For Karsons, finding smart horses is the trick

It takes more than a one-trick pony to do all the tricks that Shane and Teresa Karson do in their riding act.

"Having a good mind is the most important thing I look for in a trick-riding horse," Shane Karson said after performing recently at the Laurel International Turf Festival. "I want a hard-running horse with a long stride so I like a tall, strong horse, but I really pay attention to how they are between the ears."


Watching the Karsons vault on and off the horses, and do handstands, flips and other tricks all over their horses, you understand how a horse has to be pretty unflappable in this act.

"We also have an act where we use a bullwhip, a dog and a monkey," Shane said. "So the horses must be adaptable."


At Laurel, Shane performed on R. C. -- the act's newest recruit -- and Teresa used Scout, a tried and true performer. Tiger and Fred were also used for the Roman act. Scout, R. C. and Tiger are paint horses; Fred is a quarter horse "dressed up to look like a Paint," Shane said.

Shane is a former rodeo rider whose mother performed as a trick rider in the '50s and '60s at the Ocean City Frontier Town. Shane switched to trick riding because he "decided this was smarter."

Teresa was working in a dinner theater in Pigeon Forge, Tenn., when she met Shane a few years ago. She had no previous experience with horses, but Shane recruited her to be part of the act, and she took to the horses and the work immediately.

As exciting as trick riding looks, Shane said that it really isn't very dangerous. The biggest problem is having bad footing that causes the horse to slip.

"That's our biggest worry," he said. "That's what causes all the accidents."

Show draws 302 entries

The final Mid-Maryland Horse and Pony Association show of the season drew 302 entries.

More than two dozen of those competed in the Halloween costume class that was won by a sword-wielding headless horseman. The trail class boasted Dracula and his coffin, flying ghosts and skeletons, and gravestones with horses' names on them.


A few horses were spooked by the trail class, but the true trail horses made it through with flying colors and were awarded decorated horseshoes made by show volunteer Bonnie Owens.

he trial class winners were Carl Rauschenberg (Division A), Justin Johnson (Division B), Amanda Naill (Division Y) and Renata Ramonda (Walk/Trot Division).

Other winners were:

* Speed Division A -- Champion: Michelle Stowers, Rajun Cajun; Reserve champion: Tammy Naill, Nothin' But Trouble. Division B - Ch.: Carey Fish, Star's Bandit Buoy (tie), Carey Fish, Butterscotch. Division Y - no entries. Walk-Trot Division - Ch.: Ashley Atkins, Lacey Jay; (tie) Dustin Wiles, The Rio Grand.

* Western Performance Division A -- Ch.: Chris Morgan, Ima Impressive Bailey; Res.: Peggy Schultz, Lin's Rule Breaker. Div. B - Ch.: Justin Johnson, Reynold's Smoke; Res.: Jason Hartner, Jolly. Div. Y - Ch.: Amanda Naill, Lin's Dashin Dandy; Res.: Jason Wiles, Impressive Robert. W/T - Ch.: Renata Ramonda, Ima Better Bailey; Res.: Samantha Collins, Reynold's Smoke. Leadline/Walk - Ch.: Mason Raphaelson, Whispering Pines' Spoiled Rotten; Res.: Jessica Strain, Shawn's Wise Sham.

* Novice Division -- Ch.: Nancy Miller, Cowboy's Dandee; Res.: Beth Johnson, Skip Bar Cody.


* English Performance -- Division A - Ch.: Tammy Grieve, Blue Ice; Res.: Sandy Weinreich, Don's Expertise. Div. B - Ch.: Tyler Lasher, Whispering Pines' Just My Style; Res.: Jennifer Uebel, Whispering Pines' Black Intimidator. Div. Y. - Ch.: Crystal Pickett, Sweetie Dawlin'; Res.: Julie McCutcheon, Whispering Pines' Just My Style; W/T - Ch.: Alicia Corkran, Whispering Pines' Just My Style; Res.: Renata Ramonda, 2T Poco Grey; Leadline/Walk - Ch.: Jennifer Kraus, Frosty; Res.: Chelsea Insley, The Grand Slam.

Kudos to CCEC

Trail-riding enthusiasts attended the first Carroll County Equestrian Council's educational seminar to hear Dave Lillard, national director for National Trails Day of the American Hiking Society. He discussed the importance of having all recreational groups work together with county, state and federal agencies to ensure the success of the Trails for Tomorrow program.

Lillard also discussed the award CCEC won recently in recognition of its contributions to the first National Trail Day last June.

More than 2,500 trail organizations vied for this award offered by the DuPont corporation to 10 organizations who helped raise awareness of trails and trail issues.

CCEC vice president Carolyn Garber attended Maryland's Most Beautiful People Award ceremony to receive a certificate of appreciation for all the work the CCEC undertakes on behalf of the county's equestrians.


Calendar of events

Today -- Washington International Horse Show. USAir Arena, Landover. (301) 840-0281.

Today -- Battle of Hastings re-enactment. Carroll County Agricultural Center. Westminster.

Today -- Hunting Ground Farm Horse Trials. Whiteford. (410) 879-4031.