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It’s Always Party Time At Twin Rivers!

by Claire Panke

DELAWARE, Ohio – Cool temperatures and constant drizzle got the Buckeye state’s favorite horse show got off to a soggy start. But neither rain nor gloomy skies could dampen spirits for long when the 38th Twin Rivers Show hit its stride. By the time championship day rolled around, the usual sunny skies and mild temperatures had returned, setting the stage for a firecracker of a stake night celebration.

Held July 3-5, Twin Rivers exudes a welcoming, small town atmosphere, rejoicing in the lay back charm of this college community and exploiting the virtues of the well-appointed Delaware County Fairgrounds. In fact, the show feels a lot like a friendly backyard cookout with 500 of your closest friends; friends who just happen to have brought along a herd of top notch show horses and ponies.

Thanks to the hard work of Chairperson Leslie Backus, Secretary Judy Peters and a score of exhibitor-volunteers, hospitality is always job number one at Twin Rivers, undoubtedly one of the main reasons exhibitors return year after year. And why not, this show is just plain fun. The annual exhibitors’ party, featuring a boatload of traditional picnic fare, a DJ and karaoke, always attracts a standing room only crowd. This year’s gathering featured a highly successful silent auction which raised over $1,500 for the Stefanie Spielman Fund For Breast Cancer Research and Saddlebred Rescue.

In honor of their first UPHA Pink Ribbon class, Twin Rivers sponsored a “Pink Tack Room” contest on Friday evening, an innovation enthusiastically embraced by nearly everyone. By show time, the setting sun shone down on a sea of rosily attired spectators and exhibitors. From the flamingos perched high atop Jim McIntosh Stables’s tack drapes to the pink bunting and twinkle lights that festooned Four Seasons Farm, the spirit of pink prevailed and the fairgrounds was awash this night in blush, rose and shocking pink. Pinkest of the pink proved to be the stable area of that irrepressible gang, the Taylor Made Stables, where barely a square inch of tack room, seating, tent or shed row was left untouched by pink. Most importantly, donations and pledges from the Pink Ribbon class raised nearly $600 for breast cancer research.

While the July 4 date adds immeasurably to the festive atmosphere, in 2008 it also created a conflict with Lexington Junior League. With only one day between these two events, several trainers who traditionally bring horses to Twin Rivers elected to ship to Lexington instead, and a few stables left before stake night to get to the bluegrass on time. Yet Twin Rivers still boasted over 320 horses on the grounds. “I was very pleased with the show,” said Leslie Backus. “Wspecially Saturday night with its well filled, competitive championships and perfect weather. I hope everyone enjoyed themselves.” She also expressed heartfelt thanks “to our sponsors and everyone who supported us.” Major corporate contributors included Ray and Barbara Blanton’s Windgate Farms, for whom this is a hometown show.

Twin Rivers was originally an all amateur show, and amateur classes are still feature prominently in the show schedule. One of the highlights of stake night is the presentation of the show’s coveted “Outstanding Amateur of the Year” award. This year’s prize honored one of Ohio’s stalwarts, a person whose roots go deep into the state’s Saddlebred history: a kind, modest lady who has been indispensable both in the spotlight and behind the scenes. Joan Williams is not just an enthusiastic owner and successful exhibitor, she is also sister to trainer Susan LeVally, mother of Leslie Backus, and point secretary of Tri-State Horse Shows Association. Williams’s quiet strength and helping hands have benefited many organizations and individuals over the years. Her award presentation was a most fitting opening to a terrific night of championship competition.


Capping the week’s festivities was the concluding Five-Gaited Amateur Championship as a bevy of determined riders and six quality entries charged into the ring. The dream team of Mindy Van Hellemont and her sporty All Stirred Up turned in a terrific performance, taking the tricolor back to Palm Beach, Fla. This was the second year in a row for this well matched duo to capture the championship. Lauren Carver Noe and Uhlen’s Look Of Love finished strongly to take reserve for mom Karen Grady Carver. The amateur qualifier was just as hard fought, this time with Lauren’s mom, Karen Grady Carver, being the best with her many times winner Grand Rambler. The exciting new combination of Linda Sullivan and Mountainview’s Nite Dancer got it all together for a close reserve.

The inaugural UPHA Ladies Pink Ribbon Five-Gaited Stake drew a good group of five contenders riding for the cure. The very pretty bay Mountainview’s Allegro and Marcia Belcher, second in the junior, couldn’t be denied the top prize. The great racking Callaway’s Belfast and Mindy Preston nabbed the second spot for Linda Lewis. Allison Pullin and her personality-plus mare Isabelle Lenore have owned Twin Rivers’s junior exhibitor five-gaited division, winning championships in 2007 and 2005. They swept their classes yet again in 2008. Reata’s Luna Negra and Kristen Siess were the reserve grand champions, with Inherit The Town and Kaitlin Stacy runners up in the qualifier.

The open competition was also well supported. The open championship was a nail-biter that saw several horses in contention. When it was all over, it was Susan LeVally’s speedy Desert’s Bay Rocket, given a scintillating ride by Connie Smith, to capture the title. The powerful Shamrock’s Commanders Image was pushing the winners every step with Mike McIntosh up for his dad, Jim. This same team dominated the open class, ahead of Karen Grady Carver’s popular Castaway and Paul Snyder. Mud on Thursday night couldn’t slow down the junior horses as Joan Hammond and the bright eyed Superior’s Revelation made it their own. James Lawrence and Coventry’s Uncensored took the blue ribbon back to West Virginia for Mary Schmidt in the UPHA Classic. Four Willows Farm’s Solstices showed promise in the second for Jennifer Townsend.


Unlike many shows where the walk-trot classes are lightly contended, the three-gaited division at Twin Rivers proved solid.

Debbie Ecksten has the key to the dynamic performer His Heirness. They accounted for two starring performances in the amateur qualifier and championship, repeating their visits to the winner’s circle from 2007. Kathy Oberschlake had two of her best rides of the season aboard the snappy Prophet’s Fantastic Fulfillment for reserves in both these events. The junior exhibitor stake was a tricolor ride for a happy Eavlyn Lyshoir and Choiceco. Danielle Mallia and Bravia were the top choice in the preliminary. Dust For Prince and Sydney Lynch got the nod for second.

The limber legged Santana Dancer fulfilled her potential with two highly animated performances to capture the open qualifier and championship for owner Gloria Edwards. Rider-trainer Mary Waickman’s patience with this mare was well rewarded. Last year’s popular champions, the multi-titled Nakoma and John Nelson had to be content with reserve honors this time.

The park horses provided some of the deepest quality of the show. The amateur championship proved to be quite a contest, with the bold Fort Chiswell’s Royal Blue, aggressively teamed by Kristen Siess, claiming the tricolor convincingly for Yolanda Andrews. Displaying a high, four cornered trot and perfect manners, The Master Showman marched away with the amateur qualifier and a good reserve in the championship for owner Megan Humphries. Charm’s Whisper and Wanda Roe Cunningham had the right stuff for a good reserve in the amateur preliminary.

In a repeat of his 2007 wins, Mirrored Dancer displayed his characteristic presence and brilliance to capture the open park and grand championship for owner Linda Lewis and rider Debbie Ecksten. Jacki Mahvi’s high stepping Luke Spencer marched smartly into the reserve spot for Mary Waickman. Noah Calhoun and Jean Nicksick had it their way in the junior park class.


It was indeed a happy sight to see a well-filled open harness stake at Twin Rivers. Linda Litzinger’s elegant Santana’s Tropical Treasure has been the dominant force in this division in the tri-state area for the past several seasons. Trainer Susan Levally teamed him better than ever as this duo made it two in a row, capturing the open and championship. Bill Marple had French Kiss looking the part in her new division for reserve honors. Phil Price had the colorful and pretty Catalyst’s Masterpiece in fine shape to take the junior class blue ribbon. This youngster is owned by Judith Grimm. Steve Demjen was on the lines of Stacy Bare’s attractive Lily Tu in a promising debut as they drove away with the trophy in the UPHA Classic.

Jackie Hammond had her many times champion mare, One’s Dizzy Lizzy, displaying an airy park trot to capture the amateur prize. Lizzy received a surprise victory pass spin from admirer Bill Marple, a long time fan of this mare’s lofty style.


Seven pleasure mounts entered the ring for the Open Park Pleasure Championship. Not content with being second best in the open and amateur qualifying classes, McKenzie Greenert teamed Pepe’s Superiheir just right to claim the top honors here. Pam Specht had High Time’s Jane Doe in good order to capture the reserve championship. The colorful John Nelson entry Timely Caper went a big trot to take the open win in a decisive performance. Kaitlin Klucas turned in a poised ride on Attached To You to capture the blue in the Amateur Park Pleasure.

The cocky Commander In Motion never backed an ear as Mike McIntosh guided him to an impressive win in the Park Pleasure Junior class. Mark Burin was aboard Time For New York MBA for the red ribbon ride. In the UPHA Classic, the elegant and animated A La Robert dominated his rivals to take the blue for trainer Mike McIntosh. Owners Linda and Bill Sullivan were all smiles over their colt’s first blue ribbon. James Lawrence had Late Night Chatter in the right spot to trot away with second for McDaniel Saddlebreds.

Few horses have led their division as Blue Jean Baby has in park pleasure driving. The pretty bay mare continued her impressive winning streak as she captured the qualifier and championship for Susan LeVally and proud owner Linda Litzinger. Phil Price and Catalyst Masterpiece were the good reserve champions, while Mary Ross was on the lines of Ultimate Connection for the red ribbon in the open.


With its emphasis on the amateur exhibitor, Twin Rivers has traditionally attracted a deep pleasure division. 2008 proved the rule, as nice horses poured through the gate in class after class. A ribbon earned here was one to celebrate indeed.

Kristen Siess topped off a super week by piloting her Cloverleaf Taho Taho in two perfect performances to take the Five-Gaited Pleasure Championship and preliminary. Harlem’s Gifted Treasure and Jacqueline Hawkes racked away with well-earned reserve honors in both classes. A contentious Adult Three-Gaited Pleasure qualifier served as a preview of an even more hotly contested championship. Sweeping the top honors in these two events was the colorful and sassy pinto Mi Caballero for thrilled owner Wendy Smith. Hot on their heels in the championship was the top ranking amateur owner-trainer team of Backstage Pass and Kathy Schueler. Stepping into reserve in the adult preliminary was Cloverleaf’s Mr. Bojangles, shown by Elle Henry.

An avalanche of entries required a split in the Novice Three-Gaited Show Pleasure. In section A, Worthy Looking and Christina Newman proved worth a second look as they trotted out with the blue over The Neptune and Kristi Pyke. Whispering Oaks Wildfire and Megan Reilly bested the competition in section B to claimed top honors. Backstage Pass settled for second. The amateur-owned-trained-shown class was a blue ribbon ride for Melissa Seitzman aboard Bravo Blitz. Nabbing the red ribbon was Winsdown Duquesne and Ashley Brooks.

Hard to miss with her flaxen mane and tail, the aptly named Supremacy’s Fiery Kate took the spotlight in two exciting performances to sweep the junior exhibitor championship and 14-17 qualifying class for owner-breeder Pam Specht and rider Katie McAuliffe. Cloverleaf Skybird and Kristen Siess were the hard riding reserve champions. The younger riders were not to be outdone as Megan Thomas and CH Extended Warranty sparkled to win their championship for the 13 and under. Gianna Covelli and Eastern Pacific stepped up to the reserve tricolor.

A large group of pleasure driving contenders returned for their championship on a sunny Saturday afternoon. Long time exhibitor Sarah Wise had the comeback drive of the week as she took Prophet’s Gentleman all the way to the tricolor in a very sharp performance. Vamoose, bold and lofty going for Eric Adams, was a star in the qualifying class, settling for reserve honors in the final. Lady’s Great Night Out and Amy Rowe took a good second slot in the preliminary.


Topping the English Country Pleasure Championship for adult riders was the new combination of At First Sight and Jacquilene Manzo. Manzo had won this championship an unprecedented four times in a row with her former champion Spike Leigh. Her stake win on her stunning new mount made it five in a row, adding to their novice win on Thursday night. Colleen Bray piloted the gifted pinto Tin Roof Sundae to an impressive reserve championship after a good second place finish in the adult class. Only a four-year-old, Castle Wizard displayed charisma and perfect manners to bring home the blue for Emily Abbott and High Spirit Farm in the adult class. He has now found a new home at Meadow Dream Farm. Donna Greider and I’m Your Superman were super performers in the AOTR class to capture the top slot. Splashed with white, the flashy Neon Deon and owner-rider Melissa Seitzman were a good second.

The large junior exhibitor championship needed a second trot on the reverse to decide the prizes. Getting stronger and stronger as the class progressed, a radiantly happy Taylor Boyer and Dance Card had their best ride to date to take the top honors back to Indiana. At First Sight marched away with the 13 and under qualifier, catch ridden by Katharina Klumpp. Reserve in this class was Party Princess and Kathryn Howerton. Trotting away with the blue in the 14-17 was the versatile My Genius Private Secretary and Jasmine Reyes, followed by Unsung Hero and Nikki Albert.

Linda Walker made a pair of adept drives with the bright going Classic Gem to win the driving qualifier and championship for Dorothy Anderson. Hey Arnold and Alexandra Cousino were the reserve champions. Joan Williams’s Candid Comment was ably catch driven to the reserve in the qualifier by Leslie Backus.

The most impressive winning streak of the show was earned by Kansas City, perfectly presented by owner Beth Oliver. After missing much of the 2007 season, this formidable team has come back in 2008 in a big way, winning a staggering six classes at Twin Rivers: the Western Championship, Western Pleasure, Working Western Pleasure, Hunter Championship, Hunter Open and Saddle & Bridle Hunter Classic. They didn’t necessarily have it easy however, as the many times champion team of Intellectual High and Jill Wilson were Shatner champions, plus good reserves in the Western Championship and qualifier. Staffordshire and Corey Coovert have been coming on strong all season; they polished off trio of good reserves in the Hunter Open, Hunter Classic and championship to prove it.


His name suits him well, since “awesome” is the perfect adjective to describe Beth Jones’s popular road pony Dun-Haven Awesome Image. This pair accounted for the adult roadster and championship, adding them to their long list accomplishments. Keeping the pressure on were 2007’s champions, the multi-titled Desert Fox and Linda Park, as they strutted their stuff for reserve honors. Jason Dykstra gave Tequila Mockingbird two terrific drives in a strong junior driver division to speed away with the blues in the Junior Exhibitor Roadster and AHHS Youth Medallion Roadster. This cutie is owned by Earl Bacher. Driving a way with the red ribbon in both these classes was Chad Terry and the high stepping Melbourne’s Classic Headlines. Matt Schuckert put Rick McQuown’s You Raise Me Up through his paces to capture a nice novice class over Shooting Star and Beth Jones.

The Harness Pony Open attracted only two entries, but what exciting contenders they were: Linda Lewis’s Mi Leonardo, looking like a miniature fine harness horse, and Beth Jones’s extravagantly motioned Autumnwood’s Rumor Has It. In the end, Mi Leonardo emerged the champion with Rumor Has It settling for second. David Estis had Regal’s Top Gun LF primed and ready for the tricolor in the Hackney Pony Championship after a reserve in the open. In a single appearance, The Final Contender was dazzling in the slop to take all comers in the open class for owner-driver Linda Lewis.

Missy Warner had a perfect pleasure performance to capture the Pleasure Driving Championship with BCF Armed And Dangerous. Harrient Schultz drove Jimmy The Tulip to reserve. Beth Jones had a pair of nice winners with DJ’s High Fashion in the pleasure qualifier and Heartland Center Attraction in the novice. Kilbro’s Pit Boss and Elizabeth had a good drive for reserve in the adult, with Sarah Wise driving High Society Image Of A Memory to the red ribbon in the novice.


2007’s open champion, Lindsay Merrill, has gained even more confidence and aplomb since last season. In 2008, she cruised to decisive victories in the UPHA Challenge Cup, 17 and under age group and Saddle Seat Equitation Championship. Eavlyn Lysohir got the nod for reserve in the age group and stake, with Chelsie Welch stepping up for second in the UPHA.

In the pleasure equitation division, newcomer Erica Herrforth’s poised performance garnered her the tricolor and flowers in the championship after a second place finish in the 13 and under. Chelsie Welch captured the senior division and the reserve championship honors. Morgan Gocke had a confident, blue ribbon winning ride in the big 13 and under class.

At Delaware in 2008, the 10 and under riders ruled! A talented and competitive group of walk and trotters proved a highlight of the show, with any one of several appealing young equestrians capable of capturing the honors. They were each and every one a pleasure to watch and all were well mounted. The championship class saw Taylor Russell emerge as the reigning champion after a mature and polished ride. Russell had earlier been second in her qualifier. Reserve champion was up and coming horsewoman Annabel Kippi Noe, who had displayed her horsemanship to blue ribbon effect in winning the UPHA Walk & Trot Challenge Cup. A smiling Sierra Comer displayed perfect form as she teamed her mount in a bold ride to capture the qualifying 10 and under. Petite Delaney Webb put it all together to step up for second in the UPHA.


Susan Sunday enjoyed a near sweep of the English pleasure division as she rode her typey Dragonsmeade Accolade to wins in the championship, open and ladies. Opus One displayed a flawless performance for Barbara Holstein to take the amateur with a reserve in the ladies. Estil Tibbs and the handsome Eire Crest Raymond had the red ribbons in the open and amateur. Kara Maddix and Super Command were in the winner’s circle for the junior exhibitor class.

The classic division proved a romp for the appealing Fateful Heart and Katharina Klumpp. They scored the classic saddle and stake wins. Candy Gierke and The Razor’s Edge got the call for second. This same duo impressed in the western division for owner Cherylynn Howard as they handily nabbed the open western and reserve western championship prizes. Jogging away with the tricolor and roses in the Western Pleasure Championship was Missy Fleming and Spirit Of Benefactor in a polished performance. This pair had earlier accounted for the amateur win over Fletcher T Bat and Estil Tibbs. Chart The Stars and Karin Tracy drove out with the blue and tricolor in the pleasure driving division. The Razor’s Edge and Candy Gierke continued their winning ways in the hunter pleasure with blues in the championship and amateur. Legendary Nobelle Roz and Susan Sunday had the judge’s approval in the open hunter pleasure open and reserve champion honors.

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