Wednesday, May. 29, 2024

Lola K Towers Over The Competition At IHF Mid-West Regional

Three years ago, Jane LaGrow had to take a break from showing her adult amateur hunter and came up with a plan. “I got pregnant, so I figured she should get pregnant too!” LaGrow said.

Fast-forward to today, and LaGrow now has a bouncing 3-year-old daughter who can’t wait to ride a pony and a strikingly gorgeous 2-year-old mare—Lola K—with a collection of blue ribbons.

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Three years ago, Jane LaGrow had to take a break from showing her adult amateur hunter and came up with a plan. “I got pregnant, so I figured she should get pregnant too!” LaGrow said.

Fast-forward to today, and LaGrow now has a bouncing 3-year-old daughter who can’t wait to ride a pony and a strikingly gorgeous 2-year-old mare—Lola K—with a collection of blue ribbons.

LaGrow’s Lola K (Popeye K—Chanel, Esalance) earned best young horse honors at the International Hunter Futurity Mid-West Regional on July 21 in Oklahoma City, Okla. It was the seventh best young horse title out of nine shows for Lola K, who also won the 2-year-old filly, other than Thoroughbred, class at the Devon Horse Show (Pa.).

While LaGrow foaled and raised Lola K herself at her farm in Spring Hills, Kan., the big bay mare now lives at trainer Melissa Mihalevich’s Whippoorwill Ridge in Kirksville, Mo. Mihalevich shows Lola K on the line.

“It’s so exciting to have a horse nice enough to take to Devon and win,” LaGrow said. “The first horse I bred has turned out to be so exciting—I definitely want to do it again. Melissa has told me how rare it is that on your first attempt you get something as nice as Lola K is.”

LaGrow knew she had a nice mare in Chanel, and she chose Popeye K—a winner in the regular working and conformation divisions—as a stallion because “he just has such curb appeal,” she said. “He’s a beautiful horse, and from the moment I saw him he was what I wanted in a horse. She has so much of his features and abilities and she’s so correct. We really have great expectations for her.”

Lola K inherited not only her sire’s flashy bay-with-chrome good looks, but also his elegant topline and substantial stature.

“I haven’t put a stick on her, but she’s huge. She looks like a stallion, she’s so big-bodied. I like the conformation hunters—they’ve always been my favorite, so it’s exciting that it looks like I’m going to have one,” LaGrow said.

She plans to break Lola this fall. “She grew so big so fast, we didn’t want to rush her,” she noted.

LaGrow, who owns and runs a franchise of tanning salons, has been taking a break from showing herself, but she enjoys the view from outside the ring just as much.

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“I have been so excited to watch my mare come along and have such a great record and do so well. My [10-year-old daughter Hailey Livingston] has also been showing her ponies. It’s been nice for this past year to just be a show mom and enjoy watching,” LaGrow said.

Chanel didn’t have a foal this year, but LaGrow hopes to repeat her breeding to Popeye K for a 2010 foal. “I love the results, and he’s a great fit for her,” she said.

Burning Up The Competition

Just behind Lola K in the best young horse judging was a gentlemanly young chestnut gelding, Silver Creek’s After Burn (Apiro—Route 66, Cicero). He topped the yearling colt class on his way to reserve best young horse honors with Summer Stoffel holding the reins.

For Stoffel, After Burn is an ambassador for the thriving breeding program she and partner Barbara Sikkink have built at Silver Creek Farms in Broken Arrow, Okla. He’s by Apiro, a Bavarian Warmblood they imported in 2007.

“We imported Apiro because Barbara saw in him the talent to be a hunter stallion that could really make a mark in the industry,” Stoffel said. “Bringing After Burn to the IHF regional was our first experience dabbling in seeing if what he produced could hold their own in competition. We were really pleasantly surprised at how well he did. There was some stiff competition there.”

Apiro showed in the regular working hunter division with Joey Brumbaugh in 2008 and in the adult amateur hunter division with Stoffel, but he’s had this year off from showing due to a minor injury on the breeding mount. Silver Creek professional rider Andrea Trapphagen plans to show him in the regular working division again later this year.

Stoffel and Sikkink like Apiro for his “personality and the conformation, especially his shoulder and hip,” Stoffel said. “We’ve had eight Apiro foals this year, and they’re all little cookie-cutter images of him. He stamps his beautiful neck, his presence and personality.”

After Burn’s dam, Route 66, has a bit of a reputation. “She’s quite the character around the farm, but her babies tend to be super quiet and easy,” Sikkink said. “She’s one of those horses who’s into everything, so we’re always a little surprised at how laidback her babies always are.”

Stoffel brought After Burn in from the field just three weeks before the IHF regional for a crash course in show-horse etiquette.

“He learned to longe in one day and loaded right up the ramp of our big nine-horse trailer and backed into a stall, like he’d been doing it for years. That’s my favorite thing about him—nothing fazes him. He loves being a show horse,” Stoffel said.

Thanks For The Gold Wears Blue

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Ellen and John Eakin don’t have a huge breeding operation—they keep five horses on their small farm in Oak Point, Texas. But one of those horses is their first foray into the breeding world—Thanks For The Gold.

Out of Ellen Eakin’s adult amateur hunter mare Donka Shane and by the venerable hunter sire All The Gold, “Hank” is a handsome bay colt and won the IHF Mid-West Regional 2-year-old colt/gelding class.

“We’re somewhat new to all this. He had some good success on the line, so we’re excited about him,” Eakin said. “He looks a lot like his mother. She’s more feminine, and I think he got some substance from his sire. It remains to be seen what his jumping style might be, but his movement is very pretty.”

Eakin, 53, rode as a junior but took a break from horses for 33 years. Five years ago, she started taking lessons. “I dove right back in. I took lessons for a while on school horses, then I leased a horse, and then we bought one,” she said.

Eakin made a career as an emergency-room nurse and then a consultant. “I just sold my business, and I’m retired now. I’m loving it,” she said. Her husband, John, enjoys the horses but doesn’t ride.

Eakin imported Donka Shane, now 8, from Germany in 2006 and bred her to All The Gold right away. After Hank was on the ground, Eakin got Donka Shane ready to show in the adult amateur ring. She also shows another mare, Serious Business, in the amateur-owner division.

Donka Shane snuck in her foaling in the early morning hours, so Eakin missed it. But when her second broodmare, Aspen Wind, was due, Eakin began sleeping outside her stall.

“She foaled on her exact due date. She woke me up at about 4 a.m. and I got to see the whole thing,” said Eakin, who had never seen a foal born before.

That foal, Dorothea’s Gold—another All The Gold progeny—took second place in the yearling colt class at the IHF Mid-West Regional.

 

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