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Conn. Summer Classic - It’s All About The Kids

by Bob Funkhouser

W. SPRINGFIELD, Mass. – Sometimes it’s hard to get excited about going to yet another show at the Eastern States Expo Center because between the Saddlebred/Hackney and Morgan breeds you can visit the home of New England’s Great State Fair some six or seven times during the season. However, there’s something about the Connecticut Summer Classic,
Aug. 3-5, 2006, that makes it a breath of fresh air for exhibitors and trainers alike.

In the vision of longtime
Connecticut exhibitor Millie LeBoff, the show remains one of the most competitive “Grass Roots” shows in New England and surrounding areas. From the academy to the open pleasure events in all disciplines, there’s something for everyone. Mixed in with the beginning type classes and fun events such as the Pro-Am Three-Gaited Pleasure class, the Young At Heart Pleasure class (riders 50 years and older), Costume Dog class and the Geriatric class for horses 20 years old and over were some extremely competitive performance classes. Several of the region’s larger barns used the show as a tune up for Louisville.

Attendance was right at last year’s numbers and there some pretty decent crowds on every night except Saturday. Those who brought horses not only enjoyed good competition, but also food, food and food. It started with a move-in pizza party sponsored by Middlefield and Somersdream and then each morning with donuts, coffee and bagels. Chefs Nathan Roden and Ed Panza prepared their annual “Surprise Lunch” following the Thursday afternoon session while coffee and gourmet cake were on the menu following the evening’s classes.

The biggie is Friday night’s Progressive Aisle Party. After many years of travels to shows all across the country, this writer can honestly say year in and year out this is one the best assemblies of different foods you’ll ever find. This party is just ahead of the free sundaes that the horse show provides the exhibitors on Saturday afternoon each year. John Mashuta sponsored the cooling treats.

Thank goodness it had actually cooled down by the weekend. New England, like most all other parts of the country, was extremely hot and humid during the middle part of the week. So after enduring a couple days of the oppressive temperatures, a little rain fell in the middle of the night and it was back to chamber of commerce New England weather.

Jim Parks was back again assisting LeBoff as show manager, while Nancy Galusha once again served as show secretary. The official family at the Conn. Summer Classic remains the same and there is something to be said for continuity. Also returning were ringmaster Kent Moeller, announcer John Bennett, photographer Bob Moseder, videographer Peter King and steward Jo Hight. Exhibitors were also extremely lucky to have Jason Lawrence of Syracuse, N.Y. serve as paddock master and grounds manager. Besides taking a lot of good-natured ribbing, he’s one of the best at his job.

From Willowbrook, Ill., Pat McConnell made the decisions in the Saddlebred, Hackney, equitation and roadster divisions, while the pride of the University of Vermont, Steve Davis, judged the Morgan, Friesian and miscellaneous sections.

“I was pleased with this year’s show,” said founder and captain LeBoff. “We had good classes, it moved along nicely and the most important thing, I think everyone had fun. That’s why we do this.”

As tradition dictates, the show ended with the Five-Gaited Championship in which four entries mixed it up pretty well. When announcer John Bennett called out the grand champion, trainer Jeff Doyle entered the ring to greet Morgan McGrath and A Foxy Damsel in the winner’s circle as the Five-Gaited Grand Champions after also making the victory pass in the open qualifier. This was Morgan's first time to show in the open division. The always-powerful Shamrock’s Locomotive was reserve in both classes with owner Kristie Cutting.

Continuing their undefeated season, Kate Codeanne and Yes I Have ate up the ring in the Eastern States coliseum to defeat all challengers for the Amateur Five-Gaited Championship and qualifier. Representing the Denise Vespa Stables, Collector Series was the amateur reserve grand champion, while the ground covering Party For Two sailed away with third in the championship and reserve in the qualifier.

It was great to see the fine harness division competitive again. From the L.M. Turner Stables, Roseridge Steven Kyng and Judith Motley led the way in both the open and championship rounds. This was yet another tribute to the breeding of the late Randy Tabor. Nicholas Villa met reserve grand champions Harlem’s Beau Dandy and Kathy Osnoe at the out-gate following their athletic performance.

Villa had an extremely successful week, as he was also the trainer of Three-Gaited Grand Champion The Cardiac Kid. Owner Dorothy Riley made the winning ride just as she did in the open class. Dr. Geraldine Meanor and Callaway’s Dream Weaver were twice reserve champions.

Dr. Meanor also took reserve in the Amateur Three-Gaited Grand Championship. Her entry there was the multi-titled Prince Of The Day. His Northwind stablemate, The Talk Of Savannah, was crowned the amateur grand champion with owner Taylor Biscanzio aboard. They began the show with a win in the junior exhibitor class.


Showing in their only class of the weekend, reserve national champion Sightline was the Amateur Three-Gaited qualifying winner with Holli Esposito in the irons.

The park division had many top performers throughout the classes. Sally Kropp and the enormous Chemistry In Motion were at the top of Judge McConnell’s card in both the open championship and qualifier. In the championship round they were followed by Sally Gallagher and her new entry Forty Second Street Gal, while Ryan Fornango rode the leg-waving Northern Ice to second place honors in the qualifier. Meanwhile, Jessica Moctezuma topped the Junior Exhibitor Three-Gaited Park class with Elaine Gregory’s Steel A Secret. Rosette Barrette and Audra Arel were next in line for a prize.

There was both depth and quality in the amateur park classes. Marching a big trot, the homebred Phinest Heirloom and Donna O’Keefe were not denied in either round, giving Cricket Hill Farm two more winning ribbons. Coming back after a little layoff, Paula Percoco and Cagin Martini also turned in an athletic performance to take reserve championship honors back to the Jan Lukens Stables. In the qualifier it was Samantha Hoag and CSF Specially in the reserve spot.

Long a favorite with the crowd, the A-1 Three-Year-Old Park Sweepstakes was a highly competitive class this year with several horses having 2006 wins. Marching down victory lane once again was Charm’s Top Cat, an expressive entry owned by Rob Turner and Holli Esposito and shown by Jessica Savinelli. Kevin Tomasko was right there with his leg-waving He Is In The Heir for reserve honors.

No one is quite sure why the Conn. Summer Classic has been so successful at attracting ponies, but over the past five years this show has boasted a solid turnout from the Hackney world in comparison to most shows in New England and around the country.

There were six entries in the Harness Pony Championship. Always at the top, the gifted bay performer Twin Willow’s Dimitri represented the Headwells’ Misty Hills Farm LLC in the winner’s circle with Ryan Fornango providing the winning drive. They had also led the way in the open class. Reserve in both events, Kilbro’s Kathleen B was driven by Dennis Jones from the Rodney Hicks Stables. Coming from the winner’s circle of the amateur class, Dun-Haven Exquisite and Sharon Francis commanded the third place streamers in the championship round.

Seven road ponies and their amateur drivers answered the call for their championship competition. Hitting on all four cylinders on this evening, Dun-Haven Highly Impressive was the standout Amateur Road Pony Grand Champion. It was the first win for owner/driver Don Spann, father of Cricket Hill’s Kristen Cater. It wasn’t a bad weekend for Caroline Morrison either. She was the seven-entry amateur qualifier before finishing as amateur reserve grand champion with the Fairfield South-trained Heartland Yankee Strutter. Also making several passes worthy of note, Blaze Of Glory was third in the championship after taking the red prize for owner/driver Brian Fitzsimmons in the qualifier.

Open road ponies didn’t fare near as well as their amateur counterparts as far as numbers. Michael Kropp and Fitz’s Sugar Daddy topped Truly Irresistible and Frank Hester for that win.

Rodney Hicks had several winning ribbons hanging from his tack room by the show’s end. Adding to the tally, the many times champion Totally Excellent was just that to take the cob-tail championship and amateur qualifier. Nathan Roden drove for Nathan and Betty Roden. Open class winner Mark Of Recognition was the reserve grand champion for longtime Hackney enthusiast Frank Hester.

There was no shortage of talent in the Hackney Pleasure Driving Pony Championship. A winner from Devon to Big E, Miss Excellence was again the Conn. Summer Classic grand champion for owner/driver Janet Crawford Hicks. Their precisioned performances were followed by the extremely talented Oh Happy Day, driven by Lilly Birch. Also no stranger to the top, Model Of Excellence was third twice for Dawn DelTorchio and High Tail Acres. Model Of Excellence was also driven by Lexie Quarantiello to win the AHHS Youth Medallion class. Michael Kropp and Prissy Devil were all alone in the Northeast Hackney Pony Pleasure Driving class.

The pleasure division is the backbone of the Conn. Summer Classic and those classes were filled from top to bottom and the opportunity to make a victory pass was no easy task. It all started with the Five-Gaited Pleasure Championship in which Jessica Moctezuma guided All Show to the tricolor honors for Mary Reising and Northwind Stables. It was their second trip down victory lane over the weekend. Also a repeat winner, Believable was right on their quarter boots with two impressive performances to be named Five-Gaited Pleasure Reserve Grand Champion and reserve qualifying winner. Deidre Henry and the High Tail Acres family put Nicole McLaine aboard the reserve champion for Catherine McCool. Also no stranger to top prizes, Caroline Deshaies and Berry Garcia finished with the yellow streamers in both events.

High Tail Acres also had the winning number in the Show Pleasure Driving Championship and qualifier. Owned and shown by Lisa Travers McCaughey, Noah twice waved his legs all the way to the winner’s circle. Reserve to Noah in the qualifier was the winning combination of Mundy’s Landing and Millie LeBoff from Somersdream. In the championship round Jayne Romano and Dakota’s Cloudburst put it all together to take the reserve tricolor back to the Jan Lukens Stable tack room.

What a lineup there was for the 10-horse Park Pleasure Championship. With a mix of new faces and seasoned veterans it was a good class from start to finish. Possessing all the expression and personality you could want, Ticket To Hollywood earned the ticket to the winner’s circle with Robin McGahey riding for new owner Annika Bruggeworth. In the 17-entry qualifier McGahey and Ticket To Hollywood were reserve for former owner Elaine Gregory. Riding for Gail Dearth, David Arnold guided Pearl Bucks Leading Lady to the Park Pleasure Reserve Championship after winning the huge qualifier.

The Adult Show Pleasure Championship came 11 entries strong and leading the way just as they did in the qualifier were Co-Ed’s Impressive Lady and Holli Esposito. The Rob Turner trained team represented owner Mrs. Paul Rice. From Wright Hall Stables, Corrina Arruda and Star Of The Millennium were twice reserve champions.
Turner also had the upper hand in the Pro-Am Three-Gaited Pleasure class. He traded ways of the ring with owner Erica Rae Faulkner to put Charm’s Choice in the winner’s circle. Kristen Spann and Brooke Gove shared Mantic’s Top Gun to take the red prize.

Entries were so large in the junior exhibitor pleasure division that it was split into the 14-17 and 13 and under age groups. With 12 teams vying for the top honors in the 14-17 championship, Jessica MacLeod came back strong to make the last pass with the Gary Garone-trained New York Entertainer. The reserve championship victory pass belonged to Spirited Edition and Christie Milbury, winners of the qualifier. Kevin Tomasko put that winning combination together. Finishing third in the deep championship, Kahla Buthlay and Maximilian’s Court picked up the red ribbon from the qualifier.

David and Kristen Cater had another good week with their Cricket Hill Farm entries. Part of that winning lineup included 13 and Under Show Pleasure winner Memories Of Memphis. Owner Caroline Rose rode this blue ribbon winner. Ashley Hellstrom and Starmonious trotted away with a second place finish. Back for the championship round, Ali Percoco and Dakota’s Cloudburst were sensational to wear the championship tricolor from the ring on their way to Louisville.

The youngest of exhibitors had stars in their eyes as they competed for the Walk and Trot Pleasure Horse or Pony 9-10 Year Old Championship. That division featured Roman’s Will and Katharine McCaughey proudly wearing the tricolor from the ring. It was soon hung on the blue drapes of High Tail Acres. Tori Wadsworth had a nice ride aboard Harry Sebring’s Wind Blue Freeway to take reserve championship honors.

Lillian Gilpin had Kasey Saccocia and Indian Creek Belle Star in prime time order as they sported the tricolor streamers from the Walk and Trot Pleasure Horse or Pony 8 and Under Championship. This has been a top combination all season long as has reserve grand champions Chi Town Willy and Savannah Pike. In the qualifier it was Rangers Golden Casper and Brittany Guillemette making the victory pass for her mother, Theresa Guillemette. Erin Immonen and Champagne Or Bourbon were second in that one.

A winner at UPHA 14 and Syracuse so far this year, Endolane Supreme Admiral keeps on trucking for Cheryl Innis and Somersdream. The Ricky Harris trained team scored the Country Pleasure Driving Championship after finishing reserve to Wild Lolita and Devon Garone in the qualifier. Wild Lolita is new to the country pleasure driving division.

With a strong group of 12 competing for the Adult Country Pleasure Championship, exhibitors had to be on top of their game. Coming through with shining colors, Platinum Asset and Roberta Hirshon were Judge McConnell’s choice in both the qualifier and championship. Rob Turner put this team together. From Cricket Hill, Mr. Rockefeller and Patricia Bartsch moved up a spot from the qualifier to command reserve grand champion honors. They traded places with Dr. Geraldine Meanor and Itchy Foot Moe.

The best of the junior exhibitor country pleasure horses turned out to be Royal Crest’s Heir To The Throne, an entry owned and ridden by Kyle Gagnon from Fairfield South. Qualifying winners Gone Native and Emily Bovenzi, settled for the reserve championship, while Maya Manilow and Worthy’s Heirloom picked up the reserve streamers in the first round.

Jogging to the winner’s circle of the Shatner Western Pleasure class, Sue English and Mapleridge Rare Event kept right on going to turn back all challengers for the Country Western Pleasure Championship. Reserve went to Marge Brown’s Orion’s Star, winner of the Open Western Country Pleasure class.

A nice mix of young riders competed for equitation honors in their various age groups and national qualifiers. The state of Maine was represented well in the Saddle Seat Equitation Championship as Wright Way Stables’ Meghann Wright finished her workout as strong as her rail work. Wright was also the winner of the UPHA Challenge Cup. Reserve in both the Challenge Cup and the championship, Laura McGee was one of several winning riders from Cricket Hill Farm. One of McGee’s stablemates, Olivia Prentiss, was third in the championship, however, she had a strong blue ribbon ride in the 17 and under qualifier.

In other finals qualifiers, Marissa Gillispie won the NHS Good Hands and Jessica Moctezuma captured the NEHC Saddle Seat Medal. Pleasure equitation featured champions like Brooke Gove and Brynne Cummings making victory passes.

There were also some extremely talented walk and trot riders giving a glimpse of things to come in the
New England equitation landscape. In the 9-10 year old age group, a couple of proven champions went head to head with Gavin Gagnon coming out on top in the championship for Fairfield South. Winner of the 9-10 qualifier and UPHA 10 and Under Challenge Cup, Michaela Gillispie was reserve grand champion for Darlene Trento-Wright.

Six riders with big smiles and great form competed for the Walk and Trot 8 and Under Equitation Championship. Showing in her first equitation class after having enjoyed success in walk and trot pleasure, Katie Hill went home with both the championship and 8 and under qualifying blue. Ricky Harris, Carolyn Genatossio and Sue Gethicker hone her skills at Somersdream. Holly Hacskaylo was also a sport to garner the reserve championship, while Savannah Pike showed her skills as the reserve rider in the qualifier.

With the New England Morgan Regional 15 miles up the road just the week before, it’s always hard to get a large turnout of Morgan exhibitors, but there’s still enough to make it competitive.

One of the nicest on the grounds was Morgan English Pleasure Grand Champion KGA Center Stage. A winner throughout the New England circuit, Center Stage also won the open class with David Arnold riding for Lynda Dzicek. MEM Let’s Go Girls was reserve grand champion with Jeff Doyle in the irons for Laurel Malvezzi.

Marie Van de Mark and Kandle’s Emerson had it together for two sparkling performances to be named Morgan Amateur English Pleasure Grand Champions and qualifying winners. The New York based team defeated fellow New Yorkers Tenn-Mor Boutonniere and Catherine Kunkel for the tricolor.

Eight young riders tried their hands at the Morgan Junior Exhibitor Pleasure Saddle Championship (English or Western). Judge Steve Davis didn’t alter his decision from the first class as Foxhall Magellan and Maggie Cramer topped all challengers for the second time. Jackie Chase and Cherrydale Monterey Bay were twice reserve.

Drakkar Noir and Kristina Vine sure had an enjoyable weekend. They topped both the Morgan Pleasure Driving Championship and qualifier in addition to the Morgan Amateur Pleasure Driving Championship under the direction of Jeff Doyle. UC Top This and Katherine Bennett were reserve both times in the open ranks, while Amateur Pleasure Driving qualifying winner Enough Said, finished as reserve grand champion for Amanda Hill and trainers Jon and Sarah Lettre.

The ring was full each time a Classic Pleasure Saddle class was held. Leading the way for championship honors was the veteran Portrait In Red with Brynne Cummings. They moved up a few notches from the qualifier. Winner of the novice rider competition with Stephanie Burke, Fury’s Irish Rebel commanded reserve grand champion honors for rider Kaci Holbrook and owner Jim Allen. Elizabeth Tylawski and Manistee Blaze O’Glory were the top choice in the saddle qualifier before taking third in the deep championship round.

Switching places with qualifying winners, Eire Crest Center Stage and Roxanne Tubolino, CBMF Simple Pleasures and Sharon Fuhs marched a nice trot to take the Morgan Classic Pleasure Driving Championship.

Morgan Western Pleasure tricolor honors went to the blue ribbon winners, Equinox Beau Jangles and Kris Ann Jardin. Both times they were followed by Rivers Edge and Diana Zahradnik.


Three Morgan Hunter Pleasure classes were offered and there were three different winners. Black Ice and Sarah Adams had the biggest prize as grand champions. Kim Bernier and PAF Boomerang had a fluid performance to take the reserve grand championship. Kate La Rose and Carlyle Markedly won the amateur section and Leslie Potter’s Anton’s Back ‘N Black were tops in the novice class.

The Friesian contingent was also a part of the Conn. Summer Classic and there was a good group on hand. Occupying his usual spot in the winner’s circle was grand champion and qualifying winner Jorrit. This black beauty was presented by David Arnold for Lou and Delia Fox. Putting together two nice performances to take reserve in both classes were Goolitzer fon TeakesyL and Annika Bruggeworth.

There were numerous other open pleasure classes in all disciplines that were won by trainers and backyard owners alike. As long as people like Millie LeBoff are involved, the Grass Roots horse shows in New England will stay strong.


Complete results can be seen and searched by clicking on SHOW RESULTS.

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