Pre-Denver at the National Western Stock Show

Back-to-back circuits in the Mile High City open the 2013 AQHA and stock show seasons.

By Christine Hamilton
The American Quarter Horse Journal
January 18, 2013

Smiling faces at the 2013 "Denver Circuit" - RMQHA Pre-Denver and National Western AQHA Show.

Smiling faces at the 2013 "Denver Circuit" – RMQHA Pre-Denver and National Western AQHA Show. (Journal photo)

Despite frigid temperatures, and post-season Broncos football, the folks at Excel Associates and the National Western Stock Show made the Pre-Denver and National Western back-to-back AQHA circuits a solid kickoff to the 2013 showing season.

The Rocky Mountain Quarter Horse Association Pre-Denver ran January 6-9 and the National Western AQHA show January 10-12 at the historic National Western complex in Denver. The shows’ unofficial entries finished at 3,539 (amateur/open classes only) for the Pre-Denver and 1,869 for the National Western, putting the combined “Denver Circuit” at more than 5,400 entries.

“For the last couple of years we’ve been holding our own (in National Western equine events), up in some areas, down in others,” said Lora Richards, National Western Stock Show director of horse show operations, speaking with The American Quarter Horse Journal. “Our Quarter Horse show this year felt like it was a little down coming into it, but (it) ended up right where we needed it to be.”

Show Manager Renee Elkins of Excel Associates reported a “good regional turnout” as well as pulling from as far away as Canada, Ohio and Alabama. The condensed four-day schedule had no evenings past midnight.

The back-to-back circuits are all about catering to exhibitors, Lora said.

“(The National Western) also offered free parking this year, which we’ve never done before. And as a staff, we decided to make certain close lots only available to exhibitors – they are free but not available to the general public.

“So when these exhibitors come in at 4 a.m., they have parking. And if at 2 p.m., they want to go downtown or to see local sights, when they come back, they have a priority parking space to get into the barn and show.”

The AQHA shows ended with the January 12 Mile High Quarter Horse and Paint Sale. According to RMQHA, 26 Quarter Horses averaged $3,660 (excluding repurchases), with the high selling gelding bringing $13,000.

A near-sold-out crowd watched the $15,000-added Invitational Freestyle Reining on January 13. According to Lora, the 5,000-seat Equestrian Event Center had sold 4,200 seats two days prior to the event.

Guy Vernon of Kiowa, Colorado, won riding American Quarter Horse Starlite N Peppy (Skeets Peppy-Starlite N Oak by Doc’s Oak; bred by Vaughn Zimmerman, Springfield, Missouri), a 2007 gelding owned by Donna Nelson of Manassa, Colorado.

One of the nation’s largest and oldest livestock shows, the National Western is in its 107th year and runs January 12-27. The AQHA circuits kick off the equine events that include draft, mule shows, Paint and Grand Prix hunter-jumper shows.

In addition to freestyle reining, Quarter Horses also compete in rodeo competition, cowboy mounted shooting, and the AQHA Versatility Ranch Horse Classic on January 22-23.

“One of the cool things we added this year was an AQHA special event to our hunter-jumper division (January 18-20) – we added working hunter and a jumping class,” Lora said. “They’ll run concurrent with some of our other classes. We expect the entries to be very good and it gives the (AQHA) exhibitors around here an opportunity to show their horses and qualify (for the AQHA World Show) when we don’t have a lot of over fences classes in this part of the country.”

AQHA specialized judge Brian Lenehan will officiate the event.

Lora also pointed out the National Western’s youth scholarship program.

“A lot of horse people don’t realize that (the National Western) has 74 scholarships … I think a lot of horse people thought that it was only open to the kids that showed cattle or livestock. We’re finally getting the word out that these scholarships are for the horse kids as well.”

Lora added: “As a stock show overall, we’re well on track to either breaking or matching an attendance record.”

The record was set in 2006, the National Western’s 100th anniversary, at 726,972.