Journal on the Road

IHSA National Finals Begin

May 5, 2011

The 2011 Intercollegiate Horse Show Association National Finals begin at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington.

By Larri Jo Starkey

Be A Bono represents racing American Quarter Horses at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington. (Larri Jo Starkey photo). To see photos from IHSA competition, scroll to the slide show below.

The 2011 Intercollegiate Horse Show Association National Finals began May 5 with college students earnestly competing for national glory in individual and team classes. While they concentrate and try to shake their nerves at the Alltech Arena in the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington, just down the hill, life is a little slower.

At the Hall of Champions, many famous retired racehorses live out their days well-fed and showing off for visitors.

Among them is American Quarter Horse champion Be A Bono.

The 2001 sorrel gelding was owned and bred by the late Spencer Childers, a member of the American Quarter Horse Hall of Fame. In his racing days, Be A Bono plummeted down the racetracks at a top speed index of 104, with a lifetime record of 14 wins in 26 records with earnings of $1.3 million.

In 2004, he was the AQHA champion racing 3-year-old and 3-year-old gelding as well as being the AQHA Champion racer for the year.

These days, Be A Bono lazes around his stall and turnout pasture, munching on Kentucky bluegrass, getting dapples on his hide and hanging out with his buddy, the Standardbred Mr. Muscleman. Three times a day, he comes out to greet the public, posing graciously for photos before exiting to return to his hay bag. He’s in the stall that once housed Thoroughbreds John Henry and Alysheba.

It might look like the easy life, but Be A Bono is performing an important job: He’s letting a lot of people who might never have seen a Quarter Horse know exactly how fast the fastest equine athlete on earth can run.

He’s also showing them — if they would only take a lesson — just how to relax and take it easy when retirement comes along.

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