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Ranch Horses Gallop to Bowling Green, Kentucky for World Show


Article and photos by LaCresha Kolba

The week of July 5-11, 2015 at the Western Kentucky University Ag Expo Center in Bowling Green, KY, the American Ranch Horse Association (ARHA) presented their annual World Championship Show.  The show promotes and awards ranch horses who excel in events from conformation to ranch riding, from trail to reining, from working cow horse to roping as well as several other disciplines. This was their 11th annual World Championship Show, with a successful run of over 300 horses and seven days of events.  Classes included: Ranch Trail, ATHR WCH/Reined Work, ATRH Herd Work, ATRH Ranch Roping, ATRH WCH/Fence Work, Showmanship, Horsemanship, Ranch Cutting, Working Ranch Horse, Ranch Riding, Herd Work, Leadline, Reining, Ranch Boxing, and more!  Competitors at the show were eligible for over $50,000 of awards, prizes and payouts, as well as trophy buckles and national championships. Special awards were: America’s Top Ranch Hand, Top Junior Horse, as well as a Three Year Reining Futurity. The show attracted riders fromTennessee, Kentucky, Ohio, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Texas, New York, Georgia, North Carolina, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Missouri, Wisconsin, and Canada.

Judges, also, came from all over the United States: Dan Gruenwalk, Paul Huettl both from Wisconsin, Elizabeth Phillips, Ohio; George Flue, Kentucky; Sherrye Traftone-Johnson, Maine; Brad Kelsall, Florida.  Gateman/Equipment Judge: Ernie Dowell, Steve Graves both from Kentucky.  Ring Stewards were from Tennessee: Marvin Butlet, William Butler, Weldon Towry, Joanne Smith, Casey Henry, and Bailey Forrester.  World Show Announcers were: Larry Vonderahe, Indiana, Robert Tucker, Alabama. World Show Office: Deb Barrett, Michigan; Kim Pennington, Iowa; Grounds Manager: Jeremy Swainbank, Florida; Show Manager: Sarah Lawrence; Points Tabulator, Kay Kass, Kentucky.

This show was supported by an impressive lineup of sponsors: Montana Silversmiths, the main sponsor; Ramada of Bowling Green, Segundo, Bowling Green Convention & Visitors Bureau, Boot Barn, Tractor Supply, Don Marshall Chrysler, Horse Grooming Solutions, Melby Performance Horses, Clearview Farms, Phillip Ward Performance Horses, VolRHA, Rare Art Work and Misty View Farms.

Along with the equestrian events, a variety of their vendors offered anything you ever could want or need at a horse show, from apparel, tack, jewelry, and home décor to trucks!

One of the many competitors at the show was Mallorye Holman, who began riding when she was 11 and has been showing for the past 10 years.  A friend got her involved with the American Ranch Horse Association and “after just one show, I was hooked and have been competing and making new friends ever since,” she said. Her 14 year old Paint Horse, “Our Secret Weapon,” aka “Charlie” clicked from the moment they began to work together.  “Charlie has a great personality; he always gives me his best in the show pen and at home.  Being here at the World Show is incredibly exciting for me.  I have been preparing for the past 11 months to be here,” she added.

Dave DeWell from Hebron, Indiana, representing his barn, Stone Ridge Training Center, brought seven horses for the week-long event.  Dave got started with the ARHA three years ago when he finally had a weekend off from training and showing.  “We had a show close by to the barn, and decided to just go and check it out.  The week following, one of our clients told us his horse was registered with the ARHA.  Three years later, here we are at our third World Show.

Typically, we bring 12-14 horses to a show; this week we have seven.  The big difference here, compared to other shows, is the support from your competitors.  You can see a kid grinning ear to ear simply proud of how he and his horse did with a pattern.  You may be a stranger walking in, but it isn’t long until you feel like you are going to a family reunion,” he explained.  Our conversation was interrupted with cheers. “You hear that?” he leans in. “Those are that riders’ competitors,” he said, pointing to one rider in the arena.  “The support here is amazing to me.  I have seen someone end up with a lame horse, and next thing you know, a stranger is getting his horse from the stall and tacking it so they can ride.”  Out of the seven horses Dave and his wife brought, Smart Kid Banza stood out in the competition. 

“Last year he took third in the Junior Ranch Challenge.  He is easy to get along with, tries hard, easy to train; he was a lucky find!” Dave commented that even his clients who ride Hunters at his barn are starting to ride with the ARHA. 

According to Erica Keeney, President of the ARHA, the organization continues to grow and grow each year.  “There are no signs of its growth stopping, we are thrilled!” she said.

Lisa Shomberg, a competitor who has been riding with the ARHA from the very beginning, has been showing since 2002. “It all started when our oldest son wanted a horse.  We began with the Buckskin Circuit and the ARHA, but after a few years of showing both, our kids wanted to only show with the ARHA.  Eventually, they got me on the back of a horse and we are a permanent fixture with this organization.”

The ARHA is based in Nancy, Kentucky.  You can find out more on their website,  

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