Every year at about this time, Ross and Medora Fralick return home to their Hayden ranch after enjoying some vacation time in the sun with their children Ian and Ryan. And while many families in the area head south for warmer climates during February, the Fralicks have made a tradition of heading west to compete at one of the largest single-breed shows in the world, the Scottsdale Arabian Horse Show.
Once there and with the support of Ross and Ian, Medora and Ryan show against the best the Arabian industry has to offer in reining, an event that highlights the athleticism of Western performance horses via maneuvers such as sliding stops, spins and lead changes.
The Fralicks define the two-week trip as a vacation, but in reality, it’s a lot of 4 a.m. mornings followed by long days in the saddle and plenty of chores in between.
“Our entire family is there for at least part of the show and it’s become a great opportunity for us to spend time together as a family and enjoy some sun in February,” said Medora, who has garnered several top-five finishes in amateur reining competitions at Scottsdale during the past few years. This year’s show represented the 58th edition, with more than 2,200 horses competing and schooling in seven arenas for two straight weeks.
It’s a venue she and Ryan, a senior at Hayden High School, train for all year long.
“For me, Scottsdale is the cream of the crop of reining competition in our breed and it allows me to see how I stack up against the leading riders,” said Medora, who this year showed her 8-year-old bay Arabian gelding Nic, and 9-year-old sorrel mare named Susie. “I’m thrilled with how the horses have progressed over the last year and I feel like our program is really working for us.”
The mother-daughter duo work with several trainers on the Western Slope but show at Scottsdale with only one another for support. That’s in contrast to the many competitors who arrive with an entourage of trainers and grooms.
“It is like going to the Super Bowl without a coach,” laughed Medora, who owns and manages Commercial Property Group and Homes & Land magazine, both based out of Steamboat.
With 2013 being Ryan’s last year of youth eligibility, she had her best results yet at Scottsdale, showing Medora’s two horses to place third in the purebred reining junior to ride 14-19, third in reining seat medal 14-19, and finishing in the top 10 in horsemanship, reining seat equitation, and half-Arabian reining.
“I go to Scottsdale as the reward for all of my hard work,” Ryan said. “It’s a way for me to see if that hard work is paying off and improve my ability by competing against riders that are the best in the world.”
This fall, Ryan will head to the University of Wyoming for two years, after which she plans to transfer to University of Colorado Health at the Anschutz Medical Campus to study nursing. Ian attends the University of Northern Colorado and is pursuing a career as an elementary school teacher, while Ross works
as a construction superintendent at Rivertree Construction.
This summer, the Fralicks will make another family trip when they head off to Venezuela as part of a medical mission trip through Hayden Congregational Church.
“We’re really looking forward to exploring other cultures and contributing on a larger level,” Medora said.