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Exhibitors Celebrate Tradition at Mercer County


by Jenny Picciano

HARRODSBURG, Ky -- The 178th annual Mercer County Fair and Horse Show, the oldest horse show in the area, was held at the Mercer County Fair Grounds July 27-30. This year's show will be remembered not only for the spectacular display of some of the world's finest Saddlebreds, but also by a touching induction of two of Mercer County's most respected gentlemen, Willie "Jack Rabbit" Bottoms and James "Buck" Ison. In a break in the action on Saturday night, all eyes turned to the ring as Ison was posthumously inducted; Bottoms made a poignant appearance for his final drive in the show ring.        


Stricken with diabetes that has left him bedridden for several years, Bottoms was transported by EMS to the horse show where he was placed in a buggy for the last time. The buggy, graciously donated by Marilyn Macfarlane, was hitched to a dark bay country pleasure horse donated by Suzanne Hubbard. Longtime friend Milward Dedman joined Bottoms as the driver for several laps around his hometown ring to a standing ovation.


It was hard to find a dry eye in the audience as horsemen, friends, family and fans applauded this hometown hero. Bottoms has been an important figure in the community of Harrodsburg as well as the horse show industry having trained some of the greatest roadster horses in history.

The week's action concluded with a nine-entry Five-Gaited Championship that, according to announcer David Collier, was "one of the best in years." As "My Old Kentucky Home" played, the gaited entries entered the ring. At the start of the class, the title was up for grabs and each entry had to be at their best for the nod. In the end,
Harlem's Moving Man and Larry Hodge were crowned the champions for owner Mrs. Paul Rice. Lucrative and Don Harris were named the reserve champions, Five 'O Clock and Todd Miles picked up the third-place ribbon while Feel The Thunder with Kris Knight and Oak Grove’s Tom Cat with Mike Tunstall finished fourth and fifth, respectively.

A special award developed by the late photographer John Alexander celebrated the show's most competitive trainers. This honor was awarded to long time exhibitors of the Mercer County Fair Horse Show, Raymond and Lillian Shively.


Saturday night, the Shivelys’ DeLovely Farm wrapped up a win-filled week with several championship titles. Theresa Vonderschmitt added her second championship victory of Saturday night aboard her flashy gelding Red Flame Thrower to win the tough Amateur Five-Gaited Championship after a victory pass in the qualifier on Wednesday night. Lucrative and Karla Kucera won the Ladies Five-Gaited class. Gabriella Flynn made her debut aboard Red Hot & Bothered for the win in the Five-Gaited Junior Exhibitor qualifier. The pair did not show back.


Callaway's Lloyd Stark and Rachel Shoemaker, riding for Willisbrook Farm and trainer Peter Palmer, rode away with the tricolor in the championship.

Angelene and George Knight rode away with the blue in the Junior Five-Gaited class for owner Georgia Herpin Baker. Mike Felty and Captain Roseridge topped the field of three-year-old Five-Gaited entries in the UPHA Classic class. Captain Roseridge, by Roseridge Heir, is owned by Fields and Associates. In the Five-Gaited Novice class, Todd Miles was aboard Callaway's Lil Abner to take home the blue for Melrose LLC.


April Hi Lite and Lance Williamson won the three-entry Three-Gaited Championship and the yellow flowers for Frank and Penny St. Charles. April Hi Lite is trained by Melinda Moore and Williamson.

Theresa Vonderschmitt guided the striking grey mare Macy Grey to the Amateur Three-Gaited Championship. Ostentatiously and Deborah Visser, riding under the Kalarama banner, won the Three-Gaited Amateur qualifier and did not show back.


An Heir About Her and Sarah Rowland won the Ladies Three-Gaited class in their only appearance.

King Of The Blues and Melissa Hughes added another blue to the DeLovely banner with a win in the Junior Three-Gaited class for owner Terri Dolan.

Lauren Stone and Time For Glory made two victory passes in Harrodsburg in the Junior Exhibitor Three-Gaited Championship and qualifier. Stablemate Sarah Wood and Attaché’s Touched By An Angel finished in reserve in both classes.

Olivia Weber and the sporty Cloudsplitter, who ride under the direction of Chris Reiser, captured the blue in the Three-Gaited Pony class.

Three Fine Harness winners gained a lot of attention during the week. A new contender for the Open Fine Harness division won the highly competitive seven-entry Fine Harness Championship. Six-year-old chestnut stallion Samur, driven by his trainer Merrill Murray for owner H. Curtis Meanor, marched around the ring and gained the attention of the judge to win the championship tricolor and the blanket of white flowers. Sired by Roseridge Heir, Samur seems to have found his niche in his first year in Fine Harness.

Gothic Revival, the Three-Year-Old Fine Harness Champion owned by John Bulmer and trainer Lionel Ferreira, was a star in his debut. Ferreira handpicked Gothic Revival two years ago as a weanling from the fields of Sunrise Stables. When Ferreira went back to his stable in
England, the young colt went with him to mature and begin his training. When Ferreira returned to the United States this year, he brought with him just two horses, the Lexington Five-Gaited Grand Champion Carlswald Prince's Domino and Gothic Revival, who had matured into the bold three-year-old stallion that made a memorable debut to win the class on Friday night. 

Another young star that earned the notice of the audience and the judge was the Two-Year-Old Fine Harness winner, Kent Brockman. Owned and bred by Catherine Carter McNeese and trained by Martin Teater of Teater Stables, Kent Brockman showed maturity beyond his years to win the three-entry class. Kent Brockman is by the young stallion Jon Bugatti who is out of the former fine harness champion My Bugatti Royale. Coincidentally, My Bugatti Royale was also bred by the McNeese family.

Eatonwood's Titleist with trainer Don Harris topped the four-entry Junior Fine Harness class for owner Linda Hendricks.


Becoming a veteran in her own right, Dancing Up A Storm LLC with driver Kathy Capsuto, was crowned the champion of the Amateur Fine Harness class. This elegant mare is trained under the direction of Escalade Stables.

Fresh off a championship run at
Lexington, Tax Man and Melinda Moore topped another tough field of Open Park entries to ride away with the blue.

The Open Park Pleasure blue belonged to Gayle Jones' Shady Creeks Sensation, who was ridden by trainer James Nichols. Chuck Herbert had Susan Bartlett's Ferragamo in perfect form to win the Three-Gaited Park Pleasure for three-year-old horses.


The Roadster division was as tough as ever at the Mercer County Fair and it's nearly impossible to have these classes without the presence of Raymond Shively. Shively directed last year's USTA Roadster To Bike Classic winner Big Red to a win in the open class in their debut in the bike. Shively elected to show Invincible Summer in the championship and sped away with the tricolor.


Another DeLovely Roadster entry was When N Where, driven to victory in the youth class by Holli McDowell. Dutchmaster and Mike Felty picked up the blue in the Novice Roadster To Bike class. Krewzyn Over and Carol Hall were the winners in the single-entry ladies class while Brad Bacon and Delorenzo picked up the blue in the amateur qualifier. Danette Musselman and Valiant bested the field of competitive under saddle horses to win that class.

Desert Fox and Billie Rae Graham, who are trained under the Royal Woods banner, were the winners of the Roadster Pony To Bike Championship. Winning the junior/limit class was Turbo Blue and John Maloney who drive under the direction of Infinity Stable.


Cowboy Magic and Gabrielle Flynn picked up the blue in the junior exhibitor class under the direction of DeLovely Farm. Kentucky Hot Brown and Tom Parsons won the three-entry Roadster Pony Amateur class.


In a class that can only be found at a handful of shows, Roadster Pony to Wagon, Riding Shotgun and Lanny Judd sped away with the blue ribbon.

Caroline Kamer and Heartland Flirtation were the winners of the three-entry Harness Pony Championship. Neon Deon and Mary McClean drove away with the blue in the open class.

The Hackney Pony Championship belonged to Mr. Hawkeye and driver Sharon Lewis while General Mills and Susan Johnson picked up the win in the open class.

Winning the Hackney Pony Pleasure Driving Championship after finishing second in the qualifier was Chasing A Dream and Kelly Reason. Fire Devil and Barbara Blacklaw drove away with the blue in the qualifier.

Coming off a Five-Gaited Pleasure Championship win at
Lexington, Liquid Thunder and Tate Bennett won the qualifier on Wednesday night for Cross Timbers Saddlebreds but did not show back. In the Championship Debbie Owens and Callaway's Another Winner made a perfect show to win the tricolor.

Sally Wood and her A Touch Of Heir topped a large field of pleasure horses for the tricolor in the Adult Show Pleasure Championship. The pair also won the second split of the qualifier earlier in the week. Sultan's Hot Copy and Carolyn Garrett were the winners in section A.

Been To Paris and Alyssa Lopez impressed the judge with a great performance and perfect manners to win the Three-Gaited Show Pleasure Junior Exhibitor Championship. Earlier in the week the pair captured the blue in the 14 and under qualifier. Maguire Hall and Catalyst Commander won the Show Pleasure 14-17 blue.


The Country Pleasure Championship on Saturday night had an overwhelming number of entries. Therefore, the deep class had to be divided into an adult championship and a junior exhibitor championship. Even after the split, 21 adult entries were still on the card. The entries did a good job of keeping good positions and getting seen, but in the end it was Callaway's Betty Hearnes and Stacy Williams, riding for her parents Mr. and Mrs. David Williams, who gained the attention of judge Kent for the championship ribbon. The winning pair is trained under the Biggins Stables banner.

Riding under the direction of Jeff Nevitt and Sarah Kernan of the newly formed Cadence Stable, Vida Eraser and Lindsay Haupt topped a large field of Junior Exhibitor Country Pleasure mounts for the win in the championship. Showtime's Desert Storm and Keri Jamison rode away with the blue in the qualifier.

River Dance and Dr. Randall Finken made their only appearance a winning one in the Show Pleasure Driving class. In their only class of the week, Sweet Intention and Ashley Hallock won the three-entry Country Pleasure Driving event. Tu-Wicki came back Saturday night to pick up the tricolor.

The New Millennium and Sharon Lewis won the lone event for Western Pleasure entries.

Mandy Martin was the lone entry in the Saddle Seat Equitation Championship after winning the 14-17 division earlier in the week. Stablemate Christina Collis and her mount Dawn Juan were the winners in the Saddle Seat Equitation 10 and Under. Chelsea Jo Roby picked up a win in the 13 and under division riding under the direction of Jo Cornell. In two more winning rides, Lindsay Haupt of Cadence Stables won the Pleasure Equitation class and the Saddle and Bridle Pleasure Equitation Medallion.

Joel Dorignac qualified for
Kansas City with a win in the UPHA Challenge Cup 17 and Under class, adding a blue to the Infinity banner. Yasmin Wazir, who is instructed by Biggins Stable, earned her chance to ride in the finals of the NSH "Good Hands" Event with a win in that class.

Several yearlings made their way into the
Mercer County ring. The naturally gifted Madeiras & Bourbon, handled by Andre Von Schalkwyk for Albert Alexander picked up the blue.

Complete results can be seen by clicking on show results.

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