By Shelby Layne Ridgway
Photos by Renew Creative by Shelby Layne
The Memorial Day Circuit featuring the 21st Annual Stanford Happening Memorial took place in Texarkana, Arkansas, on May 26-29, 2023. The weekend was full of beautiful weather, a lot of laughter, and great prizes!
Arkansas Quarter Horse paid out over $3,000 in winnings, awarded 23 buckles, custom halters, neck ribbons, stools, trophies, and more to exhibitors in western pleasure, horsemanship, showmanship, English, trail, ranch riding, ranch trail, working western rail, walk-trot, and lead-line classes! Exhibitors enjoyed the laid-back atmosphere, exhibitor and cocktail parties, good size classes, and awards.
As it has been for two decades, the Memorial Day Circuit featured several Stanford Happening classes. Those classes were the $500 added Stanford Ranch Riding, $500 added Non-Pro Level 1 Rider Western Pleasure, Level 1 Rider 11 & Over Walk-Trot, and Small Fry Walk-Trot. These classes were open to all breeds just as the original Stanford classes were 30 years prior.
The Stanford Happening was started by Jerry B. Stanford who dreamed of bringing a major futurity to Arkansas. Thus, the original Stanford Happening was held in July 1993 at Whispering Oaks (Triple Crown) Arena in Cabot. It was open to all breeds, and Stanford classes have remained that way since. Jerry was a major influence on the western pleasure industry. He helped to create the modern-day western horse and was one of the founding members of the National Snaffle Bit Association (NSBA.) Two horses that put Stanford on the map were The Investor and Dynamic Deluxe. Jerry guided many of present-day trainers and exhibitors. He originally called Texas his home, but soon after his move to Arkansas in 1986, he adopted it as his home. The horse industry suffered a major loss at Jerry’s sudden death in 2002, because of the impact Jerry had on many in Arkansas, ArQHA felt it appropriate to hold an Annual Stanford Happening Memorial as a tribute to this great trainer, teacher, and friend. This was the 20th year of the memorial, and one of the first to be back in Arkansas after many years in Tunica, MS and Memphis, TN. Just as Jerry wished for all the exhibitors at the first Stanford Happening, ArQHA wishes “that each and everyone here leaves with money, prizes, smiley faces and fond memories.” YE-AH!
Stanford Happening winners:
Returning for the eighth year was the famous Blind Horsemanship Challenge. All riders entered the arena and faced the out gate. They each received 60 seconds to study the pattern; then, they turned around and attempted to remember and complete it. There are 16 entries this year, and only two walked out of the arena completing the pattern correctly. They split the nearly $1,000 pot between the two of them!
Thanks to fantastic sponsors, a saddle was awarded to the level 1 youth/level 1 amateur horse/rider combination who racked up the most points in ranch riding, ranch trail, and working western rail classes on Sunday. After a very close finish, Julie Crossland and Hot Angel Flying came out on top with over 1,000 points from their scored classes and rail classes. High-Point champion buckles were also awarded to the highest scoring/highest placing horse/rider combo in the Ranch Trail and Working Western Rail classes on Sunday.
Level 1 High-Point buckles for the show were awarded to the highest scoring level 1 youth/level 1 amateur in showmanship, horsemanship, English (hunter under saddle and hunt seat equitation), and trail. A High-Point Non-Pro buckle was awarded to the highest scoring youth, amateur, or select exhibitor in those classes, and an open high-point buckle was also awarded in the trail.
Stanford Happening stools were a staple at past shows and made a comeback this year. They were awarded in AQHA Western Pleasure classes to some overall class winners on Saturday.
A special thanks to the great sponsors who made this show happen – Equine Omega Complete, Pallone Veterinary Hospital, 5 Star Equine Products, Brian Brady, Cowboy Rust, Hollywood Hot Gun, Pearson Show Horses, RF Beef Co, Crowson & Cherry Show Horses, The Beaty Family, BuckStitch & Company, Despino Performance Horses, EH Pait Quarter Horses, H&P Ranch, Edward Jones with Kaye Nell Ivins Ochetto, Mike & Mary Jo Lewis, MidSouth Equine Sports Medicine & Surgery, Cindy Furgerson, Cindy Guyot, Farm Credit, Diamond R Heating & Air, Mark & Emily Russell, and Jeff Honey Performance Horses.
The candid photos below from the show are all courtesy of Renew Creative by Shelby Layne!
The next Arkansas Quarter Horse show and final for the 2022-23 show season will be the Stirrup a Little Fun Level 1/All-Breed Show & Clinic in Benton, AR on August 19-20, 2023. The show is open to all solid, spotted, and painted horses and ponies and all levels of exhibitors! The judge will be Professional Horseman Tom McBeath. Following the show on Sunday will be a ride-the-pattern clinic over reining and ride-in clinics for horsemanship and ranch riding. Since the show will take place two weeks before the Arkansas State Championship Horse Show, it would be the perfect warm-up show for those exhibitors. ArQHA will even be using the state show horsemanship, ranch riding, and reining patterns for its show. The 2023-24 show season will kick off in Texarkana on December 1-3 with Go South for the Winner, and the 2022-23 Year-end Awards banquet will be Saturday night at the show. Be sure to join us down south! You can find more information at www.arkansasquarterhorse.com or follow Arkansas Quarter Horse Association on Facebook.