While Saturday, June 22, was the final day of the Back To Berrien Futurity and AQHA Show, organizers saved one of the most fun events for last. The Back To Berrien team threw down “The Challenge” and six intrepid exhibitors accepted. Exhibitors first showed their horses in a bridleless competition, and then ran them in a barrel race to determine an overall winner. The champion of the class could win a unique one-horse gooseneck trailer or accept a $7,000 cash award.

Up To "The Challenge"

Dawn Baker entered Only Ride The Best in The Challenge on Friday evening right before the riders were sold Calcutta-style during the Crisis Fund auction. “I decided to enter it last night after a couple of cocktails,” laughed Dawn. “It’s for a great cause. I worked with Teddy on it a little bit last night and he was really good. I decided I would see how he showed in the Maturity today and if he didn’t warm up well, I was going to skip it, but he was great.”

Dawn had a little strategy going into the two portions of the class. “When I started riding Teddy bridleless, he just had this ‘don’t worry, I’ve got this’ vibe to him. He really is Perfect Teddy. Brian told me that he showed better than ever, which tells me I need to just get out of his way. He even did the extended canter well when they called for it, and he would have come back and gone slower if they asked for it. In the barrels, I knew I wasn’t going to run him hard, but I figured with his big stride we might have an advantage.”

Dawn and Teddy were clearly the crowd favorites in the bridleless class, and both celebrity judges, Rob Foster and Wallace Anderson, placed her first.

Dawn chose the cash award for her prize, and her husband Brian donated a portion of his Calcutta winnings back to the Crisis Fund. Jamie English won a $500 bonus for having the fastest time in the barrels.

Coco Keeps On Winning

In the Open Western Longe Line, Cocochella, owned by Brett and Heather Caplinger, took the top spot with Kenny Lakins on the lead, earning $704.56. The win added to the Non-Pro and Super Sires awards won earlier in the week with Heather on the line.

“Coco is by Makin Me Willy Wild and out of Best Kase Scenario, an RL Best Of Sudden mare,” Heather said. “We raised her. Everything is just so easy for her. She has a lot of lift and self-carriage, and she’s just soft on her feet. We really just brought her to the Premier and up to the Blue Sky circuit, and that’s the only other places she has been.”

The Caplingers plan to show Coco at the NSBA World Show and the All American Quarter Horse Congress. She will be offered through the Congress Super Sale. “We have a full sibling to her for next year,” Heather said. “We like to raise them and show them in Longe Line and sell them.”

Strike 3 Was In, Not Out, In Youth Western Pleasure

Logan Starnes showed his four year old gelding Strike 3 to win the $1,000 Added Youth Western Pleasure, earning $640.35. “This is my second year to show Simon,” Logan said. “We raised him, so I’ve been around him ever since he was born. I got to ride him at home a little bit his two year old year.

“He’s an interesting horse and he’s a little weird. He licks the walls and he likes to bite. He’s by Batt Man and out of Certain Illusion. We will be going to the AQHYA World Show, NSBA, the Ocala Fall Championship Show and the Congress.”

The duo also won the $1,000 Added Non-Pro Four Year Old Western Pleasure Futurity.

Two Champions Named In Three Year Old, Super Sires Three Year Old Non-Pro Western Pleasure

In the $1,000 Added Three Year Old Non-Pro Western Pleasure, Jessica Lang showed her mare Look Here Cowboy to the win, earning $700. “I’ve had her almost a year now,” Jessica said.

“She’s by Hay Good Lookin and out of Huntin A Cowboy and we call her Charlie. I just love her. She’s so great to be around. We will be showing in the Non-Pro and Limited Non-Pro classes the rest of the year. She’s going to get to stay around though, she’s pretty special to me, so I’ll go on and show her in the Amateur some.”

In the Super Sires portion of the class, Mallory Mendard piloted Ole Red to the win, earning $3,690. The duo was also the reserve champions in the Back To Berrien portion of the class. “We call her Sangria, and we raised her. She’s by VS Code Red,” Mallory said. “She’s probably only been shown four times. I showed her at the Congress last year, and she had the winter off, but then we showed again at the Premier in Kentucky.

“We’re prepping for the NSBA World Show. I started her, and then Aaron Moses has helped me with her, and I really appreciate his help. She’s been with him since after the NSBA World Show last year and it’s worked well for us.”

Jus Be Good Was Good In The Three Year Old Open Hunter Under Saddle

Amber Hanson Pickard piloted Jus Be Good for owner Sara Jackson-Vance to win the $5,000 Added Three Year Old Open Hunter Under Saddle, earning $2,782.98. “He’s by Good Better Best and out of Just Sayin, and we call him Artimus,” she said.

“I really like him. He’s soft, and has a great stride, and I feel he represents the Hunter Under Saddle horse at both the trot and the canter. I showed him last year at the Congress in the Two Year Old Maiden Hunter Under Saddle and we were in the top five there.

“We were reserve at the Premier and March To The Arch earlier this year, and we’ll be showing in the Three Year Old Open Hunter Under Saddle at the NSBA World and the Congress. I have him all to myself this year, but we’re working to make him a Non-Pro horse for Sara later.”

Cowboy and Aaron Moses Win Open Western Pleasure Maturity

Alicia Ritsema was busy shopping for a wedding dress last fall when Aaron Moses called to tell her he had found her next horse. She bought This Cowboys Mine and didn’t get to ride him until just before she showed him at the Congress last year. Since then she’s also shown Cowboy at the Sun Circuit, the A Sudden Impulse and at Back To Berrien, with Aaron showing the gelding in the Open Maturity classes.

“There’s nothing like jumping in at the top shows,” she laughed. “I’m just really getting to know him. He has a great personality, and he tries really hard. Aaron does a great job with him, and they did really well today. He and Aaron have just clicked.” The win was especially sweet since Alicia considers Berrien Springs her home turf. “I only live about 45 minutes from here, so it’s a great place for my family and friends to be able to come and watch,” she said.

Alicia added her own trophy with Cowboy later in the day in the $1,000 Added Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, Ohio No-Pro Owner/Rider Western Pleasure class.

Aaron, Alicia and Cowboy are showing Cowboy in Maturity Non-Pro, Amateur and Open Maturity Western Pleasure classes at the NSBA World Show, Ocala Fall Championship Show, Congress and AQHA World Show. However, Alicia will be working her fall schedule around her wedding on September 14.

Inspiring A Win: Certainly Inspired and Jay Starnes Win Three Year Old Western Pleasure

Show attendees may be accustomed to seeing Jay Starnes in the saddle with the mare Certainly Inspired, but the mare’s ownership recently changed when Richard and Betty Jo Carr purchased her.

“Richard and Betty Jo just bought her about two weeks ago,” Jay said. “We raised her. She’s by The Lopin Machine and out of Certain Illusion. I showed her at the Congress last year and won the Two Year Old Western Pleasure Futurity with her. This year, she’s gotten a little stronger and I think things are a little easier for her. She was really good today. She did everything I asked of her and I couldn’t have asked for more.

“I’m excited that Richard and Betty Jo have kept her with me this year to show in the Open Three Year Old Western Pleasure futurities, including the NSBA World Show, Congress and the AQHA World Show. I believe Richard is planning to show her in the Non-Pro next year.”

To view complete show results for the Back To Berrien Futurity and AQHA Show, please visit the Horse Show Tracker.

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