Sunday, October 9, saw the conclusion of Equestrians With Disabilities classes, while Small Fry and over fences continued and Longe Line classes got underway.

A Trail of Champions

Cooper Arena saw a busy morning with Small Fry Trail as well as Supported and Independent Equestrians With Disabilities Trail classes.

In the Small Fry Showmanship, Kendall Lavelle showed Dont Doubt Im Cool to her very first Congress championship. “Jake is seven years old, and he’s by No Doubt Im Lazy. We got him when he was four years old and he just did Western Pleasure. My grandparents and my aunt didn’t think he would make a very good Small Fry horse, but we’ve proven them wrong,” Kendall said.

“I really like doing Trail. I especially liked the bridge at the end of our pattern today, because you had to focus on the pole before it – if you concentrated on the bridge, you would hit the pole with your horse’s back feet. The part that was hard was the curve where you went around the poles because you had to get your steps in just right.”

Kendall was excited about her first Congress win. “It felt pretty good. I was crying,” she said. Her future plans are to continue to show Jake in Novice Youth classes in 2023.

In the Equestrians With Disabilities Supported Walk Trot Trail, it was hard to miss the smile on the face of Jonathan Conrad after he won the class. Showing Lazys Leadin Lady, earning a score of 222. Jonathan also showed a second horse, VS Coded N Chrome, to fifth place in the class.

“Jonathan started doing hippotherapy in 2004 when we lived in Georgia,” noted his father, Dennis Conrad. “He has a chromosome abnormality and he also has one leg shorter than the other. He has some memory issues also. He just enjoyed riding so much and we saw such a change in him. The barn where he was at had a Special Olympics equestrian team, so he started there. He’s been riding competitively now for 12 years.

“When we moved to West Virginia, we started riding in the training barn of Bobby Dean in Morganfield, West Virginia, and we get to show at some of the shows at Centre Hall, Pennsylvania and around West Virginia and Ohio. Even though Jonathan can’t really carry on a conversation, he loves being at the barn, riding, building that relationship with the horses, and being around the horses and the horse people. He puts in a lot of practice and rides at least two days every week. Riding seems to really help his core, his balance and his overall mental health, and doing classes like Trail where he has to memorize a pattern is really good for his memory, too.”

In the Independent Rider Equestrians With Disabilities Trail, Kelsey Wieck had only herself to beat, as she took both first and second in the class riding Superwomann to the championship and Walk Away Hocus to the reserve title, earning a score of 222.5 for first and 221.5 for the second place finish. Kelsey, who has a rare genetic condition called Sotos Syndrome, has low muscle tone, speech delay and cognitive delays that can cause her to forget parts of the pattern sometimes.

“Kelsey started riding first with Special Olympics and later with Equestrians With Disabilities classes, noted her mother, Joanne Weick. “She started riding with Partners For Progress when she was seven years old, and she started volunteering there when she was 12 years old. Now, she volunteers there five days a week anywhere from six to eight and sometimes ten hours a day. She’s 31 now, and she’s come a long way. She’s worked very hard to get the patterns down, and it’s taken years to get that. We used to say that she was doing ‘freestyle’ patterns, because she just couldn’t get them, but now she does. It’s been amazing.”

In the Equestrians With Disabilities Walk Jog Independent Rider Western Pleasure, Mason Egan guided Megas Playboy to his first Congress championship. “Mason was top three at the Congress last year, so this was really huge,” noted his mother, Jackie Egan.

“Mason was born with CMV, which weakens the immune system, and also has congenital XXYY syndrome and a rare esophagus syndrome. He has been on horses since he was two and a half years old, and he did Lead Line for a number of years. He continually wants to learn and do more and get better. He competed in his first loping class last month in Oklahoma. We work with Stable Strides in Flower Mound, Texas, and they have helped him so much. He loves the group of riders that he shows and rides with.”

“I was a little nervous before my class,” Mason said. “Mega was really good, though, and we had a good ride.”

Kasey Kernen had never been to the All American Quarter Horse Congress before, and she and her horse Potentially Dun came away from the show with two Congress championships in Equestrians With Disabilities Independent Walk Trot Horsemanship and Independent Hunt Seat Equitation.

“I’ve had Moe for a year, and he’s seven years old,” Kasey said. “I work with Star Performance Horses in Michigan. It’s always been my dream to come and show at the Congress, and now we have. I am legally blind, and I have a blind spot in the middle of both my eyes. I have Stargardt disease, which is a degenerative retinal disease. I had an opportunity to come here and be an inspiration to other riders just like they are inspirational to me. Everyone has been so kind and welcoming here.”

Moe is by Vans Bandito Gold and out of GSF Just Potential.

Kasey proved that she has a love and talent for the pattern classes by performing flawless patterns in both events. “In the Horsemanship, I just wanted to go in and not have many nerves, to feel like I belonged out there and have a clean go,” she said.

In the Equestrians With Disabilities Walk Trot Hunter Under Saddle, Robert Castellitto showed a horse he hasn’t owned very long to the win. Willy Fine Wine came to Robert primarily knowing Hunter Under Saddle and Pleasure Driving. “We just got Phoebe in the spring of this year,” Robert said.

“She keeps improving every day. She didn’t know the Trail, or Showmanship or Horsemanship, so we had to teach her all of those things. She’s young, and it takes time to get good at things, so I have to be patient with her. Everyone tells me that she has so much potential, and we think she does too. We just work at building up her skills, and I think she is the right horse to have for a long time. We’ve been working very hard, and so has my trainer, Brenda Wasser. It feels really good to get this win, and I’m really happy about it.”

Galyean Girls Grip On Small Fry Western Pleasure

Gracelyn and Aislynne Galyean are sisters, and they competed against each other in the Congress Small Fry Western Pleasure. When the places were announced, the two Galyean girls had placed first and second in the class. Gracelyn showed KM Suddenly So Easy to the championship while Aislynne showed VS Lady In Red to the reserve award.

“This is so amazing,” Gracelynne said. “I’ve never been a Congress champion before. I just showed Penelope for the first time at the NSBA World Show, and we won there, and now we’ve won here. I love her jog, and I love her lope too. Plus she is so pretty. It’s great.”

Leading Longe Line Exhibitors

The Congress Non-Pro Western Yearling Longe Line class had three parts to the class that included the Congress NSBA division as well as additional divisions for horses eligible for the Southern Belle Breeders and the Super Sires programs. When the final placings were announced, the top three Congress places were the same for the NSBA, Southern Belle Breeders and Super Sires, with Heather Caplinger’s Makin Shine taking the tops in all three divisions, earning approximately $7,000 in earnings.

“We bought Moe from a video from a lady in Oregon, and we liked him so well that we bought his dam too,” Heather said.

“He’s just the kind of horse that we like. He has an excellent top line and he’s pretty. He and I just click, and we’ve had a lot of fun showing him this year. He had won almost $15,000 coming into the Congress, and it’s not that he has won everything, but he’s been consistently in the top three at nearly every show we went to.

Making Shine is by Makin Me Willy Wild and out of Got Good Karma (Keeping It Good).

The All American Quarter Horse Congress continues through Sunday, October 23. To view the complete show schedule, the link to the video live feed of the show or to view complete show results, please visit or go to the Horse Show Tracker app.

Go to top