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Spotlight On Youth: California's Top Appaloosa Champs
Caroline Bush & Ima A Leo Too
By Patti Ansuini


Everyone's heard the old adage that the outside of a horse is good for the inside of a man, but if you were to rephrase that just a touch, and make it a Child, the true reality of that statement takes on a life of it's own. Ask any parent or relative of a child who has achieved the lofty goal of a state championship.

State Champion Youth rider, Caroline 'Carrie' Bush, (Left) shown with her trainer, Carole Dal Porto, of Brentwood, Ca. Accepting the high point awards at the C-WA banquet this past February

  It is hard work. It requires many hours of practice and dedication. It is riding on cold winter days when all their friends are at the mall, or declining a trip to the beach on a warm summer day, so that they can stay 'In Tune' with their horse. It is blood, sweat and tears, and moments of absolute joy. And in the end, you realize, somewhere along the way, that your child has gained a sense of responsibility, has learned to set goals and stick to them. Has gained respect for others, learned compassion and become a competitive sportsman. It can turn a child around, literally save a life.

There is a breed horse association here in California that takes their youth programs very seriously. They are the Cal-Western Appaloosa Show Horse Association, based in Turlock, CA. Founded in 1966, this group has a very extensive set of age divisions and classes that support a youth awards and incentives program.

One such youth that achieved the pinnacle of success this past year is 17-Year-old Caroline Bush of Walnut Creek, California. She has earned the prestigious Cal-Western Youth Rookie of the Year award and has also claimed the coveted 2000 High Point Champion, Youth Western Horse and Rider title.

Caroline or 'Carrey' as she's known to friends and family is definitely not new to the horse world. She has according to her Mom, Jeannie, literally been riding since she was a baby. "I remember watching in horror as Carrie, a three year old at the time, climbed aboard one of my horses and came trotting bareback up the paddock fence with her rear end at least a foot off the horses back and her little legs sticking straight out the sides. With each bounce she attained greater altitude until she went over the side and landed on her feet giggling".      

Carolyn Bush ~ age 6 aboard Anheuser.JPG (19456 bytes)
Mini Equestrienne, 6 yr. old Carrey aboard, Anheuser

Jeannie went on to say that she remembered another incident when Carrey, a ten year old at the time, was exhibiting at the CSHA (California State Horseman’s Association), Show of Champions in Turlock, California. Her gymkhana horse starting bucking, and with calm composure, Carrey was able to settle her horse, run all her reining & equitation patterns flawlessly and finish the show in style. "She managed this great feat with a badly broken finger. I have always been so proud of her maturity and responsibility," recalls her beaming mom.

Carolyn Bush ~ performing vaulting compulsories Oakland CA  age 13.JPG (14689 bytes)
Performing vaulting compulsories in Oakland, CA


Carrey up until her transition to the Appaloosa breed shows, had always ridden with the Junior Horseman’s Club in Moraga, California and exhibited in open all breed shows along with some interest in vaulting. As a member of the CSHA, she joined the Horsemastership program, which involved testing a horse person’s knowledge in 3 areas; Grooming, Reining and Equitation patterns. With her lifelong interest in the western style of riding, Carrey's dedication paid off, as she won her regional an amazing 5 years in a row. At the CSHA Show of Champions, in 1997, Carrey was awarded the title of Reserve Champion, Horsemastership, Western Girl and was Junior Miss CSHA for her region. A very proud moment for mom and dad recalls Jeannie.

Again in 1998, at the CSHA Show of Champions, Carrey's horse became so agitated that she ended up borrowing a friend's horse just to finish the competition. "She returned home that night so upset. It was at this point that my husband and I decided that Carrey needed a better horse.

She had worked so hard at taking on the responsibility for her horses care and upkeep. We also felt that she had shown such a consistency in her riding from the time she was 7, that now, it was time to move up to that better horse and let her show on the breed show circuit.'

'As far as our choice of an Appaloosa; my family has always loved and owned Appaloosas so the Cal-Western Appaloosa breed show circuit was just a natural transition for us.'

Prior to 1997 I had taught Carrey to ride drawing on my experience as a rider myself. I had grown up around a hunter/jumper barn and knew in order to be successful on the breed show level, my daughter would need the expertise of a great trainer and I feel we more than found that in the person of Carol Dal Porto of Brentwood, California. We also asked Carol to find a good show prospect for Caroline and that’s where ‘Monte’ came in", reported Jeannie.

"Monte" to those who know and love him is actually registered as Ima A Leo Too. The 7 year old, bay gelding, was sired by Sonny's Hasta B and is out of Scarlet O Leo.


A smiling Carrie with her new horse partner, Ima A Leo Too, a.k.a. Monty. The pair hit if off immediately, and have gone on to become top California Appaloosa Youth Champions.

When asked, Carrey will tell you that she feels that she and Monte really compliment each other. "He lets me know and really can communicate with me. I personally think that he prefers trail but I would have to say that my favorite class is Showmanship."

Caroline Bush and Ima Leo Too 2000.JPG (26414 bytes)
Carrey & Monty negotiate a trail obstable at the Southern-Cal Appaloosa show in Costa Mesa, CA


If you ask Carrey's parents what class they prefer they'll tell you, all of them. Horses and the discipline it takes to show, has taught our daughter responsibility and a keen sense of fair play. We never have to worry about where she is or what she's doing. It has been a great experience for our daughter. We just couldn't be more proud of Carrey's commitment to her horse and the achievements she's accomplished.

In addition to Caroline 'Carrey' Bush's C-WA high point titles she has also earned year end 2000 California state Championships titles in; The Youth 18 & Under Division for Western Equitation, Western Pleasure, Trail, Novice Showmanship, Novice Western Equitation, and Novice Western Pleasure.

For information on the Cal-Western Appaloosa youth programs you can visit their website at or phone them at ( 209) 634-0608.

  In addition to breeding, raising and exhibiting Appaloosa show horses, Patti Ansuini has had her freelance stories published in Performance Horse Magazine, Western Times, The Appaloosa Journal, Cal-Western Appaloosa Show Horse News, The Appaloosa Webzine, The Cal-Western Hotwire Web News, several regional newspapers and lifestyle magazines in the San Francisco Bay area. Visit her web site at

Article Copyright ? 2001 Patti Ansuini. All rights reserved. The above article is the property of the Author and may not be duplicated or redistributed in any way without permission.

Photos in this article are copyrighted and used with permission by Veda Photography. Based in Santa Rosa, California, with ten years experience in Equine photography. For information on photo shoots or expert graphic designs phone (707) 539-7527 ofc., or (707) 486-2949 cell phone.