2017 SUN CIRCUIT MOVES TO MARCH
The Arizona Quarter Horse Association announces today that the Sun Circuit show will be moving to March 4th thru the12th in 2017. The show has experienced scheduling difficulties at the West World facility in January due to the premier auto auction, Barrett-Jackson, occurring at the facility in the same time frame. After many difficult discussions in regards to the ongoing conflict at the facility the Sun Circuit Over Sight Committee recommended the change to the board, who, then approved. READ FULL ARTICLE
There was no way around it. There was mud everywhere. As Arizonans, we welcome some recharging rains, but come on….it’s Sun Circuit….we have to have some SUN for all of our out-of-town guests. As trailers unloaded and exhibitors settle in, the sun was still hard to spot behind an ever-changing steely veil, and everyone was checking their weather apps to reassure themselves that clearing was still forecast.
It was obvious that no matter what, arenas were not going to dry out quickly, so show producer Doug Huls and his staff hustled to rearrange the schedule so that classes could be held in covered arenas. This meant that the bulk of the show was postponed one day. Golf carts soon looked more like mud bog buggies, and kids took great joy playing in goop (hey, but that’s why we have wash racks!)
But even the rain soaked start of the show could not dampen the spirits of exhibitors. They were here to get their show year started off with a bang. Class numbers remained strong the first few days, and were positively huge as the week progressed. Beyond the competition, it seemed like there was something fun going on at all times: parties, special events, free clinics, prize give aways. WestWorld was abuzz the entire time.
There was plenty of added money to go around – in total, over $70,000. A nice chunk of change was on the line with a couple of High Point Awards. Equine Sports Medicine put up $2,500 to both the Western Riding and Pleasure, and Legend offered $5,000 to the High Point Trail Exhibitor. When all the points were tallied, it was Charlie Cole who had a nice payday. He took both the Western Riding and Trail titles. In Western Pleasure, Jim Searles had the highest accumulation of points.
Big numbers were seen in Trail across all divisions as well as Pleasure and Horsemanship. The Trail pen had 2 courses going most of the time so that multiple divisions could show simultaneously. Big class numbers are one thing, but fortunately, Sun Circuit has the room to accommodate everyone. Ranch Riding continues to grow in popularity, and from Open to Amateur there were many great horses to see. Sun Circuit always attracts the best reining talent, and the runs sure didn’t disappoint this year. It also provided a good opportunity to size up the competition for the remainder of the show year. The horses to beat were there and looked strong.
Youth riders were out in force during the second half of the show with large numbers of entries across the board. Determined, enthusiastic and fun loving, the kids embraced their classes and were stoked over the Prize Patrol challenges. A virtual sea of bling shimmered in the enormous Youth Horsemanship classes. In halter and showmanship, it was clear that there was no slacking off the past couple months, as the horses were in top condition. The large class sizes ensured lots of points were accumulated.
The give aways were the show’s hot topic this year. Imagine walking into Best Buy and saying you want to buy a bunch of TVs, iPads and various other electronics. That is the fun job Sun Circuit’s Prize Patrol captain, Michele Pearson had. “Suddenly they had all these people helping me,” she related. “They were knocking $50 off of this and that, and finding things on sale for us. It was great because we were able to get even more things for our give aways.” While the Arizona Quarter Horse Association donated the electronics, many of the show’s vendors and sponsors stepped up and generously offered products and gift certificates to be given away through a myriad of fun challenges and random drawings. In total, over $35,000 worth of prizes were handed out and included Rod Patrick Boots, Shorty’s hats, Watsons hats, gift certificates from D Designs, Showtime, Show Me Again, Sami’s Jewelry, CR Ranchwear, , Barbara’s Custom Hats, Jessica Lynn, along with products from Woods Western, JW Brooks, The Glassy Lady, Santa Cruz, MVP and a saddle form South Texas Tack . It was wonderful to see a person who may have placed 5th in a class stride out grinning ear-to-ear because they had just won a $500 gift certificate.
One of the give away challenges went viral and was the talk of the show. The Prize patrol intended to hold a boot race after the Senior Western Pleasure class for a 100X hat from Shorty’s Caboy Hattery. Someone suggested a horse race, and before anyone thought twice, 8 senior horses were back in the arena lined up at the start. The crowd went wild as some of the best pleasure horses in the country, along with an A List of trainers ran in a flat out gallop around the arena. From low and slow to go go go, it was clear that both riders and horses enjoyed the break of routine.
Down the backstretch and into the final turn, three horses were surging ahead of the pack. Crossing the finish line it was Andrew Sharp by a half a length aboard A Certain Amiga, with Shane Dowdy hot on his heels aboard Invited Tonite. Videos of the race hit social media and spread like wildfire. Within hours, a video posted to GoHorseShow racked up over 100,000 views, and has continued to climb to well over 500,000. Comments of amazement and appreciation of the athletic ability of the horses flew around as fast as the videos. Those who witnessed it will never forget it, and those who didn’t wished they were there.
Sun Circuit has developed a reputation for providing wonderful educational opportunities, and the myriad of clinics brings out many local horse enthusiasts. Team SmartPak riders Charlie Cole, Jason Martin, Deanna Searles, and Jim Searles presented a free Trail Clinic to over 80 people on the first Friday. The clinicians dissected a trail pattern to show how to approach and execute each maneuver, and how to plan ahead for the next obstacle.
The clinic concluded with a drawing for a $5,800 Ultimate Trail Package from SmartPak. Katelyn Bowen from Phoenix was the lucky winner, and will get to practice all she learned in the clinic in her back yard with this fabulous prize.
Farnam sponsored the clinic series with top Quarter Horse trainers during the show. Legendary horseman Bob Avila kicked things off with a Reining clinic for around 100 people. Other topics in the series included Trail, Ranch Riding Cow Horse, and Western Riding. This year marks Farnam’s 70th anniversary of providing horse owners with quality products, and they were excited to start their celebration at Sun Circuit. Free ball caps were handed out at the start of each clinic, and at the end, they gave away prize packages to lucky attendees.
Parties are another hallmark of Sun Circuit. The annual Welcome Party offered up great food, along with live music, and provided a fun celebration for the start Sun Circuit. The Searles, Tobins and Johns families have brought this annual tradition to all the exhibitors for many years. Throughout the rest of the show, lunch parties were thrown by AQHA stallions Mechanic and Machine Made along with the 7bar Ranch showcasing Indefinite and Definitely All That. These were hugely popular outdoor events with more good food and entertainment.
The placings are in the record books, the prizes and awards have been hauled home. Sun Circuit proved once again that it is the best way to start the show year. Some people come just because it’s Scottsdale. Some people come for the points. Everybody comes because they don’t want to miss out on what everyone will be talking about for the rest of the year.
2016 Sun Circuit Showcases Top Performance Horses
Sun Circuit secures its place on the calendars of AQHA performance horse exhibitors every year for good reason. The best talent converges on Scottsdale every January for a mind-boggling display of athleticism wrapped up in an atmosphere of great fun and solid camaraderie. It’s the place where one can size up the year’s competition. It also has enough points up for grabs that a good showing can get you qualified for the World before the first month is over. Huge classes and lucrative added money welcomed this year’s exhibitors.
The Smart Boons Fence Work Challenge is a popular annual showdown for top level Cow Horses. An enthusiastic crowd gathered January 16th as Corey Cushing emceed the event. Seven horses were entered in the Non Pro with $2,500 added by Brad and Amy Lund. Some solid runs had already been laid down when Darleen Wood and Diamond J Starlite came out and left the boys in the dust with an exceptional display of cow handling. Darleen put her stamp of approval on her run by spanking her cow on the last circle. The pair marked a 148. Only Lindsey James & Maximum Spoonful came close to challenging, but the pair’s 146 left them in second place. The lady non-pros certainly dominated the evening.
Darleen took home $1,560 and a pair of Steve Guitron Rawhide Romels sponsored by Corey Cushing Performance Horses and a 100X custom hat sponsored by Shorty’s Caboy Hattery.
Lindsey won $1,170 & a Mecate sponsored by Cushing. As the arena was being prepped for the Open riders, a surprise announcement was made. Eric and Wendy Dunn, the owners of Smart Boons and sponsors of the event, threw in an additional $10,000 to the pot for a total of $20,000 in added money. Manny Murrietta donated the cattle so there were no stock charges. There aren’t many cow horse events with this kind of money in the purse.
Scores were withheld until the end but the appreciative crowd knew when they were witnessing some great cow work. Snaffle Bit Futurity winner Jake Telford’s run on Willy B Gun Smart was one of those standout moments with thrilling stops and dominating circles. Other notable runs included Rubiesscoobiedoobie with Brad Lund in the driver’s seat who got right into the cow’s face and didn’t take no for an answer. Dom Dualuise showed what a finely tuned horse could do with Phillip Ralls at the reins, and the 15 horse field ended strong with a seat-clenching run by Jason Grimshaw riding Im Miss N Texas. All the horses came back into the arena for scores and awards with a great deal of joviality.
Places were announced from the bottom up. You know you have a field of pure talent when even the 5th place horse scores a 150 and a half. With just two horses remaining, the anticipation and braggadocios banter reached a fevered pitch. In second place it was Brad Lund & Rubiesscoobiedoobie owned by Rockin K Remuda marking a 152.5 and winning $5,280 along with a pair of Don Orrell Wood Stirrups sponsored by Corey Cushing Performance Horses. The champions of the evening with a score of 153 were Jake Telford & Willy B Gun Smart owned by Wanderin Star Ranch. They earned $6,720 along with a set of Steve Guitron Rawhide romels sponsored by Corey Cushing Performance Horses.
The genial Eric Dunn was thrilled by both the competition and reception the Challenge has at Sun Circuit. He commented, “one thing we love about this event is that there are so many wonderful people, it makes us want to do it again.” He envisions this event becoming even larger and more prestigious: the Augusta Nationals of cow horse. ”We want to see the best of the best in cow horse here.” Wendy Dunn added, “It’s so much fun the way the crowd gets into it. We’re excited to be a part of it and happy to be able to add more to it.”
Sun Circuit debuted a new cattle event this year: the $20,000 Added DT Horses Roping Futurity. Dean Tuftin, owner of DT Horses was looking for a way to showcase and reward top talent in the roping arena. He certainly succeeded, as a nice field of talented horses showed up to chase this lucrative payday. With a $750 entry fee, serious ropers only needed apply. There were 35 entries in the Futurity split into 18 headers and 17 heelers. After 4 judged runs, everyone had their lowest score thrown out and the top 8 horse progressed to a short round. Tagged With Rush owned by the Sather Family put together speed and performance to win the heading along with $5,700. On the heeling side, it was FL Charlies Sugarbabe owned by Fallon Avery who took the top spot and $5,600 “For a first time out, it went pretty well,” said roping producer Art Gallias. “We’ve already had some people step forward wanting to be a part of it next year through sponsoring.” It looks like this could become another big event for Sun Circuit.
Ropers had more opportunities to catch some cash. The Cinch Timed Event Challenge saw $2,500 added to both the Open Heading and Heeling, along with $1,250 added to the Non Pro Heading and Heeling. Even when money was not on the line, entries were strong across all divisions on both the heading and heeling sides.
Cow horse classes had impressive entries in Open and Non Pro as well. Nearly 50 Senior horses showed, while Junior and Amateur saw 30 something runs each. Boxing proved a popular class this year with 40 Amateurs working the end of the arena. Sun Circuit also hosted the Arizona High School Rodeo Cow Horse competition giving those athletes the opportunity to show their grit on a World Class stage. Cutting classes enjoyed healthy numbers with 40 plus Amateurs and over 50 Open exhibitors in each go.
The reining pen was a hotbed of activity as well. Sun Circuit consistently draws the best reiners in the nation eager to go up against the dominating “hometown” field of reining talent. With colossal class sizes, placing well at Sun Circuit is an achievement worth bragging rights. During the second half of the show, a whopping 86 Senior horses were seen on pattern on Friday. Matt Mills found his way to the top of that lengthy and impressive list with a first under both judges on Wimps Cool Breeze and a second under both on Gotta Trigger man. Other divisions had impressive numbers as well. Amateur, Select and Junior reining generally had 30 plus horses to see each time, while well over 30 youth runs demonstrated to everyone that the next generation of sliders will be a force to be reckoned with.
If the show of talent at Sun Circuit is any indication, this year will provide some exciting exhibitions of AQHA performance horses. The season certainly got off to a splendid start in Scottsdale.
Visit www.suncircuit.com for results, photos and more.