Aside from the winners, who, understandably, seldom complain about anything, participants in the opening show of the Southwest circuit at San Antonio a fortnight ago were caught up in a growing antagonism between saddle-horse people and the hunter-jumper exhibitors. Though they made up the largest division in the show, the hunter-jumpers felt they received second-class treatment from management, and that this led to bad scheduling and late hours. That the co-chairmen at San Antonio obviously were chiefly interested in saddle horses did not improve the situation.
This disturbing contretemps was even more apparent at Winter Haven, Fla. last month; the jumpers felt like poor relations of the saddle-horse crowd. If it continues, such lack of understanding and communication among people with a common interest could lead to more shows for specialized types only, which is deplorable. A good horse show needs a variety of breeds and events.
Fortunately, other aspects of the San Antonio show were extremely satisfying. The ladies', amateur and juvenile classes were well filled and keenly competitive. Prize money and attendance broke all records. At the same time, there were fewer horses than last year in some divisions, and while mere numbers are never a substitute for quality, it was somewhat disappointing to see only four or five come through the gate for the stake classes in the saddle-horse division.
The New Look, that bold-moving chestnut gelding who, with Lee Shipman in the saddle, had won the five-gaited championship last year, was shown in the ladies' and amateur classes by his owner, Mrs. Thurman Barrett Jr. In the ladies' event he and Mrs. Barrett were never able to decide just who was in charge, and after a workout the class was won by Belle Destiny, a fine chestnut mare cleverly ridden by her owner, Mrs. Joan Robinson Hill. But the situation was reversed in the amateur stake. Before the class was finished, Joan Hill asked permission to withdraw from the ring. Meanwhile, Mrs. Barrett and The New Look had had a meeting of minds and they won the class without a workout. Earlier Mrs. Barrett's son Mark, on Penny Stonewall, won the three-gaited class for juvenile riders.
For those who complain that San Antonio is an "Art Simmons" show, it was—but only because Art had the horses to win with. On Lafayette Ward's Gallant Man he received the tricolor in a rather bland championship five-gaited stake, and Betty Ward, riding her Simmons-trained Flaming Dawn, won both the ladies' and amateur three-gaited events in more interesting contests. City Hall, a fine harness horse owned by Mrs. E. H. Green and also trained by Simmons, won all the classes in which he was entered.
Most of the saddle horses were owned by Texans, and the same was true in the hunter-jumper division. This, of course, does not imply a mere local show, Texas being the size it is, but it does point up the growing interest in the area, particularly among the hunter-jumper owners. Only this year, for example, a retail store was opened in Houston where owners can buy ready-to-wear habits instead of ordering via the catalog, and the improvement in the appearance of many riders was noticeable.
Again the junior riders were exciting to watch. "I don't know if they ride like Indians, or ride as if the Indians were after them," said one observer at a hard-fought timed jump-off. Whichever it was, it was young ladies' day for sure as Rafael Joseffy's Sea Lorn earned the championship, and Beau Brummel, ridden by Benalu Schlein, was reserve.
The open jumper stake and championship went to a green horse, Vixen's Echo, owned by Kurth Sprague. She was purchased from Ben O'Meara, who had a champion of his own (Gone Flyin) at Winter Haven last month.