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Bonnie Blue - An Experience To Remember


by Katherine Hansil

Judges: Jane Bennett, Tom Ferrebee, James Hale
Manager: Scarlett Matson
Announcer: Peter Fenton
Paddock: Sally Moore
Secretary: Beth Snider
Organist: Dale Stone, Jr.

Photographer: Doug Shiflet
Ring Master: Bill Whitley
Farrier: John Bare
Steward: Mary Lynn Whitley

LEXINGTON, Va.- The 19th annual Bonnie Blue National was held May 10-13 at the state-of-the-art Virginia Horse Center in Lexington, Va.  The show offers a full roster of classes for Saddlebreds, roadsters, equitation, Hackneys and Friesians, including a good schedule with Wednesday and Thursday mornings off for exhibitors to take time to enjoy the beautiful countryside, good shopping or great food.  The show also takes time to include even the youngest exhibitors with the stick horse races on Friday evening.  Also on Friday evening, the show held the exhibitors’ party upstairs with a view of the show ring during and after the show with great food.  Barns from up and down the east coast traveled in from as far as
Florida and New Hampshire.  Hollow Haven also made the trip in for their first visit to the facility.

Sometimes with an increase in numbers a show might sacrifice quality, but this was not the case for Bonnie Blue this year.  The show was a little Louisville with quality throughout each division.  With great numbers, classes posted as many as 20 entries with very few classes with numbers under six.  As Show Manager Scarlett Matson said, it was a great show! The show is one of the major fundraisers for the Virginia Horse Center Foundation, which backs the facility.  The organizations puts on a first class horse show at a premier facility and hopes that it will be an experience to remember for all trainers, exhibitors and spectators, and that the word will spread and the show will be even bigger and better in 2007.


The show was brought to a close with a spectacular Five-Gaited Championship with each team finding their cheering section in the crowd as they made pass after pass.  Earning the top title in unanimous fashion was He’s The Man.  Smith Lilly presented this bold moving chestnut to the win for Mr. and Mrs. Jimmie Shires and Allison Combs.  Reserve honors went to the elegant Whimsicality and Michael Richardson. Earlier in the week, they won the open qualifier for owner, Robert Grom.  Receiving a strong third and their share of the crowd’s applause was Leatherwoods Encore and Matt Shiflet.  This team also garnered the red streamers in the novice qualifier for Diamond View.  Matt Shiflet also teamed with Charmed Delight to earn the red ribbon and a first place vote in the open qualifier.

The ladies division was strong with six entries making the call for the championship.  Harlem For President and Jean Heiney earned the top honors, not once but twice, with two solid performances under the direction of John Champagne.  In the championship, Caramac’s Bogart and Emily Hess Levine turned up the heat to earn the red ribbon and one of the first place votes.  In the qualifier, Ashley Walker was aboard In Heavens Name for Susie Mims to receive a red ribbon with a first place vote.

The amateur class was extremely competitive with multi-titled world and national champions not to mention some of the best from the Virginias.  Sweeping the division was Swish with Carol Hillenbrand.  This team trained by John Conatser boldly moved through each gait earning a unanimous win in the championship.  Alice Unger teamed up with CH Callaway’s Forecaster for the first time to take home two reserve titles.  Riding for two strong thirds was Kami Kazi and Hayden Bracknell.

CH Tigerlee and Ali DeGray were at the top of their game to score two unanimous victories in the junior exhibitor division.  In the championship, the reserve title went to the Diamond View-trained I’m Fantabulous and Elizabeth Rhoades.  In the qualifier, She’s Fancy Free and Cory Vetter garnered the red ribbon in their debut performance.

Star Dreamer and Darlene Rose took the top honor in the Virginia Owned Five-Gaited.  Receiving the red ribbon and a first place vote was Harlem’s Worldly Lady and Ronnie Graham for Fish N Fun Farms.  In the novice class, the explosive Beautiful Stranger OCF with Smith Lilly aboard earned the blue ribbon for proud new owner Dr. Jennifer Makem.

It was quite a week for the Mercer Springs group especially in the gaited division.  Smith Lilly presented the flashy Platinum’s New Look for the win in the junior class for Lora and Sonny Johnstone.  Lilly also made his way to the winners circle unanimously in the Three-Year-Old Five-Gaited with Spirit Of New York PSF for owners Mr. and Mrs. Sam Bowling.  In the junior class, the 2005 Worlds Champion Three-Year-Old Mare Ooh Yes I Can garnered the red ribbon.  Lewis Meadows was in the irons for McDaniel Saddlebreds. 


Earning the red ribbon in the three-year-old class was Worthy’s World To Know and Rob Turner.  It was the first appearance for this well-bred horse who is out of the same dam as Holli Esposito’s beloved Sightline, Worthy’s Sightline, and by For What It's Worth.

Mercer Springs was back in the spotlight, this time to sweep the five-gaited pony division with two outstanding performances by Little Lord Huntley and Andrea Wolkoff.  Homecoming Heir and Allyson Ehle earned the red ribbon in both classes for the Wentz banner.


The third time is a charm for Sightline and Rob Turner.  It was not the plan for Turner to show Sightline back in the championship and after Holli Esposito’s awesome ride to a unanimous win in the amateur qualifier anyone speculating would think the amateur championship would be where they would head.  But Turner could not resist one last time to show this exciting horse and with all three judges in agreement, they made their way to the winners circle for the third year in a row.  Reserve honors went to You Move Me and Smith Lilly.  In only her second show in this division, this mare also won the novice qualifier for owner Robin McKenzie Vuillermet.  In their only appearance, Bungalow Bill and Merrill Murray capture the red ribbon in the novice class for Paul and Elizabeth Warfield.

In the ladies division, the powerful That’s Chicago with Tracy Garcia marched around the ring to capture two unanimous wins for the Carriage Lane banner.  Holli Esposito was in the irons for Sandra and Joe Provanzano with two great rides aboard Mild Emotion to garner both reserve titles.  Winning the amateur championship was Periaptor’s Dancing Star and Dr. Teresa Miller, with Buns Of Steel and Kimberly Blaker earning the reserve.  In the qualifier, the reserve title went to CH SJ Like A Champ and Margot Harwood in their only appearance.

Winning the 14-17 junior exhibitor qualifier was the flawless CH Blackberry Delight with Rachel Machamer.  Reserve went to CH Heart Of Blue and Brittany Kale for the Grassy Run banner.  Winning the 13 and under qualifier was the new team of Rosewoods Potpourri and Kerry Jeffries.  The new team of Manhattans Irish Cream and Emily Druckman swept the three-gaited pony division in unanimous fashion for the Diamond View banner.  Receiving both reserve ribbons was The Attach Orchid and Holly Wilson for Sue Nifong.

In the Virginia owned class, the blue went to the consistent performer Heavens Silver Lining with Gary Altizer presenting for Joe Phipps.  Reserve went to the elegant Romance In New York and Robert Gardiner for Amy Merricks.

With an awesome show New York’s Perfect Gift marched down the rail pass after pass to earn the blue ribbon with John Conatser aboard in the Junior Three-Gaited for owner Betsy Thomas.  Reserve went to Joellen Fisher Blount’s newest show string member Cocktail Ring with Jan Lukens presenting. 

In the Three-Year-Old Three-Gaited, Smith Lilly was back in the spotlight, this time with the elegant Lenore’s Chardonnay.  Robin McKenzie Vuillermet and Bill Beckley own this blue ribbon winner.  Reserve honors went to the Genius Bourbon Prince-bred Let The Magic Begin with Heather Boodey presenting for Jeanne Frazer.


The new team of Perfect Vengeance and Kaitlyn Grom were just that perfect.  The well-matched team competed together in the Three-Gaited Park Championship, earning the tricolor.  Earlier in the week, trainer Michael Richardson earned the blue ribbon in the qualifier in unanimous fashion with this high-stepping park trotter.  Reserve in the championship went to a thrilled Kelly Vernon aboard I’m Simply Divine under the direction of John Champagne.  Jokers Wild and Jon Walker received the red ribbon in the qualifier and returned for a strong third and a first place vote in the championship for Jan and Bob Gunn.

In the extremely competitive Amateur Three-Gaited Park Championship, Princess Ruby Begonia and Nancy Leigh Fisher continued Hollow Haven's success with the tricolor.  Fisher also piloted this young star to the winners circle in the ladies qualifier in unanimous fashion.  Reserve in the ladies qualifier and a very strong third with a first place vote in the amateur championship went to CH In My Heart and Carol Hillenbrand.  Winning the amateur qualifier unanimously and returning for the reserve in the championship was CH The Foxy Prince and Bambi Childress Bollin for the Mercer Springs banner.

The two top ribbon winners in the junior exhibitor division switched spots from qualifier to championship.  In the qualifier, the blue went to Swoosh and Marli Dabareiner for Stephanie Tamn under the direction of Ronnie Graham.  In the championship, Amberwood’s Blue Ink and Just Cowley moved up a notch to claim the tricolor for Paul Beachum and Bill Phillips.  Earning two strong thirds in the competitive division was
The Ballroom Blitz and Emma Jeffries.


CH Kalarama’s New Sensation looked better than ever, earning the tricolor in the Fine Harness Championship unanimously with Mary Gise on the lines.  This team also claimed the amateur qualifier blue ribbon unanimously.  Garnering the reserve in the championship and the amateur qualifier was Tornaado’s Tidal Wave and Joellen Fisher Blount.  In the open qualifier, Kiri and John Champagne earned the blue in their only appearance for Margot Feldman Harwood.  Reserve went to Shamrock’s Asagi and Andre Fourie for Vickie Keatley and Jennie Graham.

After a successful debut at J.D. Massey, Lora Johnstone was back on the lines with Mother Mary to win the Junior Fine Harness unanimously.  Reserve went to the charismatic The Chocolate Drop Kid and David Barger for Brenda Brewer.  Michael Richardson piloted Roseridge’s Take It Slow to the winners circle in the UPHA Fine Harness Classic for Revelation Farms.  Reserve went to Happy Mothers Day and John Champagne for Jimmy Nixon.  Winning the Two-Year-Old Fine Harness was Transformer and Ronnie Graham for Fish N Fun Farm.


Braveheart and Marilyn Macfarlane topped the competitive Roadster To Bike Championship unanimously.  This great horse who stayed in form with extreme speed also won the open qualifier unanimously.  Kentucky Wildcat and Jon Dabareiner were back to the winners circle in the amateur qualifier.  They returned in the championship garnering the red streamers.  Miss Money Penny and Casey Crabtree earned the red ribbon it the open qualifier, while Joanna’s Lost and Rae Lee Mills sped away with the red ribbon in the amateur qualifier for Jason Stolzfus.

Cosmical and Matt Shiflet turned up the heat in the Novice Roadster To Bike to win the blue ribbon for owner Wes Hall.  Reserve went to The Dream Thief and Ruth Gimpel for Pixie Dust & Steel.  Diamond View was back to the winners circle when trainer Matt Shiflet met Lady Hawke and Stevie Bagdasarian after an awesome show in the Roadster Under Saddle with their trademark black and pink silks flying.


Heartland Special Special was a sight with trainer Ronnie Graham on the lines. This high-stepping speedster swept the open roadster division unanimously for owner Janet Sterba.  Reserve in the championship went to Perfect Offering and Holly Hale.  This team also earned the red streamers in the amateur qualifier.  Reserve in the open qualifier went to Aarobrook’s The Aviator and Dr. Robert Flint. 

Winning the novice qualifier was Bagheira and Lee Hudson for Bent Tree Farm, with On The Verge and Rae Lee Mills in for reserve for Dickey Davis.

Mary Gise was in the bike showing Calvin Hobbs in the amateur roadster division.  She expertly piloted this multi-titled pony to sweep the division, adding two more titles to the list of Hollow Haven wins.  Heartland Carolee and Kevin Ingram came back with a super drive, moving up to capture the reserve in the championship.

Mary Gise turned over the lines of Heartland Sundust to Rachel Machamer.  This talented pony with this talented junior exhibitor was phenomenal as they swept the junior exhibitor division, winning both the championship and the AHHS Medallion qualifier unanimously.  Reserve in both classes went to another great pony Seize The Moment with Ali DeGray on the lines. 

In the AHHS under saddle class, Fast Eddie was back faster than ever with Whitney Bennett aboard to claim the blue for Whittington Saddlebreds. Reserve honors and a first place vote went to Bagheira.  Caitlin Leith had a great catch ride aboard this pony for Bent Tree Farm.

Anna Hudson was on the lines for Bent Tree Farm, winning the blue with Rhett in the Amateur Harness Pony in their only appearance.  Fancy Ribbons and Marilyn Macfarlane had two perfect drives to sweep the Hackney division for Randi Wightman.  Mark In Time and Lee Hudson earned both red ribbons for Bent Tree Farm.

Bob Anderson successfully drove Pacifico’s Standing Ovation to the winners circle in both the Hackney Pleasure Driving Pony Championship and qualifier.  Reserve in both classes went to Brenda Rappaport’s entry Cover Story with Karen Waldron presenting.


In the Five-Gaited Show Pleasure Championship, the tricolor went to the new team of Hero’s Jumping Jack Flash and Travis Van Zetten.  This was the first show for this new team that has only had a few practices together.  It was a great feat to come back and win the class unanimously after they had to leave the ring in the qualifier due to the inability to repair a thrown shoe.  Both reserve ribbons went to a familiar team from the junior exhibitor ranks.  This year Megan Humphreys moved into the amateur ranks and with ease as she and her big going The Master Showman turned in two super rides under the direction of James Lawrence.  Winning the qualifier unanimously was the bright CH Titleist Commander with Tracy Massaro in the irons.

In the junior exhibitor division, another new team topped the championship.  With a comeback ride Wild Wonderful teamed with Suzanna Crews earned the tricolor.  Winning the qualifier and reserve in the championship was the consistent performer CH L.A. Wing Victory with Megan Ryan in the irons.  Reserve in the qualifier went to the well-matched Callaway’s Maelstrom and Caitlin Leith under the direction of Heather Boodey.

Nine entries made the gate call in the Junior Three-Gaited Park Pleasure.  Topping the competitive field with a unanimous victory was Brookhill’s King Of Kool with Andy Freseth expertly presenting for Mr. and Mrs. Guy Smith.  Charms Choice earned the red ribbon with Rob Turner aboard for Erica Faulkner.  John Conatser presented The Rock Star for the win in the UPHA Three-Gaited Park Pleasure Classic.  This sporty young horse owned by Locksley Hall LLC is by Harlem Globetrotter and out of CH Reedann’s Phinery.  Another entry from L.M. Turner Stables captured the reserve title.  Jessica Savinelli presented Charms Top Cat to the title for Holli Esposito and Rob Turner.

Topping a huge field of 18 adult show pleasure horses in the championship was CH Ninety-Eight Degrees.  Teamed with Alice Unger, this grand horse posted two unanimous wins; one in the championship and one in the 18-40 qualifier.  Capturing the reserve championship title and the win in the 41 and over qualifier was CH Just Special and Carol Hillenbrand in their debut together.  Reserve in the 18-40 qualifier went to the solid performer CH My Grande and Amanda Dellinger, while Chesney and Marie Gwinn garnered the red streamers in the 41 and over qualifier.

The numbers kept streaming in as 19 teams competed for the 14-17 title.  Hollow Haven teamed up Titlist Symbol with Rachel Machamer for a perfect match.  With two outstanding shows, they swept the division in unanimous fashion for the Brown Anderson Farms.  Ain’t She Something To Talk About and Brittany Kale earned both red ribbons in this awesome class for Grassy Run Farm.

Another new team of CH Callaway’s Publicist and Elizabeth Ververeli moved up a notch to garner the championship win in the 13-and-under championship under the direction of Tara Wentz.  Memories Of Memphis and Caroline Rose teamed up to capture the reserve ribbon in the championship.  Winning the qualifier was Qui Moi and Jessica Simmons. It was a great week for the Simmons as Jessica’s mom topped the Virginia owned class aboard Force Majeure.  Reserve went to Affair Of State and April Dunn.

Babs Patterson was on the lines for the win in the Show Pleasure Driving Championship with Stella De Oro for owner Barbara Billingsley.  Stella De Oro also won the qualifier but with Vicki Powell presenting.  Callaway’s Tobar and James Rosburg moved up several notches to receive the reserve title in the championship.  Reserve in the qualifier went to CH Unforgiven with Carol Reedy expertly catch-driving for Karin Banks.

Native Kat and Madison Cheatham continued their winning streak.  Fresh off wins as J.D. Massey, this Jon Walker-trained pair swept the 12 and under walk and trot division.  Reserve in the championship went to The Chesapeake Bay and Austin Hazelwood.  The new team of Picabo Street and Drew Love captured the reserve in the qualifier for the Ingleside banner.

Worthy’s Heirloom and Joelle Bennett moved up a notch to claim the championship title in the three-gaited pleasure pony.  Oh Just Dheir Me and Mary Mitkish had a comeback ride to earn the red ribbon in the championship.  Winning the qualifier was She’s Some Kind Of Wonderful and Megan Graham.


The new team of CH The Shadow Knows and Linda Meyer turned in two flawless shows to win the Adult Country Pleasure Championship and the 41 and over qualifier for the Hollow Haven banner.  Rockin The Blues and Jean Heiney were strong competitors earning the reserve in the championship with a first place vote and the reserve in the 41 and over qualifier.  In the 18-40 qualifier, Shamrocks Versace and Heather Dudley were on top of their game earning the win.  Hometown Commander and Kevin Ingram garnered the reserve ribbon and a first place vote in their only riding appearance.

Ali DeGray was back to the winners circle, this time in the Junior Exhibitor Country Pleasure Championship and the 14-17 qualifier.  Aboard I’m Good To Go, DeGray swept the division.  Two red ribbons went to Lucky Curve with Whitney Bennett presenting the Marie Campbell entry in the championship and the 14-17 qualifier.  Winning the 13-and-under qualifier was the Wentz Stables team of Berry Berry Good and Lauren Gradwell, with Harlem’s Hot Secret and Victoria Daniel earning the red streamers.

CH Shamanic Dream and Helen Rosburg turned in two fantastic drives to sweep the country pleasure driving division.  Reserve in the championship went to Hometown Commander and Kevin Ingram.  CH Callaway’s Pretty Penny and Nancy Anderson earned the reserve in the qualifier in their only appearance.

Monsignor and Marie Gwinn were flawless to win the Western Country Pleasure Championship and the qualifier.  I’m Going Out Tonight and Suzanne Heizer won the Saddle & Bridles Shatner Western Country Pleasure.  Fame’s Favour and Cassi Wentz received three reserve titles in the championship, qualifier and Shatner classes.


Rachel Machamer was polished and poised to go four for four.  Machamer won the coveted championship title and the NHS Good Hands aboard A Touch Of Pizzazz.  Machamer piloted her new equitation mount Mahvalous Asset to wins in the UPHA 14-17 Challenge Cup and the 14-17 age qualifier.  Tara Grom aboard her new
mount CH Absolutely Exquisite earned two reserves; one in the championship and one in the 14-17 age qualifier.  Grom also captured the blue ribbon in the USEF Saddle Seat Medal and the reserve title in the UPHA 14-17 Challenge Cup.  Kerry Jeffries aboard her new mount Rosewoods Potpourri won the 13 and under age group and the UPHA 13 and Under Challenge Cup.  Olivia Prentiss captured the red ribbon in the 13 and under age group aboard The Princess Diana.  Marissa Gillespie captured the reserve in the NHS Good Hands aboard The Pinnacle.

In the pleasure equitation division, Kahla Buthlay swept the division aboard Maximilian’s Court under the direction of Kristen Spann.  Reserve in the qualifier went to Morgan Burks aboard Hurricane’s The Dance, while Ann Pancake aboard Wake Up Marjorie earned the reserve in the championship.

Michaela Gillespie aboard Phoenix Suns Shine moved up a notch to win the 10 and Under Walk and Trot Equitation Championship after an earlier red ribbon in the UPHA qualifier.  Reserve in the championship went to Hannah Knapp aboard Nothin But A Good Time.  Winning the UPHA qualifier was the new team of Brianna Meyer riding CH Attaché’s Irish Wine.


In the under saddle championship, Tessa Van De Zuiderwaa moved up a notch with Ashley Walker aboard earning the win for Pam Jackson.  In the qualifier, Tessa earned the red ribbon with Jon Walker aboard.  Winning the qualifier was Gooitzen Fan Teakesyl with Jan Lukens in the irons for Annika Bruggeworth.  In the championship, Bruggeworth was in the irons to capture the reserve title.  With their beautiful turnout Iedse and Earl won the driving class with Karen Waldron at the whip.

This wraps up a blue ribbon week at a show that is quickly becoming the highlight of the show season. With great hospitality, quality competition and beautiful scenery, this is one that trainers and exhibitors will want to mark on their calendar for next year.  Complete results and judges cards can be found by clicking on Show Results and Judges Cards.


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