Scribbles from the Field: This champion wears ribbons and pajamas

Cathy Pritchard and her horse, Chex, have a special bond that many equine owners understand.   Photo by Sandy Kinsman/Sandysign Photography
Cathy Pritchard and her horse, Chex, have a special bond that many equine owners understand. Photo by Sandy Kinsman/Sandysign Photography
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When he goes to sleep each night, he’s dressed in clean pajamas; when he wakes up each morning, his best friend greets him with a kiss. While this might be a normal routine for most 9-year-old males, it’s not exactly the way most horses get to live.

But Chex—officially, Fed Ex The Chex, an American Quarter Horse owned by Cathy and Danny Pritchard—isn’t just any horse.

“Whatever I ask of him, he will do,” says Cathy. And while most horse owners can brag that their horse, also, can do all that is asked, Pritchard has proven it— both at home and in the show ring.

The relationship between Cathy and Chex has been special since the beginning.

“Back in 2006, my trainer picked him out of several 3-year-olds for sale by a horse ranch,” says Cathy.

She wasn’t even sure she wanted him. “He was little—and I wanted a big horse.”

But Chex had been well-trained and bred for western pleasure, and he proved his worth a mere two months after she bought him.

“We went to an open show in Poway, and he took high point overall. I was only showing western then.”

Since then, their relationship hasn’t stopped growing. Cathy’s little bay horse grew to a 15.3 hand beauty. And Cathy quickly asked for more from him, as she decided to add English and trail to their show classes.

Chex answered by winning Reserve Champion at the Del Mar Nationals for two years in a row.

“As a 4-year-old and a 5-year-old, we showed English, western and trail classes on the Quarter Horse circuit. He also took Novice Amateur both years,” she says proudly.

But after two years of success in those classes, Cathy once again decided to ask Chex for something more, and began showing on the Southern California Professional Horse Association (SCPHA) circuit.

“We did that for two years and he took overall Junior Horse and we won several Memorial trophies there.”

After a couple of years doing the big shows, Cathy turned her attention back home and began competing at the local open shows. For the next two years, they showed at Lakeside, winning Overall Amateur and many championships.

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Chex takes his owner, Cathy Pritchard, through a trail class at a recent show. Photo by Sandy Kinsman/Sandysign Photography

Last year, Cathy asked Chex for more when she began taking lessons and training him to jump. A member of the Ramona Santana Riders (RSR) for nearly 10 years, Cathy decided to return to competition at RSR shows, mainly because they offered jumping classes.

For the 2011 RSR year-end awards, the pair entered 15 classes, including English, western, trail, and jumping. Of those, they took 11 Champions, three Reserves and one Third place, winning in all disciplines. “This year I decided to try gymkhana and we are now doing barrels and poles. We are also doing Cowboy Challenges.”

They’re already winning and placing in both of the newly chosen events. For 2012 RSR year-end awards, the pair is in the lead for the A-Division Gymkhana. In RSR Open shows, the pair is looking at five High Point Year End awards and two Reserves.

Considering Chex as a family member she does everything with—as opposed to only a horse she shows­—is no doubt part of the reason for the pair’s success. “He can do a barrel pattern, and then go right into a western pleasure class. Or I can put a child on him and they can show.”

But she adds, “I trail ride him all the time; he’ll go anywhere. We swim at Fiesta Island. I take him in parades. We ride down Main Street. He’ll carry a flag. I rope off him. He sorts and cuts cows. He slow spins. I ride him bridleless. We’ve even had a part in a movie. And I’ve been letting a 10-year-old show him this year. Whatever I ask of him, he will do. He’s just a good boy, what else can I tell ya?”

“She’s had other horses, but he’s really a good horse,” says her husband, although he teases her about her choice of horse clothes. “Even if she does dress him up like a Barbie doll.”

Cathy quickly explains, “Chex has allergies to everything under the sun. So he has to keep his ‘jamies’ on 24 hours a day.”

The gelding is also quite the food hound. “He tries to eat everything in sight,” she laughs. “If you tell him you have a cookie for him, you better have it, or he will come after you.”

At home or in the show ring, it is the trust and love between the two that makes the relationship such a winning combination.

“I just keep asking, and he just keeps giving. So my goals now are to improve my speed, timing and accuracy in the gymkhanas and Cowboy Challenges. He’ll also continue to do rail shows with a youngster in Poway.”

But whether they are competing at a show, playing around on the trail, or just hanging out in the backyard, Cathy is content to just have Chex in her life.

“Most of all, I plan to just enjoy him. It was my time for God to give me the right friend. Chex is truly a gift from God. And he ain’t going anywhere.”

   
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