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Big E Promotes Show Horse To Thousands

by Bob Funkhouser

Mass. -- Convincing trainers and owners that they need to strongly support the Eastern States Horse Show has been like convincing the water in New Orleans
to leave's been an uphill battle for manger Jim LaHood and horse show coordinator Carol Keller. A core group still supports what was once a prestigious showcase in hopes that others will join in.

The Big E had the glamour of other society shows such as Devon and Pin Oak, and like those shows, the Big E entertains an audience of general spectators as very, very few others can. On a slow day 60,000 plus will go through the turnstiles of New England's Great State Fair. Attendance will break 100,000 daily for a Friday, Saturday or Sunday. Of those fair goers hundreds and hundreds attend the afternoon and evening sessions and they aren't there just to eat corn dogs.

This crowd claps and screams and whistles. They fill the seats and they line the rails. All along the rail these spectators are asking questions to anyone who will answer about what they are seeing. Owners, trainers, and caretakers at Eastern States are all ambassadors for the American Saddlebreds, Hackneys, and Morgans being shown. The question and answer period is even more frequent out on the wash racks where hundreds of people stroll by all day long and stop to admire the horses and ponies being readied for the show ring.

A year's worth of promotion generated by the combined efforts of the three respective breed organizations could not match what is done during the few days of the Big E. It is up close and personal with people reaching out to find out more about the stars they are watching in the ring or meeting and greeting on the wash racks.

While the number of horses and ponies was disappointingly small, there was an array of quality throughout the divisions. There were some strong battles for judges Mary Lou Greenwell (Saddlebred, Hackney) and Conky Price (Morgan) to sort through.

Eastern States has long been recognized for its saddle seat equitation competition. The prestigious New England Horsemen's Council (NEHC) Medal Finals have been around for many years and remain a most coveted title. A walk-trot section has also been added to the NEHC Finals program and this year a North American Equitation Challenge joined the mix and it too was run like a finals with three judges. Chris Cassenti joined Greenwell and Price to determine the 2005 finals champions.

In what was an incredible week for her, Elke Trilla represented Fairfield South in tricolor fashion. Trilla received a long list of awards for her championship ride. She had borrowed Callaway's One In A Million from barn mate Melissa Swain for the championship class.

Kristen Spann and David Cater had the next two riders for Cricket Hill Farm. Maeve Tibbetts was the reserve grand champion, followed by Laura McGee. Kevin Tomasko instructed fourth place finisher Christie Millbury, while Olivia Prentiss rounded out the top five.

A star all season long, Giovanna Leone emerged as the grand champion from the NEHC Walk-Trot Saddle Seat Finals. Her skills have been perfected by RMD Stables' Robin McGahey. She was followed by a strong group of young showmen and women including reserve grand champion Spencer Alderman, Katherine Owen, Michaela Gillispie, and Kaitlyn Powers, and Alexandra Percoco.

In its inaugural year the North American Equitation Challenge found Jamie Cruz riding as the grand champion while representing Cricket Hill Farm. Stablemate Laura McGee was reserve grand champion, while Wrighthall Stables' Marissa Gillispie was third.

The Big E welcomed photographer Terry Young to the ring for the first time. He joined ringmaster John Franzreb, paddock master Terry Mason and announcer Todd Bedard on the official team. And like the office team of Cindy Bozan, Joan Healey, and Donna O'Connor, the sessions ran like clockwork with this group of officials.

Looking at the highlights of the 2005 show, there was an array of talent throughout the gaited division, although like most of the others, the section could have had more entries. Four challengers came back for the $1,000 Five-Gaited Championship. In addition, the Firefly's Fancy Challenge Trophy, which has been in existence since 1980, was also offered to the champion for a year. The names of past champions such as Super Sparkle, Magnum P.I., Sharp Tack, Ozark Champagne, Sir Talmage, Santana's Sage, Dixie Jewel, Another Feather, Callaway's Newsmaker, and Zeitgeist appeared on the trophy.

Cameo Appearance was the champion in 2004 and he was back to defend his title but had taken reserve to Grand Marq in the open qualifier. Judge Greenwell went the same way in the championship with Jan Lukens making two strong rides for owner Louise DeBlois. Grand Marq was the second Big E Five-Gaited Grand Champion for Lukens as she previously won the title in 1994 with Incredible Folly. Darlene Trento-Wright and the Jodie Goff entry Cameo Appearance had to settle with the reserve title.

The Amateur Five-Gaited Championship offered two beautiful challenge trophies: the June E. Larson Memorial Challenge Trophy and the Miss Lillie O'Lee Challenge Trophy. Callaway's Rhapsody In Blue's name appeared on the trophies for the past two seasons and this year she retired them with another athletic performance. Owned by Narotam Singh Grewal and ridden by Sally Gallagher, the always busy mare ended the 2005 Big E with another championship title for David Cater and Kristen Spann at Cricket Hill Farm.

Reserve to the champions was the exciting new team of Rick Daigle and Liquid Thunder. With just his third ride aboard the world's champion mare, Daigle won the amateur qualifier in a most impressive fashion for Fairfield South.

One of the newer parts of the Eastern States schedule, the New England Five-Gaited Championship was the finale for Friday evening's series of New England championships. The class was for those who had shown in the amateur division in at least two New England shows throughout the season. Winning the title for the second consecutive year was the power packed Yes I Have. Kate Codeanne again piloted the champion for Cedarledge. Winner of the first New England Championship held in 2001, The King Of Music was the reserve champion with Bob Funkhouser in the irons for Bob and Raye Lynn Funkhouser.

Lauren Pyes and world's champion Forty-Second Street Gal overcame a reserve finish in the qualifier to bring home the Junior Exhibitor Five-Gaited Championship. Qualifying winner CH L.A. Wing Victory was the reserve grand champion for Megan Ryan and Guz Stables. Both young ladies rode their hearts out.

Lukens Stables had won the $1,000 Three-Gaited Championship for three of the past four make that four of the past five. Riding the impressive junior horse, Hawkwing, Lukens made the victory pass in the championship and the junior/novice class for Margaret Biggs. The winning team received the Shaw Family Trophy and the Harry Downs Memorial Challenge Trophy for their tricolor performance. Open class winner Albelarm High Fidelity was the reserve grand champion for Sally Eichlin.

Last year was the first time in 11 years that Doreen Weston had not won the Amateur Three-Gaited Championship and the Sassy Stepper Perpetual Trophy. The 2004 title went to Wrighthall Stables and this year it found yet another new home, Phoenix Stables. Careen DuBuc rode with great determination and Strapless responded with a tricolor performance every step of the way. Gary Guz put the reserve grand champion team together, In The Game and Carolyn Banks. Banks and In The Game had won the qualifier in which Ann Jones and the sharp four-year-old Nothing But Class garnered the reserve streamers.

DuBuc shared Strapless with stablemate Ellen Kipp to help fill the New England Three-Gaited Championship. DuBuc rode her other world's champion campaigner to the New England title, the black four-year-old mare Broadway's Mama Mia. Kipp and Strapless were the reserve champions.

Having an incredible week, Elke Trilla sailed right through the junior exhibitor walk-trot division with her Gary and Marsha Garone-trained Rosewood's Potpourri. Reserve to the champions on both occasions were CH Santana's Cheer Me On and Rebecca Materniak.

Competition was good in the Three-Gaited Park division. In the open championship round Gary Guz gave the multi-titled With Authority another winning ride for Elaine Earlywine. They switched places with open class winner Chemistry In Motion, ridden by owner Sally Kropp.

Rick Daigle and The Big Dance were two for two in the amateur park division. In the qualifier they defeated four other teams and in the championship they were tied over five other teams; both times Cagin Martini and Paula Percoco gave an athletic performance for reserve honors.

The Fine Harness Championship was as good a three-horse championship as you'll find at shows of this level. The leg-waving Tornado's Tidal Wave once again made a splendid partner for Joellen Fisher-Blount. They came from the winner's circle of the amateur qualifier to take the grand championship loot. Also making a strong bid for top honors with one of their best performances of the year, open class winners Kendall Jackson and Daryl Carlow exited with the reserve grand championship ahead of Callaway's Whirligig and David Cater.

With seven solid entries, the Hackney Pleasure Driving Pony Championship was the best class of the show. Making his return to the show ring after a long absence, Ricky Daigle drove Match Maker for his mother Carolyn Daigle to win grand champion honors and the Main Performance Challenge Trophy. His father Rick had provided the winning drive in the qualifier ahead of Oh Happy Day and Stacey Birch.

"I was just trying to not mess up mom's pony. It was great to be back in the ring," said the younger Daigle. "I plan on showing again next year."

Reserve grand champion honors went to Miss Excellence, the many times champion this season, driven by owner Janet Crawford Hicks. In fact, Hicks made the winning drive with Miss Excellence in the five-entry New England Hackney Pony Championship. Daryl Carlow and Lovelyanna were the reserve champions in that one. Lovelyanna was fourth in the Hackney Pleasure Driving Pony Grand Championship behind the new team of Heartland Capital Hill and Tim Lydon. They were third for owner Jenny Glennon.

Over the past few years Gary and Marsha Garone have come out with several nice ponies and Heartland Country Cousin added his name to the list after his winning performance in the UPHA Hackney Pleasure Driving Pony Classic with Sandy Coombs. Michael Kropp's Prissy Devil was the reserve champion.

Rodney Hicks Stables won both the long-tail and cob-tail championship. For Ann Hailey's Copper Beech, he presented the expressive Joyanna for the Harness Pony Championship and open qualifier. Janine LaSalle's Sir Galahad went a big trot for reserve grand champion honors.

Also trained by Rodney Hicks, Dun-Haven Exquisite captured the New England Harness Pony Championship with owner Sharon Francis at the controls. They had also won the amateur qualifier. LaSalle and Sir Galahad also captured reserve honors in the New England Championship. Bud Laivo's A Fine Affair wore the red ribbon from the ring in the amateur qualifier.

It was a Hicks kind of a week. He also put Michigan's Habanero on top in the UPHA Harness Pony Classic and junior/novice class for Nathan and Betty Roden. Stablemate Totally Excellent was again a sport to march to highest honors in the Hackney Pony Championship. They qualified with a win in the New England Hackney Pony Championship. Open class winner Heartland Classic was the reserve grand champion behind Totally Excellent. Frank Hester and Mark Of Recognition earned reserve honors in the New England Championship.

A few classes that did get away from Hicks were the UPHA Hackney Pony Classic and junior/novice class. Brook Sweigart took both of those with Unique Starlighter, while Hicks was twice reserve with the Kenney family's The Marksman.

Road ponies cranked up the competition level and it was Dun-Haven Highly Impressive leading the way in both the Road Pony Championship and the Amateur Road Pony Championship. David Cater provided the winning drive in the $500 Road Pony Championship. The Bob Knibb Memorial Challenge Trophy was awarded to Dun-Haven Highly Impressive ahead of Mt View's Sunrise Surprise and Brook Sweigart.

Brody Flynn had the winning drive with Dun-Haven Highly Impressive in the Amateur Road Pony Championship. Michael Kropp and Kodiak had the reserve championship performance.

In the four-pony New England Road Pony Championship Courtney Cahill and her ground-covering Rhythm King LF out-trotted the competition. Rocking Horse Farm produced the winning combination, which also won the open class. Flynn and Dun-Haven Highly Impressive had to settle for reserve in that round.

Mary Cichowski and Indiana Jones were called out first in the Junior/Novice Road Pony class. Frank Hester and Truly Irresistible provided the competition as reserve winners. Also in the road pony division, Joan Sylvester and Truly Hi Tech won the Amateur Road Pony class in front of reserve champions Michael Kropp and Kodiak.

Gary Guz made a return visit to Eastern States after a few years absence and brought some good stock with him. Megan Ryan rode CH Rastafarian to win the Five-Gaited Pleasure Championship and qualifier. Coming back from a layoff, CH Titleist Commander was reserve grand champion for Traci Massaro. Nicolette Powers had a blue ribbon debut with Select Fire to win the Limit Five-Gaited Pleasure class.

Proving to be a most useful campaigner, Dakota's Cloudburst was crowned the Show Pleasure Driving Grand Champion and qualifying winner with Jayne Romano at the whip. Another Lukens Stable entry, Ms Black Ice moved up a notch to take reserve grand champion honors.

Lukens Stables struck again as Annika Bruggeworth topped the Adult Three-Gaited Show Pleasure Championship with the never ending CH Sergeant Royalty. Coming from the winner's circle of the limit pleasure class, Ellington's Wild & Lovely wore the streamers of reserve grand champion for Sheila Guay.

In the junior exhibitor pleasure competition the 14-17 winner went head to head with the 13 & under winner as well as a host of others and it was the 14-17 champion who came out on top. From Somersdream, Mr. Diamond Merchant was the grand champion for owner/rider Megan Derby. Making a huge splash in the 13 & under class, CH Bonnie Buck was the reserve grand champion while being shown by junior exhibitor Caroline Rose for the first time.

Gary Guz brought out another nice horse in My Gisele. She paraded to the winner's circle of the UPHA Park Pleasure Classic. Tamara Mitchell held reserve honors with Starsnip Enterprise.

Jennifer Smith and Dark Heiress were twice winners in the Park Pleasure Championship and qualifier. Uwharries Street Legal stepped up to the reserve streamers in the championship round with Robin McGahey presenting.

Representing the state of New York, CH Heir Tight and Kristin Keno swept the Country Pleasure Driving Championship and qualifying class under the direction of Sally Lindabury. Both times it was Champagne's Miss T Phi and Jayne Romano in reserve.

Another champion from Lindabury's Reindance Stable was Gypsy's First Edition. Piloted by Candace Longo, First Editon was the Country Pleasure Grand Champion. Adult winner and reserve world's champion, The Petite Princess followed Gypsy's First Edition in the championship. Walker Roberts and Wicked Whispers had won the junior exhibitor qualifier, while C Michael Behr catch rode Willie Chi Town for Savannah Pike to win the adult qualifier.

Moving to the Morgan division, which is always a struggle for Eastern States due to Oklahoma being right around the corner, Tim Lydon and The Silver Brook Surprise continued their tricolor season by defeating Dar-Vale Savannah and Sandra Trushel in the open class. The Silver Brook Surprise was uncontested in the championship as Lydon retired the Bennfield's Ace Challenge Trophy with their third championship in three years.

Townsend Rise & Rule, with Jennifer Martin up, was the only entry in the Amateur Park Saddle Championship and qualifier. They had defeated Dar-Vale Savannah and Sandra Trushel in the ladies class.

Larry Bonnell had the Stepping Stone Stable entries in top order beginning with Morgan English Pleasure Grand Champion Street Angel. The Elizabeth Bertrand entry also won the open class with Bonnell in the irons. A consistent winner throughout the year, KGA's Center State captured the junior/limit pleasure class before taking reserve grand champion honors with David Arnold riding for Linda Ozciek.

There were five entries in the Morgan English Pleasure Championship and in the Amateur English Pleasure Championship. Topping the amateur section was the Sally Eichlin trained UVM Grand Slamunition. With loads of expression, this entry also won the novice rider class with owner Joan
Lindenau riding both times out. Under the direction of Michael Murphy, Rueben-Ide Celebration was the Morgan Amateur English Pleasure Reserve Grand Champion with owner Maura Fratus. Celebration had also been reserve in the novice rider class and the open class with Elizabeth Vaughan.

In his only performance of the week, Meet Joe Black strolled down victory lane in the ladies pleasure class with Alissa Leonard riding. Sally Eichlin and Whitemud Starlite Express collected the red streamers.

Competition was tough in the New England Morgan English Pleasure Championship. The best of that good group was Hillwood Irish Claddagh, an entry owned and ridden by Maura Sweeney-Reeve. Brynne Cummings and Silverheels Cimmeron earned the reserve money.

Junior exhibitors also had their turn in the coliseum ring. Elizabeth Stockwell and Bear Brook Noble Bar were judge Conky Price's number one choice. Their winning performance topped Brynne Cummings and Silverheels Cimmeron as well as two others.

Michael Murphy and Highover Party On Command swept the Morgan Pleasure Driving Championship and open class for owner Dennis O'Connell. UC Mr T's Destiny and John Bennett followed their winning performances in the championship and Farabee with Joann Bush in the open class. Bennett and Mr. T's Destiny qualified with a victory pass in the junior/novice class.

The best of the Morgan Classic Pleasure Saddle Championship was SMS Victory Lane, a tricolor entry owned by Andrea Illes and shown by Amy Martino. Qualifying winner CN A Touch Of Hope took reserve grand champion honors for owner/rider Rachel Miseo. Kelly Newth's Kirschfield Cloud Nine came away with reserve in the qualifier behind CN A Touch Of Hope.

Vickie Wirth put together the new team of Paula Macklin and Whispering Bella Vante to literally sweep the classic driving division. They went home from the fair with the Morgan Classic Pleasure Driving Championship, open class and novice class. The versatile Kirschfield Cloud Nine was reserve in the championship and open class with Kelly Newth.

Corinthian Stables made its first appearance at the Big E and the Trushel family did quite well. Hollybrook Star Connection was Todd Trushell's Morgan Western Pleasure Grand Champion and open class winner. PHF Maximum Results jogged away twice with reserve honors. Roger Brown was riding for Natalie Maloof.

Larry Bonnell and VVB Enduring Freedom were right on the money to win the Morgan Hunter Pleasure Championship and qualifier for Kristin Curreri. Among the six entries in the championship, the Michael Murphy trained team of The Daughter In Law and Elizabeth Vaughan commanded reserve grand champion honors. It was a repeat performance from the open class.

Julie Parisien and PAF Boomerang turned in a blue ribbon performance for the Morgan Amateur Hunter Pleasure class. They were followed by Elizabeth Adams and JMF Irish Beam.

Friesians were also a part of the schedule at the Big E. The crowds love the lofty going black creatures and judge Price loved Gooitzen Fan Teakesyl and Jan Lukens the best in the Friesian Under Saddle Championship. The Annika Bruggeworth entry also won the qualifier. Shawn Hennigan presented Wilco P to take home two reserve ribbons.

In addition to the NEHC Medal finals, Eastern States also had a good equitation division. With a series of remarkable rides, Elke Trilla ended her week as the Saddle Seat Equitation Grand Champion. Aboard her Morgan, Minion Absolut, Kate Alderman was the reserve grand champion for Cricket Hill Farm. She had also been reserve in the open class to stablemate Jamie Cruz.

Cricket Hill did take the Pleasure Equitation Championship. On her way to Oklahoma, Morgan Glenn had a tricolor ride to follow up her blue ribbon performance in the Open Pleasure Equitation class. Just as in the open class, Cricket Hill stablemates Maeve Tibbetts and Lauren Lagasse were reserve and third, respectively.

There were an abundance of classes for the walk and trot riders and they supported them well. Riding under the direction of Darlene Trento-Wright, Michaela Gillispie was picture perfect to win the Walk and Trot Equitation Grand Championship. She had been reserve to eventual reserve grand champion Spencer Alderman in the UPHA 9-10 Walk and Trot Challenge Cup.

From Rocking Horse Farm, Kaitlyn Powers rode like a champ to take the UPHA 8 & Under Walk and Trot Challenge Cup ahead of Natasha Cote and Savannah Pike. A newcomer to the scene, Pike and her mount Willie Chi Town did win the Walk and Trot Pleasure class. Alexandra Percoco and Dakota's Cloudburst were reserve in that one.

The Romano/Percoco family has supported the New England shows with three generations of family members in the ring. The youngest of the group, Nicole Percoco, had her time in the spotlight with a winning performance in the highly competitive Lead Line class. Reserve honors were bestowed upon a fourth generation New England horsewoman, Molly Codeanne.

These were the highlights for the 2005 Eastern States Show. Several of the exhibitors were off immediately to Deerfield Fair or the Morgan Grand National, while others still plan to compete at Octoberfest, Pennsylvania National and/or the American Royal. The fall show circuit in New England has kicked off.

Complete results may be viewed, searched and printed at Show Results.

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