PV couple goes before judges, shows Arabian horses

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From courtrooms to horse show arenas, Paradise Valley residents Michael F. Beethe and wife, Kimberly Blackburn are used to going before judges.

Aside from being a lawyer presenting many cases, including horse-related matters to courtroom judges, Mr Beethe owns and shows Arabian horses, along with his wife, in front of those who judge show horses in the horse circuit.

“Recently, we showed our horses at the U.S. National Championship Horse Show in Tulsa, Oklahoma. My wife showed her horse that she hand-picked five years ago and had tremendous success,” Mr. Beethe said.

“She was awarded U.S. National Reserve Champion --- second in the nation --- in the extremely competitive Amateur Owner to Ride Western Pleasure class.”

He says his wife also showed the same horse at the 2018 Scottsdale All Arabian Horse Show and was named champion in the same class --- Amateur Owner to Ride Western Pleasure.

“Showing horses is an interesting sport in that even the best combination of horse, trainer and rider still relies on the opinions of the judges that day,” said Ms. Blackburn, an aspiring chef.

“It is very subjective in nature, which can be both motivating and discouraging at times. Ultimately, for me, it’s very special to be able to show our children our passion for these animals and the work we put into achieving our goals together.”

The couple each has two horses. Ms. Blackburn named her horses Mmonsingor and Classic Ambition; and Mr. Beethe named his horses Pershahnah and Flawless.

In addition to showing their Arabian horses, a breed known for its grace, speed and endurance, they enjoy raising their sons, Cal, 11 and nearly 2-year-old Graysen.

The Beethe and Blackburn duo recently described their daily lives to the Independent.

Michael Beethe
•How do you find time to show horses outside your regular profession?
I am an attorney, which can certainly be demanding at times. Fortunately, being a part owner of my firm with an incredible group of people allows a good deal of latitude for us to prepare for and attend the horse shows.

•How long have you been showing Arabian horses with your wife?
I have been showing horses since I was about 8 years old, so it is truly a life-long hobby. Kim and I actually met through mutual friends in the horse industry, so we have been enjoying the horses together since we met in 2010.

•What sparked your interest in it?
My parents were showing horses when I was very young, and I sort of “inherited” the interest in horses. But my parents only showed Halter or “In Hand” horses, which is where they are not ridden, and instead presented to judges who make their places on the horses’ beauty and conformation. When I was about 10, I finally got my parents to buy me a riding horse, and I have been riding and showing ever since!

•Describe a regular day/week for you and your wife?
In the offseason, we have a pretty regular schedule. I work full time, and Kim stays at home with our two sons. As we get closer to shows, we spend a great deal of time working with our horses and trainers to get prepared for the shows. I am fortunate that my horses are with trainers here in the Phoenix area (Cave Creek and Scottsdale), so I usually practice two-to-three times a week as we are approaching the bigger competitions.

•Are the kids involved?
So far, our kids are not actively showing horses. Our older son, Cal, is an avid baseball player, and that is where he spends most of his time. While he doesn’t show, he does go to most of the shows with us, and he has a great circle of friends that he hangs out with at the shows, including his cousins. Our younger son, Graysen, spends way more time on his rocking horse than a real horse, but we hope that will change as he gets a little older!

•Are you and your wife Arizona natives, if not, where are you two originally from?
I was born and raised in Kansas City, and moved here with my family in 2000. Kim and Cal are from Minneapolis, but moved to Paradise Valley in 2010.

•Is there anything else interesting about yourself and/or your horse that readers would like to know?
While a majority of my law practice is dedicated to representing small to medium sized businesses, I also have been fortunately to combine my passion and knowledge of horses with my profession. I represent many breeders, owners and trainers in legal matters related to horses, as well as several breed organizations.

Kimberly Blackburn
•How long have you been showing horses?
I was your typical horse crazy young girl. I started riding at 8 years old and competed at a National level in high school. After taking a break during college, I was introduced to Arabians 10 years ago and have been hooked ever since! It has truly been a life-long passion.

•What sparked your interest in it?
I lived in northern California, in horse country, for a few years during my childhood. I was lucky to have parents that embraced my love for horses and gave me the opportunity to take weekly riding lessons and spend summers at horse camp.

•How do you find time to show your horse in between being a mom of little ones and maintaining a household?
The key to my success is having a partner who grew up in the Arabian horse industry and understands what it takes to be able to compete at this level. I often take quick 36-hour trips to Texas to practice ahead of a competition, and Mike is always there to pick up the slack at home with our 11- and 2-year-old boys.

Our busiest horse show times are October, for U.S. Nationals, and February, for the Scottsdale show. We are fortunate to have help with the kids between loving grandmothers and our special nanny, Barbie, so Mike and I can stay focused on the horses. During the summer, shows are fun family escapes, and we spend time in beautiful places along the California coast and in Kentucky.

•What is involved with having a prized show horse?
We are fortunate to have our horses in the very capable hands of three trainers. Mike’s horses are trained and managed by his sister, Shannon Beethe, at Beethe Arabians in Cave Creek, and with Andy Selman at Sahara in Scottsdale. My horses are with Joe Reser at Shamrock Farms in the Dallas/Fort Worth area. Our trainers are truly the magic behind the scenes.

They spend countless hours preparing the horses for competition and ensuring that each horse is kept at the top of their game with proper vet work, nutrition and overall conditioning. They have the challenging job of making sure our horses perform their job specific to our riding abilities. They are some of the most hard working, talented individuals and their passion for the Arabian horse is inspiring!

•How does it feel to be a champion in the equestrian arena?
I feel very blessed to have the opportunity and honestly a little relieved that all of our hard work, the investment in time and money, has turned into success in the show ring. I also feel lucky that other people believe in my horses as much as I do, especially my trainer.

•Is there anything else interesting about yourself and/or your horse that readers would like to know?
There are many opportunities, especially in Scottsdale, to experience the Arabian horse. The Scottsdale Arabian Horse Show is one of the largest shows in the world and a chance to see best of the best compete. It is a great family activity with many opportunities to experience what goes on behind the scenes for these show horses. Scottsdale Equestrian Academy, at Beethe Arabians in Cave Creek, is also a great place to learn more about the Arabian horse, whether you would like learn to ride for fun or desire the most advanced level of competition.

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