The Sallie B. Wheeler/USEF National Hunter Breeding Championship could not have asked for better conditions on either coast. The week began with the famed sunny skies and breezes that Southern California is known for at the Showpark All Seasons Horse Show at the Del Mar Horse Park.
There 13 contestants showed up to prove who is the best of the best of the West. The Best Young Horse and Reserve Best Young Horse that day would go on to challenge the East Coast victors for the title of National Best Young Horse.
Leading the way for the West Coast was the three-year-old gelding, Ragtime Cowboy. Ragtime Cowboy by Ragtime was bred and handled by Sue Lightner and owned by Twinkle Gorman and GW Farm. Reserve Champion was his yearling full sister, Rendezvous, also bred and handled by Sue Lightner.
The judges then traveled across the country to the historic Warrenton Horse Show in Warrenton, VA. Hurricane Earl moved through leaving clear, sunny skies with cool weather and breezes all day, and some of the young entrants took advantage of it to show off their youth and athleticism. The 49 entrants on the East Coast each took their turn standing up and showing the judges what made them worthy of the title of Best Young Horse East Coast.
The winner of the day, Holden, owned by Mary Jane Hunt and Cismont Manor Farm, is well-familiar with the spotlight having won both the East Coast and the National Title in 2009 as a two-year-old. The three-year-old gelding by Indian Ocean stunned the 2010 judges, Sue Ashe and Julie Winkel, to take home the Best Young Horse East title once again, as well as the Sallie B. Wheeler/USEF National Hunter Breeding Champion title. The Overall Reserve Best Young Horse for the country is Twinkle Gorman's Ragtime Cowboy.
Photo: Holden, shown by Kenny Wheeler, was named National Best Young Horse. Photo by Jordan Koepke Photography.