By: Brittany Bevis
Mike Hachtel’s win this evening in Junior Western Pleasure at the 2013 APHA World Show was truly bittersweet, because there was one important person missing from the stands. When Hachtel was announced as the winner with A Scenic Cheerleader, the entire crowd watched as he tipped his hat towards heaven, but many people might not know the significance of that gesture.
Wade and Laura Spell and the entire crew at Spell Show Horses certainly do. A Scenic Cheerleader, aka “Pom Pom,” belonged to the late Beth Buechler, a longtime client of theirs who recently lost her battle with cancer.
“We bought this horse for Beth when we found out she had cancer,” Wade Spell says. “We thought she might be able to show this year. In the process of getting her ready to go show, Beth’s cancer spread to her brain and she passed away this September. She was going to show here in the Masters Amateur Western Pleasure, and Mike was going to show in the open.”
“Ever since I started in the Paint Horse industry, Beth has been my most loyal client. She was the one who would stand by me. She danced the mother-son dance with me at my wedding, and she came to Christmases and Thanksgivings. She was just a really good person.”
During the last few weeks of her life, Beuchler spent time reliving memories with her family and close friends. One day, when Spell was finishing up a visit, Beuchler’s husband approached him to relay some surprising news.
“During the last two weeks of Beth’s life, we were there,” he says. “We took care of her. When we were getting ready to leave, her husband said she was leaving her two favorite horses to Laura in her will. She wanted to make sure that we got her show saddles and work saddles and her two favorite horses of all time [A Scenic Cheerleader and Indy Machine].”
“This was not just a good lady. This was an extra special lady. She stood by me when I first started and when I went to my second World Show. Every time she has been with me, no matter how good or bad I did, and we took care of her too, no matter what.”
“She left A Scenic Cheerleader to Laura in her will, and we decided to leave it in Beth’s name until after the World Show. This was supposed to be her last little hurrah, but she couldn’t quite make it that far…”
Spell explains that Beuchler was involved in the Paint Horse industry for the past 30 to 40 years. She was an integral part of not only Spell’s personal evolution as a trainer, but she owned multiple APHA World Champions as well. The moment that Beuchler’s name was announced as the owner of the winning horse was truly bittersweet for her friends in the industry.
“Laura started crying, and I got the chills,” he says. “I wasn’t happy. It was a weird euphoric feeling. Everybody wants to win the prize, but it didn’t feel like that kind of happy. It’s happy but really sad too. It makes you think about the person you lost. She supported me through all of this. She was like a second mom.”
Not only did A Scenic Cheerleader find success at the APHA World Show in memory of her fallen owner, Beuchler’s other former horse, Indy Machine, was named the Reserve World Champion in Classic Amateur Junior Western Pleasure with Tracy Stenroos in the saddle.
Due to his wife’s recent passing, Beuchler’s husband made the decision not to attend the World Show to watch her horse compete. However, Spell is certain he was watching proudly on the live feed at home.
“We called him, and he watched on the live feed, but he couldn’t come down. It was too emotional for him.”
There is one more person, who was instrumental in tonight’s win, that Spell would like to be sure to mention.
“Mike has never won the Junior Pleasure before at the Paint World,” Spell says. “He has been Reserve six or seven times, but he has never won. He caught-rode this horse and did all the work and didn’t charge us a dime, because that’s what Beth wanted. He stayed by his word.”
No matter how it happened, whether it was by grand design or a touching twist of fate, these two wins on behalf of Beth Beuchler will serve as a touching tribute to a fallen competitor and dear friend.