Wednesday, Jul. 24, 2024

JUST FOR FUN

Just For Fun, a national champion show hunter, died at his California retirement farm on Jan. 8. He was 31.

His illustrious career began as a 3-year-old at the Warrenton Horse Show (Va.) under the guidance of Kenny Wheeler Sr. Charlie Weaver, who had the riding honors, recalled that Just For Fun was a winner from the start. “He won every class in his first horse show,” said Weaver.

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Just For Fun, a national champion show hunter, died at his California retirement farm on Jan. 8. He was 31.

His illustrious career began as a 3-year-old at the Warrenton Horse Show (Va.) under the guidance of Kenny Wheeler Sr. Charlie Weaver, who had the riding honors, recalled that Just For Fun was a winner from the start. “He won every class in his first horse show,” said Weaver.

Nicknamed “The Pro” by handler Junior Johnson, the Thoroughbred gelding by Keelo went on to win numerous American Horse Show Association Horse of the Year awards in the regular conformation division throughout the 1980s, with Charlie Weaver, Lyda Biegel and Cindy Brooks in the irons.

The 16.1-hand bay was known for his near-perfect conformation, making him a force to be reckoned with at the fall indoor horse shows. At New York’s National Horse Show alone, he was grand hunter champion three times in five years. Trainer Judy Richter still keeps the 1985 grand hunter cooler from the National Horse show in her home.

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Molly Ashe-Cawley, who rode “Justin” as a junior, said, “It was an honor and terrifying at the same time, to sit on such a proven champion.”

In 1987 Carleton and Cindy Brooks began showing Justin on the West Coast for owners Joseph and Patricia O’Connell, with great success, including the 1988 AHSA Regular Conformation Horse of the Year award. After his formal evening retirement ceremony at the 1992 Menlo Charity Horse Show (Calif.), the O’Connell family gave Justin to the Brookses.

During the last 12 years of his life, Justin was turned out at Independence Farm, where, although he had lost his eyesight in later years, he always had a guide horse to escort him effortlessly throughout his days. He was doted on in a manner befitting the great champion that he was.

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