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March Madness-Spotted Style by: Beth Mohon The Sport Horse Division of the Spotted Saddle Horse Breeders and Exhibitors Association ran through March like a wild lion and the lamb was not in sight. This division is on fire with activities for the young and old, for the light hearted not faint hearted, for the riders that want all the glory and still smile at the end of the run because they are on the Cadillac of all horses-the Spotted Saddle Horse. March started off with the Sport Horse Division hosting a YOUTH DAY at Calsonic Arena in Shelbyville, TN. Thirty-one young riders attended with spirit and determination written all over their faces. Each committee member that makes up the Sport Horse Division held a short clinic to instruct the riders on the rules and discipline of their event. The instructors walked the youngsters through events such as keyhole racing, jumping, reining, barrels and poles, and obstacles. Equine saddle seat instructor Liz Gasaway was on hand to teach proper showmanship. Going through the events, the riders were broken into appropriate age groups. Each age group performs different tasks in the Sport Horse Divisions. Needing a break from all the hard work, Phil Dunivan Stables of Petersburg, TN provided a pizza lunch. After lunch, the riders got to practice what they had learned. A fun show was held to the delight of all the young riders. The day ended with skilled riders, tired horses, and pleased parents. The second annual YOUTH DAY is already in the works for next year. Cowboys and Spotted Saddle Horses took over the Calsonic Arena in Shelbyville, TN on March 16 and 17 for the Sport Horse Divisions Winter Games Event. The chairman of the event is John Mohon of Covington, TN. John and six committee members put on the two-day event. The two days held 40 classes and 507 entries. Classes were offered in reining, barrels and poles, team penning, shot gunning, obstacles, keyhole racing, turn and burn, jumping, and many more exciting events. The skills of horse and rider were in top form for the first event of the year. Contestants poured into Shelbyville from Kentucky, Alabama, Mississippi, Missouri, and Tennessee. Several new challenges were presented to the horse and rider on the obstacle course. A "snake pit" was designed to check the horse's sure footedness. A chicken walking around a mailbox added some excitement to the course. The usual favorites were in place, as well, the teeter-totter, narrow bridge, backing L, the three platform boxes, the log crossing, and more. A new timed event, turn and burn, proved to be a huge hit with the adults and juvenile riders. Riders entered the ring, maneuvered a jump, then wove a figure eight around three barrels, then went back over the jump. All of this was performed against the clock. Riders, as young as 6, mastered the new event and turned in super times. The keyhole race is always a favorite. A young West, TN rider turned in the best time in this event. Young Samantha Mohon left everyone in her dust as she and her black and white World Champion mare My Lady Faline turned in a time of 10.021. The soggy barrels and poles proved which horses were not only the fastest but also the smoothest. In this class the time and the amount of water left in an eight-ounce glass are combined to determine the winner. Young and old get a cleansing during this class and all leave with huge smiles on their faces. Feeling the wind in their faces, the contestants raced through the barrels and poles with record times. The participants in these two events just keep getting faster and faster as each event has unfolded over the past five years. The events ended with the cattle work. Team penning and shot gunning are always a big draw for the Spotted Sport Horses. Young rank calves tested the rider's horsemanship and skill. Classes for 11 and under juvenile riders, 12-17 juvenile riders, and open classes were offered. A favorite draw is always the mixed class where one lady or child must be on every team. Teams competed for large paybacks and bragging rights in the cattle divisions. The Fifth Annual Sport Horse Winter Games was defiantly a success with 507 entries, happy participants, and tired committee members. Several events are coming up for the SSHBEA Sport Horse Division including a trail ride, a Sport Horse Event sponsored by the Arkansas Gaited Association over Memorial Day Weekend, team penning sponsored by State Line Arena of Fayetteville, TN, and the Ohio Celebration sponsored by the Ohio Spotted Horse Association in July. To learn more about any of these events contact John Mohon at (901) 476-4030 or the SSHBEA office in Shelbyville, TN. Spotted Saddle Horses are storming the country like the March Madness just felt in Shelbyville -- when the spots roared into town.

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