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Horses and Charity Win at “Hottest” Show in West Virginia

by Kerri McDaniel

WINFIELD, W.Va. – Even though the Summer Challenge of Champions Horse Show has only been around a few years, it has proven itself to be an essential part of the show calendar for many exhibitors from West Virginia, Virginia and Kentucky. According to show secretaries, every stall on the grounds of the Winfield Horse Center had sold out for the show and entries were in good number for almost every class. The date of the horse show was moved back this year from a previous August weekend to now be held on June 25-27, 2009. Show staff and people on the grounds are friendly and exhibitors keep coming back year after year for not only the friendly competition but also the great prizes and the cause the show supports. The Challenge benefits the Make a Wish Foundation and also continued with the Kanawha Valley Horseman’s Association support of the Susan G. Komen Foundation for breast cancer research. Throughout the weekend many exhibitors, trainers and spectators at the show were seen wearing pink awareness ribbons or pink outfits to show their support, and t-shirts to "Ride for the Cure" were available for purchase through the KVHA.

Each night at the horse show, spectators were invited to participate in the Chuck a Duck contest that was held, and winners of the toss got 50 percent of the money collected from duck purchases. Weather proved cooperative all three nights of the horse show, but everyone was definitely feeling the heat that comes with the dog days of summer during the earlier parts of evening sessions.

Saturday night after the Park Championship had been tied, attendees on the grounds reflected back on a very special young woman the horse world lost tragically last fall. The winner of this class, Ooh Yes I Can, was presented with a trophy in memory of Shana Brianne Cowley, which had been donated by the Deer family and was presented in the middle of the ring by Missy Deer, Patty Kent and Paul and Leetta Beechum. Show announcer Sandra Jackson wrote and read a beautiful and moving speech reflecting on Cowley’s life, which was read prior to the victory pass. Shana Cowley and her horse, Man In The Mirror, affectionately known as "Shaq", had been frequent participants in the park classes at KVHA shows, so it was only fitting that this class was in her memory.

Karen Blankenship-Shumate showed the men just how it was done in the Open Five-Gaited classes. She expertly piloted Karry Trent’s entry, Charmed By Chance, through all five of its gaits, with an especially powerful slow gait and rack to win the Five-Gaited Championship and qualifier. Reserve in both classes was Todd Graham riding the sleek black Rappe for Money Maker LLC. Both entries garnered great support from the crowd who really got behind and cheered for their favorites.

Young exhibitor Angel Frame had a great weekend with her horse Angel’s Protégé and came up from earlier qualifier placing to be called for the win in the Amateur Five-Gaited Championship. This young team is under the direction of Sandy Preston at Tyler Mountain Stables. Reserve was the Hall Place-entry of Reedann’s River Dance and Danny Hibbard who also moved up in the championship. Reserve in the qualifier was Ventura’s Gold Card and Mary Evans. Along with Reedann’s River Dance, Hall Place brought another nice entry to the show with Shamrock’s Mainliner. Doug Wooten was in the irons for their win in the Junior/Novice Five-Gaited class. Todd Graham trotted up for the red ribbon with Whirlwind Cock Robin.

Jamie Messer from Honeywood Stables was absolutely elated after her win in the Juvenile Five-Gaited Championship. She moved up from a reserve in the qualifier for the big championship win. Memories Silk and Josh Legg were reserve in the championship with the qualifier win going to Uhlen’s Look Of Love and Annabelle Noe.

Three-gaited horses were well represented at the Challenge with quite a few barns bringing formidable entries for these classes. The Hamilton Farms-entry Alexander Dunkenstein was the big winner of the weekend, moving up from a reserve finish in the amateur/juvenile qualifier for the Three-Gaited Championship win. This snappy horse was ridden by Brett Hamilton. Reserve in the championship and open qualifier was Fox Material with Doug Wooten. The Open Three-Gaited qualifier winner was Ceil and Kenny Wheeler’s big, black entry, The Chaperone, with Smith Lilly in the irons. First Attraction and Katie Mallory were the classy winners of the Amateur/Juvenile Three-Gaited Championship. Reserve was the qualifier winner and popular entry The Marrying Man and Hillary Frame.

Only three classes were offered for Park horses, but numbers were strong in this division. Dark-colored horses seemed to dominate the classes, as the top four horses in the combined championship were either bay or black. The powerful but elegant mare Ooh Yes I Can was expertly piloted by Lewis Meadows for the wins in the Open Park Championship and qualifier for McDaniel Saddlebreds. Reserve in the championship was amateur/juvenile qualifier winners, Mi Lady A La Lucie and Holly Wilson. The red from the open qualifier belonged to Leslie Tickle and Callaway’s Cinnamon Bay. Reserve from the amateur/juvenile qualifier was Broadway’s Mamma Mia and Krysten Malcolm.

Pony classes were lightly filled but not lacking quality whatsoever. Spectators were treated to the speedy performances of Extremely Intimidating and Mark Shumate for the win in the Road Pony Championship, who traded places in the qualifier with Magical Mystery’s and Rae Lee Mills who took the win there. Another entry of Rae Lee Mills, Heartland High Alert, dominated the juvenile road pony division, taking the qualifier and championship wins with John Paul Jones at the lines. Heartland Range Rover and Ryan Pullin were reserve in both classes. Under saddle had a lone entry but speedy Dun-Haven Big Time was game for the win with Alyssa Burnett aboard.

Only one class was offered for the pleasure ponies. Holly Go Lightly and Lynn Hutchinson were a beautiful pair for the Hackney Pleasure Pony Championship win. Reserve were Heartland Night Prowler and Mary Katherine Brown.

Brittany Kale and Spirit Of New York PSF are the pair to watch for in Five-Gaited Show Pleasure this year, and they showed Judge Bo Lucas just how five gaits and manners are done for the qualifier and championship wins. Reserve in both classes was the slick racking Out Of Reach and Karen Blankenship-Shumate. This was one of the largest classes at the show and both exhibitors expertly piloted through many horses in their classes.

Moving up for a huge win in the Adult Three-Gaited Show Pleasure Championship was an elated Emily Un and her entry Captivating Smoke. This pair is trained by Chris and Laura Shuda. Reserve in the championship was the pretty entry Call Me Lucky Blue and Allison Hunter, with the adult qualifier win going to Bongo and Sarah Spencer. Reserve in the qualifier was Maurice Matson with his colorful horse Coventry’s Starbucks.

Juvenile 14-17 Show Pleasure Championship and qualifier honors went home with a very excited Gianna Covelli riding Callaway’s Summer Solstice for owner Brynn Crotty. Reserve in both classes was the snappy entry The Pool Boy and Sarah Klenk. The younger 13 & Under Show Pleasure Championship winner moved up from a reserve in the qualifier with Callaway’s Royal Mark and Taylor Heistand from Meadow Dream Farm wearing the tricolor honors. Barnmate Peyton Gerencir and Callaway’s Bet Your Boots were the winners of the qualifying class. Simbara’s Stars And Stripes and Maddie Morgan were the reserve champions.

Young horses proved that they are also very mannerly in the Pleasure Prospect Four Years & Under class. This well filled class was won by Fort Chiswell’s Prince Charming with Burt Honaker up. Matt Lightner piloted Ocean Commander up for the red ribbon. The Park Pleasure Stake was won by expert catch rider Casey Morgan Tibolet aboard A March Day with Take A Bow and Victoria Watson in reserve.

Karen Blankenship-Shumate and Katie McDaniel traded places in the Adult Country Pleasure classes. Shumate moved up for the championship win after a reserve in the qualifier with HS Marakest’s Prodigy, and Mountain View’s Mr. York earned reserve honors in the championship after a qualifier win.

Kayla Yutzy continued her winning streak in the Juvenile Country Pleasure classes this year with her horse, Castle Wizard. They added two more blues to the Meadow Dream Farm stalls with both qualifier and championship wins. Reserve in the championship was Kalarama’s Pitt Boss and Paige England, with MW Whatever Works and Rachel Borach claiming the qualifier red.

Shelby Graves was poised and polished for quite a few equitation class wins. She was the Saddle Seat Equitation Championship winner and also earned wins in the 14-17 qualifier and UPHA Challenge Cup. Reserve in the championship was Taylor Deer, with Allison Boyd earning the reserve in the 14-17 qualifier. Earlier in the weekend, Deer had earned the blue and a qualified spot for the NHS Good Hands. Lexie Bragg piloted her big bay, Harlem’s Jackpot, through the 13 and under win.

Overall, everyone at the Summer Challenge had a great time at the show despite scorching hot temperatures. Exhibitors were treated to a great progressive party on Friday night after the show with many barns offering everything from tacos and hot dogs to fresh cut fruit and chocolate fountains. The atmosphere at the show was great and competition was tough. If you’re looking for great summer fun, be sure to mark your calendars next year for the Summer Challenge of Champions.

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