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85th Annual Blowing Rock Charity Maintains Its Momentum



by Susan F. Harris

BLOWING ROCK, N.C. – When a horse show receives the UPHA’s Most Improved Show recognition in 2007, what can it do for an encore? Keep on doing more of the same, which is exactly what the 85th annual Blowing Rock Charity Horse Show did. After a huge jump in participation with last year’s date change, Blowing Rock was pleased to hold its own with over 300 horses and 400 stalls sold in 2008.

Blowing Rock is a show where the exhibitors are treated like gold. Upon arrival in the remote parking field, exhibitors (and spectators alike) were whisked to ringside or their stalls by friendly volunteers on golf carts. Tubs of icy cold bottled water were kept supplied throughout the show at both rings. Even the horses benefited from the hospitality with an endless supply of complimentary carrots.

The show management has developed a reputation over the years of willingness to add classes and make adjustments whenever the need arises A lot of shows are know for their hospitality, but Blowing Rock has honed it to an art. The opening day barbecue, hosted by local favorite Woodlands Barbecue, also served as a celebration of three brand new barns being placed into service just in time for this year’s show. Breakfast was served each morning in the ringside pavilion as well as snacks and beverages after the show each afternoon. Sunday’s ringside brunch is always eagerly anticipated. All of these were at no extra cost to exhibitors due to the generosity of the many sponsors. Speaking of which, Show Chairperson Susan Whittington made a special point to express her gratitude to exhibitors and sponsors for their generous support of the show. She proudly noted that this year’s sponsorships reached an all time high. Exhibitors really appreciated one new amenity; Brushy Mountain Massage stayed busy offering neck and shoulder massages for a nominal fee at ringside. Wow!

Blowing Rock is also known as a family-friendly show with its daytime schedule allowing families to dine together at a reasonable hour, with dining choices ranging from Cheeseburger Cheeseburger! to haute cuisine. For the non-horsey family members, activities range from shopping in high-end boutiques and the popular outlet mall, perusing Art In The Park, whooping it up on Tweetsie Railroad, hiking Grandfather Mountain, to playing golf on any one of several challenging nearby mountain courses. One can’t omit ice cream on Main Street! Coupled with the cool mountain breezes, it’s no wonder that Blowing Rock has been a favorite summer destination for over 100 years.

Speaking of cool mountain breezes, the weather is always a topic of conversation at Blowing Rock where it’s said, “if you don’t like the weather, wait 15 minutes.” This year, the show was blessed with bright sunny skies at the show’s beginning and end. Unfortunately, thunder, lightning and a steady rain on Saturday afternoon caused several classes to be rescheduled for Sunday morning. Most exhibitors coming to an outdoor show understand the unpredictability of the weather and take the changes in stride.

The only casualty, if it can be called that, of the schedule change was the ever-popular Trainers’ Equitation class. Known for its wild costumes and even crazier antics, the Trainers’ Equitation class is usually the last class on Saturday, a perfect way to wind down at the end of the day. With the rain-delayed classes being moved to Sunday, Trainers’ Equitation was squeezed in just before the start of Sunday’s regular schedule. This caused some of the class’s more entertaining participants, Steve Allred and Jon Walker, to scratch since they had horses and riders to get ready for the afternoon session. With a more sedate class than usual, Ingleside Farm instructor Sara Scheck demonstrated that she could practice what she preached by earning the nod from Judge James Hale. Christy Absher Johnson was close behind in second. Was it coincidental that these two trainers were the only ones dressed in full riding suits?

The show’s date change from August to June has not only helped increase entries, but arguably quality has also ratcheted up a few notches, since Blowing Rock is no longer butting up to Louisville’s dates. This year’s show featured quite a number of past and current world’s title-holders as well as contenders for 2008 honors. Each year a few new barns check out the scene at Blowing Rock. This year’s newcomers came from opposite directions as Florida’s R Farm and Kentucky’s Blue Willow Farm made their first trek to Blowing Rock. Joe Elam from Blue Willow exclaimed on the last day, “We had a great time, and we’ll definitely be back!”

Highlights for the 85th annual Blowing Rock Charity Horse Show follow. Complete results can be viewed and searched at www.saddlehorsereport.com.

Five-Gaited

Lewis Eckard has probably won more Five-Gaited Championships at Blowing Rock than any other trainer. Last year, it was with the late, great CH Dusty Beau. This year, he took top honors with the striking gray gelding, Fog. Owner Becky Rankin was gracious in giving up her mount to Eckard after her fabulous winning debut on Fog in the Amateur Five-Gaited qualifier. Reserve in the championship was Startalyst with Betsy Boone up for William C. Cannon Jr. Winning the open qualifier was the crowd-pleasing Iconium and Steve Allred.

Dr. Brian Garrett rode hard and smart to win the Amateur Five-Gaited Championship on Seajay Lewis after a reserve in the qualifier. Carmel Delivery and Meredith Dancer also moved up a notch to earn the amateur reserve championship.

Blowing Rock designated Ladies Five-Gaited as a UPHA Pink Ribbon class. Not only did the three entries wear pink ribbons and accessories, all three riders wore pink ball caps provided by the show. Terry Felder had a strong and consistent ride on Dr. Brian Garrett’s Callaway’s Credence to capture the coveted ladies blue. Luanne Kilday had an impressive catch-ride to earn reserve on Heather Reitzel’s He’s Xelerating.

In junior exhibitor competition, Katie Morrison put in two outstanding rides on the bold-moving AttachÈ’s Crown Royal to capture two wins for owner Vickie Byrd. This team is under the direction of Cash Lovell Stables. Reserve in both classes was the up-and-coming team of CH What’s The Whoopla and Caitlin Leith.

Nancy Troutman earned the novice blue with royally-bred French Resistance. In the junior class, the crowd erupted when She’s Charmed And Dangerous was called out for the blue in her performance debut. Nathan Brachear was in the irons for owner Mary Rose Daniel under the Summerlea Farm banner. Once again Dr. Brian Garrett was called out as the winning owner when Rick Felder rode homebred My Stately Lady to the three-year-old win. Reserve in this nice class was Stony Mountain High with Loran Bowers up for Neil Scruggs.

The Five-Gaited Pony competition was fast and furious, with the popular team of Jewels For A Lady and Tanner Parham earning both wins. In only his first year out of academy, Parham is adding to his fan base at each show with his aggressive but polished rides. This young team is under the direction of Randy Cole and Becky Teater at Mystic View Stables. The Cash Lovell Stables team of Sarah Martin and I Believe I Can Fly were in top form to claim both reserves.

Three-Gaited

The elegant three-gaited horses took center stage for their open championship class with Kim Williams and her beloved CH Bernie’s Spirit making the victory pass under the direction of Tom Lee. Earning the blue ribbon in the qualifier and championship reserve was the eye-catching Dash For Cash with an excited Bobby Jones up for Jansal Saddlebreds.

Taking the top honors in the amateur division were Periaptor’s Dancing Star and Dr. Teresa Miller under the direction of Gordon and Lori Ingram. Reserve champions were Omerta and Carol Reedy. These two pairs finished in reverse order in their qualifier.

For the second year in a row, the Cash Lovell-trained pair of CH The Showstopper and Margaret Morrison trotted away with the championship and qualifier wins. Reserve in the qualifier belonged to Deja Vue’s Delight and Katie Evans.

In one of the most talked about performances of the show, newly trimmed I’m Southern and Matt Shiflet put on a dazzling show for the Junior Three-Gaited win for owner-breeder Susan Harris. Reserve honors went to My Ultimatum and Gray Altizer for David and Carol Frazier.

Park

Two gorgeous park horses battled it out in open competition with each taking home a win. Aerial View and Ingleside assistant Megan Whitby earned top honors in the championship with reserve honors going to Grand Prize and Steve Gassen for Debbie Jordan. The top two placings were reversed in the open qualifier.

In amateur competition, bold-going The Master Showman and Megan Humphries made a big move up in the ribbons to win a competitive championship class. Reserve in the championship belonged to CH Callaway’s B Gratz Brown and Karin Banks, who won in the qualifier.

High-headed Kalarama Shiraz and bold riding Drew Taylor Hewitt can’t be missed in any class. They earned Judge Hale’s approval in the junior exhibitor championship and qualifier. My Mountain Heirs and Rebekah Cloninger took reserve honors in both classes for owners Dr. and Mrs. Brian Outen.

The Junior Three-Gaited Park class featured only two horses, but both were exceptionally nice. Top honors belonged to the elegant bay Daimler and Kathy Cook for Brent Cook. The reserve ribbon went to the striking gray Kheir Dullay and Paul Boone riding for Bill and Ann Cannon.

Fine Harness

Open Fine Harness Championship winner VHF Midnight Empress had the whole show buzzing. This dark beauty by It’s Hammertime was shown to both fine harness wins by Tom Lee for Marie Gwinn. Finally Arrived and Neil Scruggs were in reserve both times out for Hannah Johnston.

Roadster

Roadster To Bike Championship honors were earned by Soulshine and Larry Jenkins under the direction of Steve and Julia Joyce, after picking up reserve in the open qualifier. After winning the open qualifier with trainer Steve Hanks, The Dreamer was reserve in the championship with Sean Lassett for proud owner/grandmother Jean Meyers.

With an abundance of road horses at Blowing Rock, show officials were happy to add an amateur championship. The ladies reigned supreme in amateur competition with Debra Clark and Where’s Reuben speeding away with the championship, and Royal Count and Rebekah Cloninger capturing the qualifier. Cookie Monster and Mark Catron were reserve in both classes.

Reigning World’s Champion Roadster Under Saddle Where Are We Now has a new owner/rider this year. Dr. Brian Garrett has been up to the challenge and was in top form to win the championship and qualifier at Blowing Rock. Taking home both reserves, and thoroughly enjoying her first season in this division, was Barbara Matthews with Eclipse under the direction of Jon Walker.

Open championship and qualifier honors went home with Rant N Rave KV and owner/driver Karen Voerg. Reserve championship streamers went to The Gift and Bobby Jones for Jansal Saddlebreds, while the qualifier reserve went to Twin Willow’s Storm Warning and Kelsey Baird for Renee McCall.

Two of the top amateur road ponies in the Carolinas went head to head at Blowing Rock and split their results. Cappuccino and Brenda Kelly won the amateur championship for the third year in a row under the direction of Kelly’s son-in-law, Steve Gassen. Regal’s Star Attraction LF and Jeoff Bodenhorst earned the reserve championship under the direction of his son-in-law, Quintus VanderSpuy. The top two places in the amateur qualifier were flip-flopped.

A huge ovation went up from the crowd when Zildjian and Caitlin Leith were called out for the junior exhibitor championship. This pair also claimed the blue in the AHHS Medallion class. Reserve championship honors belonged to Heartland Curtain Call and Lindsay Jones, after winning a highly competitive qualifier. Reserve in the qualifier went to Star Sweetheart and Madison Cheatham for Debra Clark. Reserve in the AHHS Medallion class belonged to Twin Willow’s Storm Warning and Kelsey Baird for Renee McCall.

Three tough ponies and riders competed in the road pony under saddle classes. Because of the rain delay, both classes ended up on Sunday. To their credit all three entries competed in both classes with no scratches. Winning the championship for the second year in a row were Perfect Offering and Jake Butts for Butts’s grandmother Sharon Anderson. Nikki Lawing and Regal’s One More Promise LF took top honors in the qualifier with a gutsy and exciting ride. Reserve honors in both classes went to Star Sweetheart and Madison Cheatham for Debra Clark.

Ponies

Stepping into the ring in high style was the Harness Pony Champion Fitz’s Mademoiselle, with Mrs. Landon Eckard, while her daughter, Sheila Lail, took over in the viceroy for the Open Harness Pony win.

Marilyn Swimmer and Heartland Twice As Nice took on the professionals to grace the winner’s circle in the Hackney Pony Championship and qualifier under the direction of John Whalen. Reserve in the qualifier went to Heartland Invincible and Heather Boodey for Paul Otto.

The Cash Lovell-trained entry of Alex Foster and Wait & See’s Postmaster turned in a polished performance to claim the championship streamers, as well as the qualifying reserve in the Hackney pony pleasure driving division. Fitting right into their new division this year, Hawkeye’s Chatter Box and Allie Wellington earned the qualifying blue. Taking home the reserve honors in the championship was brand new driver and owner JoAnn Fair with Knight’s Holiday Swinger under the Mystic View Stables banner.

Pleasure

Erin Breslin was the lucky and talented catch-rider for Judy Megelich’s nice Ventura’s Gold Card in the adult five-gaited pleasure division. This pair claimed the winning tricolor and the blue. Reserve in both classes were Pepper Man and Courtney Maness for Lineshare Farm.

The Cash Lovell trained entry of Sunken Treasure and Drew Taylor Hewitt topped the junior exhibitor championship for the second year in a row after taking reserve in the qualifier. Reserve in the championship belonged to CH MMMBop and Allie Wellington after winning the intensely competitive qualifier. Jenna Norton and Desert Supreme Kid turned up the heat to take reserve in the qualifier under the direction of Harrison Shiflet.

Lisa Austin’s CF Not Tonight Chief has enjoyed much success with several different riders over the past few years. For the second year, he won the Park Pleasure Championship as well as the qualifier, this year with Chestnut Lane assistant Nicki Inmonen in the irons. Reserve honors in both classes belonged to four-year-old Harlem’s Miss Abigail and Steve Joyce for Steve and Julia Joyce.

Veteran railbirds took a second look when they saw a familiar face in the Junior Park Pleasure class. It was Bonnie Bishop, showing for the first time in 10 years, in winning style with Last Gift for owner/trainer Carol Addison. James Lawrence had McDaniel Saddlebreds’ Late Night Chatter in top order for the reserve in this good class.

The adult three-gaited show pleasure division was split by age group for the qualifiers and championships due to the large number of entries the year before. Looking 10 years younger than his 16 years, CH Five Minutes More won the 30 and over championship after capturing the blue in the AOT qualifier with Barbara Matthews. The new team of Lenore’s Royal Flush and Dean Caldwell were reserve champions after winning their 30 and over qualifier. Lauren Camp DeHaan was beyond excited to win the 18-29 championship with her homebred Miraculous Odds under the Boone’s Farm & Stables banner. Winners of the 18-29 qualifier and reserve in their championship was the sharp looking team of The Oberoi and Dana Ellington under the direction of Andre Fourie. Reserve in the 18-29 qualifier were Laugh Outloud and Kimberly Crist.

The junior exhibitor show pleasure 14-17 division was light in numbers but more than made up for it in wonderful quality. Coming back strong after a layoff due to pneumonia, Katherine Randall had CH Ninety-Eight Degrees in top form to win their championship and qualifier under the Blue Willow Farm banner. Hot on their heels in reserve, and turning in two strong performances, were CH It’s Yabba Dabba Doo Time and Allie Wellington under the direction of Lewis Eckard. An interesting aside is that CH Ninety-Eight Degrees was bred by Wellington’s grandmother, Louise Allen.

Alex Foster is perhaps better known for her winning drives with her pony Wait N See’s Postmaster. However, in less than a year, she and her new partner Over Achiever have become a force to be reckoned with in the show pleasure division. The Cash Lovell-trained team took control of the 13 and under show pleasure division at Blowing Rock, winning both their classes with authority. Reserve championship honors belonged to the veteran team of The Chesapeake Bay and Austin Hazelwood. Taking home the red ribbon in the qualifier was Mystic Affair with Tess Sullivan.

The little walk and trotters took center stage in their championship class with CH Much More Radiant and Stephanie Brackett in the irons to capture the tricolor after moving up one place from the qualifier. CH Empress In Black and Allie Poovey grabbed the reserve championship. Both teams are under the direction of Cash Lovell. Top honors in the qualifier belonged to Native Rose and Madison McCall under the direction of Cheryl Baird.

In show pleasure driving, the elegant CH Unforgiven and always-smiling Karin Banks took the championship and qualifier ribbons home to Virginia, under the direction of Meadow Wood Stables. Reserve in both classes belonged to Selvaggio, expertly catch-driven by Ann Cannon for Robert and Bonnie Koch under the Boone’s Farm and Stable banner.

ASHAF Youth Show Pleasure Driving champions were Belle Splendor and Erin Ohning, with Bubbling Beauty and Lissie Vining in reserve.

Country Pleasure

The adults and their country pleasure horses took center stage with Upstate and Katie Matthews earning the big prize in one of the largest classes of the show under the direction of Boone’s Farm. Reserve honors in the championship and winners of the 12-entry qualifier were Worth A Scene and Emma Nichols, making a successful transition from equitation this year under the watchful eye of Liz McBride Jones. Earning second in the qualifier was the fancy Lady Drifter in her country pleasure debut, ridden by Whitney Bennett for Matt Shiflet.

Strike Up The Lights and Caitlin Hucker moved up one notch to capture the top honors in the Junior Exhibitor Country Pleasure Championship after their reserve in the qualifier for 14-17 year olds. They show under the Cameo Stable banner. Bibbidi Blackidi Boo and Katie Lapera won the 14-17 qualifier for Blue Willow. Street Rod and Anna Drew Jackson made a much improved ride to claim the reserve in the championship.

The younger division of the junior exhibitors saw their results repeated in both classes with a graceful riding Anna Hudson winning both classes with Pam McCulloch’s Curly Day. Reserve honors belonged to One Moore Harlem and Alli Smith.

A nice addition to the show schedule for riders transitioning from the academy division was Country Pleasure Walk & Trot. Earning the tricolor and the blue in both classes were Worthy’s Just Once and Laura Plant with All I Do Is Dream and Carver Semans in reserve.

The veteran team of Ro-Day-O and Annette Green comprised the sole entry in country pleasure driving.

The Country Western Pleasure division saw good numbers and healthy competition with four different winners in four classes. Earning the championship for the second year were O Ain’t I Somethin and Luanne Kilday. Callaway’s Son Of A Son and Alicia Patrick won the qualifier. After capturing the limit class, Royal Crest’s Dancing On Stones and Susan Hoskins earned reserve in the championship and qualifier. A class not often seen on this circuit, the Country Western Pleasure Prospect class was topped by Rumble Strip and Elizabeth Duggan with reserve going to Conundrum and Barbara Matthews. Rumble Strip also earned a good reserve in the limit class with owner Patrick Niemann in the saddle. Country Hunter Pleasure champions were Mountainview’s Manhattan Viscount and Lisa Jordan Pierce.

Equitation

Kim Mueller, under the direction of Heather Boodey, went three for three in the Saddle Seat Equitation Championship, UPHA Challenge Cup 17 & Under and Pleasure Equitation. Natalie Swimmer was 13 and under winner and reserve in the championship under the direction of Chestnut Lane.

Ellie Kangur earned top honors in Walk-Trot Saddle Seat Equitation 10 & Under and UPHA Walk-Trot Challenge Cup 10 & Under for Cash Lovell Stables. Taking home the red ribbons in both classes was Kaitlyn Creekmore for Meadow Wood Stables.

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