Ricardo Pulzatto is making history at this year's Adequan Select American Quarter Horse World Championship Show. Though Brazil has been represented at other AQHA world show events, Pulzatto will be the first from his country to compete at the Select level. 

In this interview he talks about his horse and how he met and began working with roping trainer and competitor JD Yates of Pueblo, Colorado. 

When we caught up with Pulzatto he explained that though he's been riding and roping for years, he's never competed at an event in the United States. He's hopeful that his presence at the event will encourage other riders to make a trip to future Select shows. He says, "We hope others will see me compete and will want to come here, and not just in roping. I want to encourage people in other events like cow horse, reining, tie-down roping to show at Select."

Pulzatto and his friends have worked with Yates for years from Brazil. It wasn't until a week ago that Pulzatto flew into Colorado to stay with Yates before the event. 

Some of the trouble Pulzatto faces in his quest is convincing Brazilian riders that travel is not an inconvenience, but a part of the adventure. 

"It can take up to three hours to get out of town from the airport in Sao Paulo," Pulzatto and Yates agree. Travel can be burdensome, which makes the prospect of regular travel to the U.S. to compete more difficult. 

Pulzatto hopes that with his success, others will more eagerly look for opportunities to have their own experiences with AQHA and at large events in the U.S.

Thanks to Soft-Ride Comfort Boots for sponsoring our #WalkInOurBoots program.

Jennifer Paulson
Credit: Jennifer Paulson
AQHA Select riders are geared up to compete at this year's show in Amarillo.
We caught up with three Select riders who will compete at the Adequan Select AQHA World Championship Show to find out about their preparation for the event and what aspects of the show they're most looking forward to. 

"The Select World Show presents a unique situation for riders," cow horse competitor Larry Lommen of Elizabeth, Colorado, shares. "In an event like working cow horse, there are few people ages 50 and above who are going down the fence at a regular-season show. In Amarillo, I get to compete against guys my own age." Lommen will compete on his 10-year-old gelding FS Smart Boomer Chic and hopes to draw a fast cow. "He likes to run and handle cattle," Lommen says. "I'm excited to see what he'll give me at the show. I'm feeling confident."

Veteran Harriet Yakatan of Hermosa Beach, California, is a Western pleasure and trail rider who will compete in trail at this year's Select show. "I've been there almost every year since it started," she says. Yakatan shares with a laugh, "I like it (Select) because the trainers don't show. They're there to help us. I usually get more nervous for them when they compete than I do myself. At Select there's no pressure on me so I just go out and have fun."

Linda O'Brien of Rancho Sante Fe, California, is also a Select-World veteran. She and her peppermint-loving, 18-year-old gelding Corporate Credit will compete at this year's show for the eighth time in trail and Western riding. "Each year I always try to qualify for Select," she shares. O'Brien earned the necessary number of points to qualify at just one regular-season show. "There's a lot of camaraderie at this event. Everyone's excited for one another. We all, of course, want to achieve our goals, but we're supportive if someone else wins," O'Brien shares. "Some think that moving up to Select means it's less competitive, and that's not the case. We're tough competitors and we leave it all in the show pen." 

We'll be keeping up with these riders as a part of our #WalkInOurBoots program, brought to you by Soft-Ride Comfort Boots, as they compete throughout the week. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for show updates and exclusive interviews. 

Ready to #WalkInOurBoots, Again?

By Alexis Bennett | August 24, 2015

In just a few short days, we’ll head to Amarillo, Texas, for the 12th annual Adequan Select AQHA World Championship Show. You’ll be able to #WalkInOurBoots yet again August 30 through September 2 at this year's event, thanks to Soft-Ride Comfort Boots. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instragram to watch exclusive videos with competitors, trainers, judges, and personnel; to follow along with class scores and leaders; and take advantage of exclusive giveaways.

We’re excited to be part of this year’s show, not just because the event's held in AQHA’s headquarters location, but also because there’s something special about the vibe at the Select World Show. Holly Hover, a past judge at the event, describes the exhibitors as a “good core group.” She says, “The atmosphere is positive, there’s camaraderie amongst the competitors, and exhibitors show aggressively. Select riders want to be there, and it’s reflected in the arena. They come into the event prepared to compete and leave it all in the show pen; it’s fun to watch and be a part of.”

For those who don’t know, the AQHA Select World Show is exclusively for amateur competitors ages 50 and older. Valerie Smith, Competition Coordinator and Projects Administrator at AQHA, says the age eligibility is what creates such a vibrant show environment. “Exhibitors love it because they get to compete against their peers. There’s also special events throughout the nine-day show and an exhibitor party at the Hall of Fame.” More information on qualification and eligibility requirements can be found online. An additional rule allows showmen ages 70 and older to qualify to compete with half the number of required points.

Each year the number of entries grows, and it’s especially the case as additional classes—such as the popular ranch-riding event—are added to the lineup. We look forward to taking you behind the scenes to bring you the stories of these cheerful competitors and to hear from top trainers as they share their insights on preparing amateurs for the event.

If you have a burning question for trainers or exhibitors that you’d love to have answered, share your request in the comments below. Also, be sure to keep up with us and take advantage of offers and giveaways on our social-media channels.   

For 35 years, horses at the Colorado Therapeutic Riding Center continue to give riders a leg up on life. As the oldest and largest therapeutic riding programs in Colorado, the facility serves over 700 riders per year with the help of over 1,000 volunteers and a dedicated staff.

At a quick glance, you’d never know the intricacies of all the behind-the-scenes work that goes into each 1-hour riding class. The horses, volunteers, staff, parents, and riders all play a role in the success of the program.

Equine Companions

Donated horses must undergo a rigorous selection process to even be considered for the program. Barn manager Lindsey Moloznik shares that only about 50 percent of horses offered are looked out for the second round of selection. Selection requires Moloznik to go on an on-site visit to run the prospective horse through tests and situations that he’d encounter in a class, such as props, mixed signals, and unbalanced riding. “Only about half the horses I go see will be selected to start a 90-day trial period at CTRC.” During the trial period, she and the other trainers work with the horse to get him ready for his job. 

He’ll also be used in class to ensure that he likes his job. “Even though the job isn’t physically demanding, it can be stressful. We’re asking them to go against their natural fight-or-flight instinct by putting them in claustrophobic environments or with riders who sometimes exhibit disruptive behavior, and they have to be completely calm,” Moloznik explains. Once a horse has passed selection, Moloznik oversees his conditioning and continuing education, so that he can stay physical fit and well balanced, and expend extra energy that’ll ensure that he’s well behaved in class.

The Helping Hands

The team works hard to ensure that day-to-day tasks are completed and that CTRC continues in a positive direction, the program wouldn’t be possible without the work of volunteers. Volunteers contribute countless hours each year, primarily assisting in classes, but also with hauling hay, helping with general facility maintenance, and contributing to the annual year-end fundraiser event.

Frank Campbell is one such volunteer who’s been involved in some capacity for the past 16 years. “The riders, volunteers, and staff are like family,” Campbell shares. He explains that the transformation he’s seen in riders he’s worked with has been an educational experience. He says: “The kids teach you so much, and it’s really rewarding.” CTRC welcomes anyone with interest and passion because their volunteer-education protocol sets even non-horse people up for success.

Cari Lastick, CTRC’s volunteer coordinator explains that even before volunteers start, they undergo training to improve horse-handling skills and learn about specific handicaps. They then shadow classes. Volunteers commit to a 10-week session for consistency’s sake. “We’ve found that this best helps the riders and it ensures that the classes are always covered,” Lastick says. “It’s a lot of commitment, but our volunteer-retention rate is over 85-percent. People often tell us that being here is their happy place.”

For the Love of Learning

Interested riders undergo assessment with the program director and head instructor to determine specific needs and develop goals. They’re then placed in a small class where they’ll ride with the same companions for the entire 10-week cycle. Each class is capped at four participants so riders receive individualized attention.

Head instructor Naomi Heller explains the benefits of horseback riding as a form of therapy for physical or cognitive disability. “From a physical standpoint, the muscles around the pelvis and the pelvis itself move in the same way when a person rides as when he or she walks. So riding stimulates and creates neuro-pathways in the brain that can help a person learn to walk or become better at walking or running. It also improves core strength and balance, which are both important to everyday life,” Heller shares. “From a cognitive standpoint, horses provide natural consequences that aid learning far more than directions and commands. For example if you don’t pull back and sit to stop your horse he won’t stop. Similarly, if you don’t kick and cluck then your horse won’t move. Riders who typically have trouble following directions in day-to-day situations quickly learn to remember step-by-step instructions so they can ride.”

Heller explains that horses can improve a rider’s life in unconventional ways, too. Heller was told that one participant was struggling to remember to wash her face at night before she went to bed. After learning to groom her horse, so dirt and his sweat wouldn’t make him itchy, she soon started washing her face and taking better care of her hygiene. “And this wasn’t even one of goals. When her Mom told me about the change, I was excited,” Heller says.

Its All About the Riders

Patrice Klinkenberg, a parent of one of the students, shares the positive changes she’s seen in her son Wes’ balance and motors skills, as well as his ability to trust, compromise, and interact with animals. She says, “This program isn’t about the drills or exercises like it is when he leaves a therapy session. The riding is therapy in itself, so it’s about him and the horse and their mutual trust.”

Wendy Parker, another parent, shares that she’s seen her son Alex’s motivation and perspective improve. “He used to tell me that Monday was his worst day (because it was the start of the week), and now he tells me that it’s his best day,” she confides. “I’ve also seen changes in his social skills. He interacts with kids at school, but I find it important that he’s able to make connections with kids who are similar to him and have the same needs. The social aspect of the class is important for us.”

From riders with special needs and physical disabilities to able-bodied riders who are learning to cope with PTSD, the program serves those with a range of ability and need. And, horses don’t discriminate in whom they’re willing and able to help. With such a broad reach and positive effect, it’s no wonder why CTRC has thrived for so many years.

Interested parties may visit the site to donate, or sign up to become a volunteer. Visit: Get Involved at CTRC.

A Stab At Ranch Sorting

By Alexis Bennett | June 29, 2015

Chexy and myself (left) and Lindsey and Jolee (right).



This past weekend Chexy and I embarked on a new adventure and tested our skill at a ranch-sorting event. A friend at the office, who works at Horse&Rider’s sister companies USRider and Trail Rider magazine, joined us for this experience. Neither Lindsey nor myself had tried the event, but we were eager for a challenge as well as an opportunity to get away from the barn (we also board at the same facility) and enjoy time with our horses.

A local association hosts ranch sorting events every Saturday afternoon at an arena northeast of us, so we thought we’d give it a try! The format’s simple: pay for the number of runs you’d like to make; wait for your name to be selected and randomly paired with another participant; and try to sort as many cattle, in the correct order, as possible in the allotted one-minute timeframe.

Because Chexy and I had never sorted before, I wasn’t sure how my old boy would handle the chaos. He's an ex-cow horse so I know he’s had plenty of experience with cattle, but I’m not sure if he’s ever encountered the close-quartered disorder he was faced with on Saturday.

As usual, he was a trooper. He not only exceeded my performance expectations but also even seemed to enjoy it. Lindsey had a similar experience with her mare Jolee. The community was also welcoming. Fellow riders were friendly, despite our being newbies, and even offered high-fives and “atta girl”s when we made solid sorts. 

The two of us had a blast, and are already plotting our next trip. Even more important than our own fun though, was the enjoyment experienced by both horses. Sorting offered a nice reprieve from our everyday riding schedule and was a nice challenge, both physically and mentally, for them. Trying something new reminded me the importance of cross training to improve my own horsemanship and my horse’s abilities. I’ll definitely be on the lookout for more fun events to try in the future.

 If you have any ideas, please email them to horseandrider@aimmedia.com, subject line ‘Fun Events.’ I’d also love to hear stories about a new event that you’ve tried.

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