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Bonnie Blue Turns 21!

by Katherine Hansil

LEXINGTON, Va. – The 21st annual Bonnie Blue National was held May 7–10, at the Virginia Horse Center. The horse center itself is a huge draw with the large stalls, multiple covered warm-up rings and show arena, but exhibitors also make the trip for the town. Lexington is a wonderful, small town with great restaurants and shopping. You can also visit the local universities, VMI and Washington and Lee, drive through the picturesque mountains or catch up on your history. But what really keeps everyone coming back is the chance to compete against some of the top teams in the country. Barns from as far away as Wisconsin and New Hampshire traveled to this competitive show to get an early look at how they will compare come August. World’s champions from 2007 and before were there with thrilling performances and new favorites made their mark. It was an awesome show with great numbers and quality through and through.

Manager Scarlett Matson, and her capable staff made sure everything was in order and the show ran smoothly. The show is one of the major fundraisers for the Virginia Horse Center Foundation, which finances 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. Evening sessions were held on Wednesday and Thursday with morning and evening sessions on Friday and Saturday, allowing everyone time to experience everything the horse show and the area had to offer. During Friday evening’s session the sponsors/exhibitors’ party was held in the Appomattox Mezzanine. Everyone enjoyed great food and drink all while being able to watch the horse show from above.


Traci Massaro expertly piloted The Echo Of Thunder to the Five-Gaited Grand Champion title unanimously.

Six entries made the gate call to close out the show in the Five-Gaited Championship. It was quite a week for Traci Massaro. Already sweeping the amateur park division and earning ribbons in country pleasure and ladies five-gaited, she and trainer A.J. Bruwer decided to put The Echo Of Thunder back in the open championship. It was great decision as the striking black son of I’m A New Yorker and Massaro hit the ring on a mission and then delivered, making great passes. After the rail work and conformation were viewed, the judges awarded the performance with unanimous consent.

Reserve honors went to four-year-old Santana’s Charm daughter, Lady Alida, with Clark Clouse in the irons. Purchased last winter by Vicki and Jeff Schaffer, Vicki proclaimed that this was the horse of her dreams and renamed it in honor of her mother and looks forward to cheering her on this season. Clouse was in the winner’s circle earlier in the schedule with the breathtaking CH Memories’ Paragon for Ceil and Kenny Wheeler in a single performance. Reserve honors went to Katie’s Rob Roy and Shirley Trail.

With two amazing performances, Swish and Carol Hillenbrand were at the top of their game. Swish came off his winter break looking better than ever to sweep the amateur division for the Carriage Lane banner. Fresh off wins at River Ridge, CH Colonel Hoss and Justin Cowley put on a show as well to capture both reserve titles.

CH Walterway's Remember Me and Ceil Wheeler were met by their trainers and fan club after an impressive ride to win the Ladies Five-Gaited Championship unanimously.

Carriage Lane continued to dominate when CH Walterway’s Remember Me and Ceil Wheeler won the Ladies Five-Gaited class with power. The team returned with another captivating performance in the ladies championship for the unanimous win. Spirit Of New York PSF and Brittany Kale continue to make waves in their first season together. They began their career with a pair of wins at Raleigh and then to J.D. Massey for a pair of reserve titles. This week, they were stronger than ever to earn a pair of reserve titles including a first place vote in the qualifier.

In the Virginia Owned Five-Gaited, two ladies teams took the top spots. Winning the class was the sporty Star Dreamer and Darlene Rose with Talk About Attitude and Kathie Constable garnering the red streamers. Both teams returned for strong ribbons in the ladies championship.

After meeting two five-gaited teams in the winner’s circle, trainer John Conatser had his time in the spotlight in the Junior Five-Gaited class. Conatser presented the magnificent Callaway’s Cassis to the win for Carol Hillenbrand in unanimous fashion. Reserve honors went to Callaway’s Azul and Smith Lilly for Platinum Stock Farm.

Nancy Leigh Fisher debuted aboard the flashy Gotta Be Charmed to earn the Novice Five-Gaited title.

In the novice qualifier Nancy Leigh Fisher debuted Gotta Be Charmed. The team had a super go for the unanimous win. Reserve honors went to Callaway’s Melosa with Todd Graham presenting for Royal Winds Farm. Topping the three-year-old class was the handsome Perfectly Designed and Jan Lukens with Mr. Hayworth and Todd Graham earning reserve for Pinekrest Farms.

Sweeping the junior exhibitor five-gaited division was Naughty. Alexis Taylor Pearson presented this flashy mare with confidence, fresh off wins at Chapter 14 under the direction of Jessica Verrill. The Decisive Moment and Suzanna Crews took command of the ring to earn both reserve titles with a first place vote in each class. Allison Combs was thrilled with her two rides aboard her new partner Billy Jewel. The team had two exciting performances to sweep the five-gaited pony division.


Capturing the Three-Gaited Championship was the elegant Your Lucky Stars. Jerry Hutson presented this homebred son of Salemtown and Unlikely Angel for David Crockett. Earning the reserve title was the expressive CH Sightline and Rob Turner. Earlier in the week, with an explosive performance, this team earned the blue ribbon in the qualifier. The qualifying reserve went to Albelarm Radiant Lady and A.J. Brewer for Traci Massaro.

Betsy Thomas and Carol Hillenbrand each celebrated unanimous victories on Friday evening with CH New York's Perfect Gift and Swish, respectively.

Betsy Thomas beamed when she piloted New York’s Perfect Gift in the amateur three-gaited division. With his famous park-trot, this expressive, elegant chestnut marched down the rail for Thomas time after time. The team, under the direction of Carriage Lane, swept the division unanimously. Graduating from the junior exhibitor ranks, Molly Trent captured the qualifying reserve title with Powerful Tango under the direction of Scott Perrelli. You Move Me and Michelle Ducworth had a comeback ride in the championship for the reserve title.

Carol Reedy had a super ride aboard Omerta to garner the blue streamers in the Virginia Owned Three-Gaited. They returned in the amateur championship with another solid performance for top ribbons. Reserve in the Virginia class went to Bit Of The Bubbly and Rae Lee Mills in their only appearance.

It was a one-two finish for David Crockett’s owned and bred entries, both by Salemtown, in the limit class. Jerry Hutson presented Little Piece Of My Heart to the blue while Deborah Koning was in the irons to earn the reserve with Classic With A Twist. Winning the Junior Three-Gaited class was My Ultimatum. Gary Altizer presented this son of Ultimatum and Callaway’s Finders-Keepers to the win for Carol and David Frazier. Serpico with Tami Reiser earned the reserve for Donald Bird.

Winning the three-year-old class, the toppy Bugatti’s Pinata earned the blue with Rob Turner in the irons for Holli Esposito with Sergeant Bailey and Smith Lilly garnering the red streamers for Bill Beckley.

Sweeping the ladies three-gaited division was CH Sue-She and Ericka Nelson. Under the direction of Andy and Lynda Freseth, this beautiful mare with her long, swan-like neck paraded around the ring for Nelson for two unanimous wins. Both reserve honors went to Callaway’s Born With Style. Graduating from the junior ranks this season, this talented mare is well matched with Robin McKenzie-Vuillermet by the Mercer Springs team.

David Cater congratulated Margaret McCool on her comeback ride with Golden Market to capture the Junior Exhibitor Three-Gaited Reserve Championship title.

The junior exhibitor division was packed with awesome teams – some favorites from last season and some new teams debuting. Heathermoor’s Prince debuted with his new rider, Emily Druckman, this week in the junior exhibitor division. They had a great first go to earn a strong third with a first place vote in the well-filled class. They returned in the championship with a stunning performance and marched down the rail for the victory. Golden Market and Margaret McCool, another new team, had a comeback ride to capture the reserve championship with a first place vote. Giovanna Leone was thrilled with her ride aboard Heir’s Sparkling Star for the yellow championship streamers.

Alexandra Percoco and CH Cagin Martini began their season just a few weeks ago in the park division to win the championship at Chapter 14. This week the decision was made to enter the three-gaited division and in their division debut, they captured the qualifying blue with an outstanding performance. The team of Wild Wonderful and Suzanna Crews was ready for the challenge of this competitive division as Crews put the Clark Clouse trained contender in all the right spots to earn the qualifying reserve. CH Royalty In Black and Stephanie Miller had two nice performances to sweep the three-gaited pony division under the direction of Leslie Tickle.

Three-Gaited Park

Callaway's Cellular and Paula Percoco were picture perfect after winning the Open Three-Gaited Park Championship.

After a winning debuting earlier this year in Tampa with Jan Lukens, the decision was made to partner Callaway’s Cellular with Paula Percoco a few weeks ago at Chapter 14. The team debuted with a win in the in the junior/novice class. This week they had two dynamic performances to sweep the open division. In the championship, CF A Rare Genius and David Cater moved up a spot to claim the reserve championship title for Catherine McCool. The qualifying reserve went to the animated Lenore’s Prairie Whoopster with Clark Clouse in the irons for new owners Dr. Robert and Melissa Flint.

The Ladies Three-Gaited Park kicked off the show on Wednesday evening with nine great teams marching through the gate. The flashy Cat’s My Daddy commanded the spotlight when Alexandra Lilly piloted him to the winner’s circle for Hawley Tool Sales LLC in their only appearance. Nancy Leigh Fisher was aboard the elegant Princess Ruby Begonia to capture the reserve title. This great team returned in the amateur championship on Friday night with another outstanding performance for an additional reserve title.

The amateur qualifier was also held on Wednesday, boasting eight competitive entries. Earlier this year, Traci Massaro purchased the grand Phi’s Phortune Teller and debuted a few weeks ago at the Spring Jubilee in Kentucky under the direction of A.J. Brewer for a reserve in the open division. This week they debuted in the amateur division and with two flawless performances swept the division unanimously. Garnering the red steamers in the amateur qualifier was Recoup and Brooke Jacobs.

In the Junior Park, Spooling Up put on an impressive show to win the class with Clark Clouse presenting for Barbara Gaynor. Reserve honors and a first place vote went to Cape Grace with Smith Lilly in the irons for Roger and Stephanie McMahon.

Fine Harness

Moving up a notch from the open reserve, Seaforth’s Bonnie Lass paraded through the championship class and unanimously into the winner’s circle with John Champagne on the lines for Margot Harwood. Mother Mary and Sandy Lilly put on a show to garner the reserve championship title for Platinum Stock Farm after a victorious performance in the qualifier. In the amateur qualifier the blue went to the multi-titled CH Kalarama’s New Sensation with Mary Gise presenting. With an exciting performance, Gothic Revival and Joan Adler captured the reserve title with huge support from their fan club in their only performance for Tri Color Saddlebreds.

The Junior Fine Harness began the Thursday evening session. Elegant Dreamcatcher, with Lynda Freseth on the lines, debuted in victorious fashion for new owner Thomas Brock. Reserve honors went to Still Enchanted. Deborah Koning presented the homebred mare for David Crockett. Clark Clouse presented the trimmed in chrome daughter of (SA) Molligny Don’t Worry Be Happy, She’s Gone, to the win in the UPHA Fine Harness Classic for Tri Color Saddlebreds. All Or Nothing and Dale Sloat earned the reserve.

Best Day Ever and Andrew Nadder were in top form to sweep the junior exhibitor three-gaited park division.

The wins kept coming for trainer Jerry Hutson when he directed Best Day Ever and Andrew Nadder through two fabulous classes to sweep the junior exhibitor division. No Time To Worry and Meghan Morey moved up a notch in the championship for the reserve title with Stonecroft Ultra Violet and Kaitlin Morrison in for reserve in the qualifier.


The incomparable Braveheart was in top form for Marilyn Macfarlane in the open roadster to bike. The iconic team swept the open division. Jon Dabareiner, famous for his winning drives with Kentucky Wildcat in the amateur division, teamed up with Postmaster Mike to capture both reserve titles.

Dabareiner returned in the amateur division with Cosmical. Paired up after he retired grand champion Kentucky Wildcat in this arena last fall, Cosmical carried Dabareiner to titles at ASHAV. He was hooked, and purchased Cosmical as his new amateur contender. They began the week with a qualifying reserve and returned with determination in the championship to power down the straight-aways and hold the turns, blazing a unanimous trail to the winner’s circle.

Fresh off wins at J.D. Massey, Matt T Up and David Crockett were victorious in the amateur qualifier with an outstanding drive. The team, under the direction of Jerry Hutson, returned for the reserve championship title. Crockett Springs was back in the spotlight in the novice qualifier when Jerry Hutson raced away with the win, piloting Ninety Proof while Deborah Koning drove Git R Done for the reserve.


Adriane Santana met Stat and Dr. Robert Pugh at the gate after their winning drive in the Road Pony Championship.

Stat and Dr. Robert Pugh had an amazing week. The team started off on Wednesday bursting through the gate with a thrilling win in the Amateur Road Pony. They returned in the amateur championship for the reserve championship title. They closed out their week in the open championship with Stat proving his power and distinction of speeds by unanimously winning the tricolor under the direction of Danny and Nancy Troutman. This was not the only successful team for Pugh and the Troutmans as Razz-Ma-Tazz topped the Road Pony To Wagon with Pugh. Regal’s Viking earned the reserve title in the novice qualifier with Danny Troutman on the lines.

In the Amateur Road Pony Championship, Calvin Hobbs and Kevin Ingram found all the right spots to break away from the competitive pack and showcase this pony’s talent. After a reserve in the qualifier, this team came back with determination to capture the tricolor unanimously.

Reserve open championship honors went to Let’s Take A Chance and Holly Hale. Earlier in the week this team topped the open qualifier. Reserve in the open qualifier went to Aarobrook’s The Aviator and Dr. Robert Flint. Josh Greer was on the lines to claim the novice win with Heartland Top Notch.

Sarah Sessoms was in the irons aboard Bagheira to speed away with the blue in the AHHS Road Pony Under Saddle Medallion for Bent Tree Farm. Rolex and Leigh Kauffelt had a great week. In the under saddle class, they earned the reserve title. Earlier in the schedule, the team won the AHHS Road Pony Medallion under the direction of Glenda Altizer. They returned for the Junior Exhibitor Road Pony Championship reserve. Winning the championship and moving up a notch from their medallion reserve were the Wentz Stables trained Mastercraft’s Gambler LF and Alex Ververelli.

Topping the Harness Pony Championship was the expressive Boxford Bobbi Sox. Cassidy Hutson was on the lines for David Crockett to claim the tricolor and a reserve title in the qualifier. Winning the qualifier was the 2007 junior star Art-O-Matic. Selected by the Freseths as Mary Gise’s next partner, Lynda Freseth directed this talented young pony to the qualifying blue and reserve championship titles. Winning the amateur qualifier was Robin Haynes’s entry Wait & See’s Whiz Bang under the direction of Marilyn Macfarlane.

Crockett teams continued to dominate the harness division when Black Merlin captured the Hackney Pony Championship and amateur qualifier with Deborah Koning on the lines. Heartland Ooh La La and Karen Waldron topped the open qualifier and returned in the championship for the reserve title.

The high-stepping Big Country and Dave Glover had a comeback drive to win the Hackney Pleasure Driving Pony Championship. The handsome and gifted Cover Story had two great performances with Brenda Rappaport to top the qualifier and return for the reserve championship title. Reserve in the qualifier went to Regal’s Class Act LF and Leigh Ann Altizer.

Show Pleasure

It has been a while since Lisa Dabareiner has been in the five-gaited show pleasure division. For many years she was a force on this circuit with her beloved CH Harlem’s Hot Scoop. On Wednesday night, she burst through the gate aboard Hoochie Coochie Blues under the direction of Greg O’Kelley in the adult qualifier. Just as she had with "Scoop," Dabareiner worked the ring with this sporty little horse to win the blue in their debut. They returned in the adult championship with another great performance for the reserve title. Moving up from the qualifying reserve title, Out Of Reach and Karen Blankenship-Shumate had an eye-catching performance to unanimously capture the tricolor under the direction of Todd Graham.

CH Summit Up and Allison Combs had a pleasure perfect ride to garner the blue streamers in the Junior Exhibitor Five-Gaited Show Pleasure.

In the junior exhibitor division, Tyler DeVore debuted aboard Believe Her for Mallory Greaves. After the qualifier, the new team worked through a few issues and came back ready to win in the championship. The practice worked as they had a pleasure perfect ride for the unanimous win. In the qualifier, CH Summit Up and Allison Combs had a strong performance for the win. They partnered back up in the championship for another great ride to earn the reserve title. Callaway’s Sea Horse and Rebecca Klenk earned the qualifying reserve under the direction of Lewis Meadows.

CH Undulata's Jimmy Hollywood and Careen Dubuc were in top form to garner the tricolor in the Adult Three-Gaited Show Pleasure Championship.

In the first of two adult qualifiers, Travis Van Zetten debuted aboard Teuschers. The new and well-matched team topped the 18-40 qualifier in their only appearance. In the 41 and over qualifier, Carol Hillenbrand began what would become a successful week to capture the blue aboard her multi-titled CH Just Special. This team returned in the combined championship with another flawless performance for the reserve title with a first place vote. Winning the championship after an earlier reserve in the 40 and under qualifier was CH Undulata’s Jimmy Hollywood. Now back with former owner and rider, Careen Dubuc, this great horse put on a show for the championship win. Reserve in the 41 and over qualifier went to Capsaicin and Paula Monty for Maurice Matson.

The Virginia owned qualifier was so well filled and with the abundance of adult teams already set for the adult championship, management decided to add a Virginia Owned Three-Gaited Pleasure Championship. Sweeping the division was the sporty entry from Anne Holmes, An Heir Of Grace. Ceil Wheeler expertly presented her under the direction of Bill Shiflet. Heavy Hitter and Mary Dunker under the Meadow Wood banner were in top form to earn both reserve titles.

CH Candle Dan and Jayne Romano had two fantastic performances. "Dan" majestically paraded around the ring earning both wins unanimously. Reserve honors went to the Hollow Haven team of CH Shot With Glory and Elizabeth James-Lipscomb.

Clark Clouse directly the new team of Callaway's Forty-Niner and Lexie Flint to the 13 and under show pleasure grand champion title.

Sweeping the 14-17 division were Sea Blue and Allyson Ehle from Wentz Stables. Elisha Goff, riding Main Marina, moved up a notch with a standout ride to capture the reserve championship title for the Meadow Dream banner. In the 14-17 qualifier, CH Titleist Symbol and Rachel Machamer garnered the red streamers. Topping the 13 and under championship was the stunning Callaway’s Forty-Niner and Lexie Flint. Flint had this high-headed chestnut marching down the rail victoriously under the direction of Clark Clouse. Dakota’s Cloudburst SCS and Alexandra Percoco moved up to garner the reserve championship title for proud grandmother Jayne Romano. In the qualifier, the blue ribbon went to Shamrock’s Asagi and Brianna Meyer in their debut performance with Snorkle and Katharine McCaughey from Cater Stables earning the reserve for MaryBeth Alosa.

Jimmy Morrison directed Callaway's Royal Mark and Taylor Hiestand in their debut, sweeping the 12 and under walk and trot pleasure division.

Another new team made their presence known this week when Callaway’s Royal Mark and Taylor Hiestand had two superb performances to sweep the 12 and under walk and trot pleasure division. Showtime’s Limited Access and Brett Lee Self moved up a notch to claim the reserve championship title while Callaway’s Prince Harrod and Haley Kesner earned the qualifying reserve. The Salem Caper and Kelsey Moore had two pleasure perfect shows to sweep the three-gaited pleasure pony division.

Breaking Vegas, with Gary Altizer, unanimously topped the UPHA Park Pleasure Classic.

Gary Altizer presented the winning entry in the UPHA Park Pleasure, Breaking Vegas, by Callaway’s Northern Kiss, for Perry Huffer. Reserve honors went to Gypsy Santana daughter All That Grace, presented by Kevin Tomasko for Kori Janowiec.

Country Pleasure

CH Callaway’s Pretty Penny and Nancy Anderson are synonymous with the country pleasure driving division. Over the years they have accumulated an extraordinary number of titles and this week was no exception as the team unanimously swept the division. Earning both reserve honors were the Mercer Springs trained Really Worth It and Anita Simpson.

Sea Blue and Allyson Ehle swept the 14-17 show pleasure division under the direction of Tara Wentz.

Following in the footsteps of her mother, Linda Meyer also paired up with another star in the country pleasure division, CH The Shadow Knows. In top form this week, this Hollow Haven team won the Adult Country Pleasure Championship and 41 and over qualifier. The charismatic League Of Nations with Carol Hillenbrand gave them a run for the roses as they had two perfect performances, earning the reserve championship and 41 and over reserve titles. Winning the 18-40 qualifier was Affair Of State and April Dunn with Boulevard earning the reserve with Cyd Simmons presenting for Alden Farms.

Curly Day and Anna Hudson had a comeback ride to win the age combined Junior Exhibitor Country Pleasure Championship for Pamela McCulloch. Winners of the 13 and under qualifier, Chi Town Willy and Savannah Pike returned to capture the championship reserve title. Rock The Night and Allison Womack graduated from the walk and trot pleasure division this year and with a solid performance earned the reserve in the 13 and under qualifier. Winning the 14-17 qualifier were Jama Day and Alyson Sandler with Croupier and Caroline Rose earning reserve for Catherine McCool.

Fresh off a championship win at Chapter 14, El Empressario and Pat Johnson were flawless for the Western Country Pleasure Championship and qualifying wins. In Your Honor and Barbara Brown moved up to earn the reserve championship honors for the Hollow Haven banner. Winning the Saddle & Bridle Shatner Western were Erte and Alexandria Simpson. This team also claimed the qualifying reserve. Reserve in the Shatner class went to Ronan and Melinda Warden. Ronan proved his versatility when he and Warden swept the hunter division. Reserve in the hunter championship went to Hot Thru The Night while Magnolia Morning and Henley Gabeau were reserve in the qualifier.


Jessica Moctezuma was in top form in both her rail and pattern work to unanimously win the Saddle Seat Equitation Championship. Earlier in the week, she won the NHS Good Hands aboard Top Beat. Reserve in the championship went to Lauren Hogge under the direction of Karin Folkers-Smith. Hogge also claimed the age group reserve. Winning the qualifier and the UPHA Challenge Cup under the direction of David and Kristen Cater was Brynne Cummings.

Elizabeth Dirth had a successful week, winning the Pleasure Equitation Championship and Pleasure Equitation qualifier with two polished performances. This team from Cater Stables also earned the reserve in the NHS Good Hands. Under the direction of Tammy DeVore, Toria Heck was aboard A Touch Of Pizzazz for the reserve in the Pleasure Equitation qualifier while Taylor Deer returned to capture the reserve in the championship under the direction of Stephanie Lilly.

Kaitlyn Creekmore had a great week, winning the 10 and under walk and trot equitation classes riding Imagination Station for the Hollow Haven banner.

Under the direction of Lynda Freseth, Kaitlyn Creekmore had two solid classes to win the 10 and Under Walk and Trot Equitation Challenge Cup and the 10 and Under Walk and Trot Equitation. The dynamic Owen Binnie from Cater Stables garnered both reserve titles on Highpoint’s The King’s Sun.


The majestic Friesians and their grand turnouts graced the ring with three competitive entries in the pleasure driving division. Sweeping the division were Marilyn Macfarlane and her pair Jelke and Jacob. Sally Lawing, with Ozark PF, earned the reserve championship title under the direction of Krista Dent while Iedse and Karen Waldron were reserve in the qualifier. In the under saddle class, Karen Waldron was in the irons for the win with Douwe.

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