[PHOTOS] Showmanship from the AQHA Spring Breakout

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Taft Dickerson rides Best on the Rocks to win Dave Higgins Memorial trophy

Taft Dickerson and Best on the Rocks accept the Dave Higgins Memorial trophy.

Taft Dickerson and Best on the Rocks won more than a Green Western Pleasure class on Sunday at the Virginia Quarter Horse Association’s Spring Breakout horse show at the Virginia Horse Center. They also won the chance to be part of honoring the late Dave Higgins, a VQHA hall of fame member who died last year after a car crash.

Taft Dickerson and Best on the Rocks lopes down the rail during the Green Western Pleasure class.

The VQHA honored the former show manager by awarding the Dave Higgins Memorial Trophy to the winner of the Green Western Pleasure class.

Dave Higgins, show manager of the association’s annual Virginia Classic horse show, died last year after being involved in a wreck on the way home from the April show. He later died of his injuries.

Best on the Rocks performed with a good cadence and pleasant expression throughout the class to unanimously win the class of eight under all four judges. He later that afternoon would also tie to win the Sr. Western Pleasure class.

Each competitor was asked to drop their horse’s bit for inspection by the judges.
The Green Western Pleasure lineup.
Horses lope down the rail.
A roan lopes on the rail.

Ranch horses are star of AQHA Spring Breakout at Virginia Horse Center


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Ranch riding has become one of the most popular classes at AQHA shows and it’s no different at the Spring Breakout in Lexington, Virginia in March. The more natural gaits, and emphasis on working tack instead of silver and sparkles seems to be attracting a new group of riders to AQHA shows.

Steve Meadows and KR Justa Spark were Circuit Champions in the All Age Ranch Pleasure class. The Novice Amateur Circuit Championship went to Dun Resolved It All and Dana Laney, while the Amateur Circuit Championship went to Julie Rogers and Gunner Got Out.

Julie Rogers and Gunner Got Out were Circuit Champions in Amateur Ranch Riding.

Saturday also included Hunter classes including Hunt Seat Equitation.

Western Riding was also shown on Saturday.

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Western Pleasure comes with big stakes at Virginia Classic


A big-stakes western pleasure class will be at the Virginia Horse Center on April 9 as part of the Virginia Quarter Horse Association’s Virginia Classic Horse Show.

The Hylton Maiden 3-year-old and Over class takes place each year at the AQHA show and provides an incentive to wait for outstanding pleasure prospects to mature.

In 2015, the Hylton Maiden paid out $91,500. This year, $50,000 in added money will be put into the jackpot, making the projected payout for 2016 to be $31,500 to the winner, $11,570 for reserve and $8,455 for third. When calculated on a 20-entry average, even 10th place will recoup the $1,500 entry fee. (Click here to download an entry form for the 2016 Hylton Maiden. Click here to use the new online entry system for the 2016 Hylton Maiden.)

In addition to the jackpot, a $6,000 bonus will be awarded to the Highest Placing Intermediate Rider in the class and a $4,000 bonus will be awarded to the Highest Placing Limited Rider.

Judges for the Virginia Classic are Casey and April Devitt, Brad Kearns, Jeff Allen, Rick Christy, and Ryan Kail.

Entries are due by March 12; however, horses may be entered up until Friday, April 8 at 5 p.m. for a $500 late fee.

Past champions have included Taft Dickerson with Made By J (2015), Randy Wilson with Certainly On Sundi (2014), Jay Starnes with Zip By Machine (2013) and Kristy Starnes with Zippin Hot Machine (2012).


GET YOUR HORSE FIX: Equestrian events this weekend near Roanoke, Va. (April 11-12)

We’ve got the Easter holiday behind us and Spring has taken hold in the region (thank goodness!). Now it’s time for the horse shows to really get into full swing. This weekend is headlined by a horse auction.


  • The Great American Trail Horse competition and horse sale is this weekend in Anderson Coliseum. The annual auction will be at noon on Saturday and is held for trail horses of all breeds and budgets.  Find a catalog here. Photos/Videos of many of the sale horses can be found here. The unique feature of this sale is the $2,000 added, trail horse competition starting at 7 p.m. on Friday. The competition is open only to the horses consigned in the sale. The top 10 horses will be selected to come back Saturday morning at 9:30 a.m. for the finals. Friday will also include demonstrations. See a schedule here.
  • In the center’s East Complex, The Lee Jackson Classic (APHC) will be hosted by the Senandoah-Blue Ridge Appaloosa Association. Judges are Tony Burris, David Johnson, & Gayle Matson-Kozak. The Lee Jackson is the only regional Appaloosa show held in Virginia and offers classes for youth, non-pro, games, heritage, over fences and non-pro walk-trot and ranch pleasure. Find a class schedule here. 


The Franklin County Equestrian Club will host its Spring Fling Horse Show at 10 a.m. Saturday at Ginther Farm in Sontag. The show is Blue Ride Horse Force sanctioned. Get a class schedule here. Chuck Nifong will judge.


Virginia Horse Center to host AQHA Novice Championships?

Way-up-highThe AQHA Novice Championship appears to be coming to Lexington, Virginia, on Sept. 29-Oct. 4, 2015 at the Virginia Horse Center. This is a huge win for the ailing equestrian facility which on Wednesday announced plans to help it get out of “intensive care” in its quest to get its finances back on track.

In that announcement, VHC treasurer and board member Tom Clarke said, “Things are looking very good going forward. He pointed out that the horse center has 80 shows scheduled for this year, up from 73 last year. Although it lost its No. 1 show, the Arabian Sport Horse, the horse center has succeeded in landing the Sallie B. Wheeler/U.S. Hunter Breeding National Championship and the AQHA Novice Championship Horse Show.

The show is also listed on its events calendar.

Last year the AQHA Novice Championship was held in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, and perhaps the VHC is starting to pull some big shows from other arenas. Clarke said, “We’re methodically cultivating relationships. We’re marketing new shows. … We hope to steal shows from other places. We see this as a positive year.”

The show is continuing to grow. In 2013, there were 1,562 total entries. Last year,  there were 453 rookie entries and 2,273 Level 1 entries.

GET YOUR FIX: Horse events in the Roanoke area Jan. 17-18

We just had our first messy snowfall and the recent single-digit temperatures here in the Roanoke Valley may have you feeling a bit fuzzy, but that doesn’t mean the horse world has ground to a stop. And now when your own horse activities may have slowed down for the winter is when you just might need that horse fix the most. Here are this weekend’s activities, plus some things to look forward to.


  • The Stonewall Country Horse Show: This show is USEF “A” rated Hunter and Jumper horse show. This event is owned and operated by the VHCF and managed by Leslie Brown and will be held in the Anderson Coliseum and the East Complex arena. Judges are Phoebe Sheets and Downing Nyegard. Find a schedule of classes on the prize list. Note: Braiding is optional in all classes and divisions. The show will open Thursday at 7 a.m. with Working Hunter classes all day in the Coliseum. On Friday, Working Hunters will be in the Coliseum and Jumpers in the East Complex. Saturday will feature Children’s Hunters and Amateur Hunters in the Coliseum for the morning and afternoon with Open and Junior Working Hunters toward the end of the day. The East Complex will host pony hunters and short stirrup classes throughout the day with much the same schedule layout for Sunday as well. This show benefits the VHCF, an facility that has become incredibly important in the Virginia’s horse industry. This show will repeat on Jan. 30-Feb. 1 at the VHC.
  • Winter Schooling: If you are simply seeking for a great place to ride during the winter months, the Virginia Horse Center is open for schooling through March 1. Call the Stable Office at 540-464-2966 for reservations.


  • Maryland Horse World Expo: (4 hour drive from Roanoke) The Horse World Expo will return to the Maryland State Fairgrounds in Timonium, Maryland, this weekend. (4 hour trip from Roanoke) Daily admission is $10 for adults and $5 for children aged 6-12. Younger than 6 are free. The Expo includes seminars, clinics, demonstrations, stallion avenue and parade of breeds, and of course shopping. This year’s speakers include Roxanne Bowman on saddle fitting, Olympian (Eventing) Stephen Bradley, Dana Bright on Driving, Kenny Harlow on training and AQHA judge and auction manager Mike Jennings on Buying and Selling horses. For a full list of speakers visit www.horseworldexpo.com/MDbios.shtml.
  • Kentucky Hunter Jumper Association Clinic featuring Bernie Taurig at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington, Kentucky on Monday. (5 1/2 hours drive from Roanoke)
  • Dressage Clinic with Britta Johnston, Understanding, Starting and Perfecting the Flying Change: A lecture discussing the flying change will begin at 12:30 p.m., Saturday at Capriole Farms in Catlett, Va. (3 hours drive from Roanoke) Horses working on flying changes will follow. Rides: $90 for a 45 minute lesson $20 for day stall, limited number. Auditors: $10.



  •  Watch the 2015 George Morris Horsemaster Session on demand at USEFnetwork.com.