Horseback Riding in Three Events

American Quarter Horses aren’t the norm in eventing, but they can still be stars.

From America’s Horse

Editor’s Note: This story first appeared in the July 2009 issue of America’s Horse. At the time, Such Depth was still being shown competitively, and Chicks N Just Six had been recently retired from eventing. American Quarter Horses across the country are still finding great success in eventing.

“Are you sure?”


Those are common responses that upper-level eventers Manuela Propfe and Bonner Carpenter get after revealing that their mounts are American Quarter Horses. After all, their sport is dominated by warmbloods and Thoroughbreds, but the horses Such Depth and Chicks N Just Six are stars.

Eventing consists of three different segments, where a combined score is used to rank the horse and rider teams. The first competition is dressage, where precision and attention to detail are key as riders guide their horses through a prescribed test.

Next is the grueling cross-country course, which consists of 12 to 20 fences at lower event levels, or 30 to 40 at higher event levels, requiring a gutsy rider and a horse with heart. The competition finishes with stadium jumping, which shows off the horse’s athleticism and stamina as he tries to jump a clean course.

Manuela and Such Depth

Manuela Propfe grew up with a heavy dressage influence, as both her parents were dressage riders. Her mother rode in the Olympics. Manuela is now an eventing trainer based in Cave Creek, Arizona. Such Depth, aka “Stanley,” came to Manuela through a student. Manuela soon discovered that this former racehorse was a nice mover with a fairly bold ability to jump.

Taking a look at Stanley’s breeding, you’ll find racing world champions, performance champions and American Quarter Horse Hall of Famers. On his dam’s side, there is Jet Deck, who was the 1963 world champion racehorse. Jet Deck set numerous track records and is a member of the Hall of Fame. Also a few generations back on the dam’s side is another Hall of Famer, Two Eyed Jack, who was one of the best performance horse sires. Special Effort, Stanley’s grandsire, is also a world champion racehorse and the first winner of the Ruidoso Triple Crown, which consists of the All American, Rainbow and Kansas futurities.

“He’s an incredible athlete for a chunky, little, fat black horse,” Manuela says of Stanley.

Manuela describes Stanley as looking like a typical Quarter Horse, being 15.2 hands, with the traditional hindquarters. He could stand a good chance in a halter class, she adds. Looks can be deceiving, though. Manuela says Stanley has the lofty moves of a warmblood, with a fabulous trot, and she praises his head-turning dressage skills.

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Stanley has been a great ambassador for the breed. This off-the-track Quarter Horse has competed mainly in the Area X competitions on the West Coast, earning several championships, reserve championships and top-10 finishes in the intermediate and advanced levels.

Bonner and Acapulco Jazz

Even though he is registered with AQHA as Chicks N Just Six, this gelding is known in eventing circles as Acapulco Jazz. “Jazz” and Bonner Carpenter have rubbed shoulders with the best of the best in the eventing world by competing at the 2008 and 2009 Rolex – the only four-star, three-day eventing competition in North America. The Dallas-based team has been competing together since 2002, and they have turned heads wherever they go. Bonner and Jazz have competed in several international and three-star events as well.

Though foaled in Mexico, Jazz has roots in Texas. His grandsire Streakin Six stood at the famous Four Sixes Ranch in Guthrie, Texas. A 16.2-hand chestnut, Jazz entered the eventing world when he arrived in the Houston area with trainer Jennifer Bodtmann.

Jennifer arranged for student Megan Larsen to try Jazz. With Megan, Jazz, who was known around the barn as “The Old Goat” for his incredible jumping ability, partnered in four one-star events (for horses just entering international competition), including a partnership in 2001 that brought them a team bronze medal at the North American Young Rider Championships. They completed three intermediate horse trials together before Megan started college in the fall of 2001.

That’s when Bonner took the reins. A student at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Bonner trains at Golden Chip Stables in Bartonville, Texas, with former United States Equestrian Team member Mike Huber. While Bonner has to juggle her psychology and sociology major with her equestrian career, she feels like she has finally found a good balance.

The cross-country portion of eventing is Bonner’s favorite.

“It’s a huge adrenaline rush,” she says, realizing the danger that comes along with the sport.

What goes through her mind when competing on a four-star cross-country course?

“I’m just trying to get the best ride for my horse and myself that is as safe as possible,” she says. “Especially at that level, it seems like if you barely miss, then something bad could happen.”

In their seven years competing, Jazz was presented with more than 2,000 cross-country obstacles.

While you may not want to take on the obstacles of a cross-country course, you can still improve your horsemanship by learning a few simple dressage concepts. Learn how to add precision to your patterns, get your horse balanced and engage his hindquarters, make him more maneuverable and so much more. Download your free copy of Riding Dressage to get started.

When starting out in eventing, Bonner never thought that she would someday be competing at Rolex. She had every intention of competing at lower levels with Jazz, but says Jazz just kept surprising her with his ability to keep jumping clear all the time.

“I think he has the biggest heart,” Bonner says. “His heart is what makes him able to do it.”

Since his retirement, Jazz has become king of the remuda at the Briscoe Ranch in Uvalde, Texas, the home place of Bonner’s grandfather, former Texas Gov. Dolph Briscoe.

Thank you to Maria Morgan of Captured Moment Photography for allowing us to use the photo of Manuela riding Such Depth. See other photos and many of their custom photo products at www.capturedmomentphoto.com. You may also reach Maria directly at 619-823-9758.

AQHA Video

Want to learn more about dressage and eventing? Watch as AQHA Professional Horsewoman Lynn Palm talks about dressage basics while riding a through a series of dressage maneuvers.