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Heartland Is a Springtime Classic!

By Claire Panke

SPRINGFIELD, Ohio – Mother’s Day weekend is a special time for families to get together. But in Ohio, Mother’s Day signals the springtime convergence of the Midwestern "horse show family’ as exhibitors gather at the Champions Center for the annual Heartland Classic. More and more regional stables have been traveling to Springfield as the word has spread about what a nice venue it is.

Sponsored by the Ohio American Saddlebred Pleasure Horse Association, the Heartland Classic is the first stop of the show season for many Buckeye exhibitors. As the show has grown over the years, it has also attracted many out of state exhibitors from Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Pennsylvania and West Virginia. Several new barns made the trip to Springfield this year, resulting in a competitive and quality-filled three days of showing.

The excellent facilities at the recently constructed Champions Center, which features a large indoor arena with adjacent indoor stabling, concession and vendor areas, plus a full restaurant and bar, means everyone stays comfy no matter what the weather outside. This was especially crucial this year, since seasonal storms roared in on Saturday night. Not even spring showers, however, could dampen exhibitor enthusiasm, especially when it came to the Saturday afternoon Derby Party and the pizza party sponsored by Joan and Jackie Hammond’s River Bend Farm on Saturday night.

The officials and volunteers of the Heartland Classic are seasoned pros and keep the show running like clockwork – a good thing, considering the large number of classes the show packs into its three day schedule. Show management offered several improvements in 2011, including the use of the covered outdoor arena, which provided a very welcome large warm-up and work area for exhibitors. Heartland offers a huge variety of classes and divisions, including complete Friesian and Open English Pleasure divisions as well as almost every variety of amateur, juvenile and pleasure class imaginable. There’s truly something for everyone at this show. Despite the full schedule, Heartland easily accommodates most exhibitors; it starts on Friday evening and finishes before nightfall on Sunday, allowing almost everyone to get home at a reasonable hour.

Heartland offers lots of classes and activities for young exhibitors, including a Stick Horse class and a Lead Line class. One of the most popular is the annual Junior Judging Contest. Winning the 12 & under age division in 2011 was Megan Gunderson, with the 13- and 14-year-old age groups going to Gianna De Simmons and Haley Yount, respectively. Melanie Palmer topped the 15-year-old section with Cassidy Dolby winning the 17- year-old age group over reserve winner Taylor Gunderson.

Judge Scott Perrelli, who came up from Kentucky to officiate, had nothing but praise for Heartland. "This was a wonderful show, with some very nice horses. It was a pleasure to judge it." A lot of the credit for the show’s success must go to manager Judy Peters, secretary Joyce Berger and their volunteer team. "On behalf of the OASPHA Board of Directors, I want to thank all the exhibitors and trainers for coming to Heartland," commented Peters. "Classes were well attended and the addition of the Friesian horse division will only expand their presence within our existing horse show family." Peters also acknowledged the efforts of the fairgrounds staff for making management’s job easier: "This facility is always so clean and the folks at The Champions Center are very helpful." The balance of the officials roster included Scott Dinius as ringmaster, David Rice as announcer, Rhoda Harryman providing the music, Vernon Ridgely taking the farrier duties and Terry Young snapping the official photos.

The Five-Gaited Amateur Championship, which always concludes the show, was one of the highlights of the weekend. Amateur riders are an important and competitive segment of Heartland and this year was no exception. It was anybody’s class to win as four gaited teams burst through the gate. Fresh from their amateur victory at Gasparilla, Lisa May and Heir To The Moon never let up in this thriller to take the well deserved tricolor back to the Steve Demjen Stables tack room. Up for reserve was the exceptional duo of Mr. Hayworth and Jill O’Hara, who had earlier captured a good win in the ladies class. Chip Wise has a very exciting new star in the making with Worthy’s Second Spring, winners of the Five-Gaited Amateur qualifier over Heir To The Moon and Lisa May who had to settle for second. The great campaigner Uhlen’s Look Of Love and Karen Grady Carver took the reserve in the Ladies.

The sporty, white-trimmed CH Already Famous with Sierra Comer aboard turned in two terrific performances to earn the Junior Exhibitor Championship and qualifier. Opinionated and Victoria Daniel had their say to be named the reserve champions, while the colorful Little Hot Spot and Annabel Kippi Noe got the red ribbon in the preliminary. The Open Five -Gaited Stake often seems to have Sena Bowling’s name on it as Taylor Creek usually has a good one for this division. This year she piloted Jocelyn Hagerman’s Callaway’s New Day to the open and championship, serving notice they are on track to repeat their success of last season. Callaway’s Gossiper and Lisa Lawrence racked away with the reserve in the championship, while Joan Hammond’s homebred Superior’s Revelation took the red in the open.

The lofty motioned bay stallion Kalarama’s Superman has been a powerful performer on the Tri-State circuit. At Heartland Superman and trainer Cindy Maloney added the Open Three-Gaited Grand Championship and Open Three-Gaited to their resume for owners Frank and Iris James. The top team of CH Broadway’s Mama Mia and Stacey Bare were the close reserve champions for the division. Kristen Thorin made two catch rides on the gorgeous RWC More Than Enough for her aunt, Linda Thorin Johnson, annexing a pair of wins in the Three-Gaited Amateur and Three-Gaited Amateur Grand Championship, the second year in a row for More Than Enough to be crowned champion in her division. Dana Baer and Maxed Out came back with a strong ride to be the Reserve Amateur Champions. The cute A Bay Asset and Norine Smith got the nod for second in the qualifier.

A homebred star for owners Cam and Caroline Boyer, the sensational My Domain capitalized on his recent River Ridge victory, claiming both the Three-Gaited Park Championship and preliminary. Trainer Mike McIntosh was in the irons for both wins. Amanda Blaker and Who’s Your Daddy trotted away with both reserves. The Lady’s Heir has been one of the dominant amateur park horses in the region for the past several seasons. Owner Lynn Gutches Snowden showed her beautiful gelding to both the Three-Gaited Amateur and Three-Gaited Amateur Park Championship titles at Heartland. Katie Lindamood and French Kiss earned a good red ribbon in the qualifier. Grabbing the reserve tricolor was Tornaado’s Wild At Heart and Olivia Morrison. The Junior Three-Gaited Park was a jackpot event with a fine group of youngsters competing. Taking the blue ribbon back to Michigan for Meadowland Farm was the gifted Let It Ride, shown by trainer Pam Specht. Joan Hammond and Gone Wild took the red ribbon home.

Obviously relishing her new division, the elegant HS She Be Bad came back with a sharp performance for owner/driver Jacquie Hawks to command the Fine Harness Grand Championship over Bridgeman’s King Friday and Gregory DuPont. The exceptional bay Mooi Mooi announced he’ll be a force once again in the fine harness ranks this season with a pair of trips to the winner’s circle: Friday night in the open with Jennifer Abel and Saturday night in the amateur with dad Tony Boxdorfer.

Sena Bowling presented an exceptional new contender for the Park Pleasure division with Straight No Chaser. The property of Gianna DeSimone, this big beautiful bay claimed both Junior Park Pleasure and Park Pleasure Championship, with more honors no doubt in store throughout the season. Katie and Steve Lindamood’s big fronted Glamour Star never put an ear back to top the Open Park Pleasure but had to settle for reserve in the stake. Boulevard and Amanda Blaker took the red ribbon in the open qualifier, with Kalarama’s McSteamy and Shawn Stachowski were the good runners up in the Junior.

The colorful, personality plus Love Happens has been getting attention since his seasonal debut with owner Diana Whitinger. At Heartland this relatively new duo trotted away with the Amateur Park blue and the Championship tricolor. The high stepping Such Spirit and Kelly Morris took the reserve tricolor, while Brookhill’s Storm Trooper and Ann Moro Gioffre got up for second in the preliminary.

Matt Schuckert debuted the very impressive bay Gypsy Prophet for new owner Sarah Wise. They drove away with the Park Pleasure Driving qualifier and Championship in what should be only the first of many more accolades for this tasty new pleasure entry. Miso Pretty and Steve Demjen looked good to grab the reserve championship for Mary Strang, while The Testament and Nancy Ress impressed to take second in the open class. Trainer Cindy Maloney and owners t he James family were justifiably proud of their home bred Harmony’s Melody, classy winner of the Junior Park Pleasure Driving. Uhlen’s McDreamy and Susan LeVally drove away with the second place.

The slick racking Midnight Senor and Amy Rowe showed why they’re one of the most formidable duos on the circuit as they notched the Five-Gaited Pleasure Championship and five-gaited pleasure class. Beaudacious Bay and Marina Nimmo were called for the reserve tricolor. Solstices and Kinsey Rabourn took a good red ribbon from the qualifier back to Indiana. Earning the top spot in the Novice Five-Gaited Pleasure were Watch Out Now and Ashley Smith. HV Mahogany’s One More Time and Lea Bornhurst received the red ribbon.

A new star emerged in the very competitive three-gaited show pleasure ranks as the finely chiseled Nightly Love, given a pair of confident rides by Ann Moro Gioffre, captured both Adult qualifier and the Adult Show Pleasure Championship. Proud new owner Mary Ann Zanetos has a lot to look forward to this season with this high stepper. Shawn Stachowski had the very promising Rob New York geared up for the reserve championship. Lynn Gutches Snowden and Confidential Sorce grabbed the red ribbon in the adult. Beautifully shown by owner-trainer-breeder Joan Hammond, Spike’s Cloud Nine made the most of a strong showing in a tough novice class to march away with the blue ribbon. The long-necked Get Crackin’ and Rob Smith took the second place.

The aptly named Supremacy’s Fiery Kate, owned by trainer Pam Specht, continued her winning ways at Heartland with two star turns in the Junior Exhibitor Three-Gaited Show Pleasure Championship and 14-17 preliminary. Marina Nimmo was the capable young jockey in the irons. In Due Time and Taylor Gunderson earned the reserve in the qualifier while CF Chief’s Mood Swings and Gianna DeSimone took the reserve in the Junior Exhibitor Championship after a strong win in the 13 & Under. Following them in the younger age group were Annabel Kippi Noe and Sultan’s Truly Fancy, looking good in their new division.

Frank and Iris James can usually be counted on to have exceptional driving horses and, with the elegant Brookhill’s Who’s Your Daddy, the James have a strong new contender for show pleasure driving. With Iris on the lines, Who’s Your Daddy swept both the qualifying class and the grand championship in this division. Linda Litzinger and her many times champion Blue Jean Baby were runners up in both these classes.

Heartland offers a novice rider division, a much-needed place where new riders can gain valuable experience at their own level. Taking the championship in this division with a strong come-back ride was the appealing team of Cameron Crest Stonewall and Chloe Burnham Fleck. They are under the direction of Wes and Sena Bowling at Taylor Creek. Song Catcher and Megan Ritchie moved up a notch to be named reserve champions. In the novice rider qualifier, Dali and Emily Kessinger earned the red ribbon. In the Walk and Trot Pleasure, Royal Crest’s Written In Stone took home a nice blue ribbon for rider Heather Spada and owner Debra White. Moonlights A Lot Of Trot got the red ribbon for Stacy Vance and Saddlebred Rescue.

No one on the show grounds was happier with her wins than Linda Sullivan, owner and rider of Callaway’s Collateral. The big brown gelding has gained new confidence over the winter, excelling in his new country pleasure division. Under the direction of Mike McIntosh, "Cash" and Linda accounted for both the adult class and the championship. Also new to country pleasure, former show pleasure winner CH Rhianna also looked fantastic in her new division, teamed by Jessica Wilson for reserves on both adult classes.

Also looking good after a winter’s work, Lindsey Redifer and My Christmas Eve turned in two pleasure perfect performances to claim the Junior Exhibitor Country Pleasure Championship and 14-17 age group. Many times winners in this division, Prairie Wind Dancer and Brianna Robison took the blue ribbon in the 13 & Under Country Pleasure back to the Four Willows Farm tack room. A Step Above and Hailey Hickman carried out the red ribbon. Shamrock’s Fancy Pants and Jennica O’Reilly could not be denied in the Amateur-Owner-Trainer class. Allison Fogelsong rode Fancy Pants to reserves in the 14-17 and Junior Exhibitor Championship.

It was definitely "party time" at Taylor Made Farms as Party Princess and Jody Mondy captured the Novice Rider Country Pleasure Championship. Coming up for reserve was Lady Longlegs and Pat Vansickle. In the qualifying class the placings were reversed with Lady Longlegs on top and Party Princes taking second. Beautiful, long-necked and black, Lady’s Great Night Out continued the winning streak by claiming the Country Pleasure Driving and Grand Championship for Amie Rowe. Iris James and her many times winner Theology took home the reserve ribbons in these classes.

The Country Western Championship went home to West Virginia as Champagne’s Lover Boy GRF and Joyce Schuda jogged away with the tricolor. This handsome pair also claimed the Shatner class. Reserve in the championship and qualifier was the pretty black Santana’s Princess Diana and Estil Tibbs for Springlake Stable. Jill Wilson had a pleasure perfect performance aboard Stonebrook’s Finest Hour as they visited the winners circle in the Country Western Pleasure. Tender As Iron and Zach jogged away with the red ribbon in the Shatner Western Pleasure.

Iso Ful O Potential and Kara Petruzzin were smooth as silk as they rode away with the Saddle & Bridle Hunt Seat Classic and Country Hunter Pleasure Championship for Holly Fisher. One of the very best in this division, Too Wong Foo, shown by Terry Meade for Paul Price, captured the reserve championship. Stonebrook’s Finest Hour proved his versatility by taking reserve in the qualifier, with Emerald Sea Of Gold KPHFS and Kara Petruzzi were second in the Hunter Classic.

Norine Smith and Northern Superstar took home the top prize in the Roadster Horse To Bike class. The Roadster Pony Championship saw all six entries battling intensely for the tri-color. The pony classes at Heartland are part of the AHHS Foundation Adult Amateur Driving Challenge, which always attracts a strong contingent of exhibitors. Each of the entrants in the road pony championship was driving for the win, but when the dust settled it was many times champion Kilbro’s Gloriouswon and a confident Missy Warner Fleming speeding away with the tricolor. Reserve honors went to Matt Schuckert and the exciting ASPR Roadster Pony winner, Grand Markvee, owned by Bruce Ekstrom. Julie Moro drove her Regal’s Crown Prince LF to the blue ribbon in the Adult Amateur Roadster Pony, followed by Kilbro’s Gloriouswon and Missy Fleming. Craycroft Marksman and Taylor Boyer took the top honors in the AHHS Youth Medallion Roadster Under Saddle, while Noble Victory and Hannah took the prize in the Youth Medallion Roadster To Bike.

Warren Finkbine drove Diamond’s Whiz Bang to the blue in the Hackney Pony Open, with Dun Haven Awesome King earning the red ribbon for driver Ryan Hoffard and owner Kim Becker. In the long tail class, Mark Of Esteem and Kim Becker took home the blue ribbon.

Chip Wise had the multi-titled Amber’s Monogram just right to capture the Hackney Pony Pleasure Driving Championship. This pair had been reserve in the Adult Pleasure earlier in the show. Under the direction of Matt and Alicia Schuckert, the elegant Silver Oaks Phenomenon and owner-driver Bruce Ekstrom were impressive winners of the Adult division. Driving away with a brace of blues in the Junior Exhibitor and AHHS Youth Medallion Pleasure Driving was Taylor Russell and Autumnwood’s Rumor Has It. Tiny Jo Jo Kramer was adorable in her white dress and hair bow as Kim Becker helped her earn the red ribbon in the Medallion.

The Hackney Country Pleasure Driving has grown considerably in its third season at Heartland. Two of the division’s best ponies traded honors here. Sarah Wise gave her champion Driving Miss Emma a terrific drive to claim the championship, with Heartland Showboat and Jackie Hammond in reserve. In the Adult Pleasure class those ties were reversed, with Heartland Showboat sharp eared and precise to capture the top honors and Driving Miss Emma settling for the second slot.

The equitation division was light in numbers this year but still showcased several outstanding riders. Under the direction of Wes and Sena Bowling, a very poised Cassidy Dolby teamed her personality plus bay gelding to the Pleasure Equitation and Equitation Grand Championship. Cape Cod Farm always fields some of equitation’s very best riders. Their pupil Hallie Sansbury, very elegant on the rail and confident in her patterns, captured both the UPHA Challenge Cup and NHS event. The 17 & Under age group went to Jacob Wendel, followed by Shelby Graves.

Adriana Cortese sported the biggest smile on the fairgrounds as she captured wins in the 10 & Under Equitation and 10 & Under Equitation Championship. Camryn Silverton accounted for the UPHA 10 & under and earned a reserve tricolor in the championship. The lead line featured two adorable young ladies who will one day make their presence known in the ring, Klara Anderson and Nicole Lynn Mathews.

The Morgan division enjoyed numbers up a bit from previous years. Among the big winners in the division were Lookaway’s Fortune and Zach Roe, who earned top honors in English Pleasure Open and English Pleasure Championship for Tom Roe. Right behind this pair stood reserve champions China Grove and Amy Neifert. Miami Heat and Erin Wilber received the judges approval in the Amateur, with Pleasure Driving winners La Mer and Jacob Wendel coming up for the reserve, Turning Point Simply Divine and Michelle Quinn had the Pleasure Driving Championship in the bag followed by the winners of the Amateur, Cedar Creek Zephyr and Elaine Rosier.

Kelli Dreher topped a nice group of western Morgans with a smooth performance to claim the Open and the Western Championship. Cherrydale Scarlet O’Hara, winners of the Amateur, had to be content with the reserve tricolor. DRF Divine Design and Danielle Danielson earned a pair of reserves in the Open and Amateur. Susan Sunday guided Legendary Nobelle Roz to the Morgan Hunter Championship title with Amateur Hunters champions MEH Bella Mia and Ashley Olson in reserve. Estil Tibbs and Manchester All That Jazz rode away with the blue ribbon in the Open Morgan Hunter.

The Open To All Breed Saddle Seat Pleasure saw many nice horses answer the calls to a big selection of divisions. Krystal Murphy, one of the most polished young riders around, took Royal Crest’s Stone Idol to the top of the class in the English Saddle Seat Championship for owner Charlotte Elwert. This pair had previously taken top honors in the Junior Exhibitor class. Callaway’s Time To Dance, shown by Leslie Thalhammer, got the reserve ribbon for Kim Makimaa in the Championship and the Adult. The Adult class saw Julie Twining and the up and coming pleasure champion Paladin’s Desert Supreme making the victory pass in their only appearance.

The Walk & Trot Pleasure 10 & Under saw both blue and tricolor presented to CF Chief’s Mood Swings and Adriana Cortese. CH Tomorrow’s Future and Chelsea Lowry were the reserve champions, with Emily Mielke and Cherrydale Scarlet O’Hara garnering a good red ribbon in the qualifier. Michelle Quinn and Miami took home the blue ribbon in the Novice rider, with Moonlight’s A Lot Of Trot and Stacy Vance second.

The Open Pleasure Driving division was colorful and fun to watch. Driving away with the tricolor was Terry Tatum and the handsome Friesian Godiva, also winners of the qualifying class. Reserve in both events was the adorable Gypsy Vanner Billy O’Brien, driven by owner Beth Jones. The new Friesian division enjoyed support from a major local farm as well as past Saddlebred barns with the big black horses. The classes were entertaining and added interest to the show.

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