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Original Issue

Onward the feminine invasion

As the number of lady jockeys proliferates—winning jockeys, at that—a group of determined women takes over a major show ring

Behind a lot of successful horse shows stand the women, and the recent Phoenix extravaganza is a fine example of what can happen when the ladies get busy. More than 700 horses and ponies were entered, a sizable number for any show and certainly impressive for one that is just 6 years old. Proceeds benefitted the Phoenix Zoo, and the ladies of the auxiliary donned zebra-striped dresses and handled everything from the ushering chores to acting as bus girls in the bar.

Women dominated inside the ring also. DiAnn Mitchell rode Mr. and Mrs. Walter Love's Fleet Apple to win the jumper sweepstakes and championship, Julianne Schmutz' horses were awarded the three-and five-gaited championships and Mrs. John Pritzlaff Jr. won all the fine harness classes she entered and several pony events.

A former co-chairman of the show, Mary Dell Pritzlaff was back in the ring after an absence of almost 20 years. When she used to show horses, in Illinois and Missouri, she developed an allergic reaction. "I used to ride with the reins in one hand and a handkerchief in the other," she recalled. "I finally had to stop, but they said I would eventually get over it."

About six years ago, when the Phoenix show was started, she found that although the allergies had not disappeared the reaction had lessened, so she went to Bob Lewis in California and bought a gaited horse and a walk trot. Next, she became interested in ponies and acquired Jubilee's Danny Dee—with whom she won the Harness Pony Amateur Stake at Phoenix. Now she has started breeding ponies as well as having five to show, plus two fine harness horses.

Away from the shows she and her husband have been active in the Republican Party for 20 years. John is serving his fourth term in the Arizona legislature, and Mary Dell was on the platform committee at the 1968 national convention and was the regional director of Women for Nixon. This summer they plan a vacation from politics and horses—their fifth African camera safari. Fourteen-year-old John III, one of four children, also drives and won two seconds at Phoenix. Although Mary Dell's allergies have lessened, she was having a sneezing fit as she drove Monti Scott up to receive the winner's floral blanket.

The most-talked-about class of the show, however, was not the fine harness stake but the concluding event, the five-gaited championship. Earlier in the week the mare stake had been won by the Zellerbach Stables' Hayfield's Belle with Trainer Rae Deane Hough in the saddle. Teen-ager Julianne Schmutz, on her newly acquired Chapel Belle, was second. Rae Deane, a professional who started a career as a concert pianist and played as guest artist at 16 with the San Francisco Symphony, gave up music for horses and has run a public stable for the last 13 years. She now works 34 horses, all the barn will hold. Last year Hayfield's Belle was The American Horse Shows Association's high-point gaited horse of the year, and another horse in her stable, Look-A-Here, was the high-point walk trot. She and her husband split up recently, and he got Look-A-Here while she kept Hayfield's Belle.

Chapel Belle also has an excellent record, so the championship stake in which the two mares met promised to be lively, and it was. After the nine entries had worked, Judge Edward M. Teater was still apparently uncertain and sent the two mares back to the rail to work again. It seemed to the audience that he preferred Hayfield's Belle because he watched her so much, but when he handed in his card and the decision was announced, Chapel Belle was the winner and champion. Still, the crowd gave its loudest cheers to Hayfield's Belle, prompting Rae Deane to observe it was one of the few times she could lose and still get a thrill out of it.