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Devon – A Valiant Effort for the Saddlebreds


by Nicole Dworak

DEVON, Pa.- This year was the 110th anniversary of the Devon Horse Show and County Fair. Set in the picturesque town of Devon, Pa., this show brings back to life a bygone era that many wish could be revived more than once a year. Unique shops, food pavilions and a small midway with rides and games flanked the horse show providing color and flavor not found at any other show. The main draw to Devon, however, is the horse show. Throughout the week, Saddlebreds and Hackneys shared the famed Dixon Oval with hunter/jumpers, as well as the much-enjoyed coaching horses.


In a “make or break” year, entries were up according to Minna Hankin Mintz, but still not where they had hoped in spite of an additional $20,000 in prize money and a lot of other extras for the Saddlebred and Hackney pony divisions donated by friends of the Devon Horse Show who made a Herculean effort. It remains to be seen whether it was enough to save the Saddlebreds at Devon.

Many incentive prizes were offered to trainers and exhibitors - along with the enjoyment of a legendary horse show with unequaled ambiance - to help enhance declining Saddlebred/Hackney entries. Trainers of the winning entry in each of the “big three championship” won a trip anywhere in the world courtesy of J Peter Turtzo and RCI.  The winners were Jimmy Robertson (Five-Gaited), Gary Garone (Three-Gaited) and John Champagne (Fine Harness).

The winner of the $10,000 Devon Dollars cash incentive for bringing the most American Saddlebred horses to compete was Nealia McCracken of North Wind Stables, Blairstown, N.J.

Winner of the $5,000 trainer award, chosen at random from all trainers who brought horses to compete, was Rodney Hicks of Rodney Hicks Stables, Pittsfield, Mass. Hicks also won the $1,000 Devon Dollars cash incentive for the most Hackney ponies entered and shown.

The exhibitors’ party, Bluegrass On The Mainline, which featured a live band, open bar and sit-down dinner, was sponsored by Bluecoat Gin, Absolut, Makers Mark and Minna Mintz, Sarah Lange and Carson Kressley. Winners of the Freedman show bridles at the fabulous exhibitors’ party were Karin Folkers and Dorothy Riley. Over $2,000 was raised for Saddlebred Rescue at the exhibitors’ party as well.  Gracious donors of auction items included Lowen, Minna Mintz, Shelby Horse Supply and Jessie Pettie.

Members of the local Saddlebred community who worked tirelessly to bring new energy and entries to the horse show included Minna Mintz, Pam Augustin, Jean Heiney, Sarah Lange and Carson Kressley. The show would like to extend its thanks to Show Managers Peter Doubleday and David Distler and the hard work of Marketing Chair Karin Maynard, as well as to tremendous support from the Show Chairman Wade McDevitt and Board President Leonard King. 

Unfortunately, Devon suffered from the poor weather plaguing the northeast the first weekend of June. Rain fell almost daily and seemed to wait for the Saddlebred section of the horse show to begin before it started falling. It wasn’t just rain; loud booming thunder as well as dangerous lighting flashed during several of the performances. The Budweiser Clydesdales were on hand to perform, but were unable to do so because of the rain and never made a single appearance in full hitch all week. By the end of the Friday night performance, the Five-Gaited Open class had to almost swim out of the arena and it led to the cancellation of the Gambler’s Choice Jump Off that was to have followed the Saddlebred performance.

By Saturday evening, the skies parted and the temperatures cooled, which made for a beautiful end to the Devon Horse Show. On Saturday evening a sheep dog demonstration kept everyone laughing as the sheep tried to out maneuver the dogs.


Raymond Shively ably handled the judging duties for the week.


Five determined entries came through the gate in the pouring raining on Friday night for a chance at the Five-Gaited Stake tricolor. Veteran spectators who thought they might have been seeing a ghost were almost right. Jimmy Robertson riding Desert’s Gates Of Fire vividly brought back memories of Jim B’s many fabled rides at this venerable show. In fact, riding in his late father’s footsteps (or hoofprints), Robertson and Desert’s Gates Of Fire were crowned victors for owners Burbank and Collins. Always contending for top honors, Spider Red and Mike Spencer were called out for the reserve finish for owner Minna Hankin Mintz. Spider Red also took home the blue in the Open Five-Gaited class. The yellow ribbon went to Red Handed and Karin Folkers who was up for Windy Hill Farm. Grand Marq and Louise DeBlois earned a fourth, and Callaway’s On Line and Vernon Wise picked up the pink ribbon.

Lakeview’s Rare A Phi and Misdee Wrigley were covered in color as they trotted out of the ring wearing the Amateur Five Gaited Stake tricolor. This accomplished team also earned the blue in the Amateur Five-Gaited class. The Wings Of The Dove and Vernon Wise Jr. were reserve in both classes.

The Ladies Five-Gaited class blue ribbon was worn home by Macaroon and Lori Boyd Van Gordon for Anne Boyd. The red ribbon left the ring with Harlem For President and Jean Heiney.

Mary Reising’s jet black entry All Show was invited to make a victory pass in the Junior Exhibitor Five-Gaited class with Jessica Moctezuma aboard. Callaway’s Lloyd Stark finished reserve for Willisbrook Farm.

Callaway’s Mystical The Moments and Larry Hodge were victorious for Hillcroft Farm LLC in the Junior Novice Five-Gaited class. Red Handed was handed the red ribbon in this class as well, with Karin Smith up.


I’m Sky High trotted sky high in both the Three-Gaited Stake and open class as he made victory passes for owner Rick Daigle with Gary Garone in the irons. Albelarm High Fidelity and Sally Eichlin were reserve in the stake and also in the Junior Novice Three-Gaited class. Winning the junior novice class were Cocktail Ring and Jan Lukens for Joellen Fisher Blount.

Raymond Shively invited CH SJ Like A Champ and Margot Feldman Harwood to the winner’s circle in the Amateur Three-Gaited Stake. This team moved up from second in the Amateur Three-Gaited class. Reserve in the stake and in the ladies class went to CH Biras Creek and Victoria Gillenwater.

Winning the Amateur Three-Gaited class were Hawkwing and Margaret Biggs. The winner of the Ladies Three-Gaited class was Our Embraceable Lady and Lori Van Gordon riding for Anne Boyd.

The Junior Exhibitor Three-Gaited class brought Kerry Jefferies into the top spot aboard Rosewood’s Potpourri. Jessica Moctezuma and The King’s Talent finished for second.


I’m Simply Divine made two divine blue ribbon performances in the open park class and the stake with Kelly Vernon aboard for Canterlope Farm. Bill Shiflet and Walterway’s Illegal Material were second in the stake, while in the open class The Big Dance and Rick Daigle earned the reserve.

Misdee Wrigley was in the winner’s spotlight once again riding her Kalarama Co Ed to victory in the Amateur Park Stake. CH Desert’s Supreme Lady and Margaret Biggs finished second in the stake, but took home the blue in the amateur park qualifier. Carson Kressley finished for second in the amateur park class aboard Callaway’s Prime Rate.

Fine Harness

Kiri and Sheri Wechsler trotted out of the ring wearing the tricolor in the Fine Harness Championship. This pair teamed up to take home the red ribbon in the amateur harness class. The reserve in the stake left with Joellen Fisher Blount and Tornaado’s Tidal Wave, who were first in the amateur class.

The Open Fine Harness blue ribbon made a victory pass on the harness of Seaforth’s Bonnie Lass with John Champagne at the lines for John Jones. He’s My American Soldier and Jimmy Robertson pulled up for the reserve finish in the open class.

Hillcroft Farm earned yet another blue with Larry Hodge at the lines of Castledream in the Junior Fine Harness class. Gary Guz and In The Breeze finished second.


The Intimidator was the only entry in the Roadster to Bike Championship and qualifier, but the mucky footing was flying out of the ring as Lori Van Gordon drove home with the blues for Anne Boyd.


Regal’s Rebel LF and Diana Kressley Billig zoomed out of the arena with blues in both the Road Pony Championship and Amateur Road Pony class for Carson Kressley. Reserve in the championship went to
Michigan’s Habanero and Nathan Roden. Roden and Michigan’s Habanero also finished second in the UPHA Road Pony Classic. The Amateur Road Pony reserve went home with The Little Samurai and Elizabeth Caldwell.

Kate Spade was victorious in the UPHA Road Pony Classic with Chris Gantley at the lines for Christy Gantley.

Christy Gantley had more blue ribbons to take home with her from Devon as she drove Minute Maide to the winner’s circle in both the Open Harness Pony Championship and open class. Reserve in the championship was Dun Haven Exquisite and Sharon Francis. Dun Haven Exquisite and Francis were reserve also in the Amateur Harness Pony class. Gantley again made a victory pass with Nacho Mama to win the amateur class.

Nathan Roden drove Totally Excellent for wins in both the Hackney Pony Championship and open classes. Wait & See’s Reality tied for second in both classes with Chris Gantley at the lines for Steven Golden. Winning the Amateur Hackney Pony class was The Marksman and Marjorie Kenney.

The pleasure pony driving tricolor went to Miss Excellent and Janet Crawford Hicks who also was victorious in the pleasure pony qualifier. The reserve tricolor went to the winners of the junior exhibitor driving class, Atta Boy and Donald Pasquariello, for Kevin Gibbons. Match Maker and Rick Daigle were reserve in the pleasure pony driving class.


Dartmoor and Diana Kressley Billig were crowned the grand champions of the Five-Gaited Show Pleasure Championship. Reserve went to Liquid Thunder and Rick Daigle. These two swapped places in the Five-Gaited Show Pleasure class with Liquid Thunder finishing for first and Dartmoor taking the red ribbon home.

Michael Behr earned blue ribbon for Katrina Wood aboard her Stonebrook’s Finest Hour in the UPHA Park Pleasure class. Michael Behr was up again to win the Three-Gaited Show Pleasure Championship and the adult class aboard Steeling Home for Paul and Allyson Fredorko. Reserve in the adult show pleasure class went to K Town’s Precious Princess and Vicki Gillenwater.

New York Entertainer and Jessica MacLeod were the winners of the Junior Exhibitor Show Pleasure class and pulled up for the reserve finish in the championship.

Sultana’s Savannah Anna and Jan Beardsley Blanco were the champions and grand champions in the Show Pleasure Driving classes. Prophets Gentleman and Sarah Wise were also reserve in both classes.

Some Kind Of Magic and Jessica Moctezuma made two victory passes at Devon. They trotted away with the Three-Gaited Country Pleasure Championship and the junior exhibitor class blues. Rocking The Blues rocked the blue in the Adult Country Pleasure class and took home a reserve finish in the championship.

The Country Pleasure Driving Championship was won by CH Cat Cracker and Vernon Wise. They finished for second in the qualifier. Sox Appeal and Laurie Behr were reserve in the championship, but were named the winners of the qualifier.

Fame’s Favour and Cassie Wentz were crowned the victors in the Western Country Pleasure Championship and came in second in the western country pleasure class. Incredible Look and Jessica Moctezuma were reserve in the championship, but made a victory pass in the qualifier.


With only one Saddle Seat Equitation class offered at Devon, Jessica Moctezuma took the top spot winning the Saddle Seat Equitation 17 and Under class under the direction of her mother/trainer Nealia McCracken. Alexandria Simpson was reserve.


Annika Bruggeworth was the owner of the two top ribbons in the Friesian Under Saddle Open Championship. Jan Lukens rode Klass Fan Synaeda to the open tricolor and blue for Bruggeworth. Bruggeworth herself rode Cooitzen Fan Teakesyl for the reserve finish in the championship and was the blue ribbon winner in the Friesian Under Saddle Amateur class. Carson Kressley rode Daimler B for the reserve finish in the amateur class for Bruggeworth as well.

Misdee Wrigley had two entries in the Hackney Horse Harness Open class. She drove Hope Valley to the blue, and Jannie Giles drove Hillcroft Apollo to the reserve finish for Wrigley.

The Devon Horse Show and County Fair has all the old world charm of days gone. With a wide variety of shopping, eating and other activities along with other breeds and disciplines to be viewed and enjoyed by all spectators, rain or shine, Devon is one of those special shows that should be on everyone’s “must go to” list.


Complete results can be searched by clicking on SHOW RESULTS.


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