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Volunteer Ranch Horse Show


By Nancy Brannon; photos by Nancy Brannon & Gary Cox

When they named their March 13-15, 2020 show at the Show Place Arena in Memphis, TN “March Madness,” Volunteer Ranch Horse Association (VOLRHA) folks probably thought they were just replicating the name of the celebrated spring NCAA basketball tournament. Little did they know when the show was planned the irony that name would hold.

 “March Madness” was an appropriate theme for the month, as the NCAA cancelled the spring tournament. In a statement released March 12: “The NCAA announced that the Division I men’s and women’s 2020 basketball tournaments, as well as all remaining winter and spring NCAA championships, were canceled because of the evolving COVID-19 public health threat.” Earlier in March, an EF-3 tornado blasted through Tennessee on March 3, strewing devastation from Nashville to Mt. Juliet, through Wilson, Putnam, and Benton counties, leaving a death toll of 24. In response to the corona virus (COVID-19), the stock market plunged several times, with a few up swings only to plunge again. People were “panic buying” at grocery stores, and large gatherings were being cancelled left and right. In fact, the Show Place Arena announced on Monday March 16 that “all event activities in Agricenter’s Expo Center, ShowPlace Arena, and Farmer’s Market that are larger than 50 people will be postponed or cancelled through March 31, 2020.” 

But the March Madness Ranch Horse Show was on and running, with folks taking the proper precautions to prevent the spread of disease. The logo for the show, a four-leaf clover inside an upturned horse shoe, may have brought some good luck to the organization and show exhibitors – especially on Friday the 13th when the AQHA special event ropings were scheduled. Show secretary Tammy Bledsoe said that horses came from eight states and that entries were “close to 300” for the three-day show, although she did say that the weather (rain again) and the virus did have an effect on attendance.  The show offered classes with affiliates NRCHA, ARHA, AQHA, AQHA VRH, VOLRHA, and NRSHA, so “there’s something for everyone,” Bledsoe said. “We’ve got it all.” They offered extra jackpot money in their two AQHA special event roping classes and the VOLRHA classes. There was $1,000 added month in both NRCHA shows.

The show began Friday evening with trail work and a variety of AQHA roping classes. Then, starting early Saturday morning, the show offered herd work, cutting, more trail, ranch riding, ranchmanship, ranch riding, ranch roping, NRCHA, and AQHA VRH classes. Sunday’s show continued at 10 a.m. with showmanship, halter classes, ranch reining, boxing, working cowhorse, and more hackamore classes. Cowboy Church was also offered on Sunday morning.

Bledsoe wrote after the show, “We had a super show with competitors from all over the Southeast who braved the odds and joined us for a fun filled weekend. We had many who tried classes for the very first time and many who showed with us for the first time. We are looking forward to having a great 2020 show season.

“I would like to thank everyone who braved the chaos and came out this weekend to join us and show despite the craziness. I would like to thank everyone who helped us with setting up and tearing down courses. Your help was greatly appreciated. I would like to thank all of our wonderful judges for being flexible and working with us during the craziness.  We hope to see you all in April.” The VOLRHA Spring Fling is scheduled for April 9-11, again at the Show Place Arena in Cordova, TN.

Amateur photographer Gary Cox was on hand to capture photos of everyone on Friday night and Saturday. He generously shared his photos with us and with the VOLRHA.

High Point winners at the show were:

VolRHA Amateur High Point Winner - Kyle Sanders / Heza MG Kinda Guy
VolRHA Amateur Select High Point Winner - Kyle Sanders / Heza MG Kinda Guy
VolRHA Open High Point Winner – (horse) Suns Lil Peppy 
VolRHA Walk/Trot 18 & Under High Point Winner - Bella Brown / Very Smart Playmate
VolRHA Youth High Point Winner - Julia Whitehead / Uno Miss Hollywood
ARHA Amateur High Point Winner - Jake Knighton / Blue Taris Glo
ARHA Novice Amateur High Point Winner - Evelyn Barker / Edgeview Star Chip
ARHA Open High Point Winner – (horse) Leavin With Me

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