This spring the Canadian Cutting Horse Association (CCHA) hosted the third annual Canadian National Championship Finals at the Cow Palace in Olds, Alberta. The show featured the top five competitors from each affiliate association (BCCHA, ACHA, SCHA and MCHA) based on points earned at CCHA approved shows. The show ran April 9, 10 & 11th and despite the unexpected freak snowstorm, did well to feature the best of the best in Canadian cutting horse talent.
This year, cutting horse trainer Dustin Gonnet of Cayley, Alberta stole the show, winning the Open Championship, the Open Reserve Championship and the $10,000 Novice Horse Championship. In the Open, Gonnet rode My Own San Lena to victory with a remarkable total aggregate score of 293.5, earning $1,564. This mare, owned by Al and Ria Gerla of Busby, Alberta, has been a strong competitor in the Canadian cutting horse circuit for a number of years. Last year at the 2008 Canadian National Finals, My Own San Lena and owner Al Gerla tied for the $20,000 Non-Pro Championship and won the $10,000 Novice Horse/Non-Pro Championship.
Gonnet, who has worked with her only a short time, knows she is “a really good mare. She’s got tons of expression on a cow and is electric when it comes to [the show pen].” Now in her 8-year-old year she continues to be a well rounded horse, capable of competing in the Open, Non Pro and the Youth divisions; a unique attribute for any cutting horse. With plans to secure the Open Championship in Canada this year, the pair is certainly on the right track.
Gonnet claimed the Open reserve championship aboard Dandy Lil Freck, a mare owned by Wayne and Linda Meekin of Alcomdale, Alberta. The pair scored a solid total aggregate score of 291, to win $1,242. Dandy Lil Freck has been in training with Gonnet since her 2-year-old year and last year as a 6-year-old, the pair was very successful in the aged event circuit, winning the 5/6 year old Open Championship at the Canadian Superstakes. The mare has “tons of look on a cow and a cool style of working” says Gonnet, who adds “She is fun to show and to ride.”
Enjoy these shots from the show and read the full story in the June issue of Western Horse Review.
~ story by Sara Gallow. Photos by Bob Magrath