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The Big E - A New England Tradition Second To None

by Bob Funkhouser


W. SPRINGFIELD, Mass. - As a kid I would see pictures in the publications of top trainers and horses and all the pomp and circumstance of a show known as Eastern States. As a New England resident for nearly a decade and a half now, I have enjoyed firsthand stories of the “good old days” and have an even greater appreciation of what once was. I’ve also witnessed the fight for survival among today’s crowded show schedule.


This year’s horse show program front cover with the Philip Berkeley painting of the late Daryl Knibb Carlow on CH Manhattan Moonlight and every seat in the background filled with a spectator had the memories flowing for most of those in attendance. The show was dedicated to Carlow, whose great grandfather, Joshua Loring Brooks, was the founder of the Eastern States Exposition.


Many exhibitors, family members and Eastern States officers came to center ring to pay tribute to Carlow in a touching memorial service that was held prior to the first session of the 2007 Eastern States Exposition Horse Show on Thursday evening. Eastern States President Wayne McCary spoke as did Show Manager Jim LaHood who also made a toast in Carlow’s memory. To the side of the podium were picture collages featuring Carlow and the family’s many Big E champions over the decades. It was literally a pictorial history of this show.


One of the late Daryl Carlow’s closest friends was

her trainer David Arnold. He was one of many on

hand at the memorial ceremony for Carlow preceding

the start of her beloved Eastern States Horse Show.


That walk down memory lane and the knowledge that Carlow and several others who passed before her, dearly loved and worked for the betterment of the Eastern States show reinforces the notion that trainers and exhibitors need to do whatever it takes to keep this tradition alive. LaHood reported that the show was up some 50 head this year and many think that returning the Saddlebred/Hackney/Morgan/Friesian portion of the Eastern State’s three-week horse show to the first week of the fair helped bring the numbers up some.


The inconveniences have been well documented and also well addressed by management. As with all projects and events there is an ever evolving list of things that can be done better, but for the most part nothing stressful enough to override the exposure for our show horse breeds and the opportunity to perform in front of a truly enthusiastic and appreciative audience.


“We love the fair. It’s one of the few places besides Louisville that we can show against other ponies and in front of somebody,” said Karen Waldron, owner of Bent Tree Farm in Virginia. Her world-class Hackney pony string came to W. Springfield via Canada with trainer Larry Ella.


In fact, the pony division at Big E has been the strongest part of the show the past few years, especially with the addition of Ella’s string to an already solid base of New England ponies. It made for some very entertaining and competitive classes for Judge Marilyn Macfarlane who was joined in center ring by Morgan Judge Phil Price. Also part of the official family were ringmaster Kent Moeller, photographer Shane Shiflet and announcer Todd Bedard. Beth Snider made her first Big E appearance in the show office where she was joined by Joan Healy and Donna Alberici. Repeating their roles were USEF steward Nancy Noble and farrier Tim Keller.


The Hackney division was filled with top performers including a few who have visited the winner’s circles at such shows as Lexington and Louisville. Larry Ella drove the cocky, bay long-tail Par Excellence to the Harness Pony Championship for Bent Tree Farm. The crowd got behind this grand champion who qualified with a win in the open class. Darlene Trento-Wright and High Mark scored the reserve marks in the championship for owner Maureen Quackenbush. Janine LaSalle and T/O Royal Shamrock took home the reserve prize from the qualifier.


Larry Ella brought several world’s champion ponies

 for Karen Waldron’s Bent Tree Farm including

Harness Pony Grand Champion Par Excellence.


A stablemate to Par Excellence, Sweetheart Of Success paraded down Big E’s victory lane with the Amateur Harness Pony title just ahead of Kathy Comeau and Truly Naughty By Nature. Trained by Rodney Hicks, Truly Naughty By Nature has been teamed by first time pony owner Kathy Comeau to several top titles this year, including the New England Harness Pony Championship at Big E. Janine LaSalle and Sir Galahad were reserve in that one.


Also under the Rodney Hicks banner, Sharon Francis and her newest entry, Strictly Business, were in the spotlight at the UPHA Harness Pony Classic Champions. They were also reserve in the junior/novice class to Larry Ella and Trimark.


With a long list of world and national titles to his credit, On The Mark was perfection from start to finish to win the Hackney Pony Championship and qualifier for Larry Ella and Bent Tree Farm. Among the six entries in the championship, Betty Roden drove Totally Excellent to the reserve grand championship, their second reserve of the week. Third place went to reserve qualifying winner Unique’s Starlighter with Brook Sweigart at the whip.


What a week it was for the Rodney Hicks-trained entry The Marksman. Owned by Marjorie Kenney and Wally Kenney and shown by Marjorie, the Marksman had his best two shows of the year winning the New England Hackney Pony Championship and the amateur class after good prizes at Louisville just a few weeks ago. Stablemate Totally Excellent was reserve to The Marksman in the New England Championship, while pony newcomer Sue Spann was reserve with Skymark in the amateur class for Cater Stables.


Miss Excellence and Janet Crawford Hicks find their way to the winner’s circle more often than not, totally dominating the Northeast. They did it twice again winning the New England Hackney Pleasure Driving Championship and then the Hackney Pleasure Driving Pony Grand Championship. Coming from the winner’s circle of the AHHS Youth Medallion, Shannon Ella and Super Spy were named the reserve grand champions. Longtime Big E supporter Bud Laivo drove to reserve honors in the New England class with Spark Of Gold. Third place in the championship, Classic Dreams and Robin Marsik won the open class.


There was no shortage of good road ponies for the audience to enjoy, especially in the well-filled amateur championship. Coming back from a reserve finish in the New England Championship earlier in the week, Michigan’s Habanero and Nathan Roden turned it on to finish the show with the Amateur Road Pony Championship to give the Rodney Hicks Stables yet another tricolor. Reserve grand champion honors belonged to the multi-titled team of Don Spann and Dun-Haven Highly Impressive in their third class of the week. The first two resulted in victory passes in both the New England Championship and the amateur qualifier. Third place honors in the strong amateur championship belonged to Mastercraft’s Gambler LF and junior exhibitor Alex Ververeli. Popular with the crowd, they had been reserve in the amateur qualifier.


The Ella/Waldron team was successful once again, presenting Moment Of Excellence to top honors in the Road Pony Grand Championship after warming up with a win in the open class. Raye Lynn Funkhouser gave Heartland Double Trouble a good drive to command reserve championship honors and continue their good season. Third in the championship, Brook Sweigart and Mt View’s Sunrise Surprise trotted out with the red streamers in the open qualifier.


For the third time in the past four years Darlene Trento Wright and Cameo Appearance occupied the winner’s circle as the Five-Gaited Grand Champions for Jodie Goff. Trento Wright’s junior exhibitor gaited horse, Platinum’s What A Rush, was reserve in that championship with Marissa Gillispie up. Winner of the junior exhibitor qualifier, What A Rush was reserve in the championship to the Robin McGahey-trained Slam’s Steel Magnolia, ridden by Lauren Sopel.


One of the top young stars of the show, Call Me Trigger Happy won his second blue in as many tries. Ricky Harris piloted the talented four-year-old to the Junior/Novice Five-Gaited blue for Somersdream.


Robin McGahey had a good week at the fair. In addition to being the winning trainer for Slam’s Steel Magnolia, he guided World’s Champion Coco Royale to the Three-Gaited Championship for Elaine Gregory. It was an extremely competitive five-horse championship with Annika Bruggeworth and her new star, Sue Me, as the reserve grand champions and open class winners I’m Out To Impress and Kevin Tomasko in third.


Holli Esposito and Sightline were right on the money for both of their performances. They started with a most impressive victory pass in the New England Three-Gaited Championship before finishing the week as the Amateur Three-Gaited Grand Champions. Both times the Rob Turner-trained team had Traci Massaro and the leg waving Albelarm Radiant Lady on their heels in reserve.


The amateur qualifier had Page Six and Diana Kressley Billig on top for Carson Kressley. A winner of many New England titles, The Cardiac Kid was reserve for Dorothy Riley.


Another tricolor returned to the RMD Stables tack room following the Junior Exhibitor Three-Gaited Championship. Giovanna Leone and Heir’s Sparkling Star earned that title after a reserve finish in the qualifier. In their only appearance, Melissa Swain and Gypsy’s Stella turned back five other challengers for the qualifying blue streamers.


A former in hand world’s champion, three-year-old Golden Market made a sparkling debut under the Cater Stables banner to win the Junior/Novice Three-Gaited blue over three other entries including reserve champion Sue Me. David Cater made the winning ride with Golden Market for Catherine McCool.


Moving from the pleasure ranks, four-year-old He Is The Heir was crowned the Three-Gaited Park Grand Champion for Careen Dubuc and Phoenix Prophecies LLC. Open class winner Will Bailey was the reserve grand champion for Elaine Gregory.


The amateur park tricolor was awarded to Callaway’s Prime Rate and Diana Kressley Billig. Skip Shenker’s Little Lexington Farm put this winning combination together. They moved up a notch defeating qualifying winners Dianne Tambussi and Mystery Guest who were prepared by Rob Turner.


As she has done many times before, Tornaado’s Tidal Wave was a force in the Fine Harness Championship and amateur qualifier. Judith Heinbach’s multi-titled World’s Champion My Special Dream was twice reserve. Brad Lukens presented Perfectly Designed to the Junior/Novice Fine Harness blue.


The ladies were mixing it up in the Five-Gaited Pleasure Championship when reserve qualifying winners Sharon Stoltz and Don’t Ask Why WRF topped the blue ribbon team from the first round for tricolor honors. Jon Douglas was the winning trainer of busy going champion. Winner of that qualifier to earn his CH points, CH Berry Garcia was the reserve grand champion for Caroline Deshaies.


Having been a standout over the past two seasons, five-year-old Pearl Buck’s Leading Lady was as tasty as ever to win the Park Pleasure Championship and qualifier with David Arnold in the irons for Gail Dearth. Darlene Trento Wright directed Paul Moore’s Twist And Shout to the reserve tricolor. David Cater had Heather Thompson’s youngster My Hart’s Reminiscent in reserve in the qualifier.


Winning her second blue in her debut season of showing, four-year-old Covergirl Sweetheart was a sport with Carolyn Genatossio aboard to win the largest class of Thursday evening, the Junior/Novice Park Pleasure. Cheryl Innis’s Somersdream owns this beautifully marked young mare. Always competitive, C. Michael Behr took reserve honors back to the Jan Lukens Stables with Tangled Dreams.


Marissa and Paul Marks have patiently watched their beautiful, young gray gelding, Winsdown Steel Works By Night grow up. It all came together at the Big E with David Arnold riding the impressive youngster to the UPHA Park Pleasure Classic title. Reserve money in the good class went to Jan Lukens and Prince In The Park for Joellen Fisher Blount.


It was a winning weekend for Diana Kressley Billig. She continued her triumphs with She Sparkles, winning the Adult Three-Gaited Show Pleasure Championship. This newcomer to the show ring was all expression to also win the limit pleasure class. Skip Shenker put this combination together. Rob Turner directed reserve grand champions Cathy Rodgers Holmes and Michelotti LCC. They had been reserve in the New England Pleasure Championship to the always-competitive Royalty At Midnight, ridden by Brian Fitzsimmons under the direction of Darlene Trento Wright.


The adult pleasure qualifier had a completely different set of winners with Sheena Kerwin and Charm’s Top Cat coming out on top ahead of Ann Jones and Nothing But Class, among others.


Fresh from a victory pass on the green shavings of Freedom Hall for the second consecutive year, Jessica MacLeod and CH New York Entertainer followed up with two impressive outings to be named Junior Exhibitor Show Pleasure Grand Champions and qualifying winners. Their winning prizes hung of the burgundy curtains of Fairfield South. There aren’t many who give more effort than Spirited Edition and she came through with the reserve championship for Christie Milbury and Phoenix Stables. Audra Arel and Chit Chat Past Midnight took home the reserve streamers in the qualifier.


Jan Lukens greeted Claudia Fletcher in the winner’s circle of the Show Pleasure Driving Championship where the tricolor was pinned on Midtown Magic. They have been consistently at the top throughout the Northeast. The crowd loved it when longtime veteran Millie LeBoff was called out to receive the reserve grand championship in the large class and trainer Ricky Harris gave her a big hug. With the always-expressive Drop Dead Gorgeous, LeBoff was also reserve in the qualifier, which was won by the world’s champion performer CH Lover’s Heir, driven by Cassi Wentz.


Eastern States offered a walk and trot pleasure division and several top riding youngsters took advantage of it. Clara McCool and Debeers took both the championship and qualifying winning ribbons back to the Cater Stables tack room to hang with the many others that were there. Kate Green took the reserve grand champion ribbon back to the Nicholas Villa Stables tack room for Elizabeth McCracken. Representing Cedarledge, Molly Codeanne rode Captain Planet to reserve in the qualifier.


Showing for Rivendell Saddlebreds, Adam Newman guided Mr. Rockefeller to the top of the Adult Country Pleasure Championship. It was their second win of the week over reserve champions Platinum Asset and Roberta Hirshon as well as the other contenders.


Adam Newman rode Mr. Rockefeller

to win the Adult Country Pleasure

Championship for Rivendell Saddlebreds


Stepping up with a big-time performance, Chi Town Willy and Savannah Pike had the crowd cheering as the Junior Exhibitor Country Pleasure Grand Champions. Qualifying winners T.J. Santaferra and Sports Bar also turned in a good performance to command reserve grand champion honors.  WRHS Whoa Johnny was reserve in the qualifier with Meghan Morey.


T.J. Santafara won several nice prizes

showing for Elaine Gregory.


The tricolor from the New England Country Pleasure class went to Cater Stables, as Joe Webb and Wicked Whispers were smooth as could be. Dawn Snyder and Unbelievably Lucky pressed hard for reserve honors.


Genius Poetic Justice and Dark Heiress traded places in the Country Pleasure Driving Championship and qualifier.  Megan Adams and Poetic Justice made the victory pass in the championship, while Pam Arruda and Dark Heiress enjoyed the honor in the qualifier.


The same thing happened in the western country pleasure division in which Maverick’s Miracle Mike and Ray Ann Merrill scored first only to watch Chelsea Tevanian and Jack Com make the victory pass in the qualifier.


Equitation has always been a big part of Eastern States, especially with the NEHC Medal Finals. With a Finals type atmosphere and enough loot to be impressive at anybody’s horse show, the Medal Finals again proved to be special. Displaying her horsemanship and coolness, Olivia Prentiss rode her way through the railwork and individual workout straight to the winner’s circle. It was another NEHC Medal Finals for the Garone family’s Fairfield South. Also from a family who is extremely familiar with success in the Medal Finals, USEF Medal winner Meghann Wright was the reserve grand champion followed by former NEHC Walk and Trot Saddle Seat Finals Champion Michaela Gillispie in third.


World and National Champion Kyle Gagnon rode away as the Saddle Seat Equitation Grand Champion after qualifying with a victory pass in the 17 and under class. Winner of the UPHA Challenge Cup, Brynne Cummings finished Big E 2007 as the Saddle Seat Equitation Reserve Grand Champion.


What a week it was for the McCool family from Cater Stables. Margaret McCool rode Virtual Viper to win the NEHC Walk and Trot Saddle Seat Finals as well as the Walk and Trot Equitation Championship and UPHA 9-10 Walk and Trot Challenge Cup. This was quite a picture. Hard riding Emily Hodock was right there with three good reserves.


There were actually a few families that had great weeks from the Cater Stables. Kasey Saccocia continues to triumph as she topped the UPHA 8 & Under Walk and Trot Challenge Cup on her Morgan Indian Creek Belle Star. This was a class loaded with star power including reserve winner Clara McCool, third place finisher Molly Codeanne and fourth place winner Lexi Lettre.


Also representing Gary and Jill Saccocia and grandparents Gary Sr. and Rosemary Saccocia, Kellie Saccocia pulled out her own magic to be named Big E’s Leadline Equitation Champion among some top competitors. Mason MacKenzie was all smiles as the reserve champion.


The Morgan division is always tough to fill at Big E with New York Morgan going on at the same time and Oklahoma right around the corner. Townshend Rise And Rule ruled the park saddle division, winning the championship, amateur class and open class for Jennifer Martin. Rick Stevens had the winning number in the Morgan Park Harness class with Starboard Blitz Krieg.


Trainer Darlene Trento Wright took over for owner Sherrie Essig to win the well-filled Morgan English Pleasure Championship with Medomak French Expression. Their tricolor victory pass topped reserve champions Quabbin Obsession and Nikki Rae Woodworth. Third in the good championship round belonged to open class winner Whitemud Starlite Express with Sally Eichlin.


Maura Sweeney Reeve and Hillwood Irish Claddagh topped the New England Morgan English Pleasure Championship in which JoAnn Bush and Farabee captured reserve honors. Farabee and Bush were also amateur reserve grand champions.


Riding for Mary Scanlon, Laura Spengler guided Sagamore Courdova to the Morgan Amateur English Pleasure Championship. It was their second trip down victory lane as they took the blue in the amateur qualifier as well.


Kylie Whiles and Hollycroft Bandmaster exited the Eastern States Coliseum with the Morgan Junior Exhibitor Pleasure blue, while Debbie Vogt and Dancing On Air took charge of the junior/novice pleasure class.


The versatile team of JoAnn Bush and Farabee went home with the Morgan Pleasure Driving Championship. Shae Scanlon and Capes Yankee Clipper continued a great week for trainer Mike Scanlon by winning the Morgan Amateur Pleasure Driving Championship and qualifier. Dorothy Hock and Whitemud Starlite Express were twice reserve.


JoAnn Bush won titles with Farabee in both driving and

saddle classes in the Morgan English Pleasure divisions.


Having already won the Morgan Amateur English Pleasure Championship, Laura Spengler also had the top ride in the Morgan Classic Pleasure Saddle Championship. Her entry in that division was Whispering Gatling. Reserve grand champion honors belonged to the tasty team of Bent Apple Liberty and Roxanne Tubolino. They turned back five other teams to win the qualifier.


It was great to see Nancy Packard back in the ring. She drove PT Son Of A Gun to win the Morgan Classic Pleasure Driving Championship and qualifier. Sharon Fuhs and CBMF Simple Pleasures moved up a notch from the qualifier to take reserve grand champion honors.


Nancy Packard and PT Son Of A Gun


The name to remember in the Morgan western pleasure division was JNS In Like Flynn. Another Mike Scanlon trained entry, In Like Flynn was ridden by Julie Comeau to win the Morgan Western Pleasure Championship, open class and amateur class. FIF Celtics Star and Roger Brown were the reserve open and grand champions. Erika Mitchell took over the reins to take reserve in the amateur class.


Junehill Rare Occasion saved his best show for last to win the Morgan Hunter Pleasure Championship with Tammy Ann Miller. Coltrane and Dee Hills were reserve grand champions after winning the amateur class. Third place in the championship went to PAF Boomerang and Jennifer Leclerc, winners of the open qualifier.


As he has many times before, the bold moving Jorritt captured the Friesian Open Pleasure Championship with David Arnold expertly presenting for Lou and Delia Fox. They also turned in a blue ribbon performance in the qualifier. Reserve grand champion honors went the way of Alevade Wittewijk with Deanna Shepherd in the saddle. Alevade Wittewijk won the amateur pleasure saddle class with Michelle Nelson in the irons for Micaela Garzoni. Daimler B and Annika Bruggeworth were reserve in that one before going on to take third in the championship. Bruggeworth was also reserve with her many times champion Gooitzen Fan Teakesyl in the Friesian Open Pleasure Saddle class.


Bobbi Jo Beck drove Auke down victory lane twice in the Friesian pleasure driving division. Rosemary Saccocia’s Hattie was a strong reserve in both classes with David Arnold presenting.


This wraps up the competition from the 2007 Eastern States Exposition Horse Show. In addition to the show ring and the fair, exhibitors also enjoyed the annual ESHBA Auction and Exhibitors’ Party held on Saturday night. There was plenty of good food and nice items to bid on. With John Bennett as auctioneer and Rodney Hicks, Ricky Harris and Nathan Roden as bid-spotters, a good amount of money was raised to support the ESHBA program that offers added prize money in designated classes throughout the Northeast.


Complete results may be found by clicking here.


The next generation at Big E:



Second generation exhibitor Lynn McNamara watched

her grandson, fourth generation exhibitor Patrick

Codeanne, prepare for the Leadline class.


Sharon Ellingwood was busy keeping Sam

entertained at the fair and everything running

smoothly at the Nicholas Villa Stables.


The family tradition continued at High Tail Acres

as Deidre Henry escorted her son
Connor Henry from the ring.

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