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Great Weather, Fantastic Competition at 71st Rock Creek

by Merritt Pryor

LOUISVILLE, Ky.- The 71st annual Rock Creek Horse Show was held June 4-7, at the picturesque Rock Creek Riding Club. The weather was beautiful despite the hot temperatures. There was some worry the storms that hit only two hours away during the Indy Charity would dampen everyone’s excitement but luckily the rain bypassed the Louisville area. Another question that was on the minds of many was would the date change affect the numbers since Indy would be on the same weekend. With an incredible turn out, the answer to that question was no.

The atmosphere of the show was near perfect. With the tree lined streets leading up to the show grounds and the park right across the street, what would be a better way to spend a lovely weekend in June? The Rock Creek Club House kept everyone cooled off while they ran in to grab a bite to eat during the show but the vendors around the ring made sure anyone who didn’t want to miss a class were well fed there as well. Not only could one get a hot dog or corn dog, they could also get the famous Graters ice cream or a lemon shake-up which many can only find in Freedom Hall.

This year, the UPHA Pink Ribbon Ladies Five-Gaited class was held to raise money and awareness for the research to find a cure for breast cancer. A sea of pink filled the stands as many showed their support. In total, more than $5,000 was earned for the great cause.

Thursday evening was touching as Jamie Donaldson, long time friend and supporter was in center ring taking photos alongside Doug Shiflet. After the Pleasure Equitation class was tied, Donaldson walked up to the winner and presented a trophy on behalf of his wife, Shan Donaldson’s, memory. Last year, Rock Creek was the last show Shan attended before she passed away.

"The show was great and filled with some quality horses," said Manager Scarlett Mattson. She was exactly right as many world and national champions showed up to compete. This was only a taste of what we will see in a little over a month when some of the same champions from Rock Creek will grace the winner’s circle on the green shavings.


Rock Creek came to a close Saturday evening but not before an outstanding field of nine made the gate call to compete in the Five-Gaited Jackpot. In front of a large crowd each horse put on quite a performance. Many said it was the best gaited class they had seen all year which made them excited to see what was to come in Freedom Hall. As each entry made their passes, the crowd cheered them on each step of the way around the ring in hopes of helping to influence Judge Donna Pettry-Smith to pick their favorite as the winner of the impressive class.

Mary Gaylord McClean had According To Lynn looking fantastic to garner the championship ribbon in the Five-Gaited Jackpot.

When the card was turned in Mary Gaylord McClean’s number was announced while she continued her winning season aboard the stunning According To Lynn with a tricolor victory pass. She was congratulated and met in center ring by trainer Rob Byers. Reserve honors were awarded to Sam and Vicki Reed’s entry, Feel The Thunder with Kris Knight in the irons. Callaway’s Born To Ride and Bob Brison picked up the yellow streamers for B & T Vonderschmitt, LLC followed by Nelson Green and Callaway’s Born For This, CH Memories Paragon with Clark Clouse and Redd Crabtree and Callaway’s Winning Ways.

The Ladies Five-Gaited class was dedicated as the UPHA Pink Ribbon class. Heather Digiannantonio and I’m Royalty Too turned back all challengers in the competitive class when they were called to the winner’s circle. Showing for owners Louis and Rosemarie Fernandez, Digiannantonio was thrilled with her championship victory. Dena Lopez claimed the number two spot with Belle Reve Farm’s entry, Courtier.

Justin Cowley looked impeccable aboard CH Colonel Hoss to sweep the amateur division and continue their fantastic season. After picking up the yellow streamers in the qualifier, Susan Shepherd stepped up to the reserve spot in the championship with Callaway’s Kit Carson. Theresa Vonderschmitt had a great showing in the qualifier to pick up the reserve with I’m Something Wicked.

Three entries made the call for the amateur mares class. Amy Dix Rock continued her winning season aboard CH Amusing to carry the blue streamers back to Premier Stables’s tack room. Barclay de Wet made a strong showing for the reserve ribbon aboard CH Have You Ever.

Sarah Sessoms and Kelsey Olson each made victory passes during Rock Creek.

With an outstanding comeback ride, Sarah Sessoms was thrilled with her near flawless performance in the junior exhibitor championship aboard the Nelson Green trained Memorize. Making a repeat performance from the qualifier were Suzanna Crews and The Decisive Moment as they trotted out with reserve. Coming off a win at Chapter 5, Morgan Brison picked up the blue in the qualifier with Take A Guess.

Clark Clouse was met at his tack room by Sheila Clouse and Barbara Gaynor after he rode Battle Rattle to the Novice Five-Gaited win.

The novice class showcased a talented group of horses. Clark Clouse had Barbara Gayor’s Battle Rattle looking just right to earn the blue ribbon. Reserve went to Peter Palmer aboard Many Pearls for owner Carl T. Fischer Jr. Rounding out the top three was Neil Visser and Walterway’s Peak Performance.

Ricky Cook had an outstanding showing aboard Bruce Williams’s young horse, Highland Legend, in the Junior Five-Gaited Stallion/Gelding class. Making a great showing and picking up the reserve ribbon were Mike Tunstall and He’s A Big Wheel.

The Junior Five-Gaited Mare class brought together some exciting entries. Lynn Williams, a half sister to According To Lynn, looked stunning with Mary Gaylord McClean in the irons for the win. Ricky Cook had Kalarama’s Lady Bancroft looking good to trot away with reserve.

In his show ring debut, Periaptor’s Powerball was great with Clark Clouse in the irons for Rebecca Davis Stables, LLC in the UPHA class. Mitch Clark finished in second with his flashy entry, It’s So Easy. Tiffany Wheeler rounded out the top three with Madeira’s Gifted Lady.

Ivy Johnson had a great ride in the pony stake. Under the direction of Bret Day, she guided Miss Outta My Way to the winner’s circle.


Darrell Case garnered the championship ribbon with Thunder Cloud Nine in the Three-Gaited Jackpot.

Thunder Cloud Nine was a sight to be seen in the Three-Gaited Jackpot. Coming off an undefeated season in 2007, Darrell Case had the horse looking just right to garner the tricolor for Olen and Linda Wilford. Coming off a win at Kentucky Spring Premier, Tre Lee and A Silver Charm looked stunning to pick up the reserve for Pidgeon Roost Farm. Melinda Moore rounded out the top three aboard Callaway’s Emancipation.

Jennifer Holdren looked as sharp as ever as she expertly rode the Fox Grape Farm entry of Madeira’s Love to a near perfect performance and the tricolor in the ladies’ class. Reserve went to the veteran team of Rosemarie Fernandez and CH Pas de Deux.

The Amateur Three-Gaited Championship was filled with five quality teams. Alice Nunley looked striking as she piloted Silver Exchange to the win under Ricky Cook’s watchful eye. Sally Gayeski picked up the reserve ribbon aboard Freakness after finishing with the red ribbon in the over 15.2 qualifier. In their debut show, Christine Broder finished in the winner’s circle aboard CH Callaway’s Halley’s Comet in the amateur over 15.2 class.

It was a one-two finish for Rob and Sarah Byers in the Amateur Three-Gaited 15.2 and Under qualifier. Patrice Watson picked up the win with Lemon Shake Up WRF while Phillipa Sledge looked great with The Great Gaspar for the reserve.

My Elegance On Parade and Ellie Headlee swept the junior exhibitor division. The team looked fantastic coming off a win at Kentucky Spring Premier. Finishing right behind them in both the qualifier and championship were Suzanna Crews and Wild Wonderful.

Ali Judah expertly directed Hollywood Agent to the winner's circle in the Novice Three-Gaited class.

Ali Judah looked dazzling to best the Novice Three-Gaited class aboard Hollywood Agent. Reserve went home to Tiffany Wheeler aboard Kalarama’s Personality Plus. Chantel Coetzee had Joan Hamilton’s entry, Kalarama’s Carrousel looking just right to garner the blue streamers in the junior horse class.

Three young horses made the call for the UPHA class. John McKeown rode Google to the winner’s circle for owner Carl Fischer. Andre van Schwalyk rode Jumbalini to the reserve ribbon.

Under the direction of Tre Lee, Manhattan’s Irish Cream and Lindsey Shields happily collected top honors in the Three-Gaited Pony Stake for owner Kathy Bagdasarian. Lost Token and Ashley Biggins were reserve to the champion.


In their only appearance during the show, Dena Lopez had Ya Ya looking spectacular to garner the blue ribbon in the Three-Gaited Park Jackpot. Reserve went to the qualifier winner, Pernickety with Gerhardt Roos in the irons for Allison Benz and Caretaker Farm. Chad Cole rode Yes I Am A Pirate to the reserve in the qualifier.

On top of their game and in only their first season together, Cindy Sherman Siders and her big-trotting entry My Shenanigans picked up the win in the Amateur Three-Gaited Park Championship after finishing with the reserve in the qualifier. Deborah Koning took the reserve ribbon aboard Bright Memories in the championship. Besting the qualifier were Kristi Nichols and She’s Pretty Special.

Fine Harness

Sally Grieme looked stunning as she drove Escriva to the win in the Fine Harness Jackpot.

As the season goes on everyone hopes and wishes for a large and competitive Fine Harness Stake and that is exactly what everyone got this year at Rock Creek. Eight entries park trotted through the gate when the horn sounded and the gate opened. Under Kim Crumpler’s watchful eye, Sally Grieme had a near flawless performance with Escriva to receive the judge’s nod, as well as the crowd’s support, for the tricolor streamers and the rose blanket. She had earlier earned the reserve ribbon in the qualifier. Reserve went to A Cinderella Story with Bret Day on the lines for Hy Horse Farm. Clark Clouse rounded out the top three with Gothic Revival.

No strangers to the winner’s circle are John Scheidt and Nurse Goodbody. They were back at it again in the Amateur/Ladies Fine Harness class under the direction of Nelson Green.

Continuing an undefeated season and looking fantastic was the Chris and Jean Nalley owned and bred entry of Voulez Vous. The expressive mare was driven to the winner’s circle for the junior win by Tiffany Wheeler. Bret Day picked up the reserve for Fischer Sisters, LLC with Last Man Standing.

The competition in the UPHA class was intense as five flashy entries worked hard in hopes of impressing the judge. When the card was turned in, it was She’s Gone who earned top honors from the judge with Clark Clouse on the lines for Tri Color Saddlebreds. Darrell Case had Donald O’Con Heir looking fantastic in their debut for the reserve ribbon for owner Sandra Corney. Peter Palmer had Ellen Kass’s entry, Buzzard’s Bay looking great to garner the blue in the two-year old class.


Four teams sped around the ring for the tricolor in the Roadster To Bike Jackpot Stake. Mike Felty had the judge’s approval as well as the crowd’s when he sped to the winner’s circle with Fed Ex. Black Jack and Bill Knight were reserve champions.

William Shatner made it two years in a row that he sped away with the blue streamers in the Amateur Roadster To Bike class with All Glory. Reserve went to Deborah Koning and Git R Done.

Kristen Bagdasarian had Lady Hawke looking just right to garner the blue in the Roadster Under Saddle class. The red ribbon went to Allison Walker and The Big Show.

Toni Nastali was met by Juan Rios after her winning drive with Heartland Victory Maker in the Amateur Road Pony Championship.

The ponies were up next to compete in their open championship. Jeff McClean showed Beaulah Jean to the win. Extremely Rare had a good go for the reserve ribbon with Randy Harper on the lines for Frickey Farm. Toni Nastali had a comeback drive with Heartland Victory Maker to speed away with the tricolor in the amateur championship. Ken Malek took the reserve with Little Big Man. Mary Gaylord McClean had Regal’s Trademark LF looking fantastic to pick up the win in the amateur qualifier.

Mollie Kregor had a near flawless go aboard Gene Gallmeier’s pony, Mr. Lucky Man, to earn top honors in the AHHS Youth Medallion Road Pony class. Lauren Matthewson finished in the reserve spot with Catch Me If You Can. Samantha Johnson expertly rode Romeo’s Top Secret LF on the victory pass for Dr. Hank Clemmons in the AHHS Youth Medallion Road Pony Under Saddle class. Mitchell Tunstall made a strong showing for the red tricolor with Miss Fuente.


Georgia Blevins spent time with her daughter, Mia Blevins Morris, and grandchildren, Mackenzie and Max.

Heartland Expectation and Karen Frickey were one of four entries to make the call for the Open Harness Pony class. The team looked extraordinary to garner the blue ribbon. Jeff McClean had Mastercraft’s Promoter LF looking good for the reserve ribbon. In the amateur long tailed pony class, Mia Blevins Morris looked stunning as she park trotted Heartland Flirtation to the winner’s circle. Perry Grieme finished in the reserve spot with Senor.

Classical Dancer and Kathy Buente were the only entries in the Open Hackney Pony class, however the team looked great for the blue ribbon victory pass after picking up the reserve in the amateur qualifier. The competition stepped up a notch in the amateur cob tail class where Heartland Candidate and Sandra Surber captured the judge’s approval under the direction of Majestic Oaks.

In only her second drive ever, Kristen Stivers had a comeback drive with Gail Asch’s entry, Callisto to garner the tricolor in the Hackney Pony Pleasure Driving Championship. Kay Marschel and Heartland Breaking News made a strong showing for the reserve ribbon. The qualifier went to Sandra Surber and Heartland Entitled while Sally Grieme finished in the reserve with Heartland Stepaside. Rose Marie Wheeler had a great go to win the AHHS Youth Medallion Hackney Pleasure Driving Pony class with Seamair Dear Sir.


Champagne Treat and catch rider Misdee Wrigley Miller looked fantastic to sweep the five-gaited show pleasure division for owner Jennie Garlington. Jo Ann Griffin finished in the reserve spot in the championship with Gotta Be Gold after wining the novice class while Ali Judah had the red ribbon in the qualifier with Divine Renaissance.

Kay Marschel was thrilled with Dena Lopez's winning ride aboard Talladega Red in the Park Pleasure Championship.

The park pleasure division was filled with quality entries. Topping the championship and qualifier were Dena Lopez and Talladega Red for owner Kay Marschel. Reserve in the championship went to Terry and Anne Sams entry with Rider’s On The Storm with Michelle McMahon in the irons. The red ribbon in the qualifier went to Darrell Case and Thunder Echo.

Clark Clouse looked great aboard Barbara Gaynor’s Top Spool son, Spooling Up, to win over the judge and crowd in the Junior Park Pleasure class. Jannie Giles had Stonecroft Skylark in great form to finish in the reserve spot.

The UPHA Park Pleasure Classic was filled with great young entries. After the class was tied, Darrell Case’s number was announced with Clyde and Sally Nolan’s entry With Bells On for the win. John Biggins rode Steel The Moment to the reserve spot.

That's Exactly Right and Amy Dix Rock bested the competition in the Adult Three-Gaited Show Pleasure Championship.

Amy Dix Rock had a comeback ride to garner the tricolor ribbon in the Adult Three-Gaited Show Pleasure class with That’s Exactly Right. Reserve in the championship was awarded to My Stiletto and Kathryn Sterba after picking up the win in the novice qualifier. Nicolle Beltz Tolliver had CH Lightnin’ Lil looking great to take home the win in the qualifier.

Under Clark Clouse’s watchful eye, Lexie Flint dominated the junior exhibitor pleasure division to win both the qualifier and championship with Callaway’s Forty Niner. Lindsey Shields finished in the reserve spot in both classes with Unlisted Number.

Madison Hawes had a great showing in the walk/trot class to best the competition with Tilly Marshall. Reserve went to Kaleb Kaiser and CH One Rare Night.

CH May Issue and Linda Fischer were all smiles after being named Adult Show Pleasure Driving Champions. Charlotte Kurtz with Last Cat Standing were reserve after winning the qualifier for Fritz and Candace Meili. Theresa Vonderschmitt finished in the reserve spot in the qualifier with Sweatin’ Bullets.

Rose Marie Wheeler had CH May Issue back in the winner’s circle in the Junior Exhibitor Show Pleasure Driving qualifier. Reserve went to My Silver Sea and Rachel Shoemaker.

After many hours of work during the off season, Chris Nalley had CH Callaway’s Rockaway looking fantastic in the country pleasure division. The team topped the competition in the championship with a comeback ride after receiving the reserve ribbon in the qualifier. Linda Beltz finished in the reserve spot with South Street in the championship. In the qualifier, Traci Massaro rode CH Titleist Commander to the win.

The Junior Exhibitor Country Pleasure Championship went to Moonstruck In Kentucky and Olivia Strano after finishing in the reserve spot in the qualifier. Reserve honors went to Thingamajig and Melinda Wilson. The qualifier belonged to Katie Prows Lapera and the Blue Willow trained Bibbidi Blackidi Boo.

Charlotte Kurtz rode Sarah Byers’s entry, A Secret Starmaker to the winner’s circle in the novice class. The red ribbon went to Stephanie Smith and Son Tsown.

Moe Anson and Ms. Great Garbo took the tricolor in the Country Pleasure Driving Championship while Sally Grieme finished in the reserve spot with Enzo. The results were opposite in the qualifier.

Under the direction of Melinda Moore, Macy Lafferty King looked stunning with Mad About You to take home the tricolor in the Country Western Pleasure Championship. Chelsea Ruxer jogged away with the reserve ribbon. The amateur owned and trained team of Susann Strayer and Yellow Rose Starafar finished with the blue ribbon in the qualifier. Reserve was awarded to Commanche Kid and Nancy Braesicke.


Kelsey Olson had an outstanding weekend under the direction of Rob and Sarah Byers in the equitation division. She took home the blue in the USEF Saddle Seat Medal class as well as the NHS Good Hands class. Hallie Tyler finished in the reserve spot.

Megan Todd dominated the pleasure equitation division, finishing on top in the qualifier and championship under the direction of Renee Biggins. Mackenzie Huskamp rode away with the reserve in the championship while Elizabeth Skinner took home reserve in the qualifier.

The UPHA Walk/Trot Challenge Cup 10 & Under win went to Shelby Eriksen under Steve Crabtree’s direction. Reserve went to Rose Marie Wheeler who came back and won the Walk/Trot Saddle Seat Equitation 10 & Under class. Faith Brickzen looked great to earn the red ribbon behind Wheeler.

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