Mary Anne Jones, owner of Bluff Creek Stables, had a moment of perfection at the 2014 Dixie Cup held May 1-3 at the Georgia International Horse Park in Conyers.
Riding her 17-year-old horse, Windsdown Cosmos — “Cosmo” — Jones qualified for the 2014 National and World American Saddlebred Western Pleasure Horse Championships, set for Sept 24-28 in St. Louis, Mo., by winning the ASB (American Saddlebred) Saddle and Bridle Shatner Western Pleasure Competition at Dixie Cup.
The Shatner competition, named in honor of actor William Shatner for his work in developing and sponsoring events nationwide, is judged by United States Equestrienne Federation rules and regulations. The horses are shown at a flat walk, jog trot and lope. Horse and rider are judged 75 percent on manners, performance, presence and quality, and 25 percent on total confirmation.
“People are still talking about Mary Anne’s ride at Dixie Cup,” said David Sands, veteran show judge from Evans County. “She has worked hard, and it was a great win for her.”
When asked what she thought put her in the winner’s circle, Jones said, “It was a team effort. Deanna (Edgy), trainer for Bluff Creek Stables, and I did not know what to expect. Cosmo had not competed in over a year due to an injury, so we really had to make sure that he was sound and we had his show tack right. We worked over a month just making sure we had the correct bit-and-bridle combination. We wanted to make sure it was comfortable for him, and he was ready to compete.”
One week prior to the show, the Bluff Creek team put Cosmo through a mock show to test his readiness.
“After that practice, we knew he was ready,” Edgy said. “He had a great workout, which is really not surprising. The last four years, Cosmo was either champion or reserved champion in Western Pleasure for the USEF Region 10. He was horse of the year in the Western Division for that region.”
This will be Jones’ third trip to the Western Pleasure national championships — no small accomplishment for someone who started riding horses on the beach on St. Simons Island at age 10 and began show competitions in 1986. She has competed both in Hunt Seat and Saddle Seat disciplines as well as Western over the years.
“I remember buying my first horse, saddle and tack for only $185. I had no idea it would all lead to this,” she said.
Describing Jones’ win at Dixie Cup, Edgy said, “When Mary Anne got on Cosmo that night, I just knew it was going to be good. The horse was on, the rider was on, the habit (Mary Anne’s show outfit) was beautiful, and it was just perfect.”