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It’s A Family Tradition at the Reichert Celebration

Filed under: Current Articles,Editorial,Featured,Uncategorized |     


154 – August/September, 2013 (click here for the complete digital article)

By Lana Grieve


Founded in Waterloo, Iowa in 1999, many of us can’t remember what it was like before the Reichert Celebration existed. Every year, the late summertime represents a tradition that brings an opportunity for horse enthusiasts to join in a rich celebration incomparable to the rest. Highlighting the newcomer, the legendary horseman, and a new generation of horses under one roof, multiple associations, trainers, breeders and exhibitors come together to showcase their horses at a world-renowned event that continues to transform the way our industry shows off it’s best stock.

Ron Reichert, son J.R. Reichert. and family friend, Mary Johnston, were the three individuals responsible for founding the Reichert Celebration thirteen years ago. Primarily known to be an NSBA Futurity show held in conjunction with the Indian Summer AQHA Circuit which was run by the Oliphant family, the Reicherts would follow their vision of creating an alpha in the industry, creating a new venue all its own to celebrate the American show horse. Over the years, the Reichert continued to expand and grow to include the NSBA, AQHA, APHA, ApHC, POAC, AHA, PHBA, NRHA, NBHA, WPRA and BBR (barrel racing) associations as well as changing locations four times to accommodate the growing number of participants. Moving from the small, southern town of Waterloo, Iowa, the show would relocate to Lake St. Louis, Missouri then Tulsa, Oklahoma until settling in their current home in Fort Worth, Texas. Due to the massive growth of the event each year, the transition to Fort Worth was a necessary move. Housing the long-time exhibitors, the “adopted family members” and making room to prepare for future growth has and will always be the Reichert Family’s number one priority. Terry Schroeder, Ron Reichert’s daughter and J.R.’s sister, has been instrumental in the event since its origin. She happily recollected a few of her earliest Reichert Celebration memories.

“The Reichert Celebration has continued to be a family event with the involvement of many family members and friends who are like family. We have done everything from putting up 600 portable stalls in Waterloo, Iowa, digging trenches due to sudden rain in St. Louis at 2 o’clock in the morning, to putting up stalls in the warm-up arenas in Tulsa to accommodate more horses. We have cooked food while indulging in brisket and sweet corn courtesy of the Donnelly family, organized western dances, and held spontaneous ‘adult’ golf cart races. The show is part of the Reichert family legacy and will continue on with the addition of new family members coming into the business for generations to come.”

To celebrate the legacy of the Reichert Celebration and its wholesome family ties, The Equine Chronicle caught up with a few long-time Reichert exhibitors, amateur and professional, and asked them to share their fondest memories and annual traditions from this unparalleled show.

Buster & Tara Buckley

Professional Trainers

Buckley Photo

Riding and training since he was eighteen, William “Buster” Buckley, the son of AQHA judge and trainer, William Buckley, has been on horseback alongside his father since he was a young child. He began his training empire in the late 1990s in Preston, Connecticut before meeting and marrying his wife, Tara. Riding and showing horses their entire life, the pair has since trained numerous Open, Amateur and Youth Congress Champions, NSBA Futurity Champions, and Top Ten Futurity winners in Hunter Under Saddle, Western Pleasure, and pattern classes. Many of these achievements have taken place at the Reichert Celebration each year, and they are proud of their success at this event.

When the Reichert Celebration was launched in 1999, Tara and Buster were there for its debut and they have never missed a year since. They have won or placed in many of the Western Pleasure and Hunter Under Saddle futurity classes. The couple considers the Reichert Celebration Yearling sale a great place for finding their next champions. Their repeated accomplishments with Reichert yearlings have inspired an annual tradition for the couple. Tara says, “Over the past ten years, we probably have bought twenty yearlings at the Reichert sale. We usually come home with at least three babies every year.” Buster adds, “Tara and I buy babies and go back and show them in the stakes classes each year. We have placed and won at the Reichert a lot over the years with these horses, mostly the pleasure futurities and stakes classes. We most recently won a stakes class with one of our Reichert 2 year-olds this past year. I really like the stakes class and the sales that exist at the Reichert. I like that I can go back and win that money with my horse.”

Referring to how the event has been managed by the Reicherts for the past thirteen years, Buster and Tara agree the show is in a league of its own, stating that the people, the horses and the judges are all exceptional. “The management is great and the way JR does it is simply fantastic,” Buster says. “If there’s a problem, JR fixes it. The show is very, very customer friendly. You don’t have any problems at the booths, and the way it is run is second to none. I love the whole atmosphere of the show and the way JR puts on a fancy hoe-down for the exhibitors and owners!”

The Buckleys credit JR and his family for consistently keeping the Reichert Celebration unique from the rest, stating the show has kept a warm and welcoming atmosphere. Tara says, “I love the classes, the futurities and watching the babies show. It’s great to buy a yearling at the show, then come back the following year and watch that horse transform into a show horse, going along the fence; and everyone is a part of that excitement. The Reichert Celebration provides this opportunity for these young horses. It’s just an overall super fun horse show for everyone in the horse industry. The quality of the classes are excellent and there is a class for everybody, and most importantly, everybody wants to be there.”

Exhibitors big and small, and surely a handful of “future trainers” have the ability to compete at the Reichert due to a class list designed to accommodate everyone. Lead Line is a popular event, likely highlighting some of the greatest “future” horseman in the country. The Buckleys were able to share in the fun with their now five year-old daughter, Isabella Buckley, who won the Lead Line class last year. “Isabella competed in the Lead Line class and won it. She was so excited. It was a blast to take her out there and see all the little ones go around. Buster’s father, William Buckley, was also a judge at the Reichert last year, so basically our entire family was attending the show, whether as competors, judges or spectators. I can’t remember a time not being there since the Reichert was founded, so it’s special to see Isabella out there and being a part of the show.”

Over the years, along with changing locations, the Reichert Celebration has also refined their show dates. For the last two years, the show has been held in the last week of August and first week of September. Although the later date favors preparing 2 year-old futurity horses, Tara says the change of date has caused conflict for a few of her and Buster’s clients. She explains, “When I spoke to two of my clients, they determined their kids couldn’t attend the Reichert this year due to the change of date because the show falls within the first week of school. The first week in September is the first week of school for a lot of high school and college students. They cannot miss the first week, so they have to sacrifice the show even though they would still love to be there. Back when the Reichert was in Tulsa and it was a few weeks earlier, all the kids could attend and it was always on the calendar as one of the major summer shows. That’s the only drawback I see to having the date fall in September. That would be my only change to the show. I personally like the Fort Worth grounds and don’t mind driving the extra five hours to the show, but I think if the dates were set back even a couple weeks before school starts, I think a lot more youth would be able to attend.”

This year, the Buckley’s will be competing with their 2 year-old stakes and futurity horses, following a tradition that has spanned well over a decade. “We will definitely be there, and Isabella will be there for Lead Line again. We also plan to buy more babies at the sale for the upcoming stakes and futurity classes in 2014.”

Bret & Candy Parrish

Professional Trainers

Parrish a22

Specializing in high quality western pleasure horses, Bret and Candy Parrish run a family-operated horse training business located in Pavo, Georgia. With hard work, wonderful clients and talented horses, the couple has been fortunate to produce numerous Congress Champions, AQHA World Champions, NSBA World Champions and multiple futurity winners at the Reichert Celebration. A few of the outstanding horses trained under Parrish Quarter Horses have been RL Best Of Sudden, All The Sudden, Ona Good Impulse, Hot Little Mama, Sweet Talkin Jeannie, Sweet Talkin Chip and Zippos Hotzy.

Looking back to the 2004 Reichert Celebration, when the show was held in St. Louis, Parrish didn’t realize he would become a pivotal part of Reichert history. Entering the first-ever Equine Sports Medicine 2 Year-Old Western Pleasure Challenge on the now-famous stallion, RL Best Of Sudden, owned by Sonny & Alice Douglas, Parrish’s Reichert Celebration debut would be hard to beat. Winning the first-ever $100,000 purse for a 2 year-old maiden western pleasure class, Parrish is remembered as the trainer who marked the beginning of the highest paying western pleasure futurity in existence.

Parrish 1
“We have competed in numerous classes at the Reichert Celebration including the Equine Sports Medicine Challenge, the 3 Year-Old Maiden Slot class and several futurity and stakes classes,” Bret says. “Candy and I love the atmosphere and excitement surrounding the Slot classes and the high level of competition year after year. It is a show we look forward to attending every year, and it seems to only get better.”

Actively competing at the show for nine years to date, Parrish’s wife, Candy, has shared in the history of this marvelous equestrian event. She most recently won a futurity Reserve Championship in the 2010 3 Year-Old Maiden Slot class showing Shes So Sudden (owned by the Clifford Family), as well as a 3 Year-Old Futurity Championship on All The Sudden owned by Lisa and Bob Thomaier. She and Bret have since guided their son, Cody, to a Reichert Celebration Futurity Championship showing Good Miss Sunny, to make the show truly a family affair.

“The Reichert Celebration is a pioneering event in our industry,” Bret adds. “The Reicherts always comes up with innovative ideas and concepts that fuel the interest in our discipline. My hope is J.R. and the Reichert committee continues to focus on new ideas to keep our industry advancing in a positive light.”

Susan & Stanley Scott

AQHA Breeders & Exhibitors


Susan and Stanley Scott of Haylo Farm in Ocala, Florida, have been breeding and showing Quarter Horses for decades, and along the way have had the tremendous honor of being named the number one breeders in AQHA in 2006. Winning multiple World, Congress and NSBA titles aboard many legendary horses, the Scotts guided their daughter, Nancy Wilkerson, to the show ring where she is a champion amateur and non-pro competitor herself. “We have been showing as a family since Nancy was born,” Susan says. “We have all been lucky enough to have been very successful with great horses over the years.”

Included in their substantial list of horse showing achievements are multiple titles at the Reichert Celebration. Competing at the show since the event resided in St. Louis, Missouri, Susan speaks fondly about the show supporting the American Diabetes Association. This is of special interest to Susan since she has had diabetes for 45 years. “I really enjoyed raising money for the American Diabetes Association. We raised a lot of money over the years for a really good cause.”

The Reichert Celebration is a show like no other according to the Scotts. Susan describes the event as not only a horse show, but a one-of-a-kind, unmatchable affair. “When J.R. started the Reichert Celebration, there weren’t any other horse shows we attended that had the unique qualities the Reichert has during the show. There wasn’t a fireworks display. No one made a big deal when you placed or won a class, nor was there parties and food they provide. To combine a true celebration along with raising money for good causes and charities, and the opportunity to win large sums of money, the show truly lives up to its name.”

Competing in the stakes classes, slot classes and futurity classes for many years with multiple horses, the Scott family has won major classes at the Reichert Celebration including the $250,000 Sports Medicine Challenge Maiden Western Pleasure, the $10,000 Non-Pro and Open Western Pleasure Stakes classes, the Non-Pro 3 Year-Old Western Pleasure Slot class, the Longe Line Open Slot class and the Non-Pro Longe Line. Their most recent wins include 2012 Reichert Championships in the NSBA Maturity Color Breed Non-Pro Western Pleasure, NSBA 50 & Over Western Pleasure, NSBA Maturity $2,500 Open Rider Western Pleasure, NSBA Maturity Limited Western Pleasure (tied), the Reserve Championship title in the NSBA Maturity Color Breed Open Western Pleasure with A Sensational Zippo, the 2012 Reichert NSBA Champion Non-Pro Longe Line and Open Western Longe Line with Best Ticket N Town, and the 2012 Reichert NSBA Champion 2 Year-Old Intermediate Open Western Pleasure and NSBA Champion 2 Year-Old Open Western Pleasure titles with Best To Be Cool.

Already a festive event for three generations of the Scott family, they have happily added to the Reichert party by celebrating Nancy’s birthday at the show. Susan fondly recalls, “One of my favorite times at the Reichert was celebrating my daugther’s birthday. Nancy has won most of the classes at the show, so it has been a true family affair for many years, and having some of the wins fall on her birthday was extra special to us. We have thoroughly enjoyed having our daughter and grandson participate in all the fun with us, and we hope to have many more years at the Reichert. The event is completely different, and no matter what major horse show you attend throughout the year, all of the events at the Reichert are all unique. J.R. has truly made horse showing fun on a new level with the creation of this fabulous event. My only wish is the show can go back to how it was originally and not lose sight of its roots.”

Changes for 2013 & 2014

As the 2013 Reichert Celebration approaches, the Reichert team has ambitious plans to continue with their motto, ‘a class for everyone.’ Terry eagerly shares, “The Reichert takes pride in offering classes for every level of exhibitor and wants to maintain the atmosphere of a celebration. This year, we have added barrel racing to the mix and hope to add cattle classes in 2014. We are also going back to the basics and our roots by paying the NSBA classes in the arena and not webcasting the show. “The Reichert Celebration was one of the first to webcast all arenas and all breeds, however our sponsors, and us too, have noticed many of the spectators are not coming to the show grounds due to the convenience of watching from their homes. We all feel there is nothing like the ‘feel and aroma’ of attending the Reichert Celebration in person. We hope to encourage those to come out, enjoy the company, and enjoy the day.”

In addition, the Reichert Celebration has some exciting news, but cannot release it as yet. Keep watching The Equine Chronicle for exclusive updates.

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