Ranch Riding at Sun Circuit

View photos from Day 2 in Scottsdale, Arizona, plus meet ranch riding newbies Karen Matlo and Meradas Blu Starlite.

The American Quarter Horse Journal

Amateur Karen Matlo reviews her performance in amateur ranch riding with her trainer, Jason Hershberger. (Credit: Journal)

After Karen Matlo of Okotoks, Alberta, completed her go in amateur ranch riding (formerly known as ranch horse pleasure) at the 2015 Arizona Sun Circuit, she and trainer Jason Hershberger immediately began dissecting her performance.

“My only problem today was that I didn’t set him up for his lead change and we didn’t get the lead change,” she told the Journal.

“But I remembered the pattern!” she added.

And considering this was only the second time Karen and Meradas Blu Starlite have competed in ranch riding, she was pretty happy with their go. Besides ranch riding, Karen and “Tim” are also competing in amateur working cow horse boxing at the Sun Circuit. Karen has owned Tim, who is a 2004 sorrel stallion by Meradas Blue Sue and out of Spookster by Gray’s Starlight, since August 2013. Tim was bred by Corinne C. Heiligbrodt of Houston.

“My trainer said I did a lot of things right and I felt really good about it, so, yeah, it was good,” Karen said of her go in the class that boasted 55 entries.

“We’ve been boxing for a couple of years and I’ve just joined up with Jason Hershberger here in Arizona for the winter,” Karen added. “Jason is roping on Tim and showing him in senior working cow horse.

"I competed in ranch riding once, then I went to a clinic and my goal was to start competing regularly in it this winter," she continued. "I really like the horsemanship – your horse has to really be with you because the patterns may look easy, but they’re not. You have to prepare your horse for each transition because if you don’t, you won’t be successful. Ranch riding seems like it’s more of a team effort – the rider and the horse have to work together. There’s a lot going on in ranch riding and if you’re not connected with your horse, you’re not going to do well. You have to show that your horse is easily guided and that it can work on a ranch and do all of these maneuvers.”

Karen has been showing horses for about 10 years. “I grew up in the city and my husband grew up on a dairy farm, we moved to an acreage 20 years ago,” she explained. “Our son got into horses, we did the 4-H thing and I always enjoyed it, so I bought myself a horse and got started in western pleasure, then I had a little reining horse, but I just found the cow horse fun. So, I’ve only been doing cow horse for about three years.”

Karen and her husband own a garbage company in Okotoks, so she has been flying back and forth this winter between Arizona and Alberta to take care of business between shows.

“I’m a little overwhelmed at this show – it’s so big, but it is so nice to see the support for this show,” she added.

Karen and Tim will be back in ranch riding and boxing again on Sunday.

Journal Coverage of the 2015 Arizona Sun Circuit

  • All-Arounds and High-Points – These are the all-around and high-point champions from the 2015 Arizona Sun Circuit in Scottsdale.
  • Final Weekend – Rain sure didn't dampen their spirits! Look through these Sun Circuit candids from January 29 to February 1 in Scottsdale.
  • Day 3 – See photos from Day 3, plus meet a a German cowgirl making Versatility Ranch Horse her favorite show pen activity.
  • Day 2 – View photos from Day 2 in Scottsdale, Arizona, plus meet ranch riding newbies Karen Matlo and Meradas Blu Starlite.
  • Day 1 – Take a look through photos from Day 1, and see what working cow horse legends Bob Avila and Al Dunning have to say about 'position' during Friday's clinic.