pleasure, and trail.

We spoke with three competitors who all had wins of another kind. They didn’t come home with a circuit trophy this year but were all working on personal growth and took on the brave feat of making their debut in a new class at one of the country’s largest shows.

We found Jody Peardon taking cover from the rain under an overhang and asked her about some accomplishments she had this week. Jody trains with Kip Larson Performance Horses and came to the Sun Circuit all the way from Canada.

Jody and her horse Zippin Down the Range show in the Level 1 Amateur All-Around events and just made their debut in the showmanship at this show. Jody told us how proud she was to be Top 5 and Top 10 in this class this week, especially because her horse is so green at this event.

We also talked with Jeanne Kavanaugh also from Canada, who shows under the guidance of Becky George Show Horses. Jeanne caught our eye in the Level 1 Select Amateur Pleasure because of her beaming smile and consistent ride, and we knew we had to find out more about her. She and her show partner, Suddenly Best Vested made their debut in the pleasure this week.

After much success in the Open classes last year with Becky, Jeanne was excited to have her dream come to life by showing this horse. Jeanne also shared with us that this has been a bittersweet week for her as she just lost the horse’s mother on Tuesday. After such an emotional event, Jeanne with thrilled to come away with Top 10s after a great ride in the pleasure today.

Libby Haydon, who recently switched disciplines from western pleasure to ranch riding, stepped up and made her debut in the L1 Select Amateur Ranch Riding. Libby shows with Kail Quarter Horses and had great success in performance halter and western pleasure before her purchase of Bringing Booty Back.

She and Booty have only been together for two shows, but Libby told us how excited she was to show this mare and how blessed she feels to be able to own her. Libby and her mare have been an instant fit and Libby was particularly proud of a great pattern in ranch riding at a huge show right in her backyard.

At a show as prestigious as the Arizona Sun Circuit, with big winners, big prizes and big classes, it can be easy to overlook some of the “smaller wins” that so many exhibitors are working towards every time they step in the show pen. One thing that is a common thread throughout West World is the love the exhibitors have for their horses and the determination each one has to get their win. Congratulations to all the winners on their accomplishments at this great show.

DAY 7 – Amateur Exhibitor, Lena Sailor of Albany, Oregon

The end of the day Friday signaled a wrap for Show 2. The day seemed to hold a high intensity for all, no matter which arena you found yourself.

Hunter under saddle started the day off, followed by a pattern chock full of transitions in the hunt seat equitation. While we are all so grateful for the beautiful sunshine (no one more than the web-toed Oregonians), it was good timing to wrap up the trotting around in wool coats just as we headed into the afternoon and the temperatures rose.

From the front of Barns A and B, one could spectate the youth classes showing off their showmanship skills in the Smartpak Arena while sipping a much-needed cup of coffee. Halter classes followed and did not disappoint with some great looking geldings and mares of this powerful breed we love so much. The youth finished off the day with some English, western riding and ranch riding of their own.

Taking a stroll down the row of barns with the sun warming your back brought you to Arenas 5 and 5a where two of the most popular events of any Quarter Horse Show could be found; western riding and trail. In the outside pen, Western Riding Pattern 4 was repeated by some of the industry’s best throughout the day.

Intense concentration represented by the blank stares of those spectating proved that it was easy to get lost in a cadence and rhythm interrupted only by the throw of toes as bays, sorrels, blacks and greys showed their best.

Under the shade of Arena 5a, the experienced pros showed us how it is done all day today in the Senior Trail. One hundred and fifty horses steered and floated their way through a tight course hoping for a run that would get their name called. Activity in the trail pen was kicked up a notch as western riders used the long center to change a few last-minute leads, or just stand out of the sun, and selects and amateurs got their chance at the course on the other side of the pen.

Much time was spent under the bright lights pouring over results printouts and score sheets. Further analysis and reflection brought strategizing and counting points, then practicing and preparing for the last chance of this circuit to finish strong.

As a newbie to this show, it is easy to notice joy and smiles as you walk around the property. The quality and grandeur of West World combined with the Scottsdale weather create the perfect pairing for an event that fully allows the fun and community of our sport to show itself.

Familiar sights include chair-filled tents full of people with their dogs nearby chatting the hours of waiting away, seemingly endless aisles housing our equine partners resting and relaxing in their stalls and dust-caked faces smiling through the exhaustion with the anticipation for one more chance to try and do their best.

Taking this all in is a powerful reminder to be present and enjoy these incredible animals, moments and experiences. Beyond all the points, trophies and buckles are the chance to get together, take a run at showing off the hours of hard work we pour into our passion and, at the end, be better driving out of the gates than we were when we came in.

Take a look at a few more pictures that Lena took during the show.

DAY 6 – Amateur exhibitor, Gabi Salamone of Scottsdale, Arizona

Thursday, March 8 was the second day of Amateur Showmanship, Western Pleasure, Western Riding and Horsemanship at the Arizona Sun Circuit. It was also the first day of youth classes: they ran western pleasure, horsemanship and trail in the separate youth arena.

It was another warm day in Scottsdale. With temperatures peaking at around 80 degrees, we saw some slight cloud cover in the afternoon but didn’t have a single drop of rain. It was the perfect day to wear tank tops to try to even out some unsightly tan lines or to slather on some Aloe. I’ve seen quite a few unlucky exhibitors and trainers rocking some unfortunate-looking sunburns.

Many who participated in the donkey races last night were spotted at the fairgrounds nursing hangovers and bruised egos. It was great to see the stands packed with people; the spectators were having almost as much fun as the donkey jockeys. Coupled with the outstanding $25,000 that was raised for the NSBA Crisis Fund, it was the most fun night of the show so far. It was well-worth the painful early wake-up call most of us got this morning.

There was, of course, a lot of work to be done for trainers to prepare both their amateur and youth exhibitors in multiple show arenas for numerous events today. With substantial class sizes and high caliber competition, this show continues to be a great place to see where you and your horse stand as a team when you’re up against an arena full of World and Congress champions.

Chelsea Carlson, a longtime competitor and trainer from Eugene, Oregon, is attending this show for the first time as a trainer with clients. She states, “My first impression of the show was the number of high-end horses and quality competition. It’s an environment where you can be watching a class that could easily be the finals go at a world show.”

It’s certainly nice to compete against the big names early in the year. It allows exhibitors and trainers to channel their strengths and single out the weaknesses that they want to work on throughout the show season.

Carlson also remarked on the fact that, “The atmosphere is great, as they hold events throughout each day, and the facility gives everyone plenty of room to practice.”

It’s true that the management team for this horse show goes above and beyond to make time in the day for fun. The bouncy horse race this morning was one of many exciting and hilarious competitions one can expect here this week.

With so many classes and exhibitors, it’s not surprising that the horsemanship ran into the night once again today. But, watching the sunset over the mountains after a long day of riding and showing was not exactly a disappointment for us here at the show. There’s a reason this show will always be my favorite one of the year.

Despite the busy schedule, I highly encourage everyone who’s in town to go out and see Scottsdale if they get a chance. We have beautiful hiking trails (the McDowell Mountains are a few blocks away from the show and Camelback Mountain is about 20 minutes down the road), museums and fun attractions such as the Odysea Aquarium, Top Golf, the Phoenix Zoo and the Desert Botanical Gardens. Enjoy this city while you’re here if you can find the time.

Day 5 – Youth exhibitors, Natalia DeVencenty and Brooke Jolstad of Colorado

It was another day in paradise here at the Arizona Sun Circuit and the second and final day of the NSBA Riders Cup. That kicked off early this morning with Kina Tavery winning the Novice Non-Pro showmanship with Pass The Black Gold, Scott Reinartz winning the Non-Pro Showmanship with Investin A Goodbar and Teresa Kohman winning the Select Amateur Showmanship with Im Pretty Lazy.

From there, the competition went to western riding where Kristen Galyean dominated with VS Lady In Red, winning the Junior and the Non-Pro western riding. Jason Martin and Hez A Radical Zip were the winners in the Senior Western Riding, and Katherine Tobin with VS Game Changer won the Amateur Select Western Riding.

The trail started with Kina Tavery racking up her second win of the day with Pass The Black Gold, this time in Novice Non-Pro Trail. Whitney Walquist Vicars and Southwestern Gunman had a beautiful go to win the Non-Pro Trail. Wrapping up the trail for the day was the Amateur Select Trail where Joanne Garnett and Hes Pretty Extreme took the win.

Next, horsemanship was up. Ella Petak and Gettin Hot won the Novice Non-Pro, and Mallory Vreogh with Krympsun Belle were the winners in the Non-Pro Horsemanship. Johnnie On The Spot and Hillary Roberts were the big winners of the 3 and four-year-old Non-Pro Western Pleasure. Hubbout A Dance and Alicia Porter won the Non-Pro Hunter Under Saddle, and Better Late Than Never with Tiina Volmer were the Limited Non-Pro Hunter Under Saddle Winners. (pictured right)

The $2,500 Limited Horse Open Western Pleasure winners were The Production Line and Angie Cannizzaro. Brody Galyean was the winner of the Limited Non-Pro Western Pleasure. Kirstin Galyean racked up yet another win, this time in Non-Pro Western Pleasure with VS Lady In Red.

I had a blast showing in the riders cup today, and I’m very thankful to have it here at the Sun Circuit.

After the Riders Cup was over, the donkeys were brought in, and it was time for the teams to get ready to ride. There were ten teams, and each team was auctioned off to support the NSBA Crisis Fund, which raised just under 25,000 dollars. After the auction, each rider on each team would get the chance to ride the donkeys around the course and back to the finish line.

Ten donkey and rider combinations would race at one time. It became apparent very quickly which donkeys were going to participate and which donkeys were not fond of the idea. There was one particular donkey that I believe remained untamed by the end of the day.

During the first heat of riders, everyone stayed back and scoped out which donkeys were the best and which were the not wanting to participate variety, but by the end of the second heat, air horns were blowing, flags waving and hats flying just to get these donkeys going. It was a full house with everyone staying to see who was going to succeed in the ever so challenging donkey races.

At the end of the day, the winning team was the D Designs Donkey Dazzlers which had the expertise of Jeff Mellott, Becky George, Brad Ost, Mirko Muller and Nick Roupp to guide them into first place. (pictured left)

Tomorrow the Amateur, Select, and Open classes will resume, and the Youth classes will begin. Good luck to everyone competing!

Take a look at a fun video from the Donkey Races on Wednesday.


DAY 4 – Amateur exhibitor, Hillary Roberts of Pilot Point, Texas

This is Hillary Roberts reporting from the Arizona Sun Circuit! Today kicked off the NSBA Riders Cup here in Scottsdale. The purse, estimated to be $75,000, will be shared between the owner of the horse exhibited and the professional rider/trainer associated with the entry.

For those not familiar with the NSBA Riders Cup program, according to NSBA, “It hosts an annual event designed to award substantial and sustainable purses to NSBA Non-Pro members and their professional trainers.”

The Riders Cup offers prize money in western pleasure, hunter under saddle, trail, western riding, showmanship, western horsemanship and hunt seat equitation events. I was able to catch up with some of the big NSBA Riders Cup winners of the day, Katie Buff, and Bill Cox.

The winner of the Three and Four Year Old Non-Pro Hunter Under Saddle was Katie Buff aboard Only After You, a three-year-old sorrel gelding by Blazing Hot and out of Congress Champion mare, Only Ever After. Capital Quarter Horses raised the gelding, and this was his first horse show. It’s been seven years since Katie has been in the show pen. Buff used to show paint horses but stopped showing when she attended Auburn University where she was on the NCEA equestrian team.

We asked Katie what she thought about her ride. “It was great. He is a soft, easy horse to show, which makes it fun. His potential is huge. He wouldn’t go slow enough to do the western pleasure. So, one day when I was watching him, I thought we should make him a hunt seater. We started pushing him, and he has been great ever since. Once we made that decision, I started doing most of the work on him.”

Bill Cox of Paris, Ontario, Canada topped the Select Western Pleasure class on his six-year-old mare, Sleep Machine. “She was just relaxed and cruised around for me. She was very smooth and soft today,” said Bill of his ride. (pictured right)

Reserve in the Select Western Pleasure was Susan Roberts aboard Only A Breeze. This mare, affectionately known as “Abby,” has been going strong for several years and continues to remain at the top of her game.

Tomorrow continues the NSBA Riders Cup with more great classes and events. Good luck, exhibitors!

DAY 3 – Amateur exhibitors, Carey Nowacek of Texas and Johnna Letchworth-Clark of North Dakota

New year, new horses. We sat down with a few of the industry’s top competitors to hear about their new partners for the upcoming show season.

First up was Kaleena Weakly and her horse, HP Prime Time, “Cooper”
We ran over to Jason and Jessica Gilliam’s stalls and caught Kaleena.

Hi Kaleena! So tell us more about Cooper? How old is he and how long have you had him?
Cooper is four years old, and I have had him since the end of his two-year-old year.

What did he do before you purchased him? 
He showed one pleasure class. (laughs)

What are you showing him in at the Sun Circuit? 
We will be showing here in showmanship and trail. He showed in the western riding with Jason Martin today for the first time, and Jason Gilliam will show him in the trail.

What do you like about Cooper?
I like that he is Uber-talented in many events, and I’m excited to get back in the western riding. He also has lots expression, so that makes him show great.

What are your goals this year?
I would like to get him finished in the western riding and show him as much as possible while trying to not get in his way. We are already qualified for the Junior Trail.

If he were a celebrity, who would he be?
Tim Tebow because he is an all-around athlete, and he’s good looking.

What’s your favorite thing about Cooper?
He likes to cuddle.

After Kaleena, we found Angela Fox.
Angela Leigh Fox and her horse, HP The Rusty Fox, “Rusty”

Hi Angela! So tell us about Rusty. How old is he and how long have you had him?
Rusty is three, and I have had him since August of last year. Darren Putnam sent me a picture of him, and I bought him off of a picture.

What did he do before you purchased him? 
He had never been shown. He was in training to show in the 2’s at the Congress, but we bought him before he was shown.

What are you showing him in at the Sun Circuit? 
I am showing here in showmanship, halter, equitation, and hunter under saddle.

What do you like about Rusty?
I like everything about Rusty. He’s beautiful and kind, and he’s big and pretty. Things are easy for him, so it makes things easy for me.

What are your goals this year?
To qualify for a few classes. I am qualified in the hunter under saddle and equitation. I may do some three-year-old hunt seat futurities, and I want to further his career as an all-around horse.

If Rusty were a celebrity who would he be?
Someone who is not vain but is very good at everything. I’m thinking Ryan Reynolds. He’s a good guy that does the right thing but is also super talented.

What’s your favorite thing about Rusty?
His willingness to do anything we ask him to do and with a smile.

Next, we grabbed newer amateur competitor, Kaylee Mellott.
Kaylee Mellott and her horse, Zippin A Breeze, “Daniel”

Hi Kaylee! Tell us about your new horse. How old is Daniel and how long have you had him? 
He is five years old, and I have had him since December of 2017.

What had Daniel done before you got him? 
He had done the pleasure before we got him with Alex Chavez. He was Reserve at the Congress with Aaron Moses as a two year old and third at the AQHA World Show. He was also showing in the trail.

What are you showing in here? 
I’m showing in the horsemanship, pleasure, and trail.

What do you like about Daniel?
He’s willing. Tries hard and never wants to cheat you.

What are your goals this year?
To get better every ride and to get qualified for the AQHA World Show and show there.

If Daniel were a celebrity who would he be?
The YouTube star who says “Damn Daniel.” A skater, really laid back.

What’s your favorite thing about Daniel?
I like how chill he is, and he’s adorable.

Next up, we spoke with Natalia DeVencenty.
Natalia DeVencenty and her horse, Moonlite Madnez, “Moonie”

Hi Natalia! How old is Moonie, and how long have you had him?
He is four years old, and I have had him since August.

What did he do before you purchased him? 
He did the futurity western pleasure classes with Aaron Moses.

What are you showing him in at the Sun Circuit? 
We are showing here in Non-Pro Western Pleasure and Non-Pro Trail for the NSBA Rider Cup. We are going to start showing the all-around events, hopefully, in April.

What do you like about Moonie?
I love that he doesn’t know the all-around stuff, so I get to teach him our way and the way we like it, our buttons.

What are your goals this year?
I hope we grow as a team. We plan to show at the Youth World in the western pleasure and trail.

If Moonie were a celebrity who would he be?
He thinks he’s pretty cool, so probably Justin Timberlake.

What’s your favorite thing about Moonie?
So many things. Super lovable, he loves to be loved.

Finally up is Parris Rice and her horse, Almost Invited, “Nate”

Hi Parris! How old is Nate and how long have you had him?
Nate is three, and I have had him right at a year.

What did he do before you purchased him? 
He knew nothing. He was going to be a pleasure futurity horse, but we bought him before he started his pleasure career.

What are you showing him in at the Sun Circuit? 
I am showing here in the showmanship, halter, horsemanship, and equitation. My mom will be showing him in Green Junior trial.

What do you like about Nate?
He is super smart and willing to be on your team and very trainable. He is also sweet, goofy and gorgeous.

What are your goals this year?
To be a little better every time we go in and finish qualifying in all of my events. I wasn’t planning on it, but now, I think it can happen, and that’s very exciting.

If Nate were a celebrity who would he be?
John Stamos – pretty with good hair.

What’s your favorite thing about Nate?
His forelock. (laughs) Just kidding. My favorite thing is how smart he is. He’s bright with great hair. Can I have a boyfriend like him?

Thanks, Parris.

Good luck to all of these ladies and their new partners!

DAY 2- Youth exhibitor, Kathryn Bunting of Wichita, Kansas

Pictured here left to right are Johnna Letchworth-Clark, Brooke Ingstad and Vicki Ingstad having fun with a selfie stick in Arizona.

Fun in the Sun: Kick off to the Sun Circuit

The Arizona Quarter Horse Association’s Sun Circuit started Saturday and is now in full swing. According to AQHA, the Sun Circuit came in as the second largest show in 2017, sliding in after the All-American Quarter Horse Congress.

If you get the chance to walk around the West World of Scottsdale, this ranking is readily believed. With multiple arenas running, vendors and exhibitors from across the nation and some of the fiercest competition in the industry, the Sun Circuit is an impressive sight.

This prompts the question, what makes the Sun Circuit so popular? I asked around, and it seems there is one answer that trumps them all: the sun.

Today, it was sunny and 70 degrees. The perfect springtime weather. The rest of the week is predicted to reach up into the low 80s, with a 0% chance of rain. Exhibitors, trainers, and horses alike are ready to shed their coats and blankets to soak up some of this desert sun.

Vicki Ingstad, an exhibitor from North Dakota, estimates this is her twelfth time attending the Sun Circuit, and she was unequivocal about her favorite part. “It’s warm and sunny here, and cold where we’re from.”

This appreciation for the beautiful weather was heartily echoed across the fairgrounds. Even though people raved about the weather, they were at no loss to heap other praises on the Sun Circuit.

A show of this magnitude comes with plenty of other benefits. Renowned horse trainer Terry Cross, a 15-time veteran of the Sun Circuit, put it best. “The Sun Circuit shows us some of the industry’s standards, and where we’re at. It also shows us some new trends; what’s coming, and what’s going.”

One only has to sit down at any one of the arenas and watch to see excellence. Many exhibitors spend hours in the saddle, all in preparation for this show. The dedication to our sport is artistically put on display in the ring.

Across all divisions, exhibitors vie for the prestigious honor of being crowned the class winner, circuit champion and even all-around. And who can blame them? Those who perform well at the Sun Circuit had to out-ride the top exhibitors in our industry. Champions at the Sun Circuit not only take home a title, but great pride knowing that they succeeded at the highest level (oh, and some pretty sweet circuit and all-around awards, too).

Being here in sunny Scottsdale, one can’t help but feel a sense of gratitude. In today’s world, with so many things keeping us inside, the opportunity to ride outside in beautiful outdoor arenas under the sun is a refreshing reprieve from daily life. We get to spend a week with friends, both four and two-legged, participating in a sport that is our passion. As I sit on my horse, gazing across the arena to the jagged mountain horizon of Scottsdale, I can’t help but think what a blessing the Sun Circuit is.

View this fun time-lapse video of the Novice Select Amateur Horsemanship


Day 1 – Amateur exhibitor, Lisa Mazurka of Sutton, Massachusetts 

Arizona Sun Circuit 2018 Begins

Today is the official kick-off/first day of the Arizona Quarter Horse Association’s Sun Circuit Horse Show. Sun Circuit is a favorite horse show among many exhibitors and trainers. So what makes this horse show tick and what do exhibitors and trainers have to look forward to this year?

I had the pleasure of sitting down with Doug Huls, Arizona Quarter Horse Association’s CEO, to ask these questions first hand.

Doug noted “We believe the show is larger than last year. We are up 50-60 stalls compared to 2017.”

Doug also shared some of the fun events that are planned this year for exhibitors. “There are numerous sponsored exhibitor parties planned. Susie Johns will be sponsoring an exhibitors party along with the NSBA Riders Cup on Wednesday night. Also, there will be a free lunch sponsored by stallions, Mechanic, Indefinate and Definitely All That.

I asked Doug if there was anything newly added to Sun Circuit or changes to the show. He shared that the show will be holding The NSBA Riders Cup event on Wednesday. The Riders Cup is an annual event where non-pro exhibitors and professional trainers compete to win prize money in Western Pleasure, Hunter Under Saddle, Trail, Western Riding, Showmanship, Western Horsemanship and Hunt Seat Equitation events. The purse is estimated to be $75,000.00.

Also, Doug shared that they have implemented a brand new software system. “Judges will be using tablets to enter scores and results, and this information is sent directly to the show office and announcers. This will enable exhibitors and trainers to get show results much faster and in real time. As today was the first day in use, it seems to be working out great so far.”

I asked Doug what makes the Sun Circuit so successful and why this horse show is one of the most popular amongst exhibitors, trainers, and spectators. “Well, look at this place, it’s beautiful. Where else can you go and show in the warm sunshine with this view? The weather has been a huge attraction since we moved the show from being held in January to March. It’s now much warmer and enjoyable, especially for those coming from cold climates.”

Huls adds, “Also, the show is not only being held at one of the premier and well known equestrian venues, but it is also being held in one of the most prestigious towns in the country. The Scottsdale area is known for great shopping, sight-seeing, and first-class restaurants. What other horse show offers all that? We are also holding free clinics on the first few days of the horse show to exhibitors and trainers.”

I had the opportunity to watch one of these wonderful and very well attended free clinics, which was held on Western Riding given by Bruce Vickery and Anthony Montes.

I am sure Sun Circuit 2018 will surpass the expectations of exhibitors and trainers as it always does. The weather is looking to be fantastic with endless sunshine and not a raindrop in sight. Best of luck to my fellow exhibitors.