1441 entries, 19 nations and lots of colored horses - the Euro Paint 2017 was held in Kreuth, Germany, from August 27th to September 2nd.

Participants from Germany, France, Belgium, Switzerland, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Hungary, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Sweden, Slovenia, Slovakia, the USA and Israel travelled to Bavaria to compete against the best of the European APHA industry and hopefully take home a gold medal in the end. The show was judged by Butch Carse, Cindy Chilton Moore, Delena Doyle, Michael Short and LeAnne Williams.

The show started with the PHCG Futurity and Maturity classes in which not only German, but many international riders were competing as well. US native Keith Long, for instance, won the Futurity Western Pleasure with Zip My Assets DH and Bianka Tengg and Olenas Rocks from Austria won the Maturity Western Pleasure. Another event which is the total opposite of Western Pleasure, but highly popular at the moment was held on Saturday as well - and the first European Champion was crowned: Anna-Alisa Samse and Shot Girl from Germany took home the title of European Champion Amateur Ranch Riding.

The rest of the week continued to be just as diverse as the first day with respect to events and international winners. Some competitors, however, were able to constantly show at the highest level and took home multiple gold medals -  one example was long-time Euro Paint competitor Sarah Vorraber who dominated the Amateur classes and won nine gold medals in total with her well-known mare Like Smokin Gun, her Reining horse Big Chic Gun and the latest addition to her line-up, a three-year-old mare called Willi Gotit Goin On. Besides the nine gold medals, Sarah also took home one silver medal and three bronze medals as well as the title of Allround Champion Amateur on all five cards. Those wins were particularly special to Sarah, who has been competing at the Euro Paint since 1998, because: “In the past two years, I could not participate at the Euro Paint as much as I wanted due to my work schedule, which is why this year’s medals are very special to me! Furthermore, the European APHA industry has become much more competitive in the past years. I think that was visible this year: For the first time ever, there were more horses at the Euro Paint than at the ECQH. The more horses, the more great rides and the happier you are if you win!”

Yes, there were much more horses, even compared to last year when the Euro Paint was the biggest APHA show in the world with respect to numbers. Therefore it was even more amazing to witness that there were 15 percent more entries at the Euro Paint this year compared to last year which means that more and more people are “Paint Horse addicted”. One could definitely recognize the increase in numbers when looking at the Youth classes: The average number of competitors in Youth and Novice Youth classes was twenty - and not only in performance classes: With twenty horses shown in Youth Halter Mares the class was very competitive compared to earlier years. Other classes such as Youth Showmanship, Horsemanship or Trail were equally deep. Carolina Clement who became Allround Champion in show 2 with A Bright Deal did great at her first international show, but was equally impressed by her fellow Youth participants: “The Euro Paint was not only my first international show, but my first APHA show at all. It was a great time and I have learnt a lot! I was very impressed by the Youth competitors from Israel who did great with their leasing horses! The whole team of the Euro Paint did an amazing job and was very friendly and helpful despite the bad weather.” The team from Israel who had competed at the 2016 APHA Youth World Games in Kreuth left no stone unturned to participate at the Euro Paint this year: The even searched for leasing horses via Facebook -  and they found some thanks to lovely APHA members from Europe. For one of the Youth riders from Israel, 18-year-old Or Shaul, a dream came true at the Euro Paint: This show was her last chance to compete at an international show before starting her mandatory military service in Israel. Or’s dream of competing at the Euro Paint came true - and even more: She took home the gold medal in Youth SPB Hunt Seat Equitation. Or stated about the Euro Paint: “I liked the fact that there were so many great riders and amazing horses, but it still was really fun and everybody was so nice to us!”

The great friendship among the Euro Paint competitors is what Danish native Freja Aase Olsen loves as well: “I appreciate that people at least pretend their happiness with other rider’s victories and there seem to be no bad emotions. It’s a rare thing and I really appreciate it.” Freja, who came to the Euro Paint for the ninth time, had shown in six classes and took home five gold medals and one bronze medal - what a great achievement!

One highlight of every Euro Paint is the Nations Cup. Some people who are usually showing on the AQHA circuit but came to the Euro Paint to watch were overheard in the stands regretting that there was no such thing at the AQHA shows anymore. On Thursday evening, when the Nations Cup was held, visitors saw great costumes, a “horseless” Reining run and the best European APHA riders. In the end, the best of the best were - as many times in the past - the riders from Team Austria. Nina Leiner, Sarah Vorraber, Heike Neuhold, Katja Altenstrasser, Katrin Tengg, Brigitte Reiter und Silvia Zoetsch did an amazing job as usual and definitely deserved the title. Coming in on second and third place were Team Germany and the Czech Republic. “We had so much fun during the Nations Cup! The atmosphere was great and the audience was cheering for everyone. You need a bombproof horse to do this, because of all the noise, the flags, the costumes - I was wearing a long skirt in the colors of the German flag which covered my horse’s hindquarters. But this is what makes the Nations Cup so amazing - it is special and so much fun! There was a great team spirit among everyone and I love that,” Sabrina Hoppert from Team Germany told us. Sabrina did the Trail for Germany in the Nations Cup, but had a very successful show overall, including many medals as well as the title of Allround Champion Amateur SPB in show 1 and 3.

All in all the Euro Paint 2017 was a show with emotional highlights, many international competitors and lots of fun. This show, however, could never be held without a lot of help: Therefore, we would like to thank all sponsors, especially Perri’s Leather, AutomitStern and Bucas, and everyone who got up early and stayed up late just to keep the show running smoothly. We are looking forward to the Euro Paint 2018 which will be held from August 24th until September 2nd and to even more fun, emotions and maybe even more people who love the American Paint Horse!


Picture: Paint Horse Journal/Jessica Hein