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Buckeye Challenge Serves As End Of Summer Celebration

HILLIARD, Ohio - Picture perfect summer weather and great competition helped make this year's edition of the Buckeye Morgan Challenge one of the best ever. The show is sponsored each year by the Ohio Morgan Horse Association and held at the Franklin County Fairgrounds in the picturesque town of Hilliard, Ohio. This year the show marked its thirty-second anniversary with quality horses and eager exhibitors vying for the top prizes along with some new faces showing up on the scene to qualify for the Grand National.

AMHA Director Ed Creighton, Cincinnati, Ohio, handled the management duties along with a very hardworking committee. Steve Davis of Weybridge, Vermont handled the judging duties in the main ring and Elizabeth Channing of Chardon, Ohio officiated in the Dressage division. Evette Moody presided as USAE Steward and Gene Holloway kept the show ring in order as ringmaster. Barbara Dunham and her staff kept the office running smoothly and Bob Fraunfelder took care of stabling duties. Ken Wurst has become a tradition at the Buckeye as official farrier and Dr. Jim Henschen attends to any medical needs the horses may have as show veterinarian. Rhoda Hardyman played the organ and Terry Young snapped all the action in the ring.

This year the Exhibitors Party was a huge success. All the pizza, salad and dessert you could possibly eat and great music kept everyone entertained until past midnight. This party is always a big event for the exhibitors as they celebrate the approaching end of another show season. On Sunday morning, a delicious brunch was served by the committee including pancakes, sausage, and fresh fruit for all. President Dayan Birchler helped out with the cooking and serving along with several other show committee members.

Friday morning started out with the In Hand classes with King-Lehr's Bravado being crowned Grand Champion Gelding with Steve Lehr showing for Sandy Benko. Next the mares showed off and it was Lookaway's Fantasy shown by Tim O'Gorman for Jim and Linda Stewart trotting away with Grand Champion Mare honors. Todd Muller's Claridge Armani turned back all the competition to claim the Grand Champion Stallion title while Tim Roesink handled. Interestingly all three in hand champions proved their talent as well as good looks by earning performance tricolors at Buckeye as well.

The only park harness class of the show saw Lookaway's Fantasy claiming another blue with Linda Stewart driving for Lookaway Farm and trained by O'Gorman Stables. The Amateur Western Pleasure Championship featured PKM Gamborian owned and ridden by Sandra Benko jogging to the winner's circle. The Junior Exhibitor English Pleasure Championship saw the fancy CHR Can't Dodge Glory and Jessi Piatt earn the tricolor victory for Michael and Theresa Piatt over six top entries. In the Amateur English Pleasure Stake, it was Annie Morgan and Pondview Forever Free receiving Judge Davis's approval for the top prize. With a quick change of attire, Jessi Piatt was back in the winner's circle with KVA Direct Shot in the Junior Exhibitor Hunter Pleasure Championship. The Classic Pleasure Saddle Championship was won by AMB Lethal Weapon ridden by a very happy Marissa McKinley. The Western Seat Equitation Championship saw Cassandra Vujtech jog away with a smooth victory aboard Aquila's Beyond Courage, this team returned to win the Junior Exhibitor Western Pleasure Championship as well.

Lookaway's Antoinette and Linda Stewart were victorious in the Amateur Pleasure Driving Stake trained by Brian Stewart at Lookaway Farm. The Saddle Seat Equitation Championship featured the world championship pairing of Emily Garten and Under Fire carrying the tricolor victory back to Cape Cod Farm. A quality-filled Hunter Pleasure championship saw Renaissance Man with Manya LoCascio aboard taking the victory pass for owners Phyllis and Jake Leonhardt. In the Amateur Hunter Pleasure Stake it was Lora Lyons riding Meadowayne Magic Moment in the winner's circle for owner Thomas Lyons. The handsome Cherrydale Monterey Bay claimed the Junior English Pleasure Championship with Shirley O'Gorman in the irons for Robin Herrick of Cherrydale Manor, New Wilmington, PA. A delighted Kathryn Schwartz rode Sugar Magnolia CW to the Western Pleasure Championship for Rocky Ridge Farm.

Tim Roesink guided the attention capturing Claridge Armani to the Pleasure Driving Championship for owner Todd Muller, Galena, Ohio. Steve Lehr had King-Lehr's Bravado in top form as he won the English Pleasure Championship for Sandra Benko. Jan Evans continued her winning season at Buckeye with her newest entry CSH Corydon's Eclipse as they closed a winning show with the Classic Pleasure Driving Championship directed by Tim Roesink. Sandra Benko returned in the last class of the show to top all comers and win the Park Saddle Championship aboard her HVK Beau Flaire trained by Jim and Jenny Taylor of Memory Lane Farm.

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