JoAnn Harlan is known for her excellent chocolate chip cookies. The football teams at Ramona High school have been enjoying her culinary expertise for years.
Now the truth is out. Those cookies helped her win The Arabian National Horse Show in Regina, Saskatchewan in Canada.
Harlan chose to compete in the Canadian Nationals instead of the American Nationals because of those cookies.
“I wouldn’t want to miss a Bulldog football game,” she said. “The U.S. Nationals are being held now, so I elected to compete in Canada.”
The frosh, junior varsity and varsity football teams are happy with her decision.
Last August, Harlan and her 8-year-old gelding, Hezafire, affectionately known as Fire, won the Arabian Hunter Pleasure Adult Amateur and the Arabian Ladies Side Saddle English AT Championship. It was the second national title for Harlan and Fire. They won the American title in the Arabian Adult Amateur Hunter Pleasure category in 2005.
Harlan started riding at the age of eight. Her dad, Buck Stidham, thought it would be a good idea to get her interested in horses instead of boys. And it worked, for a while.
She has trained Fire since he was a yearling.
Bulldogs and horses apparently have something in common.
Harlan and Fire left Ramona and drove to Phoenix. She exercised fire in Phoenix and then drove to Colorado Springs and then to Canada. It is a two-day trek each way.
This was Harlan and Fire’s first trip to the Canadian Nationals. They have gone to the U.S. Nationals six times. Once you are a champion, you are qualified to enter without going through the qualifying rounds. In a way it is like golf. Americans can enter the British Open and non-Americans can enter the U.S. Open. Champions get automatic bids.
The horse is judged by three judges in each event. The judges critique manners, movement and ability. The horses walk, trot, canter and hand gallop in an arena.
Riding horses is a family affair for the Harlans. JoAnn’s husband Jim and sons, Aaron and Derek all ride. The family has four horses. Two are retired and two are active.
“They are like family,” she said. “When they no longer can compete or be ridden, we keep them and take care of them.”
Harlan plans to continue competing. When Fire retires, she will cook up a batch of cookies and train another horse. She may get a new horse next year, but Fire still has plenty of years left. Horses can compete into their mid-teens.
“Horses are fun and easy to train,” said Harlan. “They will work for cookies.”
Cookies work for Bulldog football players, too.