By Christine HamiltonThe American Quarter Horse JournalMay 18, 2013
Diana Cortez and A Chip Of Sugar came to the 2013 AQHA Region Ten Championship Show aiming to get further in a personal showing goal.
Every rider at the 2013 AQHA Region Ten Championship Show in Jacksonville, Florida, puts in some kind of extra effort or makes some kind of sacrifice to ride and show and better their horsemanship. Among a barn full of friends or in your own backyard, there are all kinds of ways to do-it-yourself showing in the AQHA horse show world.
A Mechanic’s Dream
Over in the main outdoor pen, a light breeze cools the sunshine just enough to keep the riding pleasant. Diana Cortez of Jacksonville, Florida, and A Chip Of Sugar finish their ride as the sun tips westward.
Diane’s had the 1997 gelding by Sweet Talkin Chip and out of Sugar Lea Strut by The Strutter since he was 3; she bought him from his breeders Chester and Anne Prince of Palmetto, Florida.
An airplane mechanic, Diane puts in 50 to 60-hour work weeks on top of working with “Chip” and a yearling gelding by Huntin For Chocolate. She’s at the Region Ten in an effort to get closer to a longtime goal she’s had with Chip.
“I’ve got to get four more AQHA amateur points in halter and I’ll earn the AQHA amateur versatility award with him,” she says. “And I’ve done it all on my own!”
Diana’s shift runs from 5 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.; after work, she takes a short break then works with the horses into the evening. Her mother, father and fiancé help where they can – feeding in the morning, turning the horses out and picking stalls.
Diana rides at her place, gets help from a friend down the road, and takes Chip out on trail rides. She’s shown all her life, and used to ride with trainer Kiff Parrish of Pavo, Georgia.
She’s been working hard to get ready for the Region Ten and the AQHA pointed show for six weeks. The number of classes she shows in is limited by her budget. Usually Diana shows in western all-around classes, but she and Chip have earned barrel racing and pole bending points. She’s showing her yearling in halter: “If I’m lucky, I’ll get a prize with him!”
“I love to do the western pleasure,” she says. “I do the best that I can and (Chip’s) been such a wonderful horse.
“If I mess up, he’ll catch it and won’t pay attention to me; he’ll do what he’s supposed to do. I do western riding, and (once) I thought I was on the wrong lead, and he switched when I said not to. You could throw a 3-year-old on this horse.”
Diana puts a hand on Chip’s neck: “I’ll keep him until he dies, he’s just so wonderful.” They head back to the barn, ready to show in the morning.
By end of day May 17, the Region Ten entries had swelled to more than 1220 and there were more than 165 entered in trail classes alone (all divisions combined).
Four of those riders had already unsaddled after their Select trail goes when their numbers were called to pick up awards – they’d all made the top 10. They went in together and waited to walk back to Barn A together with their prizes.
“We’re all from the same barn!” says Amanda Martin-Mchollam of Keystone Heights, Florida. She rides Suddensgotnosneakers (Im Suddenly Silver-How D Impressed by How D Billie Boy). The barnmates all take training and coaching from AQHA Professional Horseman Andrey Ferreir of Pompano Beach, Florida.
“We all got about four hours of sleep,” adds Cheryl Kositzky of Venice, Florida, adding that it might have been more like 3-and-a-half. She rides her homebred gelding Zippos Golden Choice (Zippo By Choice-Copper Bars Honey by Fitz Copper Bar).
“We all practice together,” puts in Karen Nichols of Orlando. She also has a homebred horse – Doinwhatcomesnatural (Natural Iron-Vana Tuff Stuff by Tuffysthreebartwo).
They were all up late together riding the trail practice course, including the fourth, Donna Kage of Venice, Florida, and her Zips Simply Sweet (Sweet Talking Chip-Lacy Asset by Investment Asset). And then they were all up early again to feed and get ready to ride.
Shared efforts, shared frustrations, shared practice and shared friendship – they come from different lives, but a desire to become better horsewomen brings them together. What’s the icing on the cake of a long day’s show and four top ten placings? Being done in time for dinner, of course!
Region Ten includes the Florida Quarter Horse, Georgia Quarter Horse, North Carolina Quarter Horse and South Carolina Quarter Horse associations. Find an AQHA Regional Championship near you this showing season!
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