It’s a Wrap from the Las Vegas Silver Dollar Circuit with Elizabeth Brown
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 hit, so we decided it would be fun to do it again from the 2018 Silver Dollar Circuit in Las Vegas. Read our final report here from Elizabeth Brown of Strathmore, California.
Final Report – Amateur Elizabeth Brown
As the sun sets on Las Vegas, the 2018 Silver Dollar Circuit comes to a close at the South Point Hotel and Casino. Wednesday’s schedule finished with the Senior and Junior Western Riding, Western Pleasure, Hunter Under Saddle, Trail as well as Junior, Senior and Amateur Ranch Riding. The South Point offered great amenities to all the guests making it a pleasure to stay and most of all, fun to be an exhibitor. Not to mention the convenience of having numerous great restaurants, a movie theater, bowling alley and a beautiful spa all at your fingertips.
Exhibitors showed for four to six days putting in their best efforts to be in the placings. In the end, they waited with great anticipation to hear their name announced for the coveted circuit champions and all-around awards. I met up with two of those talented exhibitors to get their story. Funny thing, both have horses named “Hank.”
Scott Reinartz, who recently moved from Florida to Texas, exhibits Investin A Goodbar in the L3 Amateur events. This winning team took home the L3 Champion Amateur All Around. Also, they were also circuit champions in trail and showmanship. Scott said he didn’t have any specific goals for this show other than to do well and have a good time. In fact, he did have a great time at the exhibitor party on Monday night hosted by Ken and Laina Banks. Scott also exhibited his Green Hunter Under Saddle horse, A Boy Named Sioux. This five-year-old gelding earned the Reserve Circuit Champion in the L1 and L2 Hunter Under Saddle class. Scott’s primary focus with this young horse was to acquire points to qualify for the AQHA World Show. Scott added, “It was a great show, and I like everything being under one roof at the South Point.” This team is now off to Sun Circuit.
Amy Groefsema (who was GoHorseShow’s reporter for the first day of the show) and her horse, My Dream Remembered (pictured right), continued their winning ways acquiring the L1 Champion Amateur All Around and L2 Reserve Champion Amateur All Around. They also won circuit champions in Amateur Performance Geldings, Open Performance Geldings and Reserve Circuit Champion in L1 Trail. Amy said her primary focus during the show was to earn points towards qualifying for the Amateur World Show. She did just that picking up numerous points in three different events. This is her first year showing in the all-around events and she found it to be hectic, but loved every minute of it. The future looks bright for this team.
I would like to thank all the sponsors and show staff that make the Silver Dollar Circuit a great experience. Also, a huge thank you to the veterinarians, farriers, horse chiropractors and night security that keep our horses safe and healthy. Safe travels to where ever the road takes you.
Signing off from Vegas!
DAY 5 – Amateur Kathryn deVries Mitchell
Hello from Vegas!
This is Kathryn deVries Mitchell checking in from the Silver Dollar Circuit. In the amateur division, the theme of the show seemed to be “new teams.” Several familiar faces with new horses made the first big show on the West Coast exciting to watch.
One such team is Miranda Mitten and One Hot Sultry Night. Miranda’s usual mount, Sudden Persuasion needed a little time off from a bone bruise. So, when One Hot Sultry Night needed to expand her all-around career, the connection was made. One Hot Sultry Night is an NSBA, Congress and World Show top ten placer in all-around events – but does double time as a broodmare for Oak Spring Ranch. Miranda has had to plan rides around the big sorrel mare’s breeding schedule.
With only three rides before they came to one of the largest circuits of the year – they’ve hit the All-Around Level 3 pen with full force, already picking up a chunk of horsemanship points. I asked Miranda what the hardest part is about generating a new, competitive team so quickly.
“What’s the hardest part? All of it (with a giant laugh after). Angel is a sweet girl who’s trying so hard for me. The hardest part overall is just figuring out each other’s quirks. I have solid and tight legs when I ride, and she likes to be ridden the complete opposite way. She’s been so good for me this week, and I’m excited to see where we are in six months. I’m pleased with her. She’s just doing her job. And that’s all I can ask of her.”
Also in the amateur pen with a new, green partner is Brittany Morgan. Her new horse is Whats Ur Number (Emmitt); a four-year-old by Blazing Hot out of Whatscookngoodlookin. She got Emmitt his two-year-old year and showed him in the Limited Non-Pro futurities. The duo was Limited Non-Pro Two-Year-Old Champions at the Tom Powers, Limited Non-Pro BCF Champions at the NSBA World Championship Show and Top 5 at the Congress in the Limited Non-Pro Two-Year-Old Western Pleasure.
So, while they got their feet wet a little, Brittany took his three-year-old year off because she was pregnant. She had her son in August of 2017. That summer, Emmitt went into training with Highpoint Performance Horses to start his all-around training. The Silver Dollar Circuit was their first show together competing in the all-around events. Brittany thinks they may have even gotten qualified in the Level 3 Horsemanship which is impressive at this level. She is super excited about his future as an all around horse. “He is very talented and very willing to learn,” Morgan says.
Another brand new team on the select side is Barbara Messenger and The Krymsun Moon (Duncan). Barb has had Duncan since November, and a dream team was formed. This is Barb’s first major horse show with him, and she won the equitation with a clean sweep and was reserve circuit champion in the hunter under saddle. We asked Barb what the hardest part of partnering with a new teammate was and she said, “communication. It’s all about learning to speak the same language. I was so happy to find out he was competitive in the hunter under saddle. He’s been such an amazing teammate, and I’m excited to see what we can accomplish together.” She also ended up getting points in all of her all-around classes – what a debut!
DAY 4 – Trainer, Torey Roderick
Extracurricular Activities at the Silver Dollar Circuit
Some of the apparent perks of attending the Silver Dollar Circuit are the fabulous prizes, show management, class size and level of competition. There is also something to be said for the convenience factor of having your hotel room and a dozen dining options all under the same roof.
For many amateur and youth competitors, some of these major horse shows become somewhat of a “showcation.” These destination horse shows give exhibitors a chance not only to compete and hone their skills but also to see parts of the country they may not otherwise have visited and to partake in other tourist activities. There is no shortage of fun things to do in Glitter Gulch…
Dan and Christina Carlson, who travel from the East Coast, enjoy the mountains and being able to explore some of the surrounding geographies at Red Rock Canyon which is a short drive from the horse show. (Pictured left)
Blake Weis, who is from Missouri, said he enjoys catching a show and his favorite would have to be Absinthe at Caesar’s Palace.
Kellie Hinely, who is no stranger to this area, said her favorite would have to be historical Freemont Street. Bruce Vickery and Anthony Montes also like Freemont Street for the experience of riding the zip line off of a giant slot machine.
Trail course designer, Tim Kimura said his favorite activity was sleep, but when prodded further, he admitted that he enjoyed finding inspiration in architecture and other attractions in the city for his course design. Always working, but there is plenty of inspiration to be found in the city of lights.
Michael Colvin enjoys playing a little blackjack or catching a show on the strip.
The Hoover Dam is also a short ride from South Point with breathtaking views. Amateur competitors, Caitlin Ackerman from Vermont and Marie-France D’Hondt and her husband Pascal from Belgium, both chose this afternoon to take in the sights.
Garry and Tami McAllister from Connecticut enjoy the shows and their daughter, Jessica (pictured right), who just won the 14-18 youth all-around here, enjoyed the aquarium at the Mandalay Bay.
So, you can stay here at South Point with plenty of dining and entertainment options, or you can Uber, Lyft, drive or take a quick shuttle or cab to the strip for endless entertainment options. A short drive in the other direction gets you right back in the desert if the city has you feeling boxed in. This is my first time in Sin City, and I hope to be back next year for more showing and fun.
DAY 3 – Amateur Exhibitor, Kimberly Guenther
The Silver Dollar Circuit is a decades-old tradition here on the West Coast, but the show is as new and shiny as ever this year. They boasted the largest number of stalls ever for 2018, and tons of prizes and points up for grabs. On Monday, we wrapped up the amateur competition with showmanship and halter and started the open competition with Senior Trail. Check out this time-lapse video of one of the many trail runs.
Trail, in particular, has had tremendous numbers. The level one classes were giant, and there were well over 100 entries in level 2 and 3, between Amateur and Select Trail over the weekend. Monday, we started the morning with 116 entries in the Senior Trail. With over 100 trail goes in one pen, and another 100+ showmanship entries in the main arena, the show management split both arenas into two sides, A and B.
For both showmanship and Senior Trail, the exhibitors must complete their pattern on side A to three judges, and then move immediately to side B and repeat the pattern a second time to three more judges. For the trail, the scores were then displayed on a massive monitor above the pen after each go.
It was a lot of trotting and pivoting for showmanship exhibitors who showed both Level 1 and Level 2/3… but with free entry into the same corresponding Level 2/3 class for all Level 1 Amateurs, it was a hard deal to pass up.
One such exhibitor was Amateur, Jane Jacklin, with her mare, Capteeva (pictured left). They showed in both Level 1 Amateur Showmanship and again in the Level 2. This was her first trip to the Silver Dollar Circuit, and she loved it. She tells me, “Watching classes from my room, being able to change for classes from the comfort of my room, it was all amazing. The competition was unlike anything I’ve ever experienced.”
The convenience of the venue and the AQHA World/Congress quality competitors were her favorite parts of the show. She thanked her supportive husband for “doing everything he can to help me achieve my horse showing goals.”
When asked what her advice would be to other first-time Silver Dollar exhibitors, she said, “If you are thinking about venturing out to the big shows like Silver Dollar, do it! You’ll never know how your hard work pays off until you try.”
For those who had luck and skill on their side in the arena, there were plenty of significant awards to take home. The circuit prizes this year are beautiful crystal horse statues, as well as headstalls, saddles, and many other goodies. Today we saw the youth and amateur all-around awards get handed out, and they were gorgeous.
As the Senior Trail finally wrapped up at the end of the day, the exhibitor party at the “Cinch Bar,” complete with free food, games, prizes, and karaoke, was just getting going. If you’ve never made the trip to the Silver Dollar Circuit, I would put it on your bucket list.
DAY 2 – Amateur Exhibitor, Heather Lange
Bre Thompson had just purchased a 22-acre boarding and training facility in Ojai, California when the Thomas fire started. The fire started only ten miles away, and she had 75 horses on her property. Authorities first told her that the fire was going the other way so she could stay.
Bre’s friend, Harmony Vacca, credits Bre with having a plan. It takes a lot of time and effort to coordinate the evacuation of 75 horses. Bre did not wait until the last minute as she and friends watched the fire circle.
Patrice Vernand is Bre’s trainer and operates Patrice Vernand Performance Horses from Bre’s facility. Patrice arranged for the show horses to move to Santa Barbara and other horses were moved to Ventura. And the fire followed. The horses were moved a second time and some a third. Bre says, “Everywhere we went we were being chased.”
Bre’s Rancho Royale was spared from the fire, but it circled the property on multiple passes. The fire came up to the property line but turned at the river. Bre’s neighbors were not so lucky.
“I was so impressed with the concern all the riders had for each other,” said Bre. “No one panicked. We were all worried, but no one panicked.”
Thankfully, none of the horses in Bre’s care were injured, but once they returned to Rancho Royale, there were still issues. The air quality was inferior, and it took about two months before it was safe to work the horses again. The group had planned to come to the Silver Dollar Circuit to show, but Patrice and her clients agreed that they all just weren’t quite ready. Bre and her friends, Harmony and Ramona Andrews, came anyway, as spectators. They needed to watch some trail, see friends and get back to normal.
Bre encourages everyone to have an emergency plan, be it for yourself or your facility. Her plan and everyone working to make it happen gave this story a happy ending.
Please look for Bre, Harmony, and Ramona at their next show in Burbank or Paso Royal.
DAY 1 – Amateur Exhibitor, Amy Groefsema
The first of day of competition at the Silver Dollar Circuit at South Point in Las Vegas brought unexpected snow. Most competitors took comfort in their cozy jackets, but not Jordan Schween and her horse, Good Cuz Im Lazy. Jordan said, “Being from Gilroy, California, we don’t get snow, so this was a fun experience for Tucker and me.” Jordan placed well in Youth Level 3 Pleasure and Youth Level 2 Horsemanship today in her quest to qualify for the Youth World.
Since we are in Vegas and music is everywhere, from the Blue Man Group to the J Lo concert, I thought it would be fun to ask exhibitors if they pay attention to the music in the arena when they show. Today, exhibitors competed in western riding, western pleasure, pleasure driving and horsemanship, so there were ample opportunities to enter the arenas.
Madison Nirenstein and her mare, No Doubt Im Trouble, showed in three classes today; Amateur Level 1 Western Riding, Amateur Level 2 Pleasure and Amateur Level 2 Horsemanship and placed well in each class. When asked if she remembers any of the songs that were playing while she entered the arena, she smiled and shook her head, “We have it on video though, so I can tell you.”
So, I asked her, if you could enter the arena to any song, what would it be? Her response, “Take Back Home Girl” by Chris Lane because it is one of my favorite songs and always puts me in a good mood. And of course, I love to listen to country while I ride.”
Megan Renfro was a busy youth exhibitor, showing her horse, Zip Along Home in all three classes. Megan didn’t remember any songs while she showed, and she didn’t know her favorite song. So I asked her mom, Professional Horsewoman, Nancy Renfro, who told me that Megan can play the ukulele and has written a song that she performed at her 2nd-grade school talent show. The highlight of the day for Megan and her friends were the baby goats from the barn of Peak Performance Horses.
I caught up with Marjorie Parks on her horse, HP Only Lazy, after their Amateur Level 1 Horsemanship class to find out if she knew the song playing during her pattern and she said, “No idea. I’m sorry, I was so nervous.” I asked if she ever pays attention to the music and she said sometimes. The song that best represents her and George would be Shake It Off by Taylor Swift. “It is fun, upbeat and makes me feel confident. Plus it makes me feel like no matter what happens when in the pen, shake it off and keep showing.” Great advice Marjorie.
After our Amateur Level 2 Horsemanship class, I asked Whitney Romanoff if she remembered the song that was playing when she rode her pattern. “I don’t. I completely zone out. I don’t hear a single word when I’m in the show pen. Pretty sure I don’t even hear my trainers (David & Cheryl Busick) once I’m in the pen. I focus entirely on what is underneath me and what is physically happening around me. That doesn’t leave much attention for music to register.”
She said that she and her horse, Asset Subsidy, would ride in to The Comeback by Danny Gokey. I also asked my fellow competitor, Austin Jung, riding her horse, One Hundred Percent, who laughed and responded, “No way. Haha! The only thing I ever hear is my trainer’s voice.” Her song choice would be Thunder by Imagine Dragons.
The song “Paradise” by the Zac Brown Band must be catchy because Isabel Schween recalled that it was playing during her win in Youth Level 3 Pleasure aboard her horse, The Borne Legacy. Although she didn’t remember either of the songs that were playing while she entered the arena for Youth Level 3 Western Riding and Horsemanship, her reasoning, “Those classes require me to think.”
Even I, an avid concert goer and music lover, can’t recall the songs that played while I showed today. However, I do remember during The Celebration Show last July here at South Point, entering the arena for Amateur Hunt Seat Equitation to Dustin Lynch’s Where Its At. Why I remember this, I don’t have a clue.
So even though most exhibitors didn’t listen to the music in the arenas, we all agreed that we love music and typically listen while longing, warming up and to get pumped up.
Good luck to everyone the rest of the show.