Edited Press Release
Nick Haness is no stranger to the winner’s circle at DIHP, but he has a relatively new partner joining him there. Thursday afternoon, Haness piloted McQueen to championship honors in the 3’6” Green Hunter division, under the watchful eye of Traci and Carleton Brooks of Balmoral.
When asked what qualities the 8-year old Dutch Warmblood gelding possesses to captivate the judges, Carleton’s answer was simple: “Class and talent.” Those two adjectives have launched Carleton to the winner’s circle at the nation’s most prestigious hunter horse shows, including the Devon Horse Show, the Capital Challenge Horse Show, and the Pennsylvania National Horse Show, just to name a few.
Haness, of Temecula, CA, rode to the win in several classes Wednesday and Thursday in the 3’6” Green division during Desert Circuit II, which surprised no one part of McQueen’s journey. “He’s coming into his own,” Carleton continued about McQueen. “He’s a very special one. He’s not just good, he’s going to be great. He has the aptitude to do the job. He’s the whole package.
“Nick is a freak. He’s a freak in that he can analyze and understand a horse,” Carleton reasoned regarding his choice of Haness sitting aboard Strasburg Morin Inc.’s promising gelding. “He bonds with a horse right away. It’s a unique ability that very, very few people have. He can adapt to any horse. I admire him.”
Balmoral has a relatively new and young string, both equine and human, at DIHP this season with big plans to grow and excel. “We have interesting and very talented horses, and they’re all very marketable. The riders have improved immensely and we’re really looking forward to everyone stepping up,” remarked Carleton.
As longtime supporters and more recent additions to the new barn sponsorship program at DIHP, Traci and Carleton Brooks have spent years basing their operation out of the horse park for the winter months.
Traci, who spent time in Wellington, FL, at the close of 2022, heard the buzz echoing across the East Coast about how incredible the facility in Thermal has become. “A lot of people have heard great things and want to come here, so I think [DIHP] has got some street cred now,” Traci said, expecting to see more and more top names venture out west as years go by.
Carleton added, “We like the openness of the facility [at DIHP]. It’s very open and the horses seem to be very comfortable here. Having been here long enough throughout the years, we see a massive effort behind the scenes.”
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