Russian Roulett

 

His Story

 

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Sasha and Fede would start their competitions in the local cross country Event Derby’s -  keeping Sasha and Fede under the required meters per minute was a challenge as Sasha was bred for racing and had incredible speed.  After 2 years of training and a few clinics with Olympic trainer Bernie Traurig the pair was ready to make their debut in 2003 on  the AA circuit in Southern California where they would face the cream of the crop in jumpers trained by the cream of the crop trainers.

 

At this point failure was not an option,  Russian Roulett+ was now 17 years old and the oldest rookie jumper in the field, moreover,  he was the only purebred Arabian,  bridle cut mane, long flowing tail and all black tack.  Leg wraps were 3 black and one red - Argentine polo style which Fede insisted upon.  Sasha took good care of Fede.  If he missed the distance Sasha would negotiate the jump and his rollbacks were incredibly quick.  Fede could turn Sasha on a dime.  Together they won 16 championships, 2 reserve championships, 3 Event Derby wins and to date are the only PB team to win the Adult Amateur classic at LAEC.  They never left an AA rated show without a ribbon in some very deep classes. .  It would be Bernie Traurig who said ringside at HITS Indio Desert circuit that Russian Roulett+ defies gravity.  And defy gravity he did as he pinned second in the opening round of 13 fence open speed in a class of 156 jumpers.


And it would be the announcer at the 2004 Olympic trials held at Showpark who coined the phrase, the Russian Rocket.

 

 They were 6 times various regional jumper champions (level 3) at the AHA championship shows and USEF HOTY twice for Region II.  They won both the $1000 open jumper stakes and $500 ATR jumper stakes in 2004 at the Scottsdale All Arabian show and made top 10 in the mini prix and ATR classes at the 2004 Arabian Sport Horse Nationals.  Russian Roulett+ now had the points for his Legion of Honor ( thus adding the symbol + forever behind his name) He and Fede were also presented with the AHA special recognition/Ambassador award in 2005. 

 

All was going well on both circuits until  Labor Day  of 2005 when disaster struck.  Fede and Sasha had a near fall in the ring at the last fence. There was a huge sigh as everyone thought Russian Roulett+ would go down but he snapped those legs back up and with Fede hanging over Sasha’s left side crossed the timer to win but Sasha limped out of the ring lame.  He was immediately moved back to his stall with the show vet in hand.  The prospects didn’t look good.

 

Sasha was now turning 20 and nobody thought he could come back from this.  His career was over. Fede decided to relocate to Hawaii for business and paragliding competitions and Sasha was in the care of Dr. Kent Sullivan and his trainer Jorge Ludwig. After 7 months of rest and special care Sasha was pronounced 100% sound.  He was bored, getting into mischief and would make everyone’s life miserable when the string would leave for a show without him.

 

When the organizers of the 2006  Pomona Equine Affaire asked if Russian Roulett+ would participate in their Arabian All Star Show after much thought, it was a go with Helen Litt in the irons.  Helen was a fellow barn mate who knew Sasha since he was about 4 years old.  They were old pals.  That’s not to say that Sasha would not show off in front of a crowd and give Helen his usual antics of teasing her but all went well.  Helen and Sasha had a great time and Sasha was happy.  He was back in the ring and gave the audience quite a show.

 

Phase two of Sasha’s career was about it start with another rider, a senior handicapped rider named Ronna Jurow, MD, and a little item called a Bedouin halter would make it’s first appearance in the open world of hunters and jumpers.


Our Senior Citizen Rider - Ronna Jurow,  M.D. M.S.  started her hunter and jumper career at the age of 7.  She trained with Barbara Worth and has enjoyed a long and successful career during which time she practiced medicine and  raised two daughters.  Ronna unlike Fede had many years of competition behind her and even after an accident left her handicapped, she never gave up and rarely slowed down to smell the roses.  She is a strong competitor and one of the best senior riders in this area riding with brace wraps on legs and back.

 

Ronna as been a staple at Ludwig Stables for years.  She has owned many wonderful jumpers and has trained with Jorge Ludwig for over a decade.  After much ado, I asked Ronna if she would like to ride Sasha for one season as she had her own horse, Mistico on circuit also. The question would be could Sasha adjust to a different rider who unlike Fede carried a crop and had a completely different style.  She rode with her own saddle so I put away the black N. Pessoa saddle, 2 color leg wraps and added the Bedouin halter.  Everyone was into bling and Sasha was no exception.  It would be the Bedouin halter and Ronna rides that would put Russian Roulett+ on the cover of California Riding magazine.  The outstanding shot of Sasha in that halter would win praise for the magazine and Cheryl Erpelding, the Publisher out of 35 covers in contention.

 

Ronna and Sasha made their debut at Del Mar California and in usual Sasha fashion won the
1 meter open speed class and out came the Bedouin halter for a win photo.  Next class up was the Accumulator - a class built around speed, points for jumps and a huge square oxer as the

Joker fence.  This class is not for the faint of heart nor is it run like a Gambler’s Choice.  One has a specific course to jump with fences set fairly close together with a sprint to the 1.15M joker at the end.  My biggest concern was the wind that day,.it was blowing over the potted palm trees and a lot of the horses were spooking. Ronna and Sasha were in the zone and in first place in the 40 horse class.  Ronna and Sasha would again jump the Accumulator a few months later but under very different circumstances.

 

In the meantime, Ronna added a division championship on Sasha at Pebble Beach, California and a reserve at the LA International and countless ribbons in between before they would again met up with the Accumulator class - it was October and we were nearing the end of the season when a freak accident in the warmup ring with Ronna’s own horse had her thrown into the fences, face first.  It’s times like this that make you realize that our sport can be quite dangerous but Ronna refused to go to the hospital.  After all, she was a doctor and after one day of rest, she emerged from her hotel room with her face swollen black and blue and one eye completely closed.  To her it was nothing more than a skinned knee. To me she looked like Quasimodo, but she was ready to ride her classes.

 

Nobody could stop her from taking  Sasha into the Accumulator class.  I was a wreck but Sasha knowing his rider was injured took great care of her and again they were in the ribbons in a huge class.   He was her eyes that day,  That ended the season of the senior horse and rider who strutted his stuff in Bedouin halter and kept the Arabian breed in the ribbons for the 4th year.  One can only stand back and admire Ronna Jurow, she is a great role model for the senior rider and is still competing - what a great year that was ---

 

Phase 3 of Sasha’s career - a junior rider with yet another style of riding and this time it was a rider who was not in our barn and didn’t train with Jorge. 

 

Madeline Burkhartsmeier - After 5 years of jumping the circuits it was decided that we would retire Russian Roulett+ at the age of 22 with a junior rider in the irons.  The only problem was we had no junior rider in our barn.  On the circuits was a junior rider Madeline Burkhartsmeier who was winning with her HA pony Hocus Pocus who by coincidence was a cousin to Sasha thru *Muscat.

 

Maddie had won just about everything there was to win in zone 10 including the 2006 team gold medal at the USEF pony jumper finals, HOTY and zone 10 children’s jumper stirrup cup.  She also won the open half/Arabian jumper stakes at Scottsdale and ribboned in the $5000 Scottsdale

Gambler’s Choice.  The idea of teaming a horse trainer by one person and the rider by another was again, a task for our trainer Jorge Ludwig.  Jorge has put up with a lot of our shenanigans but this one took the cake.

 

Too complicate matters, Maddie had sold her pony and was training on her new WB with her trainer Lisa Weston.  It was decided that Maddie would ride her own horse in children’s and Sasha in low children thus allowing each trainer a different class to coach.  Maddie and Sasha made their debut at the Memorial Day show at LAEC, 2007 -  since Maddie only had a few weeks to train on Sasha we entered only one class - and won blue.  Maddie and Sasha were off to a good start and followed up with a division championship at the OAKS, reserve at the International show and blue at the LA National show.  Maddie and Sasha also never left a show without a ribbon in classes as deep as 35 to 65 competitors.

 

Memorial Day, 2008, Sasha walked thru the in gate for the last time.  He ended his career as he had started, high in the ribbons in a deep class of very talented young horses.  But more importantly, he retired 100% sound but the best is yet to come.



 

After 5 years of competition and besting over 1200 all breed jumpers, more was yet to come.

 

In 2008 the AHA would celebrate their centennial allowing their membership to vote for 100 of most influential and significant people, horses and/or events of the last 100 years.  Only 33 horses made the list with such greats as *Bask++, * Muscat, Khemosabi++++//, Cass Ole+ (The Black Stallion) and coming in at #65 would be a horse who only 5 years earlier was unheard of.  Perhaps is was his destiny to guide the Arabian sport horse into centennial history and to proudly represent the jumper in the Arabian Horse Galleries at the museum of the horse at the Kentucky Horse Park.

 

Was he really that special or was he just a purebred Arabian who was given a chance to break the glass ceiling and dispel the myth that the Arabian is a spooky untrustworthy horse who’s only use is to be stretched out like a starched eel in the halter classes.  There was something about the show world and/or the competition itself that brought to life the Russian Rocket.  He loved his job

 

Russian Roulett+ spent most of his life with WB’s.  His pals, the barn buddies who traveled the circuits with him for years - these horses were his family at Ludwig Stables.

 


 

 

Today Sasha lives with his trainer (Jorge Ludwig) in beautiful  Hidden Valley, California (just North of Malibu) and enjoys trail rides and hanging out with his new pal, a lovely Irish Sport Horse called Hillside - she’s new to the barn and one thing you can always count on is Sasha making friends with the newbie’s who come to train and jump the fences.  He is my only horse and I thank him for allowing me to take

this wonderful journey into the world of the hunter/jumper competitions on both circuits.


See him in retirement HERE.












































 

The little chestnut Arab colt was born on April 8, 1986 at Chopmist Arabians in Potomac, Maryland. His name was Russian Roulett but called “Sasha.” Sired by Wind Fortune and out of Muscatasha (*Muscat), he was gifted to Angelique Anthony as a two-year-old.  (Read about his pedigree HERE)


Up until age 17, he enjoyed life as a trail horse. But that was about to change ....


Fedrico Mantaras (called Fede) grew up riding horses for his uncle and being a Gaucho.  One was never quite sure who had more attitude, Fede or Sasha.  They were like two peas in a pod.  Fede pushed the envelope in everything he did from playing polo, racing motorcycles to paragliding.  He was a friend of Victoria Faerber (Sasha’s initial trainer) and wanted to learn jumping and eyed Sasha.  With my permission,  Victoria hired Jorge Ludwig  to train both Fede and Sasha as a team.  Considering Sasha was a 15 yo Arab, standing only 14.2HH  and Fede had never jumped a horse in his life - this was quite a task for Ludwig and one that most open circuit trainers would have turned down immediately.  You just didn't see PB Arabian on the AA rated H/J circuits in California.