Remembering Clover Bars Image
Beth Ann Lee-Floersch’s 1998 all-around amateur-winning mount died March 2 at the ripe age of 33.
By Tara Matsler | March 5, 2015
Decorated all-around mount Clover Bars Image died March 2.
The 1982 gelding was a true testament to the versatility of the American Quarter Horse, having earned more than 3,150 AQHA performance points in hunter classes, western riding, horsemanship and trail. Together with owner Beth Ann Lee-Floersch, Clover Bars Image earned the coveted all-around amateur title at the 1998 AQHA World Championship Show; he was 16 years old at the time.
In November 2011, The American Quarter Horse Journal featured Clover Bar Image’s tale in an edition of “Great Rides,” because for “Boo” and Beth Ann there were many.
“Great Rides: Clover Bars Image and Beth Ann Lee-Floersch”
By Honi Roberts in The American Quarter Horse Journal, November 2011
“Boo” had an enormous appetite for life. He loved his food: foot-long hot dogs with chili and cheese, pizza (hold the anchovies) and goulash. People bought him mashed potatoes with gravy just to watch him eat it.
He loved to jump high and could turn impossibly tight corners fast, real fast. He also loved the challenge of a wicked Tim Kimura-designed trail course. Boo loved kids and the hugs they would give him and the secrets they shared. But mostly, Boo loved Beth Ann and the life they had together.
Boo was an American Quarter Horse gelding, whose registered name is Clover Bars Image, and Beth Ann is a gravelly voiced, spunky woman whose registered name is Elizabeth Ann Lee-Floersch. They were together for most of Boo’s 33 years on this good earth.
|"Boo" and Beth Ann compete in amateur trail at the AQHA World Show. (Credit: K.C. Montgomery)|
Together, they earned more than 3,150 AQHA performance points in hunter classes, western riding, horsemanship and trail; between 1993 and 2004, they were national high-point amateur in equitation over fences a record nine times; won the 1993 AQHA versatility award; won three AQHA world championships and three reserves; garnered 11 Superior awards, both open and amateur; and were the 1998 AQHA World Show all-around amateur award winner.
We’d have no room for the story if we listed all of their noteworthy accomplishments, but you get the picture.
Years ago, Beth Ann’s dad, a college professor in the Bluegrass state, put his little 2-year-old on a pony at the state park. He had no idea what he’d started.
“I was what’s called ‘duck-footed’ as a child,” she says. “I took ballet to correct it, and wore special shoes and braces. But when I got on a horse – I felt just like all the other kids! And it felt good.”
So growing up there were Pony Club, 4-H and open hunter/ jumper horse shows, with plenty of trips to the winners circle.
“Then in 1984, my (now) ex-husband took me to the All American Quarter Horse Congress,” she says. “I’d never even sat in a western saddle, and it fascinated me. The people were wonderful. And by the time we left, I’d decided I wanted to be a part of that world. I wanted a Quarter Horse.”
Beth Ann’s husband also introduced her to Verna and Woodford Stewart of Owenton, Kentucky, Clover Bars Image’s breeders. By Clover Bar Leo and out of Tammy Rondo (by Smoky Rondo), the 2-year-old had not endeared himself to them, frequently jumping out of his paddock and into the neighbor’s backyard where he could munch on grapefruit rinds in the compost pile. Did we mention that Boo loves grapefruit? “I wanted a Quarter Horse,” Beth Ann says with a laugh. “And he could jump and had an attitude – what more could I want? I bought him sight-unseen for $1,000.”
Never mind that she spent four hours loading him into a trailer to bring him home. By 1986, the gelding had his first open performance Register of Merit; the next year, his amateur ROM.
“Boo loved to jump,” Beth Ann says. “Nobody hunted the jumps better than Boo. He could read a course, and when he was ‘on’ he could win by himself. “But he always hated to be worked at home and I learned early that he could have a temper. Everybody thought he was easy to ride, but looks can be deceiving; you had to ride every second you’re on his back. And Boo is a trickster.”
“Once, there was a water box with rubber ducks floating in it, and it was freaking people out,” Beth Ann says. “I didn’t have to wonder how he’d react: He picked up a duck with his mouth, and every time I’d urge him forward, he squeezed it – quack! He finally bit its head off and I had to stick my hand into his mouth to get it. You had to love Boo, if only for the entertainment value.”
But don’t even mention elephants. Boo didn’t do elephants. But how would Beth Ann know that?
The Ringling Bros. Circus winters at the Florida State Fairgrounds, where the Florida Quarter Horse Association Gulf Coast Circuit also draws crowds on sun-dazzled days. One brilliant afternoon, Beth Ann rode Boo to a class, trotted through the in-gate and past the judges seating to face a lovely outdoor jump course. They picked up a hand gallop.
At that very moment, circus handlers brought a string of elephants down the adjacent walkway. Beth Ann laughs as she remembers what happened next.
“I tipped my hat to the judges as we raced back past them at a very high rate of speed, just hoping I could stop Boo before we got to the gate!”
Suffice it to say, in a show career that spanned nearly two decades, both success and fun were had in great measure.
Beth Ann is quick to note the late 16-hand chestnut’s natural strengths: great overall balance, short cannon bone, big feet and a length of hip-to-hock that was near perfect and provided the impulsion he needed for every task.
“We owe a great deal of our success to many wonderful friends in AQHA,” she says. “And plenty of their good advice along the way.”
The best advice?
“Early on, in a senior hunter hack class, Carol Harris placed us ahead of Lynn Palm on Mission Incredible. I was in such shock; they had to physically lead me out of the line-up. Carol said to me, ‘Young lady, you know how to ride a horse. Don’t ever compromise what you know in order to fit in.’ ”
One of their great rides together was at the 1998 AQHA World Championship Show. Beth Ann and the gelding were leading the nation in equitation over fences and were in the running for the all-around amateur. The night before her equitation class, she went to check on her horse and found that someone had left a big overhead door open, and the bone-chilling November wind rushed in.
“Boo was already coughing and his nose was running,” she recalls. “The temperatures had dropped 30 degrees, and it was frigid! I stayed with him overnight and gave him hay to eat, but by morning, he had a 103-degree temperature and mine was 102. I had to listen to him to know what to do. He was fierce, but should we go for it?
“Boo was also famous for his ‘airs above the ground’ going down the chute; he liked to buck and spin a little before we went in. This time, he didn’t. But his ears were up – he knew his audience was waiting. And I could feel him getting ready to give it his all. The old Boo was with me.
“When the gate swung open, he’d always cock his head and look at me. This time, he didn’t. He just walked in, and it was probably the best go we ever had!
“There was one really tight turn, where if we missed it, we’d crash into a jump right in front of the judges. But he read the turn even before I did and was simply flawless. We placed first on four cards, second on one and won.”
But there was no time to celebrate. She quickly returned her horse to the stall and was joined by veterinarians. When Boo was comfortable, Beth Ann climbed into her trailer and after nearly two days awake, was asleep immediately.
At 8 p.m., there was a knock on the door. A voice said, “Come down to the arena, there’s one more class.”
“Not true,” she replied, and turned over.
A half hour later, another knock. This time, it was Barbara Linke, formerly of AQHA and now with the Texas Quarter Horse Association, who said, “You have 30 minutes to dress, saddle up and get to the arena. You’re in contention for the all-around title, and this is the World Show’s 25th anniversary. You need to be there!”
Beth Ann and Boo were there. When they arrived, an amateur western riding class was in progress and the all-around championship hung in the balance. One competitor could beat Beth Ann if she placed seventh or better. That rider placed 11th.
“I don’t even remember going into the arena for the award presentation,” Beth Ann says. “I just know how many people helped us get there! I was so grateful for what AQHA gave me.”
Clover Bars Image officially retired in 2004 after his last year-end high-point (in amateur equitation over fences).
“I cherish most that he was the one horse my dad ever rode and that little children could run to him in the pasture, throw their arms around him and he’d break a leg before he’d step on them. He was just so stinkin’ adorable! Along the way, he helped me weather many storms.
“I hope someday AQHA will consider Clover Bars Image for the American Quarter Horse Hall of Fame. I truly takes a great horse to compete successfully at the national level more than three decades. And Boo did just that; he was 16 years old when he won the all-around amateur at the AQHA World Show, and 22 went he was awarded his last honor roll title in the amateur equitation over fences. He represented AQHA in many arenas and had a pretty good show record.
“Thank you, Boo, for letting me enjoy AQHA during some of the greatest years in AQHA history. Like it was said in the movie Lonesome Dove, ‘It was a hell of a ride.’ ”