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2014 Arizona Sun Circuit Sizzles: Day 1-3 Recap

Filed under: Club & Show News,Club and Show News |     

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By: Kristin Spinning

All images courtesy of Kristin Spinning

Any memories of last year’s torrential rain quickly evaporated as the 2014 AZ. Sun Circuit got underway with blues skies and warm temps this past weekend. The current forecast is for plenty of points and plenty more sun for this year’s event. That’s welcome news to Show Coordinator Doug Huls and his whole management team as they hope to best last year’s record-breaking 16,928 entries.

The exhibitor buzz around WestWorld in Scottsdale, AZ. is that the show already looks bigger, and the youth haven’t even arrived yet. Class sizes during the first two days seemed to confirm what people are feeling. Junior and Senior Cowhorse entries have doubled over last year. Cutting entries were up by 15 in the Junior and 10 in the Senior. In addition, the Western Riding pen saw an added 17 amateur riders over last year. The increasingly popular Ranch Horse Pleasure class challenged 86 horses between open and amateur divisions. Versatility Ranch Horse had a whopping 32 exhibitors.

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“We’re seeing amazing growth all the way across,” Huls says. “The amateur and select block of reining has run around 60-65 over the past few years, but on Saturday there were 110 entries.” To handle the increase, Huls and his crew quickly opened another arena and split the block. “We were able to get everyone finished by 7 p.m.,” he added.

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Anticipating large classes for 2014, some adjustments to the schedule were made. Classes were moved to reduce conflicts. The trail arena was split in half to accommodate two trail courses and to move more riders through in one day. Exhibitors in Western Riding and Trail are encouraged to sign up in blocks to keep classes running. The efficiency of the staff, from the gate crew and announcers to the maintenance team keeping the pens in shape, has been a big factor in managing the large numbers.

Sun Circuit staff works hard to be exhibitor friendly and to provide the best experience possible, and it is seen in every detail. Judge Dean Bogart commented that this was his favorite show to judge.

“This is the fourth year I’ve judged here,” Bogart says. “It’s well-run, well-organized, and they keep things running smoothly. I just love coming out here. The horses are great, and it’s a fun show.” Bogart added he also enjoys the Scottsdale location with its mountain scenery, shopping, and restaurants.

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On the opening day, exhibitors were treated to a Welcome Party with a free dinner courtesy of the Johns, Tobin, and Searles families on the Equidome Concourse. Partygoers enjoyed a delicious meal and watched the Cowhorse action in the arena.

Sun Circuit’s vendor expo has expanded as well, with shopping in the Equidome, the South Hall, and outside. A dizzying array of items including clothing, show goods, equine supplies, equipment, tack, jewelry, and home decor are on display.

The expansive facilities at WestWorld are being utilized to the max, with literally every bit of ground and every arena available for classes or warm ups. The new, climate controlled Equidome got quite a workout as the venue for Roping and Working Cowhorse classes. Exhibitors were pleased with the footing and the facilities. Corey Cushing, who was showing both rope horses and cow horses was stoked about the class sizes. “This show has been absolutely outstanding,” Cushing says. “The number of horses [that are] here, the quality of the horses that have shown, and the [quality of] cattle have been great. It all makes it a really good show.”

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It’s not truly a horse show without a little excitement. On Saturday, that came in the form of an unexpected visitor to the Novice Amateur Showmanship class. A steer escaped the Equidome cattle classes and ran into The Equine Chronicle Arena. Glenda Roberts was setting up and quartering her horse, First Time Everytime, when the steer ran past. The pair must have trained well and have a remarkable amount of trust in one another, because neither the steer, nor the cowboys who rode in after it, flustered them. Now that’s showmanship! They didn’t win a ribbon for their efforts, but they certainly won the hearts of the audience. They will never forget that day.

Sun Circuit is undoubtedly off to a fantastic start. With day four underway, the total number of entries are up by 600 over last year’s first half. Yet the well-organized team and the exceptional facilities are keeping pace. It’s no wonder that exhibitors are happy. There is plenty more action to come, with some of the biggest events scheduled for the second half of the show. See SunCircuit.com for complete details.

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