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Dayton Horse Show: Where Tradition and Hospitality Rule

by Claire Panke

DAYTON, Ohio – A much appreciated break in the weather welcomed exhibitors back to the Montgomery County Fairgrounds for the venerable Dayton Horse Show. Relaxing beneath giant shade trees on the green hills overlooking the show arena, basking in balmy breezes, enjoying the show’s free , it’s hard to reconcile this idyllic scene with the reality that this is the 21st century and one is downtown in a major Midwestern city.

But these are just a few of the unique charms of this historic show grounds. Other attractions include a hard working show committee that pours on the hospitality and parties, unique and beautiful awards, an extensive and easy class schedule, new stalls, a $1,500 Trainer Bonus and a convenient location at the convergence of several show circuits – the show is easy to get to and easy to enjoy once you’re there. There are local attractions to explore as well, including King’s Island and the Air Force Museum. Last, and hardly least, the Dayton show hosts audience-friendly added attractions such as the popular Cowgirl Express – they really do try to get the general public into the grandstand every night. James Investments was a major corporate sponsor with a large party tent at ringside for their employees and guests.

Held this year Aug. 4-7, Dayton has been hurt in past years by the calendar crunch that can occur as USEF-sanctioned shows and county fair dates collide in late summer. Local exhibitors have always remained fiercely loyal to this show and there are certainly enough good Saddlebreds, Morgans and Hackneys in central Ohio alone to have a nice event without outside participation. But in recent years the Dayton Horse Show has seen an uptick in popularity as former exhibitors from across the region return and new barns from other states test the waters before the rigors of the Kentucky State Fair. It was especially nice to see several major Kentucky barns from the show’s glory days back at Dayton. Quality, if not quantity, was certainly up at this year’s show and management should be pleased that their hard work has paid off.

One of the show’s newer traditions, which has proved especially meaningful to long time exhibitors, is the establishment of the Dayton Horse Show Hall of Fame. Central Ohio, and the Dayton show in particular, have been blessed with a grand group of horseman. Three of these worthies were welcomed into that select group of honorees for 2010: Kathryn Schwartz, nationally recognized Morgan trainer and longtime exhibitor; Walter "Skeeter" Williams, the tri-state area’s popular and only recently ringmaster and exhibitor; and Jackie Hammond, prominent exhibitor of Hackneys and Saddlebreds, mother of Joan Hammond, of River Bend Farm fame.

Manager Evette Moody, assistant manager Wade Flory and secretary Barbara Dunham form the nucleus of the team that keeps this show running smoothly. Joining them this year was Nancy Noble as USEF steward, David "Tuffy" Owens as announcer and Tim Schubert as ringmaster. Doug Shiflet returned to snap the pictures in center ring while Chip Mohler of CLM Video Productions was back to record the classes. Steve Moody took time from managing the Blue Ribbon Classic to fill in as organist. Judging all divisions was Dick Obeauf of Ringwood, Ill.

Bringing the show to a grand conclusion was the Open Five-Gaited Stake with the beautiful grey Caught Travelin, reserve in the amateur qualifier, challenging Right Laine, bold winner of the ladies event. Smoothly racking away with the tricolor this night was Caught Travelin, teamed by trainer Ed Millet for owner Sue Ward, while Renee Zubrod and Right Laine had to settle for reserve. Ashley Dickenson was aboard Right Laine for the ladies class victory.

Lisa May had the key to Heir To The Moon as they swept the amateur qualifier and championship in fine form. Ed Millet Stables proved a force in the gaited division. In addition to the grand championship win, Lisa Millet captured the open class with CF In Rare Form, Ed Millet and Our Favorite Memory carried out the blue ribbon in the junior class, and Ed and I’ll Bet You took the UPHA Classic. All three named above are the proud property of Kathy Cummins.

Speaking of winning streaks, Steve Demjen Stables enjoyed a sparkling stake night as Demjen and CH Broadway’s Mamma Mia marched down victory lane in the Open Three-Gaited Championship. Stacey Bare’s black mare has been strong in the amateur ranks but proved a double winner at Dayton in the open classes. Reserve in both the open and stake was the high trotting bay stallion Kalarama’s Superman, with Cindy Maloney riding for long time show supporters Frank and Iris James.

Many times champion Mega Volt and Corey Coovert have been knocking at the door all summer. Here they were convincing winners in the Amateur Three-Gaited Championship, capping their amateur qualifier win earlier in the week. The elegant bay Sir Yes Sir and Jamie Wise Lanier stepped up to the amateur reserve championship while Dana Baer and Maxed Out took the red ribbon in the qualifier. Summer’s First Impression and Audrey Moses came back from a reserve in the Junior Exhibitor Three-Gaited class to capture a big win in the junior exhibitor championship. The sporty In A Minute took the junior exhibitor qualifier and earned the reserve tricolor in the championship.

The park division was hard fought with Danette Musselman and Seaworthy’s Captain Jack turning in two bold performances to command the open qualifier and open championship. Hard on their heels in both classes were Whole Lotta Love and Renee Zubrod for Fair Island Farm. The personality plus Tango Blues is having his best year ever in Amateur Park. Owner Stephanie Wright teamed him perfectly to take the Amateur Park Championship tricolor and qualifier blue ribbon. Susan Hall and Carmac’s Counterclaim took the reserves in both classes back to Kentucky.

Jacquie Hawkes’s young mare HS She Be Bad was a top junior park horse in 2009, but at Dayton she changed to the Fine Harness division – a match made in heaven as she scored two exciting wins in the open and championship with Steve Demjen on the lines. Danette Mussellman drove the Ohio State Fair junior harness winner, Memphis Gal, to the reserve championship for her brother, Dan. Jimmy Robertson and The Easy Button were good to capture reserve in the Open Fine Harness qualifier. Can’t Catch Me and Betsy Reynolds were in the winner’s circle for the Amateur Fine Harness Championship and preliminary. Freddie R Puddles continued his stellar season, trotting away with the Junior Fine Harness blue for Jim McIntosh and owner Linda Lewis. Worthy Of Success and John Penewit took the red ribbon. The UPHA Fine Harness Classic went to hometown favorite Brookhill’s Who’s Your Daddy, driven by Nelson Green for pleased owners Frank and Iris James. Steve Demjen had the reserve in the UPHA Classic with Virtual Caress for Travis Smith.

The Five-Gaited Pleasure Championship proved to be a rousing finale with several top horses dueling it out. Rising to the occasion with a bold performance were an ecstatic Andrea Bittker and her The First Fling, taking the trophy back to Infinity Stables tack room. The gifted Superior Revelation and Joan Hammond had it all their own way in the Five-Gaited Pleasure qualifier but had to settle for reserve in the stake. 2009 Tri-State Champions Leslie Reynolds and Wild Irish Dream were a good reserve in the qualifying class.

Steal My Thunder has been one of the very best in the Park Pleasure division. Trained and shown by John Field, she proved her mettle again at Dayton, earning the open and championship for owner Martha Reynolds. The personality plus filly I’m Satori will be the future mount of Aleia Brown, but she’s doing just fine in the Junior Park Pleasure classes for Erin Richey this season, taking the junior plus the Park Pleasure Reserve Championship. Reese Richey guided Our Queen Of Everything to the reserve in the open. Designed For Magic cast a spell with Helen Robertson to get the reserve in the junior class for owners Mary Ann and Charles Cronan.

Crystal Blue and Jessica Sexton turned in a winning performance to capture the Amateur Park Pleasure class for Frank and Iris James. Daylight’s Ugottalikeme and Liz Thomas garnered the second slot for Mike and Carla Mcintosh. The UPHA Classic showed the promise of a nice group of youngsters. James and Shawn Stachowski’s Kalarama’s McSteamy marched to the blue ribbon and earned a berth in the Classic finals. Renee Zubrod made a strong case for Carl Meyer in the reserve spot for Fair Island Farm. Svetlana made a comeback after being second in the preliminary to wear the tricolor in the Park Pleasure Driving Championship for driver Joe Lavery and owner Richard Baltierra. Mat Schuckert had Sarah Wise’s A New Gentleman just right to top the Park Pleasure Driving class.

Numbers were up in the Three-Gaited Pleasure division as well as the quality. A top field of adult contenders returned for their championship, one of the strongest events on stake night. Adult winners Stonecroft Front And Center and Chelsea Patterson faced off against the reserve qualifiers CH Rhianna and Jessica Wilson. A bold performance garnered CH Rhianna and Wilson the tricolor and trophy while Front And Center and Patterson had to be content with the reserve. The sporty She’s High Fashion and Avery Campbell were highly compelling as they took top honors in the junior exhibitor class and juvenile championship. Steel A Moment and Madison Barthe claimed the reserves. Juicy Fruit and Karen Thompson topped a good class of limit horses over the promising Ro & Me’s Kiss Of Abundance and Lindsey Haupt

Dan Hall drove Harlem’s Night Cap to the winner’s circle in the Show Pleasure Driving Championship, capturing the trophy for D E S P Saddlebreds under the direction of Keith Harger. Paige Bundy took a break from her own Chantilly Lilly to pilot Ron Markarewicz’s Impertaive to the blue ribbon in the pleasure driving qualifier, returning for a reserve in the championship. Harlem’s Night Cap had the red ribbon in the qualifier.

Kazoom! zoomed to the top of the Country Pleasure section, claiming the limit and the adult championship in fine fashion for Kelsey Nelson. I Mean To Show had the reserve adult championship as well as the red in the AOT class for Raeanne Stengel. Carrie Mathes teamed Joan Todd’s Heir Express to reserve in the limit. The aptly named and consistent She’s Extra Charming and Nichole Sedivic accounted for the adult blue, with Mad Night Out and Andrea Bittler in second. The amateur-owner-trainers had their own time to shine, as The Picadilly Ritz took the blue ribbon back to Michigan for Roxanne Feldkamp.

Ann Leigh Amrein turned in a pleasure perfect ride on her high stepping Callaway’s Fox Jackson to emerge with top honors in the Junior Exhibitor Country Pleasure class and championship. Arrowhead’s Unwrapped claimed the reserve championship for rider Lexie DeCamp and owner Mary Kay Zimmerly. Lenore’s Whoopla and Kate Sharp grabbed the reserve in the qualifier. Kaelin Jansen drove her cute, white-trimmed Eccentric Heir JJW to the tricolor in the Country Pleasure Driving Championship and qualifier. Iris James and Theology drove away with the reserves in both classes.

Handsome Mister Joe Cool and Jill Wilson were in the spotlight for the Country Western Pleasure Championship over the Mr. Threadman and Taylor Boyer. The elegant Threadman and Boyer had the edge in the qualifier, taking the blue back to Roselane Farm over Mister Joe Cool. Only a four-year-old, Too Wong Foo has been coming on strong in the hunter division, adding the Dayton Hunter Country Pleasure Championship to his accolades for Terry Meade and Bob Price. ISO Full Of Potential earned a pair of reserves in the stake and preliminary. Winners of the hunter qualifying class, Corey Coovert and Staffordshire are enjoying their best year yet on their way to the finals in St. Louis.

The Hackney Ponies have quite a strong base in this area, so even with Illinois State Fair and its lucrative Midwest Futurity only a few days away, the ponies enjoyed a good turnout at Dayton. It’s Go Time is no stranger to the winner’s circle, visiting it many times with his former owner, and now back in the spotlight for Ginny Lidinsky as he sped away with the Amateur Roadster Pony blue and open championship. The talented Regal’s Lucifer LF and Beth Jones took the open qualifier but had to be content with reserve in the championship. Brett Van Gordon gave Turbo Blue two a great drives to capture the junior exhibitor championship and qualifier over reserve champions Bentley and Audrey Moses.

The exquisite Mi Leonardo looks like a miniature fine harness horse, so it’s no surprise owner Linda Lewis teamed him to the Open Harness Pony Championship and amateur wins. This was the second year they took the championship and the third year in a row for the amateur honors. Late Night’s Midnight Mist and Kim Becker drove up for the reserve championship, with David Estis and Leather And Lace primed for reserve in the amateur. Matt Schuckert had the snappy Sincerity looking bright to capture the Open Harness Pony class for Terri Thomas. Fresh from the championship title at Ohio State Fair, The Final Contender scored double wins for Linda Lewis in the Hackney Pony Championship and the amateur class. Dun-Haven Awesome King and Ryan Hoffard drove away with the red ribbon for Kim Becker in the amateur class.

Beth Jones and the letter perfect Heartland Spindazzle could not be denied in the Hackney Pleasure Driving Championship and the adult qualifier. Kim Becker and Kilbro’s Patent Leather were a good reserve in the stake, while Jackie Hammond and Heartland Showboat had the red ribbon in the adult. Taylor Russell earned the judge’s nod in the AHHS Youth Medallion Pleasure Driving with Autumnwood’s Rumor Has It for Beth Jones. Wild Wind and Katie Sharp were close behind in second. The impressive Bella Dona Fine and Jim McIntosh took the Hackney Park Pleasure Driving Championship and qualifier for owner Linda Lewis.

Sarah Wise and Driving Miss Emma continued their onslaught of the Hackney Country Pleasure division as they score the preliminary and the championship under the direction of Matt and Alicia Schuckert. Heartland Center Attraction and Denise Sharp captured the reserves in this division.

Hallie Sansbury made it three years in a row as she cruised through the rail work and pattern to claim victory in the Saddle Seat Equitation Championship. Fellow Cape Cod competitor Aleia Brown grabbed the reserve championship. Kristen Smith topped a good UPHA Challenge Cup class to take the blue back to Zubrod Stables. Jordyn Broten grabbed the red ribbon in the UPHA but earned a trip to the NHS finals with a winning performance in the Good Hands qualifier. Alexa Stumler claimed victory in the Pleasure Equitation class with Kristen Broten settling for second. Maisie Benfield was a poised and confident Walk & Trot Equitation Champion, with an ever improving Jordyn Isrigg capturing the reserve championship.

The Morgan division was not large but could boast several fine performances. JDS Cosa Nostra and Melinda Hyde turned in a smooth performance to claim the English Pleasure Championship and open for Debbie Lamay. MHS Nobleman and Rebekkah McKinley were reserve champions. Madakyn Boyert and Minion Valentino got the judge’s nod in the amateur class for owner Brian Stewart, followed by King Lehr’s Bravado and Shelby Hoge. Art Hatton drove Rocky Ridge Farm’s JMF Arctic Fox to a pair of blues in the pleasure driving division. Jax Treasure Hunt and Trisha Hess took home the wins in the Classic Saddle classes, while Art Hatton turned in another brace of winning drives to capture the blues in Classic Driving with Loaded Question.

Kathryn Schwartz is a familiar face in Dayton’s winner’s circle. She rode Ultra’s EZ Does It to the Morgan Western Pleasure Championship and preliminary over Playboy’s Desperado and Abby Adkins. DRF Divine Design and Elaine Rosier had the winning ride in the western amateur class. Rosedust Fistfullodollars was triple threat for Fiona Foster, grabbing the Morgan Hunter Championship, as well as the open and amateur wins. Jax Treasure Hunt was reserve in the open and championship.

The beautiful black Friesians enjoyed their own division at Dayton. William F C and Elizabeth Sites rode out with the blue ribbon in the Friesian English Pleasure Open. The gorgeous Marko and Linda Lewis claimed yet another first place in the driving class. Connie Smith and Merlin revisited the winners circle for Beth Jones in the Pleasure Walk & Trot.

Saturday morning was the domain of the academy division with both local and out of state instructors bringing riding students to the show. A nice feature at Dayton was that the winners and their parents were guests of honor later on Saturday, during stake night. The academy riders received their awards and were photographed in center ring, and meanwhile riders and parents got to see nice show horses in an elegant setting.

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