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October 7, 2012

First-Time All-Arounders

At the 2012 SmartPak West AQHA Novice Championship, reiners Fallon Eaton and Major Tuck tried all-around events for the first time.

By Christine Hamilton
The American Quarter Horse Journal

Fallon Eaton of Las Vegas, Nevada, and her American Quarter Horse Major Tuck at the 2012 SmartPak West AQHA Novice Championship Show.

Fallon Eaton of Las Vegas, Nevada, and her American Quarter Horse Major Tuck at the 2012 SmartPak West AQHA Novice Championship Show.

You don’t need the AQHA database to find out MajorTuck, aka “Slick’s,” show record. Just ask his devoted owner and partner, Fallon Eaton, 15, of Las Vegas.

“He’s 23 years old; he’s been to the (AQHA World Championship Show) in 1993, (qualified in trail and western riding); he’s been shown in trail 123 times and western pleasure 106; he’s got 14 western riding points and he’s shown in showmanship three times and won every time,” Fallon lists, before pausing to breathe. “And he’s halfway to his Superior.”

Since the Eaton family bought him in 2007, Fallon has reined on him, even showing him bridleless freestyle.

And the fact that Slick has only one eye hasn’t stopped them.

About three years ago, Slick bumped his eye in his stall one night and the next morning it was “moon blue,” Fallon said. An equine opthamologist would diagnose him with chronic uveitis and eventually the eye had to be removed.

“For a while he got a little spooky, and you had to be really gentle and talk to him,” Fallon said. “The only thing that really affected him after the first two weeks was getting out of the trailer: He would fall out a little bit.”

For the 2012 SmartPak West AQHA Novice Championship, Fallon and Slick took on a new challenge: all-around events.

“This is our first time showing in everything!” she told the Journal. “I’ve only shown him in reining previously. Since it was one price for all classes, we tried everything. We just started practicing three-and-a-half weeks ago, did our best to figure it all out and learn it.”

Fallon’s goal is to win an all-around saddle with Slick, aiming for a state show. This is the first year that Slick has started to show his age and slow down a bit. She’s going to retire him soon.

But they’ve had a great time at the SmartPak West AQHA Novice Championship.

“The trail went really good since that’s his strong point,” she said. “The western pleasure was good, but I could have had him a little bit tighter. Reining was good but he lifted too much in the back and I got a 5 point penalty and if it wasn’t for that, we would have taken second.

“When we went in for the horsemanship, I was shaking. And I was shaking even more when we came out because we did so good; a lot better than I thought we would.

“I’m very glad we came, it was a blast. Lot of late nights and early mornings, but it paid off.”

Fallon has worked hard with Slick. He's a 1989 son of Doc Tom Tucker and out of Anna Freckles by Colonel Freckles; bred by Karen Schlossberg of Perris, California.

“He’s a very hard horse to ride, he’s just different,” she said. “It takes a lot to ride him, a lot of leg and seat. But it’s kind of a good thing, because it pushes me. When I first got him, on the second ride I was in tears because I couldn’t get him to trot.

“We’ve come a long way and I’ve learned a lot through him. It is so worth every tear. Every day we rode for hours and it really paid off.”

Her parents, Ryan and Christine Eaton, are longtime team ropers. Ryan is a police officer and Christine works at an industrial pump company.

“I was born riding,” Fallon said. “I was riding when my mom was pregnant with me.”

She takes reining lessons with Terrell Heaton and Kim Leiter has been helping her with the all-around classes. Kim couldn’t make it to this show, so Nevada Quarter Horse Youth Association advisor Laurel Wachtel has helped her.

“I would love to come back to this show,” she added with a smile. “It was a fun show and a great experience and everyone here has been very nice."