The bright lights of Las Vegas—plus the big possibilities of dreams accomplished—made the 2019 APHA Western National Championships an irresistible show for Amateur Walk-Trot and Amateur Solid Paint-Bred Walk-Trot exhibitors, who showed up in droves to the inaugural event October 17–19.
Fifty-two exhibitors have already resulted in 162 entries so far, making Amateur Walk-Trot the Western National Championship’s largest division; numbers continue to climb as the show progresses.
For Laurie Podshadley of Gilroy, California, the inaugural event was the perfect place to step-up Flauntin My Assets, her homebred 2012 bay tobiano mare, from her usual regional California shows.
“I haven’t brought ‘Willow’ to a World Show yet, and I thought this would be a great intermediate step to get her used to a bigger event and all the excitement that comes with it,” Laurie said. “It’s been a lot of fun to come with our barn—everyone encourages everyone else—and Willow has done a great job taking everything in.”
In addition to her rides with Laurie in the Amateur Walk-Trot division, Willow carried trainer Melissa Sachs of Morgan Hill, California, to a Top 10 finish in Green Trail on the first day of competition.
“[These shows are] so special when it’s your own baby, too,” Laurie said. “It’s daunting at times—the competition is tough! But she’s done well here in both divisions.”
The prime location makes the Western National Championships a destination event, too, which is exactly why Sabrina Seehafer of Ankeny, Iowa, and her sister, Megan, added Las Vegas to their show calendar. Though they’ve filled their days with plenty of classes, the sisters plan to venture out to the Las Vegas Strip in their downtime.
“We try to do one extra show each year in a place we’ve never been,” Sabrina explained. “The [Amateur] Walk-Trot numbers have been big on the West Coast, too, so we decided to come out. South Point is such a great place to show, and we’ve hardly even had to leave the building!”
A longtime proponent of APHA’s Amateur Walk-Trot division as the perfect niche for horse lovers who opt not to lope—due to past injuries, lack of experience, older horses or any other reason—Sabrina has enjoyed watching entries grow across the country over the years.
“The division has gotten pretty competitive over time, but it’s always a great group [of exhibitors]; we’re always cheering for one another,” Sabrina said. “[If you’ve never been to such a large show], just come. Do your homework and don’t worry about anyone else—you don’t need the shiniest outfit or the best saddle—you just need a great connection with your horse. There’s no secret to winning, there’s just a lot of hard work!”
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The American Paint Horse Association is the world’s second-largest international equine breed association, registering more than a million horses in 59 nations and territories since it was founded. APHA promotes, preserves and provides meaningful experiences with Paint Horses.