LIZ SALMON 01/11/2001

This years US National championships held on October 19th to the 28th in Albuquerque New Mexico, were full of good old patriotic emotion and scandal. It seemed that everyone had US flags attached to their stalls, golf carts and themselves. I even saw horses sporting rugs of the National emblem.

Well, the scandal was that for the first time in history a judge was fired for biased and political judging !! How did the powers that be discover it —you might well say ? This judge was placing two certain trainers high regardless of how their horses went, I'm talking here about performance. After a number of complaints the judging commissioner looked into it, and monitored the judge's placings when the two trainers were not in the classes . It appeared then that his judging was consistent with the other two judges . A video was also taken. I believe the final straw was during a driving class when one of the two trainers horses did something fairly drastic, and still ended up in first place on that judges card, while nowhere on the other two judges cards. An amateur rider was also discovered with a radio device on her, being coached in the ring by her trainer, which is illegal, so she was disqualified.

There were about 2000 horses entered and the crowds of spectators seemed bigger than in previous years. This year the number of judges had been reduced to three in each section. In my opinion, there seemed to be less politics in the judging, with more lesser known faces in the ribbons. However, I wish I could say the same about the halter judging. In the yearling colt class, the winner was first on two cards and unplaced on the third. I believe that I'm not the only one confused as to what some judges are looking for. The Saddlebred look is unfortunately still very evident.

A very interesting fact is that among the Champions was the Prix Saint George National dressage Champion and Reserve fourth level Champion. This was the 12 year old stallion Taez by *Ralvon Elijah out of a *Serafix daughter Serenado ridden by Chelsey Sibley. It was his first Nationals ever.

There were some lovely halter horses, unfortunately not enough of them made top ten. The yearling Sweepstakes classes were huge as usual. I did not see the first cuts of these classes, but the top ten colts were a fairly even bunch, better I think than the fillies, but then they had a different set of judges officiating. Capturing the Colt and gelding Championship was the attractive TF Psymreekhe (Psymadre xLappes Mreekhie). Reserve was Major Debut (DS Major Afire x Ames Valerie) a pretty colt, but neither of them were my type of horse. The yearling fillies were a very mixed group with far too many plain heads in my opinion. It was one of these who eventually won the Championship. She also won in Scottsdale this year—Ames Jasmine (DS Major Afire x G Kallora). Reserve was Felisha BHF (Falcon BHF x Tevkah) a very pretty filly with a lovely head.

The futurity classes for three year olds were well filled with some lovely horses, but again not all the good ones went on to become a top ten. The filly winner was the Scottsdale and Canadian Champion S Justadream(Justafire DGL x Acquaintance) a filly with a long neck, reserve to her was the gorgeous, typey and good moving filly who should have been champion in my opinion. This was Shalina El Jamaal (Parys El Jamaal x Shalina), I felt that she could win anywhere in the world.

The futurity colt class was fairly mixed, and I think all but two or three had club feet visible from the ringside !! The Champion EA Echstravagant (Echo Magniffico x Mariaah) was correct enough and quite typey, however my choice by far was the Reserve Champion Besson Carol (Parys El Jamaal x Classic Crystal). He was very typey, correct and moved well, he would also make a lovely riding horse, both horses had good feet and legs as far as I could see.

By the time the Mare Championship was due to be held on Friday, the showground was buzzing with the news of the fired judge, as the reserve judge had stepped into his place that morning. The evening opening ceremonies began with two horses bringing in the Canadian and IAHA flags followed by the Park Horse Matoi entering with US flag to a tumultuous applause, and the singing the anthems with the audience enthusiastically joining in. The ten mares were disappointing to say the least with too many plain heads.

Predictably the Scottsdale and Canadian Champion S Justadream added another title to her name, as she had already won the Futurity title the day before. She gave a rather sour show, which is not surprising considering how much she has been shown. Reserve to her was a pretty mare with a good topline, this was Ptasha(Sshameless x GWB Ptara). One has to speculate how the result would have been if the original judge has still been officiating.

The commercial exhibits felt the pinch I think, although the British contingents of the Arabian Saddle Company and J. Anne Butler had good shows with plenty of customers. Anne had done the most beautiful small bronze of Khemosabi, of which she sold six editions at the show.

The speculation during the last day was naturally—who was going to win the Stallion Championship ? There was a good crowd for the final performance, the arena shavings were green as for the night before and the opening ceremonies were repeated. The ten stallions bounced into the ring, putting on a good show and moving with more freedom and better action than usual. I couldn't take my eyes off Dakar El Jamaal (*Ali Jamaal x *Sonoma Lady), he trotted in with great style and presence. He was obviously a favourite for the title. Another ethereal horse was the Monogramm son Consensus, who brought the house down with his Park action. After each horse has been presented to the judges, the horses lined up one behind the other each side of the arena.

Finally the Reserve Champion was announced as Dakar El Jamaal. That result made me realize that the winner was probably going to be the Scottsdale and Canadian Champion Millennium LOA (Bucharest V x Barbary Rose VF). And so it was to be. I do find it difficult to understand the passion for Arabians that look like Saddlebreds . In my opinion it does not seem to be judging to the breed standard as laid out by the Associations. Even the hunter horses are now going with padded shoes to give them more knee action.

At the moment there is much turmoil within the organizations here. Whether to have a separate Sport Horse Nationals, or split Purebreds from Half Arabs or Halter from Performance. There are too many classes at the moment to include the growing and popular Sport Horse classes or expand the Dressage at Nationals. Exhibitors are turning more and more to these divisions as they are rightly perceived as being fairer and more objective. Who knows what will happen in the future, as IAHA are now talking about forming their own Purebred registry.

Turbulent times all round, but nothing seems to take away the love of the Arabian Horse, which often helps us in times of trouble. I look forward to seeing many of you in Paris.


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