Show Season Starts in the Southwest

Gorgeous weather and strong entries mark the Southwest Quarter Horse Association show January 17-18 in Las Cruces, New Mexico.

The American Quarter Horse Journal

Halter class at the Southwest Quarter Horse Association January 2015 show (Credit: Rob Campion) Scroll down to see more photos.

The Southwest Quarter Horse Association held its first show of the 2015 season over the weekend of January 17-18. Dona County Fairgrounds in Las Cruces, New Mexico, the home site of the show, features an outdoor and covered arena, as well as more than 100 covered stalls.  The weather was cooperative with highs in the mid 60’s and sunshine all day. The conditions could not have been more perfect! Judges for the show were Leo Fourre of Edina, Minnesota, and Allen Mitchels of Michigan City, Indiana, who provided the contestants with solid judging and excellent feedback. The show welcomed a wide range of entries from first-time competitors to AQHA world show finalists. Each competitor was able to find an appropriate level of challenge, and all were treated with SWQHA hospitality.  

Saturday hosted what the locals call “Cow Day,” with reining, ranch riding (formerly ranch horse pleasure), boxing, working cow horse, breakaway roping and ranch sorting. Ranch riding continues to be the most popular class, with more 40 entries. Perhaps it was the excellent weather, but entries were strong for all classes at the show. Trail exhibitor at the Southwest Quarter Horse Association January 2015 show (Credit: Rob Campion)Those who chose to pre-enter were rewarded with the chance to win a gift from Jessica’s Custom Creations. Cattle provided by SWQHA member Rylan Walters were enjoyed by every contestant and were noted to be quick and challenging. The day ended with ranch sorting under the bright lights.  

Sunday began with great weather and temperature, as English classes opened the day. The show is carefully scheduled with competitors in mind to allow for tack and clothing changes, and the perfect weather allowed contestants to show in the outdoor arena while the covered arena served as an excellent warm-up area. Halter classes were next, with strong entries and a competitive field. The show moved along at a great pace with showmanship and trail classes following. The trail course featured new equipment this year donated by SWQHA member Kathleen Walker. Western pleasure and horsemanship classes finished the day with a field of riders still fresh in the warm New Mexico winter weather.  

The AQHA high-point winners were as follows:

  • Open (both judges) – NMSU Boon Lit Kandle, a 2008 red roan gelding (Smart Lena Boon-NMSU Kelsey Kandle by CJ Sugar), owned by Stacy Ann Weatherly of Mesquite, New Mexico
  • Amateur (one judge) – Showme Big Chaos, a 2009 bay gelding (Random Chaos-Boston Tea Rose by Boston Butterscotch), shown by Diane Roggenthen of Glendale, Arizona, and owned by Sharon Dotzler of Tucson, Arizona
  • Amateur (one judge) – Baylite Serenade, a 2005 sorrel mare (Bay Starlite-Zan Par Lena by Cisco Lena), shown by Tessa Colegrove of Tucson, Arizona, and owned by Janice Taylor of Tucson
  • Select amateur (both judges) – Gentleman Smoker, a 2009 brown gelding (Ima Smokin Zipper-Champagne Emotions by Skip N Jay), owned and show by Ellen Schmickle of Vado, New Mexico
  • Youth (both judges) – Kalley Te Olena, a 1996 bay mare (Legend Of A Star-Kelley Olena by Jay Olena), shown by Alexandra Santos of Tucscon, Arizona, and owned by Janice Taylor of Tucson

Showmanship exhibitor at the Southwest Quarter Horse Association January 2015 show (Credit: Rob Campion)The SWQHA board works hard to provide quality show opportunities for competitors of all levels and experience. The shows are staffed and run by board members and association volunteers to create a show big enough to help exhibitors achieve their goals and have a competitive environment, yet still familial enough where you know everyone’s name. Many participants commented that the show was a great place for beginners and youth (more than 40 walk-trot entries!) and a place for even the best to be challenged. All agreed that you couldn’t beat the weather or hospitality.

More SWQHA shows are to come in 2015, with the next being February 7-8 in Las Cruces, but the association’s biggest events of the year include the SWQHA Border Circuit during Memorial Day weekend (May 22-25) and the SWQHA Fall Futurity September 4-7. See the full SWQHA show calendar at and be sure to like SWQHA on Facebook.