by Tara ChristiansenThe American Quarter Horse Journal
AQHA Professional Horseman Ross Roark of Monahans, Texas, led Pizzazzy to her third, and final, aged mares world championship. (Journal photo)
“She’s one of the great mares of all time,” AQHA Professional Horseman Ross Roark says of Pizzazzy Lady, the back-to-back-to-back aged mares world champion.
“This mare is very special to me. (We’ve won) three in a row,” says Ross of Monahans, Texas. “You know, you never know what’s going to happen, (but) I had confidence in my horse and confidence in the judges. I thought the judges did a very good job all week. I think they went out there and judged horses and they were being fair with the contestants. I was confident, but you always have that feeling: ‘Am I going to be the one who gets her beat?’ ”
The answer to that was a resounding “No.”
During Bank of America Amateur Week at the 2011 AQHA World Championship Show, owner Rita Crundwell of Dixon, Illinois, led the 2005 sorrel mare by Misters Pizzazz and out of Lady Sierras by Sierras Sonny to the amateur aged mares world championship, the same title the duo won in 2010.
Ross says that even though he loves showing the mare bred by W.M. Oldenburger of Arlington, Iowa, it’s certainly a stressful trip every time they head into the show pen. And on November 19, there was even more pressure to win, since this will probably be the stunning mare’s last show.
“It wears on you to a point, because Rita’s won the World with her and I’ve won it, and you don’t want her (to lose) on her last out. She’ll never be here again – I don’t want her to get defeated,” Ross says. “This is it. I’m not 100 percent sure, but I would say this is probably her last time. (They’ll) probably keep embryo transferring her, but I’m pretty sure this is her last horse show.”
To say that Ross is attached to the mare is putting it lightly.
“She’s one of best show horses I’ve ever had,” he says. “She tracks so good – she tracks like a racehorse. She’s solid, she’s pretty, (her) ears are up, once she got stood up, she moved one time.”
Ross was very impressed with the way that Pizzazzy Lady showed for both him and Rita, considering the fact that she hasn’t been shown since the 2010 AQHA World Show.
“That mare hadn’t shown all year. We showed her last week in the amateur, so today in the open, she hadn’t been shown since here last year,” he says. “She’s fresh – that’s good. She’s not sour or burned out, so I think really was to her benefit.”
When it comes to Pizzazzy Lady’s conformation, Ross only has good things to say about her. Considering the mare’s dominance in the show pen, it’s safe to say the judges agree.
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“She’s a big mare,” Ross starts. “She has a lot of size and scale. She has tremendous balance from her head to her hip. She’s pretty-headed – she looks like a mare. She’s very high-withered, prominent-withered.”
Ross says that the mare carries quite a few traits that are being bred out of Quarter Horses – traits that he considers essential.
“She has an extreme, long hip and croup that you don’t see in Quarter Horses much nowadays. She is low-jointed, which is what I like – her knees and hocks are low to the ground, which that is a trait that we got away from. Then, behind her, she’s just tremendous in her stifle.”
And one of Pizzazzy Lady’s most striking features is surely her femininity.
“She looks like a lady,” Ross praises her. “She doesn’t look like a stud or a gelding; she looks like a mare, like a lady should look.”
On November 5, one of Pizzazzy Lady’s first foals, Pizzazzacute by Execute, captured the amateur weanling stallion world championship with Rita. And then hours before his dam entered the Jim Norick Arena for one last class, Pizzazzacute was named the reserve world champion in weanling stallions with Ross at the shank.
“She’s a can’t-miss as a broodmare, she’s that kind of individual,” Ross says. “(AQHA Professional Horseman) Jim McKillips, who runs Meri J Ranch, he knew the genetics back to Sonny Dee Bar, and he really liked that as a broodmare for her, and that’s one of the main reasons that they bought the mare.”
For Ross, the final win in aged mares was certainly bittersweet.
“I wish she was going (home) with me,” he says affectionately. “You always miss that mare. She’s just not a problem. She doesn’t paw the stall, she doesn’t tear up nothing, you can turn her out. She’s just like an ol’ rope horse – she’s good to have around.”
Ross is more than grateful to Pizzazzy Lady for the great trips to the show pen, but he’s especially thankful for her owner.
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“We always want to thank Rita – she’s very generous to me and my family, she treats us like family. She lets me show good horses. We try to win, try our best – I always want to thank Rita, Jim McKillips and, of course, my family, the boy who works for me, 'Easy' – everybody knows him. I can’t do it all by myself – I’ve had a lot of help, and I’m fortunate to have customers like Rita and all of the customers I have.”
But what’s on Ross’ plate, now that he has a new barnful of AQHA world championship trophies?
“I’m just going to get ready for next year, starting tomorrow!”