Thursday, Jun. 6, 2024

Shakira Do Jacare And Campos Have A Last Dance At Atlanta Summer II

Topping the $25,000 Outback Steakhouse Grand Prix on Shakira Do Jacare was much more than just another win for Sergio Campos—it was a reunion and a rebirth.

“This win meant a lot—it was an emotional one for me,” Campos said. “A lot of people doubted this horse would be back at the grand prix level, and we proved them wrong.”

The class was one of the concluding events of two weeks of showing—the Atlanta Summer Classic I and II on June 10-21—at the Georgia International Horse Park in Conyers, Ga.

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Topping the $25,000 Outback Steakhouse Grand Prix on Shakira Do Jacare was much more than just another win for Sergio Campos—it was a reunion and a rebirth.

“This win meant a lot—it was an emotional one for me,” Campos said. “A lot of people doubted this horse would be back at the grand prix level, and we proved them wrong.”

The class was one of the concluding events of two weeks of showing—the Atlanta Summer Classic I and II on June 10-21—at the Georgia International Horse Park in Conyers, Ga.

In January of 2008, Campos sold “Shakira” to junior rider Sarah Owen. Campos and Shakira had been consistent winners in grand prix classes from Florida to New York, and he believed it was time for Shakira to move on to a new job and that Owen would be a good match for the hot mare.

But things didn’t go as planned after Owen got Shakira back to her farm in Hendersonville, N.C.

“They ran into some problems, and it’s been a long road back,” said Campos.

“She’d been on the road so long and done so many grand prix classes that she was pretty worn out,” Owen said. “She came to our farm and relaxed and decided that she liked just being a horse rather than a show horse.”

Owen spent all of 2008 getting to know Shakira and working through their issues.

“I showed her some just locally, but I dropped back down to the lower levels, the children’s,” she said. “She gets nervous around other horses. She’d be fine in the ring, but she wasn’t happy about the schooling ring. It was a difficult year trying to get her back to where she needed to be. She did a lot of round pen work, and I hacked her out a lot, walking her up the hills around our farm. We just wanted her to relax.

Campos applauded Owen for her patience and willingness to work through the rough patch.

“A lot of people, when they run into a wall, they give up. But they never gave up,” he said. “They kept trying to make things right.”

In the beginning of 2009, Owen sent Shakira back to Campos in Ocala, Fla., for more help.

“She’s a chestnut mare and an alpha mare—you don’t mess with her,” Campos said. “It’s her way or no way. We got her back into her routine and got her trusting again.”

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No one knows Shakira better than Campos—she was bred and raised at his family’s Campo Grande Ranch in Brazil. But even as a 3-year-old, the Thoroughbred-warmblood showed signs of her strong will.

“She was really hard to break—she bucked everyone off,” said Campos, who also rides bulls on the rodeo circuit. “I almost gave up on her and made her into a bucking horse!”

But Shakira finally came around and turned into a real star for Campos. “She might lack a little bit in scope, but she’s all heart and understands the game,” he said. “She knows not to touch a fence. She loves to win.”

In her adjustment period to her new role with Owen, however, that verve was missing. “She lost some of her confidence and heart, but since I know her so well, we were able to get her confidence back,” Campos said. “We did a lot of work with her on the ground. Pablo Miranda is a natural horsemanship trainer at my farm, and we’ve had a lot of success with his work.”

Campos showed Shakira lightly at HITS Ocala (Fla.) in level 5 and 6 classes with success, and Owen traveled to work with the mare as well.

“She came back better, and she has so much more will to perform,” Owen said. “She’s not as nervous. She’s more attentive to what she’s doing. She feels like a completely different horse jumping. She’s a lot happier than she used to be.”

“Things happen for a reason, and I think that the year at the lower levels was good for her brain,” Campos said. “She’s a very hot and alert horse, and she’s a lot more mellow now.”

Campos and Shakira’s win at Atlanta was the final indication that the 12-year-old was herself again. Owen, 16, has also been back in the ring on Shakira, in the junior jumper division.

“We’re focused on Sarah riding and showing her. Our goal is to get Sarah into the grand prix ring with her,” Campos said.

Owen usually trains with Betsy Pack but plans to keep working with Campos on Shakira.

If the grand prix ring is where they end up, as planned, it will be a bit later than Owen hoped, but with a lot more wisdom.

“There was a lot of pressure when I bought her,” she said. “It was kind of crushing for me. I kind of thought that I would buy her and go straight into the grand prix ring, but it turns out I had to work a lot on my relationship with her. It opened a whole new world for me.

“I didn’t really understand her very well at first. Having to drop down the levels was pretty hard for me. It was frustrating, and there were times when I was thinking, ‘What was I thinking?’ But she showed so much promise, and she’s such a great horse. I kept hoping and working with her. She and I and my mom had to help each other through the situation.”

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Colorado Crowned In The Chronicle Of The Horse USHJA International Hunter Derby

Nancy Jones and Gary Young are just having fun with Colorado. “We’re both very excited about the derbies and wanted to be a part of them,” Young said.

“It’s something that we think is changing the horse show business for the better, and I want to support it as a trainer, and Nancy wants to support it as an owner.”

They’re doing more than just supporting the new hunter derby series—they’re winning at them. Young rode Jones’ elegant bay Colorado to the top of the $10,000 The Chronicle of the Horse USHJA International Hunter Derby during the Atlanta Summer Classic I.

“He’s very responsive and whatever you try to do, he always wants to please. He’s one of those special horses who are very brave. He’ll jump anything you point him at,” Young said.

The derby course at Atlanta was set in the large grand prix ring. “There were a lot of options, and it’s such a large field that there was a lot of galloping. There was a bank and a lot of 4′ and 4’3″ jumps. And the bigger the jump, the better for him,” Young said.

“It takes me back to my equitation days, landing and turning. He’s one I know if I turn one stride before the jump, he’s going to leave the ground,” he added.

Jones bought Colorado, a 9-year-old German-bred warmblood, in November of 2007 from Rex Marquette.

“He was the first one I tried. I made myself look at a few more, but he was always going to be my choice,” she said. “Colorado is really smart, and he thinks fast but reacts calmly. He has the intelligence and the athleticism to be perfect for the derby courses. He’s big, but he’s very handy.”

Colorado’s first derby was at the 2008 Aiken Spring Masters (S.C.), where he and Young were third. They were third in that venue again this year, then went to Tyler, Texas, in May and won the derby at the Texas Shoot-Out before their win in Atlanta.

While Colorado’s main job is as an amateur mount for Jones, he moonlights in the derbies with Young.

“I think they’re terribly exciting,” Jones said. “What I like is that this has brought so much interest to the hunters. I’m an R-rated judge, and I judged one at Lake St. Louis [Mo.], which was the first one in the 2008-2009 cycle. I saw how excited people got and what a fun class it was, so I thought it would be great to do.”

Young and Jones share custody of Colorado—he spends most of his time in Little Rock, Ark., where Jones runs a boarding barn. But he also makes the 13-hour commute to Young’s farm in Camden, S.C.“ We argue about who gets him—good-naturedly, of course. He does so well at Gary’s, but I also love having him at home too, so we go back and forth,” said Jones, who has ridden with Young for six years.

“It’s been a thrill to have a horse that loves this competition,” Jones said. “We’re really looking forward to the finals in Kentucky in August.”

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