Back to Basics Quarter Horse Show

The West Coast's first big circuit of 2018, including the Lucas Oil/Protect the Harvest Dirt & Diamonds NRCHA Derby, starts the year off with a bang.

Total Equine Event Management

(Photos courtesy of TEEM)

As spring comes onto the horizon and brings the changes of the season, so does the Back to Basics AQHA/NSBA Circuit. This show has been growing leaps and bounds for the last several years under new ownership. Held at the first class Murieta Equestrian Center in Rancho Murieta, California, the five-day event draws a lot of exhibitors from a large variety of western states & Canada. Professionally managed by TEEM (Total Equine Event Management), the annual event has always experienced large classes providing the opportunity for a lot of AQHA world show qualifying points up for grabs. This year the horse show had the beautiful, warm early spring weather it’s enjoyed in so many other years and all week long the exhibitors were in good spirits. 

Year after year, this creative group brings new ideas, launches exciting changes and as always provides a fresh approach to holding a competitive, yet fun horse show. It’s been a long time since a show has continued to draw such high numbers of entries & spectators on the West Coast. With exhibitors coming from so many different states and as far as Canada, the good word about this show has certainly spread. New for 2018 were some additional divisions added to a variety of classes. 

Jerry Alvord pointed out, “Sun Circuit in Arizona is one of the biggest shows in the country each year and both Sun Circuit and Silver Dollar Circuit in Las Vegas are in March. With those shows a month later than our circuit, it gives people & trainers a chance to come here first. If they have a good show there are plenty of points up for grabs. If not, they can use their experience in the ring at our show to go home and work on some things with their horse prior to the upcoming shows.  The Back to Basics AQHA Circuit can benefit everyone in some way.” 

“Cherie Vonada designed all of our trail & ranch riding courses again this year. She’s very creative as well and the competitors enjoyed riding a variety of fun courses.”

For those unfamiliar with Ranch Trail, the event was designed to show a horse’s ability and willingness to perform several tasks that might be asked of him during the course of a normal day’s ranch work. “Whenever possible we are going to try and use realistic or natural obstacles which is something we also do in the Ranch Riding courses for the Back to Basics AQHA Circuit. Exhibitors seem to enjoy that we are offering something new and I think trail exhibitors especially have fun showing on Cherie’s courses. The AQHA trail course she designed had a “patriotic theme” with American flags, the California State flag and flags representing all branches of our military – so  many exhibitors commented on how beautiful it was.”

The horse industry can always benefit from new ideas and a fresh approach and the fast growing popularity of this show is proof that TEEM can produce that type of event.

For exhibitors and their friends & families, the Back to Basics AQHA show also offered some good ‘ol hospitality. “We try to create a schedule that makes time for people to get together, relax and have fun outside of the intense competition of the show. With the exception of just a couple rainy days early on in the 2017 show, each year we’ve had nice weather and a very large show. The challenge each year is taking the long list of AQHA classes and divisions and crafting a schedule that doesn’t make the show days too long for exhibitors. We did make some scheduling adjustments this year to better accommodate the Youth riders and overall schedule. But the exhibitors were supportive of the intent of the changes and seemed happy because of all of the points available at such a big show.” Said Jerry Alvord. “On Thursday night we had an Exhibitors Welcome Party hosted by Lucas Oil/Protect the Harvest. And on Friday night we had dog races, which is hilarious to watch – the dogs have such a great time running and playing in that big indoor arena.” 

The Lucas Oil/Protect the Harvest Dirt & Diamonds NRCHA Derby portion of the show continues to draw increased attention due to its very low entry fees and high payouts. Lucas Oil Products Inc. and Protect the Harvest are the title sponsors and are very supportive of the equine sport industry as a whole.  In addition, since it’s inception the derby has been supported by Dan Perez and his talented stallion Brother Jackson, as well as Ken & Ramona Wold’s stallion Real Smooth Cat. Total payout for the Open Derby division was $10,500, the Non Pro payout was $4,400 and the new Limited Non Pro division of the Derby had $920. 


Coming out on top of a very tough field of Open riders was Nicholas Barthelemy riding WRS Shiney Diamond for owner Manuel Rojo taking home a custom trophy from Protect the Harvest/Lucas Oil and a check for $3,150.


Reserve Champion was Styling Time ridden by John McCarty for Tim & Barbara Crist and taking home a custom chest from Protect the Harvest/Lucas Oil plus a check for $2,625. 3rd place went to William Pennebaker showing Mr Fletch Cat and receiving a check for $2,100. 4th place was Russel Probert riding Quintallic Cat for owner Nicki Marmelzat and taking home a check for $1,575. Brad Buttrey rode Sugar Cat Rey and also took home a check for 5th place in the amount of $1050 for owner Billy Grissom.

In the Non Pro division of the Lucas Oil/Protect the Harvest Dirt & Diamonds Derby competitors were vying for the $4,400 pot. Many were return competitors from last year’s event, in addition to several new exhibitors.

It was a close race among the top 2 and they battled it out. Polly Bremel and her horse Rockstar Lights set the mark from day one with the high herd work score of 142 and in the end they were the 2018 Non Pro Champions with a total score of 425. This team came to show and along with the championship title took home the custom crystal trophy from Protect the Harvest/Lucas Oil and a check for $1,320.

LaDona Emmons riding Hey Nicci were the high fence score marking a 147 and that gave them the Reserve Champion title, taking home a custom chest from Protect the Harvest/Lucas Oil and a check for $1,100.

Mandy Lizama riding San Master Peppy tied for third and fourth place with Jayson Fisher showing This Cats A Keeper – each taking home a check for $770 along with their Olympic style medals.

Fifth place and a check for $440 went to John Showalter riding Yellow Roze of Texas.

The 2018 Non Pro Limited division in the Derby benefitted from some added money provided by the owner of the stallion Brother Jackson bringing the total money to $920. 

Jessica Wright showed her horse, Timeless Fashion to become the Non Pro Limited Derby Champion and took home a check for $414.00. Along with the championship title and check this duo took home a beautiful custom trophy from Protect the Harvest/Lucas Oil.

Reserve Champion honors went to Dunit Lika Star and Laurel Morais, taking home a custom chest from Protect the Harvest/Lucas Oil and a check for $322.

Receiving third place honors and a check for $184 from the Non Pro Limited Derby were Kylie Haskins showing in her first Derby and riding Pepe Le Wright.

The Back to Basics AQHA Circuit has support of great sponsors such as:  Lucas Oil, Protect the Harvest, the stallion Brother Jackson owned by Dan Perez, Ken Wold Training Stables, Zanetti Performance Horses & Ron Zanetti of George Petersen Insurance Services, Busick Quarter Horses, Reynolds Ranch & Farm Supply, Doug Ingersoll & Customer and Markel Insurance.

There were classes for everyone, at every level of ability and age group - both AQHA and All Breed. From Halter to Pleasure, Cattle classes to Trail, Ranch Riding to Hunter Under Saddle; this show offered it all. The 11 & Under All Breed youth exhibitors competed for a Hi Point 11 & Under buckle. “Overall, folks just seemed to be enjoying the show. All of our staff work to provide friendly & efficient customer service and we try to hire great judges that can judge the long list of events we offer. Everyone seemed to be in good spirits all week, most of the classes were really big so a lot of points were available. TEEM tries to have positive attitudes both inside the office and out….Happy people are contagious and it spread across the show grounds for the entire week.” says Kathy Davis/Show Secretary. 

With the continued success of the National Reined Cow Horse Association sanctioned Lucas Oil/Protect the Harvest Dirt & Diamonds Derby and the non-stop growth of the Back to Basics Circuit, there is an added bonus for all exhibitors on the West Coast to come to this great event. It drew contestants from Washington, Oregon, Nevada, Idaho, Arizona, California as well as Canada. 

They have some plans we are tossing around for the 2019 event ... so stay tuned!

AQHA, PCQHA, NSBA and NRCHA are the governing bodies of this competition, and are responsible for promoting the sport, insuring high standards of competition, ethical treatment of the animals and educating members and the public about the history and traditions of the horse.

Visit the TEEM website at for upcoming shows and for more unofficial results, go to

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