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Devon – The News Is Encouraging!

by Leeann Mione

DEVON, Pa. – This year’s Devon Horse Show boasted some of the best numbers in recent years in the Saddlebred division including the big 12-horse field in the Three-Gaited Country Pleasure Championship and adult qualifier and 15 horses in the Three-Gaited Show Pleasure Championship and adult class.

Those numbers were encouraging and lessened the disappointment somewhat for the light number of ponies that made the trip to Devon. The Friends Of Devon once again put together a fabulous exhibitors’ party Friday night and in addition to an enormous buffet that included everything from jumbo shrimp cocktail to strawberry shortcake, those in attendance also had the opportunity to bid on live and silent auction items.

A week-long stay in Paris, France at a luxury apartment drew the highest bids. Gary Hill paid $1,700 for the item. Annika Bruggeworth bought a gorgeous antique 18kt gold double horse head pin with ruby eyes that had been appraised at between $3,800 and $4,200 and was donated by Minna Hankin.

Other items donated included a Chico’s gift bag, White House Black Market gift bag which included a $250 gift certificate, a horse item gift basket from Shelbyville Horse Supply, a cooler filled with Moet & Chandon Champagne, two champagne flutes, caviar and crackers and a stall at the Children’s Benefit Horse Show was also up for bid. The live auction items raised more than $3,800 to help provide money for next year’s party and the many nice things the show does for owners, trainers and exhibitors.

The show works hard to make those who attend feel welcomed and appreciated, and several wonderful gift bags were presented, in addition to cash prizes, at Friday night’s party. Jan Lukens received $500 for bringing the most number of horses and Rodney Hicks picked up $250 for bringing the most ponies.

Each barn also received a really nice "Welcome Basket" from the Friends Of Devon, filled with goodies. A gesture to reinforce how much those who came to the show were appreciated and supported.

Robert Gardiner, of Landmark Farms, received a gift bag for coming to Devon for the first time. According to Gardiner, he’ll be back next year as well. "I really like this horse show. It’s like going back in time. In the horse industry, especially in the Chicago area, we’ve lost the formality, the "properness" of doing things like this show. I’m a traditionalist so I appreciate the traditions of this show. I don’t even mind the weather or the fact that the hunters and jumpers share the schedule because it’s like stepping back into yesteryear."

Annika and Scott Bruggeworth, also huge supporters of the show, once again hosted their "Welcome Party" Thursday evening, complete with food, champagne and live music, and the party drew a big group. There was even more reason to celebrate at the party this year. Not only was their farm, Siren Song, represented for the first time at the show, but Siren Song trainer Billy Greenwell and his wife, Karen, celebrated their 30th anniversary during the show. Billy gave Karen a beautiful strand of pearls to commemorate the "pearl" anniversary.

Jan Lukens also presented Finally A Prince, a son of Finally Attached, to the crowd. Purchased during the show by the Bruggeworths, and shown to the Ladies Three-Gaited Reserve Championship by Lukens, he proudly showed off for the group complete with a big pink ribbon around his neck.

So many people came together at Devon after having worked very hard all year to make sure the show was a success and this year they had to feel encouraged by the numbers.

Misdee Wrigley Miller, a longtime supporter of the show, not only brought her coaching horses and performance horses but also again provided all the championship coolers for the winners.

Despite Thursday night’s rain that delayed the start of Friday’s classes until early evening, the majority of exhibitors stayed and took the delay in stride. The Dixon Oval at Devon has a remarkable ability to withstand a great deal of rain and this year, conditions would have been just fine but for an unexpected problem with the drainage system.

James Hale made the trip from Alabama to judge the Saddlebreds, Hackneys and roadsters and braved both the rain and the sun all week to select the winners.

The Friday night finale, the Five-Gaited Stake, was moved to Saturday evening and the Friday night coaching classes, including the Coaching Championship, were cancelled but the other classes were held Friday evening and the session actually ended at about the same time it had been scheduled.

Mother Nature, however, provided an absolutely beautiful day Saturday and the ring was dry and ready to host a full slate of classes including the Five-Gaited Stake. Attache’s Crown Royal, with Billy Greenwell riding, defended his open win to make it two for two for Park Avenue Partners after a powerful performance. The big powerful mare Pucker Up was reserve with Robert Gardiner riding for Jonelle Chovanec Gardiner and Paul Chovanec.

Perfectly Designed won the UPHA Pink Ribbon Ladies Five-Gaited class for owner and trainer Jan Lukens, who presented to the win and also received a "Pink Ribbon" gift basket to go along with the winning ribbons.

Lakeview’s Rare-A-Phi was the Amateur Five-Gaited Grand Champion for the third year in a row. Directed by Larry Hodge of Kalarama Farm, Misdee Miller rode to the victory after having also won the amateur qualifier. Naughty and Alexis Pearson teamed up to be named the reserve grand champions.

Mr. Co-Co Foxx won the junior/novice horse class for Landmark Farms with Robert Gardiner in the irons to close out the division.

Gardiner wasn’t done winning yet. He rode his own VHF Belle Epoque to the blue and tricolor wins as the Three-Gaited Grand Champion and open champion. Valentino Red and Krista Dent were the reserve grand champions from Little Lexington Farm for Carson Kressley.

Cater Stables made the trip to Devon last year for the first time and one of their winners was Golden Market in the Junior/Novice Three-Gaited class for Catherine McCool. This year, Golden Market was the Ladies Three-Gaited Champion with McCool riding.

Robin McKenzie Vuillermet and Callaway’s Born With Style returned again this year under the direction of Mercer Springs to defend their Amateur Three-Gaited Grand Championship and amateur champion titles from last year and they were successful on both counts. Hillcroft Claret and Misdee Miller exited as the reserve grand champions under the direction of Kalarama. Forever Foxy and Elizabeth Ververeli, from Revelation Farms, won the junior exhibitor class for Ververeli Consulting.

Smith Lilly directed another winner and this time he was both trainer and exhibitor. He rode Reedann’s Heir To Glory to the Park Championship and open wins for Gary and Tammie Kale. It was the second year in a row that Lilly swept the open park division, winning last year with Cape Grace. Limebank King Of Clubs turned in a strong effort in the competitive class to be named the reserve grand champion for Annika Bruggeworth. Greenwell rode for the title.

CH His Supreme Reflection also defended his tricolor title from last year as the Amateur Three-Gaited Park Grand Champion. Tom Sworm put the winning team in the ring and Jacqueline Manzo was up for owner Kimberly Jones. Sue Me and Annika Bruggeworth took the reserve streamers for Siren Song.

Vernon Wise had the winning drive in the Fine Harness Championship with The Wings Of The Dove. It’s Ballistic, the 2007 Five-Gaited Reserve Grand Champion with Gary Garone up, finished as the 2009 Fine Harness Open Reserve Champion with Kyle Gagnon driving for Rick Daigle in their only appearance.

Rachel Shoemaker has been showing and supporting Devon for years and she teamed My Silver Sea to the Fine Harness Reserve Grand Championship for Sarah Coxe Lange, one of the "Friends Of Devon". Meadowlake Farm assistant trainer, Richmond DeHart, put Shoemaker and My Silver Sea in the ring.

The ultra-feminine Hillcroft Crown Jewel, a daughter of multi-titled fine harness World’s Champion CH Our Canary Diamond, swept the amateur fine harness division with Misdee Miller handling both drives from Kalarama Farm for Hillcroft Farm.

Charles Jones had a very successful show with his multiple entries including Amateur Fine Harness Reserve Grand Champion The Top Shelf, from Lukens Stables. Jones’s wins kept coming in the road horse division. He drove Mr’s Bones to the tricolor in the Roadster To Bike Championship under Lukens’s direction after winning the amateur qualifier.

Nealia McCracken directed Jason Molback and Detonator to the blue in the open class and they returned in the open championship to finish with the reserve streamers to add to the Northwind Stables list.

Vicki Gillenwater was called upon to drive Rodney Hicks’s Kilbro’s Be Impressive and she teamed the pony to the wins in the Roadster Pony Championship and open class for Rodney Hicks Stables. Gillenwater had a busy week at Devon, showing her own entries to numerous top ribbons as well.

Joe Harrod and Heartland River Dance have only been together for a short time, but they continued the wins for Rodney Hicks Stables when they were named as the Amateur Roadster Pony Grand Champions after having won the amateur class earlier in the week for Susanne Harrod. Kristen Cater, along with her husband, David, directed her dad, Don Spann, to a reserve tricolor drive with Dun-Haven Highly Impressive.

Kathy Comeau and Truly Naughty By Nature were the Harness Pony Grand Champions and also won the amateur class from Rodney Hicks Stables.

When Marjorie Kenney’s number was called out as the winner in the Amateur Hackney Pony Championship with Exhilarating, announcer Peter Fenton told the big Devon crowd that the blue ribbon was the sixth in a row for Kenney at Devon. She drove Romeo’s Warrior LF to win the class in 2004 and 2005 and drove The Marksman to the blue ribbon as the amateur champion in 2005, 2006 and 2007. Kenney and Exhilarating returned in the Amateur Hackney Pony Stake and also in the open stake and they captured both tricolors. Stablemate Strictly Business and Sharon Francis finished with the reserve streamers in the amateur and open stake to give Rodney Hicks Stables a one-two punch in both championships.

Vicki Gillenwater sat behind another winning pony at Devon and this time the wins were on behalf of her Scenic View Farm. Jacques VanNiekerk directed Picture Perfect and Gillenwater to the Hackney Pleasure Driving Pony Championship and qualifier wins. Miss Excellence, winner of the championship and qualifier from 2005-2008, was named the reserve grand champion with Janet Crawford Hicks.

The pleasure division at Devon was awesome with numbers and depth in class after class. It was great to see so many horses competing and former, current and perhaps future world’s champions in the mix. The Devon crowd appreciates a good horse, no matter the breed and they enthusiastically cheered the competitors on.

The Five-Gaited Pleasure Stake featured four of the six horses who showed in the qualifier and they entertained the crowd. Allison Ehle and Titleist Right Tonight, fresh off their win at Bonnie Blue in a single appearance, captured the Five-Gaited Pleasure Championship under the direction of Michael and Jessie Richardson of Revelation Farms. Brittany Kale and Spirit Of New York PSF were next in line for a ribbon and took the reserve tricolor streamers under the direction of Mercer Springs Farm. Smith and Alexandra Lilly had already directed them to the win in the qualifier as well.

Mercer Springs also had the honor of representing the winner of the biggest division at the show, the three-gaited pleasure division. Ceil Wheeler was asked to show My Stiletto for owner Kathryn Sterba and she won the 15-entry championship after having won the qualifier. Margaret Biggs and her entry, (SA) Sultan’s Zorba, last year’s Fine Harness Reserve Grand Champion, were right there for the reserve grand championship title under the Lukens Stables banner. Ellzabeth Ververeli teamed Unlisted Number to the blue ribbon in the junior exhibitor class for Kathleen Ververeli to add another win to the Revelation Farms ribbon count.

C. Michael and Laurie Behr also contributed to the Lukens Stables win count when Laurie Behr drove Tangled Dreams to the win in the Show Pleasure Driving qualifier then returned to take the tricolor in the stake.

Jacqueline Manzo continued her great week by piloting At First Sight to the win in the competitive 12-entry Country Pleasure Championship from Tom Sworm Stables. Like the show pleasure division, the country pleasure horses had loads of talented entries to compete against and just earning a ribbon was an impressive accomplishment.

Allyson Ehle also continued a great week at Devon and teamed Sir Winston C to the win in the big adult qualifier before returning to be named the reserve grand champion in the stake.

Revelation Farms stable mate The Bluesmaster, with Valarie Nuno up, won the junior exhibitor class for owner Kathleen Ververeli.

Robert Gardiner selected Jessica Moctezuma to catch drive He’s Got It All for owner Lauren Bohne, and Moctezuma expertly guided Bohne’s entry straight to the winner’s circle in the Country Pleasure Driving Championship and qualifier. Vicki Gillenwater drove her Scenic View Farm entry, Callaway’s Show Me State, to the reserve tie in the stake.

North Wind Stables put all three entries in the ring for the Western Country Pleasure Stake and Nealia McCracken watched daughter Jessica Moctezuma add two more wins to her total for the week. She rode I’m Going Out Tonight for owner Margory Brown and claimed the Western Country Pleasure Championship and qualifier. CH A Magic Surprise and Theresa Scott teamed up for owner Pat Johnson to take the reserve title in the championship.

In the Friesian division, Gooitzen Fan Teakesyl successfully defended his wins from last year with Annika Bruggeworth and was named the Friesian Pleasure Saddle Grand Champion and amateur champion for Friesian Season and Siren Song Stable.

Bruggeworth’s entry Brend V gave Friesian Season the one-two finish in the championship when Meredith Dougherty’s number was called out as the reserve grand champion. Owner Laurie Statam headed down victory lane in the Friesian Open Pleasure Saddle class with Dash Dip Rock to close out the division.

The Carriage driving classes are always very popular with the big Devon crowd and one of the things that make the Devon Horse Show so unique and appealing. Misdee Miller and her various entries had a very successful show despite the disappointing cancellation of Friday’s classes including the Coaching Championship. Bill Ginns, from Leicester, England, judged the coaching classes and horse division of the carriage pleasure driving.

Miller drove her Dutch Harness Horses hitched to a shooting brake to win the Marathon Championship Drive Off after having won the Marathon Unicorn/Four In Hand class under the direction of Todd Draheim of Hillcroft Farm. She also took the title in the Open Unicorns coaching class, one of the most difficult hitches to pilot. Driving her park drag, Miller also won the Four In Hand Pleasure class and took the reserve ribbon with a gig hitch in the Open Tandem class.

Devon could not be what it is without the hard work of those who are dedicated to making it a show that draws the top horses, exhibitors and trainers year after year. Minna Hankin has long been a driving force in keeping the Saddlebred division an important part of the schedule and has a dedicated and hardworking group to help her accomplish that. Janet Crawford Hicks and Sharon Ellingwood have worked tirelessly to get horses and ponies to show at Devon as well.

Carson Kressley, Pamela Augustin, Sarah Coxe Lange and Misdee Wrigley Miller are also such a big part of keeping our industry a part of the 113-year tradition of Devon. Manager Peter Doubleday and David Distler, from the Development Committee, were also indispensable in making this year’s show such a success.

It’s not just money, but time and a year-long effort put forth by the "Friends Of Devon" that keeps our industry in front of Devon crowds that are 30,000 plus strong each year. Hats off to those who made the trip to Devon, whether returning or new this year, to provide such a great display of talent and class. They represented our industry well.

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