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IAHA Riders Win Back-to-Back National Trail Championships


Last year's champions in the International Arabian Horse Association (IAHA) National Competitive Trail Ride Championship repeated their victories in 2002. Ellen Schwartz and her Arabian mare Shazanna S Glory and Chris Eickleberry and her Half-Arabian/ Half-Appaloosa gelding WR Cowboy, won second championship trophies at the 2002 two-day, 72-mile ride held at Big Hill Lake State Park in Cherryvale, Kansas, over Labor Day weekend. Their lucky charm? Togetherness. Last year they rode together. This year the two Indianans took it a step further. They drove together, camped together and won together.

Not only was good fortune smiling on Schwartz and Eickleberry, but the homework the pair did weeks before the ride paid off. "We practiced camping the month before," says Eickleberry, who lives in Columbus, which is approximately 170 miles from Monroe where Schwartz lives. "We set up our pens and trailered our horses together to make sure they got along. Then we took two days to get to the ride and arrived early on Wednesday so the horses had time to relax."

They even had a plan to ease the tense moments that inevitably develop during a ride. "We're both alpha mares," jokes Eickleberry. "So we apologized to each other in advance."

When it came to their expectations, the two parted company. Eickleberry is the perpetual pessimist, Schwartz the eternal optimist. After the first day of trotting her Half-Arabian on the hard packed rocky trail that twisted up and down around the lake, Eickleberry thought she'd be happy just to finish. Schwartz had higher aspirations. "I go with the idea I can win it," says Schwartz. "Chris is afraid that will jinx us."

At the awards ceremony, Schwartz grew more confident when she compared her mare's legs to the others. "A lot of the horses had gouges from the rocks and she didn't so I thought we would at least be in the top eight," says Schwartz. In addition, the 28 original contenders had been thinned to 18, when more than a third of the competitors failed to pass the pulse and vet checks.

Eickleberry was expecting a lady with a pinto Half-Arabian to take the trophy. "I felt so discouraged on Sunday because I had lost a zillion points. Instead, they called my name," she says. "All I could say was, 'No, you must be kidding.' "

Eickleberry's new trophy sits next to last year's on her window sill. She jokes, "I have two of them--almost a herd."

Schwartz not only won another silver trophy, she and Little Bit won High Scoring Horse for the second year in a row and took home a second $5,000 Sweepstakes check. The International Arabian Breeders Sweepstakes awarded $9,285.25 to eligible horses at this ride.

Marybelle Cooper, a local competitor who lives just a few miles away in Lawrence, Kansas, won the reserve championship in the Arabian division with SS Storm Warning. "He was bred for this," says Cooper, who won the championship 10 years ago with SM Gata Smoke, SS Storm Warning's half sister. "My stallion (Gray Smokey+) has sired four different champions in IAHA National Competitive Trail and Endurance Rides."

"They let us choose whether we wanted to go in front, in the middle or in back of the pack," says Cooper. "Since he likes moving out every chance he can get and doesn't like to be rated, we started out in the lead on Saturday which suited him just fine."

The rugged trails turned out to be an unexpected boon for the spirited gelding. "There are lots of rocky areas where you just couldn't go as fast," says Cooper. "So we had to make up time every chance we got, and it ended up feeling like a 36-mile endurance ride."

The reserve champion, Half-Arabian Dash-of-Premeer, may look gray but he was a dark horse candidate when owner Shelly Bradford decided to let Christine Abbott enter him in the championship. "Before the ride he'd done embarrassingly little work," says Bradford. "I had just had my fifth child when I found out I was moving from Kansas to Ontario so the kids just rode him around."

Abbott rode him for about three weeks on 5 to 6 mile outings. During the ride, she relied on help from her mentor Karen Everhart, who had ridden the gelding to a Region 8 championship in 2001. Everhart placed in the top eight on PS Trakara Bask at the national ride. Abbott's cheerful smile earned her a bridle from The Arabian Saddle Company, the prize for being voted "Favorite Rider" by the ride workers.

"She talked me into trying this," says Abbott. "Then when we were called as the reserve champions she says, 'Maybe I mentored you too well.' "

It wasn't quite deja vu for the High Scoring Junior title, but it was close. For the second year in a row, a Neunzig won the title. Last year it was Sarah from Dallas, North Carolina, on Heartlight Delila+. This year Rebecca took the honors with Magatas Mist. She was awarded a jacket donated by Region 11.

Once again the ride management, volunteers and veterinarian drew accolades for putting on a very rider-friendly event. Riders enjoyed the pre-ride Parade of Champions so much that some even made up rhyming poems as their horses were being presented. Kudos go to ride manager Priscilla Lindsay, ride secretary J.R. Kendall, trailmaster, Marsha Hayes, IAHA Ride Steward and Competitive Trail Ride Committee Chair Micky Creech and veterinarian judges, Mike Habel, DVM, and Toni Trego, DVM.

Champion & High Scoring Horse: $Shazanna S Glory (Thee Covenant x GG Shazanna--Ellen Schwartz
Reserve Champion: $SS Storm Warning (Gray Smokey+ x Maple Hill Aisha)-- Marybelle Cooper
Top Ten: Angelos Applause+/ (Overlook Applause++ by SM Whiskey River)--Kathy Neunzig: $Ames On Fire (Afire Bey V x Artiston Fera), ridden by Debra Clark and owned by Denis & Jayne Hein; $AC Eternal Affair (Eternity x Alanahdaan)--ridden by Christina and owned by Denis & Jayne Hein; Riyadd DBA (Charadd++// x Bold Destina)--Carla Jo Bass; Pearls N Gold (Visions of Gold x Ronjos Peralsa)--Dennis Hein; Magatas Mist (De Gaye Gambler x Itseyis Magata)--Rebecca Neunzig High-Scoring Junior: Rebecca Neunzig

Champion: WR Cowboy (PF Bold Adventure x Apache Cheeka Sue)--Chris Eickleberry
Reserve: $Dash-of-Premeer (Premeer x Spice-O-Lace)--ridden by Christine Abbott and owned by Shelly Bradford
Top Ten: BHR Hosans Showdown (Hosan x BHR Ritzy Diamond)--Gail Kimery; PS Trakara Bask (Macht x Baskalla x Edycja)--ridden by Karen Everhart and owned by Steven Lindsey

Completions: Hub Habibi, Sandy Page; J B Austin, Barbara Harry; Ali Selene, Robert Bulcock; SL Bud Visenheimer, Sue Keith; Ames Delight, Jayne Hein; Ames Lucky One, Matt Thiner

$ International Arabian Breeders Sweepstakes Winners


Cash Sponsors:
Advanced Biological Concepts, Christine Paus, Crummy Land & Cattle Company, Eastern Kansas AHA, Elton Weeks, Equisure, IAHA Regions 1, 8, 9, 12, 13, 14, 15 and 16; IAHC Distance Program, Illinois AHA, Indiana AHA, Indiana Half-Arabian Horse Club, Jacki & Bob Marsh, Kansas AHS, Kentucky AHA Inc., McKinstry Arabians, Middle of the Trail Distance Riders Assn., Ocala Arabian Horse Association, Southeastern Distance Riding Association, Stablegear Tack, Texas Arabian Distance Riders

Product Sponsors:
Advanced Biological Concepts, Arabian Saddle Company, Australian Connection, Bickmore, D-Lua Park, Equestrian Safety Products, IAHA Region 13, Mobile Milling Services, Professionals Choice, Range Rider, Stablegear Tack, State Line Tack

IAHA® is a 28,000 member breed association that registers Half-Arabian and Anglo-Arabian horses, administers more than $4 million in prize money annually, produces national events, maintains official event records , recognizes more than 400 Arabian horse shows and distance rides and provides a ctivities and programs that promote Arabian horse breeding and ownership. For in formation about Arabian, Half-Arabian and Anglo-Arabian horses, call 303-696-4500, e-mail or visit


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