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In the Spotlight

Tara Salter of Waynesboro, Georgia, is the true definition of an all-around rider, changing saddles from barrel racing to hunt seat equitation.

By Becky Newell
The American Quarter Horse Journal
May 13, 2013

Tara Salter and Cruzin For Chocolate, photo by Terri Layer

Tara Salter and Cruzin For Chocolate (Huntin For Chocolate-Cruisin Air Annie by Mr King Air) have earned points in everything from reining to hunter under saddle and barrel racing to horsemanship. (Terri Layer photo)

For Tara Salter and Cruzin For Chocolate, it was love at first sight. Tara of Waynesboro, Georgia, knew from the moment she saw “Rolo” that “he would be my future show horse and life-long partner.” And for a horsewoman who had been around horses her whole life, it was a match made in heaven.

When Tara and her trainer, Terri Layer, sat down at the beginning of 2012 to set her goals, they realized that the AQHA Supreme Champion title was within reach for the team. Tara and Terri decided that they needed to add barrel racing to their show-pen repertoire to complete the award. That gamut of classes already included reining, western riding, hunter under saddle, western pleasure, hunt seat equitation, performance halter, trail, showmanship and horsemanship.

As the show season started, Tara and Rolo, a son of Huntin For Chocolate and out of Cruisin Air Annie by Mr King Air, began working toward their goal and earned the Supreme Champion title September 16, 2012.

After only a few practices, Rolo began to understand how to turn around the barrels and really seemed to be enjoying it. Tara thinks it was a good change from the normal horse show classes and it helped keep Rolo in a good mood.

“His favorite part of barrel racing (had) to be turning around the last barrel and running full speed back to the start line. You could tell he would really get into this part as he took off,” Tara says.

For a horse who loved chocolate, hence his name, this may have been a good way for him to burn up that extra energy. No one in the barn can open a snack and eat it in peace unless they share with Rolo, and the sorrel can detect chocolate from three stalls away.

Rolo has tons of personality, according to Tara, and likes to show off his comedy acts from his stall next to the barn office. “We think we are training him, but in reality, he has been training us,” she says.

Either way, the training has amounted to some pretty impressive awards. Tara and Rolo have qualified for multiple world shows in the youth, amateur and open divisions and have earned multiple top-10 placings at the AQHA Regional Championship shows. The team has also been awarded its Superior in amateur all-around, showmanship and horsemanship.

Horses have been a way of life for Tara since before she started showing at age 11. Tara’s aunt and uncle, Ann and Jerry Salter, are also heavily involved in horses. Tara says, “They are the ones who initially got me interested in showing horses when they bought me riding lessons with my trainer.”

In addition to showing with AQHA, Tara also competes in ranch sorting competition with her uncle through the Ranch Sorting National Championships. She also likes to fish and hunt in her free time, although she doesn’t have much spare time, as she is attending Augusta State University majoring in early childhood education.

Tara is looking forward to continuing her showing career with Rolo and adding to his already long list of events.

The American Quarter Horse Journal loves to feature the hard-working AQHA exhibitor, and In the Spotlight is the Journal’s fun new way to do so. Do you know a hard-working AQHA competitor who deserves some time in the limelight? Email AQHA Internet Editor Tara Christiansen at tchristiansen@aqha.org to submit story ideas, then visit www.aqha.com/inthespotlight to view more In the Spotlight stories.