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Dinner with Mitch Clark at Windy Hill Farm

On the Monday evening preceding the Bonnie Blue National Horse Show, Carolyn Folkers and the Windy Hill Farm team hosted a fund raising event to benefit the ASHAV Futurity. For four years, Windy Hill has welcomed guests to enjoy an elegant dinner and great conversation with notable Saddlebred horsemen. This year Mitch Clark created the memorable evening for the guests. The weather was just about perfect. A warm spring wind blew in, and the scent of freshly bloomed flowers filled the air. As guests enjoyed their meal, music was provided by a local harpist, Whitney Selleck, of the Youth Symphony of Lynchburg. Dinner was outstanding, as the talented chef, Rob Lewis, assisted by his wife and ASHAV Zone Director, Melanie, once again created a mouth-watering feast. Guests couldn’t have enjoyed a more beautiful setting or have a better meal, but the highlight of the evening was just about to begin. While the sun set against the Blue Ridge Mountains, attendees made their way indoors to enjoy a delicious dessert and the opportunity to socialize with Mitch Clark. This year, the Saddlebred enthusiasts were in for a very special treat. Jason Folkers put on the video of one of the greatest events in Saddlebred history-the battle for the coveted 1983 Five-Gaited World’s Grand Championship title between Skywatch and Imperator! While the video played, Mitch entertained the guests with his narration of this historic event. The charismatic Mitch began telling his audience the story of the World’s Grand Champion, Skywatch. From the time the handsome horse was two Mitch told his audience, both he and his grandfather, the master Garland Bradshaw, knew the colt was special. That year, Skywatch won the 2 year-old 5-gaited class, and every junior class thereafter. By four, Mitch knew he had a stake horse, and new goals had to be met. While the crowd watched the video with amazement, Mitch explained how each and every pass made that hot August night was practiced over and over again. When Skywatch began his relaxed canter Mitch told his listeners, it was then when his horse was “catching his breath”, only preparing himself for more incredible passes to come. It was truly evident to all the viewers that Skywatch was unsurpassed in athletic ability. We all know how “the chase” ended that late Saturday night. Although the video could never recapture the intensity and emotion felt in Freedom Hall that evening, guests of the ASHAV Futurity Fund Raiser Dinner were surely taken back to 1983 in Louisville, Kentucky, where the duel between Skywatch and Imperator made Saddlebred history.

-Ramona Kolacki

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