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Des Moines Springfest Enjoys Big Numbers at New Facility

by Leeann Mione

DES MOINES, Iowa – Wow! Show chairman Susan Aschenbrenner and show manager Lenard Davenport were seen more than once during this year’s Des Moines Springfest Horse Show shaking their heads in near disbelief. The numbers were almost staggering. The 2011 version of this beloved show doubled their entries from last year and in addition – the report on the new facility was nothing but good news.

The brand new Jacobson Exhibition Center at the Iowa State Fairgrounds provided a beautiful, state-of-the-art facility for the Saddlebreds, Hackneys, equitation and Academy entries to showcase their skills in front of judge Steve Allred from Winston-Salem, N.C.

It seems that horse show exhibitors in Iowa and surrounding states have been waiting for years for a facility like this and they came out in droves to check it out. Several of the pleasure classes had more than 14 entries.

There were so many horses at the show that, in fact, there weren’t enough stalls available in the main barn so a few horses were stabled in the cattle barn. That turned out to be just fine with them – they had quick, easy access to warm up in the old arena and quick, easy access to the show ring.

Like any show that experiences growing pains, there are a few minor tweaks to be made and eventually more stalls will be added in the main barn which should allow all the horses to be stabled together. Minor tweaks are to be expected. A gorgeous, brand new facility that brought double the entries was unexpected…welcomed but unexpected.

The architecture of so many old fairground barns and arenas around the country provides a certain charm and sense of history. The designers of the new Jacobson Exhibition Center took that into account and did a beautiful job of making the new arena and warm up area match the style and the brick of the old facility.

The arena also had a huge skylight which provided lots of natural light during the afternoon sessions and delighted horse show photographer Terry Young. The skylight was monitored at all times from Germany by the facility designers and was slowly closed in a two hour process each day at the end of daylight so that there wouldn’t be a sudden transition from light to dark which might startle a horse or rider.

In addition to Davenport, Aschenbrenner, Allred and Young, other officials included announcer Brad Kinsinger, ringmaster Mark Weber, show secretary Barbara McDannald and organist Randy Roberts.

Pheasant Ridge Equine Clinic of Cumming, Iowa, served as the official show veterinarian and Sharyhill Shooters provided the videography.

The show benefited the Regional Child Protection Center at Blank Children’s Hospital in Des Moines. In order to help raise money, a "Pony Pitch" was held each evening with half the money going to the winning pony that landed closest to the target and half the money going to the hospital.

Hospitality at the show drew rave reviews and each event drew a big crowd. Julie Witthoff sponsored Thursday afternoon’s Taco Luncheon. Mary O’Keefe, Jeff Nall, Sally and Tom Graf hosted Thursday evening’s appetizer party. Dr. Alan and Dottie Raun hosted Friday afternoon’s Reedannland Luncheon and John and Susan Aschenbrenner hosted Friday evening’s dessert party. Heartland Stables and Timber Hills Farm hosted the junior exhibitor breakfast Saturday morning after the Academy session and the Phillips family sponsored the Saturday night exhibitor’s party.

Joe and Kathy Rhoades provided coffee and donuts each morning at the show office.

The Pony Pitch helped raise money for the show’s beneficiary and the show helped put a little money in trainer’s pockets. Following each session, trainer’s names were randomly drawn and the lucky winner received a $100 trainer’s purse. With six sessions total, the show gave away $600 as a way to say "Thank you for coming".

A hardworking, courteous and attentive staff combined with a great new facility got the entries there and worked to keep them happy. Allred was charged with evaluating them in the ring and making one team happy with the blue or tricolor ribbon. He had a difficult job with so many entries and such nice quality.

Saturday night’s finale, the Five-Gaited Stake was a great class with a beautiful group and they worked hard to earn the nod, but in the end it was the four-year-old Sundrop’s Gold Digger named as the grand champion. Scott Wendt, new to the Reedannland staff had the winning ride and when his number was called, the Reedannland fan club, including owners Laura and Natalie Poore, answered with a roar of approval.

Rocky Brannon piloted Mr. Co Co Fox to the reserve with a strong effort for owner Debbie Erickson.

Andy and Lynda Freseth brought a big group and they teamed up for blue and tricolor ribbons from several different divisions by show’s end including CH Carolina Cat’s amateur championship and ladies class victories for James Dellinger, Jr.

Desert Supreme Heart and Dorian Anderson were right there to take the reserve tricolor in the amateur stake under the direction of Cory Eickholt. They had previously earned the blue ribbon in the Novice Rider Five-Gaited class.

Missy Hughes led Ever Glades Farm to a big weekend in Des Moines and they also posted several wins including Here I Am Again and Marjorie Townsend’s Junior Exhibitor Five-Gaited Stake victory. CH Harlem’s Hot Ticket and Addam Van Ess won the junior exhibitor qualifier and returned to be the Junior Exhibitor Reserve Grand Champion under the direction of his mom Neva LaFleur.

Other winners in the five-gaited division included open winners She’s Sugar And Spice with Rick Wallen for Mike and Jane Schallock and amateur blue ribbon winner CH Keep Me Posted with owner Jean Ann Gunderson from LaFleur Stables.

In addition Al Capone won the Novice Horse class with Ray Krussell for Sue Worzalla, Soquili’s Southern Comfort was the junior horse champion with Bob Brison for Soquili Stables and I’m All Dressed Up won the UPHA Five-Gaited Classic with Brison up for Redwing Farm.

Harlem’s Ace Of Spades and Rob Kritzler claimed the Three-Gaited Stake victory for Delange/Krick.

Marjorie Townsend was back in the winner’s circle twice more for Ever Glades Farm, this time with her CH An Heir About Her. They won the Amateur/Junior Exhibitor Three-Gaited Stake and junior exhibitor qualifier. Trust In Love was the Amateur/Junior Exhibitor Reserve Grand Champion with Megan Dragich riding for Stephen and Megan Dragich. They showed under the direction of Mark and Toni Utoft.

Other winners in the three-gaited division included open champion Manhattan Spring and Jonelle Gardiner for Rachel Maxwell. Maxwell showed to the win in the novice rider class. In addition blue ribbons went to ladies champion The Distinguishing Mark with Amanda Simpson for Julie and Emma Phillips, amateur champion Princess Mia and Kristi Olson for Sherilyn and Thomas Nelson, junior champion Callaway’s Blue Moon Rising with Neva LaFleur for Dan and Marlene LaFleur and UPHA Classic champion So Smitten with Chuck Herbert up for Dr. Morgan Wolin.

Mark Utoft had the job of piloting Marty McFly to the tricolor win in the Three-Gaited Park Stake which hosted a very nice group. He rode for Deborah Jahn’s Seven Oaks Farm LLC after having taken the win in the open class earlier in the week. They were followed in the championship ribbons by Reserve Grand Champion Big Man On Campus and Neva LaFleur showing for Barb Hendrickson.

Heartland Stables, directed by trainer Amanda Simpson, brought a huge group to support the show and had numerous winners by Sunday afternoon’s finale including Amateur Park Grand Champion CH Shady Creek’s Genius. Owner Mary O’Keefe rode and also had the blue ribbon ride in the amateur qualifier.

Carolyn Miller and I Wish You Well teamed up to exit with the reserve tricolor from the amateur championship for co-owner Ernest Moore Jr. Living Trust. Chuck Herbert met them at the out gate after their reserve grand championship effort.

Callaway’s Ladies Choice claimed the final blue in the park division with the junior/novice horse win with Juve Turriabartes up for Landmark and Honaker.

Bob Brison met Ann Curl for the tricolor presentation when she drove Arc’s I Can Teach You To Tango for the victory in the Fine Harness Stake after having won the amateur class.

Other fine harness winners included open champion Memories Mirage with owner Josephine Musser, junior champion Cary’s Licorice Treat MBA with Rocky Brannon and UPHA Fine Harness Classic Champion Cara Carolina with Missy Hughes for Ever Glades Farm.

Lots of nice ponies made the trip to Des Moines and the wins were spread out amongst several barns showing in the various pony divisions.

WW It’s All About Me won the Roadster Pony Championship for owner Randy Wells. Dr. Alan Raun drove from Reedannland. Kim Herron drove Mighty Boomerang to the reserve streamers for owner and trainer Mike Herron.

CH Calvin Hobbs and Kevin Ingram turned in both winning performances in the amateur road pony division. They claimed the Amateur Grand Championship and Amateur Championship titles from Hollow Haven Farm for owner James R. Dellinger, Jr. Zeus and owner Cindy Cram, showing from Oakwoods Farm, were the reserve grand champions under the direction of Tim and Roxanne Lockard.

Remaining blue ribbons in the roadster pony division went to open winner The Wizard LF and Missy Hughes for Landon and Sarah Rowland after Marjorie Townsend drove the pony to win the AHHS medallion class.

JM’s Legacy, with owner and trainer Roger Lucas, won the UPHA Roadster Pony Classic and Unique Star Attraction won the AHHS under saddle medallion with Brynn Lunaas showing for Deborah Jahn.

Conqueror’s Colleen was on top of her game to keep the Reedannland wins coming. She topped the class in the Harness Pony Championship with Jaime Medina showing for Kathleen Zimpleman. They also won the open qualifier. Grace Bay and Gib Marcucci exited with the reserve title in the championship for owner Larry Schultz.

Wait & See’s Winter Day with Randy Wells and Twin Willow’s Bronson with Gib Marcucci showing for Whitthoff and Donohue claimed the final two ribbons in the harness pony division in the amateur class and UPHA Classic respectively.

CH Heartland Alluring and owner Deborah Jahn were the Hackney Pony Grand Champions and amateur qualifier winners from Reedannland. Remaining blue ribbons in the cob tail division went to open champion Heartland Undeniable with Kate Frieberg and UPHA Classic champion Heartland Code Breaker with Darrel Kolkman.

Velvet King and Peg Johnston were met by Dr. Raun when they were named the Hackney Pleasure Driving Pony Grand Champions. Jake Dachsteiner drove Finnagan Winnagan to reserve for Mark Dachsteiner from Landmark Farm.

Mayo Moctezuma not only directed several winners at the show he also celebrated his birthday on "May Day". Amy Weiler, driving from Moctezuma Stables for owner Dick Hegner, teamed Unique’s Fine N Fancy to the blue in the pleasure driving qualifier. Her son Garrett Weiler won the pleasure driving AHHS medallion class with Honest Impression. Darrel Kolkman drove Heartland Brass Tacks to the blue in the UPHA Classic and Avis Van Zomeren rode Reedann’s Special Delivery to the blue in the AHHS under saddle class for her parents Mark and Renae Van Zomeren.

The pleasure divisions featured really nice competitive classes and the big, new arena offered plenty of space for them to show off in front of Allred in an effort to take the titles.

CH Callaway’s Full Moon and Chris Varner topped the Five-Gaited Show Pleasure Stake with a strong team effort under the direction of Leigh Erickson. Champagne And Jewels and co-owner Andra Trakalo claimed the reserve streamers for Alexa Trakalo and they showed under the direction of Jared Ratzloff.

Que Pasa and Emily Collins won the adult qualifier and Heir Do won the junior exhibitor class with Paige Boyer up for Janet Danuser.

Robert Gardiner rode Take It Easy Baby to the winner’s circle in the Park Pleasure Stake for Cathy Klasek Design Ltd. Owner Jennifer Louw teamed The Supreme Rose to reserve in the competitive class.

The amateurs also faced deep water in their stake and qualifier and the tricolor went back to Rick Wallen Stables. CH Glinda The Good with owner Janene Steggeman up was called out as the Amateur Grand Champion. Bella Diva and Kristen Naros were named the reserve grand champions for Barrister Saddlebreds to add another reserve grand championship to the Cornerstone Stables total.

Other winners in the park pleasure division included open champion My Paramour with Sarah Track for William Woods University, amateur champion CH Pierre Cardin with Beth Bidon for Barb Hendrickson, junior/novice champion Three-Point Shooter with Andy Freseth up for Thomas Brock Jr. and Bella La Donna with Mayo Moctezuma up for Joe and Bette Russell’s Hickory Knoll Farm.

Morgan Wolin was twice victorious in the adult show pleasure division showing under the Cedarwood Farm banner. Schroeder won the adult stake and the 39 and over class. Callaway’s Blue Ginger and Amy Weiler were right there to be named reserve in the big stake class.

The Creekmore family, showing from Hollow Haven, had a very successful outing at Springfest with several wins to their credit by Sunday afternoon’s finale. Kaitlyn Creekmore and Be Advised won the 13 and under junior exhibitor class and then returned to win the Junior Exhibitor Three-Gaited Pleasure Championship for Thomas Brock Jr. Gospel Song and Madison Mulligan were next in line for a ribbon in the championship. They showed for owner Michelle Mulligan under the direction of trainer Marie Bouvet.

Wins in the show pleasure division also went to 18-38 champion CH Redesigned with Kristen Olson, 14-17 champion Shooter Jennings with Christine Smith for Brad and Mary Smith, novice champion Amberwood’s Cheque Mate with owner Lori Enger and junior horse champion I’m Absolutely On Phire with owner Dawn Striegel.

Irresistible Design debuted with Elizabeth James Lipscomb in the show pleasure driving division and they made it a clean sweep with both wins under the direction of the Freseths. Mysterious Memories and Doug Fiola claimed the reserve tricolor for owner Sarah Shippy and they were met at the out gate by Ratzloff after their drive.

Joanne Weiner had the winning ride with Tova’s Priceless Gem in the Five-Gaited Country Pleasure Stake and open class to add two more wins to trainer Cory Eickholt’s total. Mr. Smarty Pants and Sandy Dyer headed back to Mark Utoft Stables to hang their reserve tricolor on the tack room wall.

The adults and junior exhibitors had their own qualifiers and championships in the country pleasure division and like the show pleasure adult riders, the adults were split into two age groups.

CH Jessie Cole and Amanda Dellinger turned it on to claim the adult championship tricolor after having won the 18-38 class for James Dellinger Jr.

CH Hard Day’s Night TS, with Gloria White showing from Krussell Stables, was the first horse out of the gate after being named the reserve grand champion for owner and breeder Jayne Tillman and Tillman Stables LLC.

Harlem’s Miss Abigail and Mia Clementi topped the Junior Exhibitor Championship and they showed for owner Nancy Leigh Fisher from Hollow Haven to give Team Freseth both country pleasure championship titles to their credit. Garrett Weiler and CH Salt Heir put together the Junior Exhibitor Reserve Grand Championship effort from Moctezuma Stables.

Mary Strohfus swept the amateur owned and trained division with her wins with Sienna Gold.

Other under saddle winners in the country pleasure division included 39 and over champion The Victory Pass with Dr. Michelle Sprengelmeyer from Rick Wallen Stables, junior exhibitor champion Lilly’s Castle with Elizabeth Iversen for co-owner Kristy Iversen and novice horse champion CH Sapphire On Ice and Kate Meints for co-owner James Natoli.

Susan Aschenbrenner worked very hard with fellow staff members and a very dedicated group of volunteers to make the show a success and she had show ring success in her own right. Under the direction of Amanda Simpson, Aschenbrenner and CH Callaway’s Cumulus swept the country pleasure driving division for Dreamacres LLC. CH Will’s No Doubt About It and Doug Fiola followed in the championship ribbon count for Fiola and Timmington.

Mary Strohfus added to her win count at the show in the western pleasure division and claimed the Western Country Pleasure Stake and Shatner class wins with Harlem’s Hot Prince. Open winner Whiskey Tango was the reserve grand champion with Joetta Smith showing for Eleven’s Destiny Farm. Tango was directed to the reserve title by trainer Lisa Hillmer of Linden Hill.

French Phi and Becky Petteway won the Western Country Pleasure Amateur Owned and Trained Stake and CH Well Spoken took the blue in the qualifier with Kitty Theis.

Additional winners in performance classes included Hunter Seat Classic Champion Otter Creek’s Yankee Clipper with owner Deborah McConnell, Saddlebred Open Pro-Am Champion Amazed with Jade Woods for Deb Yount Woods, Three-Gaited Training class winner Sentimental Charm with owner/trainer Greg Haston and walk and trot training class for two- and three-year-olds Gabriella’s Great Day with Jennifer Louw for Greg Carstensen.

The open-to-any-breed classes, as has been typical in recent years, were very well filled and competitive.

Todd Perkins had the winning ride from Centre Pointe in the OTAB Adult English Pleasure Stake. He rode Without You for owner Michelle Winer. Turn Up The Heir, ridden by Gretchen Bentz from LaFleur Stables, was second in the stake for owner Teresa Atkin. Neva LaFleur rode to the win in the 39 and over qualifier.

Merchant’s Perfect Picture and Emily Cusick won the open junior exhibitor stake for Leann Delange and showed under the direction of Rob Kritzler. Sultan’s Flashback and Elizabeth Johnson were reserve.

More winners from the under saddle open breed classes included 18-38 champion Rosemont’s Mystre and Corie Allen for Rick Wallen, novice rider champion Reedann’s Yes You May with Carly Fettig for William Woods, junior exhibitor qualifier winner Mercantile Exchange with Kennedy Biederman for co-owner Dale Biederman and junior exhibitor novice rider champion Jessica McClintock with Macey Ronnkvist for Tom/Lezlie and Macey Ronnkvist. CH Heir’s Halo and Ashley Creekmore won two classes; the 10 and Under Walk and Trot English Pleasure and 10 and Under Walk and Trot Pleasure class.

Wings Of A Hawk and Kerri Gillis won both the championship and qualifier open breed pleasure driving classes for owner Kandi Rust and they were followed in the championship ribbons by Jurgen II Fan Henswoude with owner Wendy Finch Levis.

CH Well Spoken and Kitty Theis were the OTAB Western Pleasure Grand Champions and Joannie Moore rode Great Day In Harlem to the reserve streamers in the stake. Smith and Whiskey Tango took the blue in the open qualifier.

Jenna De Roos and Dreamacres Scott Joplin won the OTAB Hunter Pleasure Stake and qualifier. McConnell and Otter Creek’s Yankee Clipper added the reserve grand championship title to their total in Des Moines.

A hardworking group of equitation riders made the trip to Springfest and they did a great job in their respective classes in the rail work and workouts when required.

Brooke Boyer was met by Kent Swalla after she was named the Saddle Seat Equitation Grand Champion and 17 & Under winner riding The Crowd Favorite. Kelsey Lang, riding My Amarillo under the direction of Carey Dughman, exited as the equitation reserve grand champion.

Afton Greif and teammate Game Day won the UPHA 17 and Under Challenge Cup showing under the direction of Rob Kritzler and Jennifer Nelson rode Xander to the blue ribbon in the adult equitation class.

Harriet Townsend claimed two more wins for Ever Glades Farm when she was named the winner of both the 10 and Under Walk and Trot Equitation Grand Champion and Walk and Trot Challenge Cup champion with Azure Dreams. Delaney Fitzgerald and Desert Light were directed by Jonnie Surland to the walk and trot championship reserve finish.

Rachel Farner, showing from Timber Hills, was the Pleasure Equitation Grand Champion and rode Zenobia Victorious to victory in the class. Timber Hills teammate Nadine Van Zomeren won the Saddle & Bridle Pleasure Equitation Medallion with her horse Magic Phevor. Taylor Crone and Miss Goldie Hawn were directed by Dick Wallen, who just celebrated his 90th birthday in February of this year, to the Pleasure Equitation Reserve Grand Championship.

Kaitlyn Creekmore and Something In The Heir were the 17 & Under champions for Thomas Brock Jr. and they also won the UPHA Pleasure Challenge Cup.

What a fantastic success the 2011 Des Moines Springfest ended up to be. An absolutely beautiful new facility brought owners, trainers and exhibitors to Des Moines in record numbers and they enjoyed great hospitality and great competition for four days in Iowa to raise money for charity and continue the march towards Freedom Hall in August.

Lenard Davenport, Susan Aschenbrenner and the many, many volunteers and staff who worked so hard to make the show such a success deserve the accolades they received from those that attended and for those of you who didn’t, you should mark your calendars for next year.

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