Santa Ynez Thoroughbred Association gallops forward

Santa Ynez Thoroughbred Association gallops forward


The Santa Ynez Valley Thoroughbred Association, made up of the Valley’s prestigious thoroughbred horse breeders and owners, is well known in America’s racing circles.

Now it is opening its membership to those in our community who, though they neither own nor breed horses, nevertheless are interested in the sport of kings.

In a recent selection of the new board of directors, Santa Ynez resident Barbara Shuler was elected president. Shuler is deeply involved in the sale of horses to buyers from the Middle East, and she raises Thoroughbreds.

Other board members are Debbie Stull, who, with her husband Tom, owns Tommy Town Thoroughbreds, and Ron Jex, who managed the late film producer Ray Stark’ s Corral de Quati Thoroughbred Farm for many years. Jex is originally from England and was a member of the Queen’s Guard.


Also selected for the board were John and Carol Turner, who have managed Thoroughbred Farms and are well versed in the Thoroughbred industry; and Becky Shields of Shields Thoroughbred Farm in Santa Ynez.

SYVTA members recently joined the California Thoroughbred Association members for an outdoor party at Alisal Ranch, where the new board members were introduced.

Several of the leading farms in the valley are in racing’s top 10 money makers in California this year. They include River Edge Farm, Tommy Town, Pepper Oaks and Magali. Their ratings are compared with 50 other breeders of racing stock in this state.


 The leading stallions at River Edge are Benchmark, Bertrando and Tribal Rule. Tommy Town stands Old Topper, Uncle Denny and Ministers Wild Cat. Patricia Youngman’s Thoroughbred enclave, Pepper Oaks, has a famous leading California sire, Swiss Yodler. 

Magali’s studs include Lit de Justice, Good Journey, Atticus and Decarchy. This farm is owned by Richard and Gaby Sulpizio, who recently entered a partnership that will allow the services of 12-year-old stallion Nureyev to be shared between Magali Farm and Lindsay Park Stud in Australia. 


Equestrian Center growing

 With the completion of the new Cow Horse Arena last year, the Santa Ynez Valley Equestrian Center was able to add several new Cow Horse events to its schedule.

Event Chairman Mark Gowing created a series of four popular contests called Team Sortings.

Many riders who love to participate in this sport also are members of the Valley Team Penning Association, and there are always numbers of riders who are new to the sport.

Team Sorting is also a sport that is really fun for spectators to watch, as teams of two riders chase cows through deep sand, trying to sort them in numerical order through the gate. Each team has just 90 seconds to sort out 10 numbered cattle as spectators cheer wildly for their favorites.


Keith and Kristin Bazzell announce these events and keep score. The cattle come from Gerry Williams Livestock Co. Marla Sprowl takes the entries and completes the drawing order, and Ron Morales is right on hand to help Mark Gowing with the cattle.

Volunteer participation is an important part of the success of the SYVEA.

Lunches and refreshments are served by Terry and Stephanie Larrabee’s Santa Ynez Valley Coffee Company. The Larrabees are prominent cutting horse people who attained the World Championship last year in Texas.


The first two team sortings were held earlier this year and the division standings are: Open Division, Lupe Lopez and Carlos Spencer, 59; Kelly Gowing and Paula Merrill, 50; Ron Morales, 45. Limited Division: Marla Sprowl, 57; Jerry Merrill, 47; Chris Burns and Sherri Kayson, 39. Novice Division: Guy Hamilton, 41; Bob Mott, 39; Mary Bahnken, -32.

The next two team sortings are scheduled for July 12 and Sept. 6. For further information call Mark Gowing at (805) 588-1081 or visit the website,

At the end of each year, an awards dinner, known as the Celebration of Champions, is held to honor top riders. It will be held on Nov. 8, at an as-yet undetermined location.

This year, cow horse events will be added to the Hunter-Jumper, Dressage, Gymkhana and Western events to be honored.

“This is the kind of growth we need and enjoy,” said SYVEA President David Hunsicker.