Cudmore family competes at National Western Stock Show
Karen and Brooke Cudmore are no strangers to the Grand Prix circuit. The mother and daughter team have competed all over the world. Karen finished second and Brook finished fourth at the National Western Stock Show $40,000 Grand Prix, held in Denver, Colo., on January 16.
Riding her mount Ceonto, Karen Cudmore turned in a time of 84.399 seconds with zero faults in the first round to advance to the jump-off. Ceonto is an 11-year-old Holsteiner the Cudmore’s bred and raised.
“Ceonto is one of my most important horses. He is fun to ride, and has a huge jump. He has a funny sense of humor, and is a lot of fun in the barn. We have a good time with that horse. He’s not very difficult, and he’s such a sweetie,” Karen Cudmore said.
She has competed at NWSS for more than 22 years, and loves to keep coming back. “Stock show has a great audience. They always have. I don’t think there is that kind of thrilling audience anywhere else. We love the venue and the people in Colorado. It’s an affordable show, and they have add-backs, which isn’t heard of anymore. It’s a fun horse show,” she said.
Brooke Cudmore also turned in a zero fault round, but with a time of 73.307 seconds on her horse Ocelot, a 17-year-old Holsteiner stallion. Brooke is just 18-years-old, and has only been competing at the Grand Prix level for a few years. Both horses are owned by Blair Cudmore, Karen’s husband.
“Ocelot is an amazing horse. I rode him for years, and now it’s Brook’s turn. He’s beautiful to ride. He’s really fun, really balanced and quick. He’s a winner. He knows the game. He’s been a super horse,” said Karen Cudmore.
Karen Cudmore had four faults in the jump-off with a time of 37.867 seconds to put her in second behind John McConnell, who won the event. McConnell is Colorado born, but is a trainer at Rancho Corazon L.L.C. out of Lemitar, N.M. He won the event on the 15-year-old mare Katie Riddle.
Brooke Cudmore posted an eight-fault ride with a time of 37.876 seconds in the finals. She finished fourth. Karen also finished fifth on Shea, and 12th on her famous mount Southern Pride.
Karen and Blair are Canadian born, but reside in Omaha, Neb., where they operate Heartland Farms. They breed and raise Holsteiner horses. They currently have hundreds of horses, including many stallions.
The horse business is a family operation, and they all work together. Blair’s parents help out, as do both daughters.
“It’s a family affair, and it’s great. I’m living the dream. I love what I do and I love where I do it,” said Karen.
It takes many years to raise a Grand Prix horse, and the earliest they can compete at this level is usually when they are eight.
“It’s a process and you have to work them up to that level. They let you know when they are ready. You have to pick the right events for them to do. You need to get them to that confidence level when you do that jump, and that takes time. It takes years to get a good Grand Prix horse, and by that point they have become part of the family,” said Karen.
Karen started riding horses as a young girl, as her family lived next to a public barn. “I’ve always loved horses, and since we lived next to a barn with tons of kids and tons of horses, I got to learn to ride. It worked out great.”
She continued, “I wasn’t from a horsey family but I married into one.” She has now been competing professionally for over 30 years.
Karen met her husband Blair in California, and they moved to Iowa after getting married to work at his parent’s equine operation. The Cudmore’s spent a year in Colorado, and in the early 1990s they bought a facility in Omaha, Neb.
“Nebraska is central, right in the middle of the U.S., so it works super to travel to shows. Also, the midwest is less competitive. We can make more money on the horses while putting miles on them. At a really big show, you wouldn’t take them because they wouldn’t make any money. They would miss out on the experience,” said Karen Cudmore.
Karen debuted riding for Canada in 2001 as a member of the Canadian Developing Riders Tour. The following year, she won the selection trials with her horse Conejo to become part of the Canadian Team that competed in 2002 at the World Equestrian Games in Jerez, Spain.
The following year, the pair competed for Canada at the World Cup Finals and the Pan American Games. In 2007, Karen began competing with now 14-year-old Southern Pride, an American-bred Holsteiner stallion who has become one of her most famous horses.
Brooke is one of the Cudmore’s two daughters, and has been competing at the Grand Prix level for a couple of years. She is just 18, and works full time at her parents operation. She won the Grand Prix at the NWSS last year.
“She’s still in amateur status but she rides for us,” said Karen Cudmore. The family currently has 10 horses they take on the road, with both Brooke and Karen riding.
The Grand Prix is the “wine-and-roses event” of the NWSS. The course was composed of 12 jumps, ranging from oxers with a 4-foot spread to the highest jump, which was a 5-foot tall wall jump. Most of the jumps were 4-foot-9-inches in height, and had spreads of 5- to 6-feet. A total of 27 entrees competed in the event.
Riders are competing for the fastest time, with the least number of faults. If a horse and rider knock a bar off a jump, it counts for four faults. A refusal from a horse is also four faults, and if he refuses twice, it is an automatic dismissal.
The riders also have a time limit, which in this event was 86 seconds. Every second (or partial second rounding to the next highest number) results in one fault. At the end of the pattern, riders are placed first on the number of faults, and second on time if there is a tie.
Four riders cleared the course with zero faults, including both Cudmores, John McConnell and Paige Coles out of Wellington, Fla., who posted a time of 79.892 during the pre-lims, and 38.739 in the jump-off on her horse HQ Outrigger. She had four faults in the finals and finished third.
It can be rare to see a rider bring a horse they raised to a Grand Prix event, because there are so many good ones that riders shop for in Europe. However, all of the horses the Cudmores brought they have raised, with the exception of Ocelot.
“It’s rewarding to bring them, and have them compete so well,” said Karen Cudmore.