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Jingle Bell - Ten Years Old and Going Strong

by Leeann Mione

DEL MAR, Calif. – The Del Mar Horse Park set the holiday scene for the big group of Saddlebreds, Morgans, Friesians and Hackney ponies that made the trip from throughout the Pacific Coast region.

This year, Miniature Horses and Gypsy Vanner horses were added to the schedule and they added a unique flavor to the in-ring action. Portable stalls had to be added to accommodate the bigger numbers this year.

Show chairmen Lance Bennett and Scott Hickey are the main driving force behind this show and they work so hard all year to make it extra special. They succeed each year and with help from a great show staff, this year’s show was their biggest and best ever.

Julie O’Connor served as show manager with secretaries Scott Hickey and Sheri Hurst and office clerk Mary K Hartman, kept things running smoothly. Bill Hartman not only served as USEF Steward, but he was also the Master Of Ceremonies at the Saturday evening banquet where the Pacific Coast Horse Shows Circuit awards and ASHA of California State Pleasure Horse awards were presented after a fantastic buffet dinner (see edit elsewhere this issue).

Lance Bennett also served as stable manager, Julie Knox was ringmaster, Charlie Esau was the paddock manager and Jim and Diane Hickey worked the gate.

Michael Fox and Scott Hickey were in charge of awards and one of the things that draws exhibitors each year is the chance to win one of the show’s unique prizes.

Rick Osteen again handled the photos from center ring and Take-One Video served as official videographers.

Kelly’s Farrier Service had very few thrown shoes to contend with and Dr. Lindsay Lewis was the show veterinarian.

Jeff Gilbert announced the classes from his perch just outside the ring and he worked to keep the schedule moving efficiently and be entertaining for the audience as well.

While much of the country was in a deep freeze, Del Mar, California was enjoying daytime temperatures in the mid-50s and with a daytime-only show schedule, they were able to capitalize on the great weather.

Lynn Harvey McNamara made the trip from Wethersfield, Conn., to judge all classes and she had a great group in front of her all weekend.

The action in the ring was fantastic and that just added to the special touches outside the ring that make this show a "Must Do" on anyone’s list.

Hospitality included a Wednesday evening "Move In Chili Cookoof" at the Rancho Vista/Friesian Focus barn aisle.

The private trainer’s party is always a huge hit and not only do Bennett and Hickey host it at their home, they also rent a bus to provide transportation from the host hotel, Hilton Del Mar. The food, drink and prizes given away were enjoyed by those in attendance and gave the trainers a chance to relax before the nonstop action began.

The Holiday High Tea and "Tini" Party in the big tent up on the hill drew a big crowd again this year as they anticipated a great dessert buffet and a variety of "tini’s" to enjoy.

Saturday’s awards banquet, with a great buffet dinner and Sunday’s Jingle Bell Brunch, with breakfast made to order, kept everyone full and satisfied with great food and drink and great friends.

Tayler Walters was awarded the Richard K. Walker II Outstanding Junior Exhibitor Award (see edit elsewhere this issue). Electra Mustaine was presented with the Junior Exhibitor Good Sportsmanship award Sunday afternoon by Devin Bowman.

The coloring contest and essay contest winners were also announced Sunday afternoon (see separate edit this issue). Wallen West was the winner of the best tack room contest, followed by Darcey Attig’s River Run in second. Seamair Farm had the best Christmas Tree and White Star Stables’ tree was named reserve.

A lot of time and effort is spent by the barns that make the trip to Del Mar in December to decorate their tack rooms and Christmas trees and combined with the beautiful set up in center ring and the decorated trees that surround the tables outside the ring, the setting at the horse park is truly beautiful. When the sun goes down and the lights start twinkling, it’s almost magical.

The show’s beneficiary, Children’s Hospital, has received more than $200,000 to date and both the Open English Pleasure Stake and qualifier were designated "Red Ribbon" classes. All of the proceeds from both classes were donated to the hospital. In addition, Santa Clause made an appearance in his carriage drawn by two of Joan Fernandez’ beautiful Friesian’s Daen and Itse. A photographer was on hand to take pictures of anyone who wanted one for a donation of $5 each and the proceeds also helped raise money for the show’s charity. Commemorative posters for $10 each also helped the cause.

Robb Wallen rode Dancing In The Dark to the win in the Open English Pleasure Stake for owner Bonnie Farris and Kirwan Kennedy won the qualifier. She rode Dressedfortheparty under the direction of Marcia Everett. Lane Rabin, riding from Matthew Roberts’ White Star Stables, was the reserve grand champion with Mardi Gras Mambo.

The horse park’s big ring, so beautifully decorated, provides a great setting for the horse show and McNamara had her work cut out for her all weekend. Highlights of the championships follow. Grand Champions and reserve grand champions all received flower neck sashes and their respective tricolor ribbons and were invited to make a victory pass for the appreciative crowd.

The Five-Gaited Stake closed out the show Sunday afternoon and a trio of top competitors came through the gate. Wallen had just won the previous class with Dancing In The Dark, so he had to do a quick change to switch gears for the gaited stake.

Julie Streitfeld, directed by her sister and trainer Brigitte Scholl, headed in with CH Sky’s Blue Angel and Barbara Beamer was up on Trophy Hunter. Wallen completed the class with Bob and Paula Lovo’s Winsdown Bridgeworks.

The trio did a great job and got the crowd behind them but when the card was turned in it was CH Sky’s Blue Angel named as the grand champion. Trophy Hunter and Beamer were reserve.

Linda Bradley and CH Tip Me Do have had a great year in the amateur division under the direction of Bill Tomin and they added the amateur stake tricolor to their total after topping a really nice group. Heir Dazzle and Amy Voliva put on a show to claim the reserve tricolor from Bridleway Stables.

Erinn DeMarco and Callaway’s Lord Of The Dance were the Junior Exhibitor Five-Gaited Grand Champions and they added the tricolor to the Bridleway total.

Gloria Vanderbilt, owned by Ann Blankenship and trained by Frank and Ann Miller, did them proud as she took the victory pass with Ann Miller in the Three-Gaited Stake. Royal Amore, owned and shown by Matthew Roberts, was the reserve grand champion with a stellar effort.

Jim Bennett Stables had a great week with numerous winners including Undulata’s Lady Noel. Missy Bennett had the winning ride in the amateur stake.

My Cheatin’ Hart and Gentry Beauclair, riding for Viewpoint Consulting LLC, added the Junior Exhibitor Five-Gaited tricolor to the White Star total.

Roberts was back in the ring in the Three-Gaited Park Stake and he topped a pair of strong competitors with Le Reve to take the win for Bob Battaglia. Julie DeVault and CH The Full Monty did a great job to finish as the reserve grand champions for DeVault Farms LLC.

Larry Witter is no doubt still riding high over the success of the revamped and relocated California Saddle Horse Futurity and West Coast Championship Horse Show but at Jingle Bell, he had plenty more reason for his head to be in the clouds. He teamed First French Kiss to the top of the card in the Amateur Three-Gaited Park Stake under the direction of David Blevins of Dreamcatcher Saddlebred Farm.

Lynda Lord rode Sir Raymond Ross to a nice reserve tie for Desert Star Saddlebreds under Roberts’ direction.

Kalarama’s On A Roll and Get My Drift battled it out in the fine harness stake and both made several good passes down the rail in an effort to take the title of Fine Harness Grand Champion. In the end, it was Tomin and Kalarama’s On A Roll named the winners for Jack Reich. Derek Repp and Get My Drift were reserve for Fair Hills Farm. Repp, assistant trainer Mike Aponte and owners Maynard and Linda Brittan made their first appearance at Jingle Bell and finished with several top ribbons.

Jeffrey Fetzer was dressed to the nines to sit behind Mary Babson and present her to the win in the Amateur Fine Harness Stake for owner/trainer Nani Barnes and Larry Boenzle.

Greg Carstens has only been recuperating from liver transplant surgery for approximately a month, but he brought the ponies of Seamair Farm to Del Mar and they put on a great show. Seamair had several wins by the end of the weekend including Joan Richardson’s win with Smart Charlie in the Roadster Pony Championship.

DF Tres Chic was a very busy pony at Jingle Bell, but like always his "on go" attitude kept him looking great class after class. He and Kendall Weber were the Roadster Pony Reserve Grand Champions and he carried Coley Bigelow to the Roadster Pony Under Saddle Reserve Grand Championship.

Lila Tatar was a very busy young lady at Jingle Bell, just as she is at most shows she attends. Showing multiple mounts in a variety of divisions, Tatar teamed her pony Heartland City Boy to the Roadster Pony Under Saddle Grand Championship under the direction of Glynis Snowden.

Joan Richardson was back in the winner’s circle but this time it was with Seamair’s Dear Admiral. They took the victory pass in the Harness Pony Championship. Annette Puchta drove Heartland Sugar and Spice to the reserve grand championship for Shoenheit, Ledda and Puchta.

Shari Rainwater and Lady Juliet have been getting better and better since teaming up last year under the direction of Michael Craghead and all their hard work paid off. They won the Hackney Pleasure Driving Pony Championship with Osteen capturing the picture perfect victory pass.

Joanne Weiner and Heartland King of Kings have a very long list of wins to their credit and are consistently at the top of the division under Bill Tomin’s direction. They headed out of the ring with the reserve tricolor.

Global Scene and Royalee Cleveland kept Dreamcatcher Saddlebred Farm in the winner’s circle yet again when they were named the Five-Gaited Pleasure Grand Champions for David and Royalee Cleveland.

Undulata’s Confidential, with Laura Denenholz riding for Judy Denenholz under the direction of Jim and Helen Cherry, turned in a strong effort to exit with the reserve streamers.

David Becker, Jr. and Unchained, owned by Virginia Bergstrom and Janet Overstreet, have been a force to reckon with in the park pleasure division all season and they added the Park Pleasure Championship title to their resume at Jingle Bell. Who’s The Fheirest and Liz Bolton were right there to take the reserve title for The Kilbourne Family.

Java Jolt, just a three-year-old, put on an impressive show with David Blevins in the irons, to win the Junior/Limit Park Pleasure Championship and add another tricolor to David and Royalee Cleveland’s total. Joe Spirit and Cathryn Hager, of Firefly Equestrian LLC, teamed up to take the reserve ribbon.

Helen Roy and CH Tommy James have also been having a great year under the direction of Jennifer Dixon and they were right on target to claim the victory in the Adult Three-Gaited Pleasure Championship for Jashojit and Helen Roy.

Absolute Courage added the reserve tricolor to Ann Blankenship’s total after they put on a show in the adult pleasure stake to finish as reserve grand champions from Miller Equestrian Services.

Making it two for two for J.L. Dixon Stable, CH A Magic Spell and Ethan Feiber won the Junior Exhibitor Three-Gaited Pleasure Championship after just having debuted in the division in Las Vegas. The Robinson sisters had a great week for Bradley’s Stables including Samantha’s reserve grand championship in the junior exhibitor stake with CH So Audacious.

Foxy Cleopatra added a tricolor to the David Becker Jr. Stables tack room wall when McNamara named her the winner of the Show Pleasure Driving Stake. Bridgette Ruston drove for owner Elfriede Munday. Steve Young handled the driving duties for Louise Curran’s New Yorker At Heart and they headed out of the ring as the reserve grand champions under the direction of Robb Wallen.

Breanne Howard rode Sharp, owned by Anne Speck of Rancho Del Mar, to the tricolor win in the Five-Gaited Country Pleasure Stake.

The country pleasure division and driving division were well filled and competitive and competitors worked hard to catch judge McNamara’s eye.

CH Ultrasuede and Julie DeVault were unstoppable on their way to the winner’s circle in the Adult Country Pleasure Stake to add another championship win to the DeVault Farms total. Miss Giggles and Suzanne Lyons were next in line for a ribbon under the direction of Bridleway.

Greg and Amanda Groce brought the group from Johnny 6 Stables and they were represented in the winner’s circle when Fair Hills Bold Prince won the Junior Exhibitor Country Pleasure Championship with Teresa Bjornson. She rode for owner Katelyn Hayes.

Amy Vicker-Smith put Sabino Equestrian Center back in the winner’s circle when CF Prowler’s Keepsake took the victory pass in the Country Pleasure Driving Championship. Toni Nickell teamed Mountainview’s Crown Prince to the reserve tricolor under the direction of Rancho Del Mar’s Anne Speck.

Richard’s Time ERB added another win to the Jim Bennett Stables total with Patty Ladd showing. They topped a nice Western Country Pleasure Stake to take the win. Spurwing’s Superfine Lady and Allison Gann have had a great year since debuting together last year at Jingle Bell for owner Kathie Dunn. They added the reserve grand championship to their credits with a strong effort.

I’m W.O. Bentley’s win in the Parade Horse Stake added to owner Kathie Dunn’s total for the week. Missy Bennett handled the catch ride.

Kay March and Patrick Bright brought several horses to Jingle Bell and they showed their talents and versatility in a variety of different division. Ocoee and March won the Hunter Country Pleasure Stake to claim one of several wins.

The equitation riders knew they would have to turn in their best performances in front of judge McNamara, herself a prominent equitation instructor in the industry.

A hardworking group of eight took on the challenge of the rail work and workout in the Saddle Seat Equitation Championship. After displaying their skills on the rail, McNamara selected four riders to perform the workout to display their equitation abilities.

The group of four, a recognized and highly decorated group already, did a great job with the workout and when it was over, it was Taylor Walters named as the grand champion with April Caulk’s Mo’ Motion under Speck’s direction. Claire Brownie, with Futurity Chicago Whitesox, was the reserve grand champion, showing from Majestic Farms.

Walters was surprised when, after exiting the ring, she was asked to stop and dismount. It was a special moment when she headed back into the ring to presented with the Richard K. Walker II Outstanding Junior Exhibitor Award (see separate edit this issue).

The adult equitation riders had two good classes and McNamara invited all five riders in the championship to perform the workout.

Kendall Weber added another adult equitation title to her long list when McNamara named her the winner of the championship with CH Highpoint’s Abba Zabba. Cory Campbell, riding Jim Bennett’s Undulata’s Tinsel Time, was the reserve grand champion.

Kristina Mauro and Victoria Walz were one and two, respectively, in the Walk and Trot 11 and Under Equitation Championship. Mauro rode MLF Caliente and was met by Anne Speck after her win. Walz rode Kingsgrove Dynasty under the direction of Nicole Johnson of Premier West Stables.

Johnson herself was in the irons for a tricolor victory pass and it came after the Morgan Park Saddle Stake with Springmill Stardust. Amelia Coomber showed CBMF to the win in the Morgan Amateur Park Saddle Championship.

Lila Tatar and Sardes Sinful topped the Morgan English Pleasure Stake to add to her busy week. Greg Holzschuher rode Dragonsmeade Vivace to the Morgan Amateur English Pleasure Championship title from Blackridge.

Marin Five-O-One and Savannah Miller won the Morgan English Pleasure Junior Exhibitor Championship for Miller Equestrian.

Kassandra Sapia showed both Friesians and Morgans to the winner’s circle during the weekend including her win in the Morgan Classic Pleasure Saddle Stake with Intrepid Behold. Sapia showed for Intrepid Living Trust under the direction of Robb Wallen.

AMHF Absolut Mystery and Madeleine Brown captured the reserve streamers for owner and trainer Anne Speck.

Lila Tatar and VVM Mark My Words took on the challenge of the competitive junior exhibitor classic pleasure championship and they topped a strong group to take the win. Coomber and Make A Wish were right there to finish as the reserve grand champions.

Intrepid Behold wasn’t done winning yet. With Arthur Perry in the buggy, they headed down victory lane after winning the Morgan Classic Pleasure Driving Championship. Fellow Wallen West teammate, McCartney, owned by Cathrine Cartwright, was reserve with Bob Lovo driving.

Out Of The Blue Willow and Charlene Edleson, trained by Darcey Attig, and HDD Wild Thing with Dianne Lents, trained by Nicole Johson, battled it out for the top two spots in class after class in the Morgan western pleasure division and shared those honors.

Edleson took the victory pass in the Morgan Western Pleasure Open Championship and Lents rode to win the amateur championship after claiming reserve in the open championship. Out Of The Blue Willow was reserve in the amateur championship, giving them both a one-two finish.

VCF Naughty But Nice and Victoria Walz had a great week from Premier West and they took the title in the Morgan Walk/Jog Western Pleasure 11 and Under Championship. It was a sweep for the Nicole Johnson-trained entries, as Ben Stout and WWF Donna My Pepper were reserve. They finished in the same order in the Morgan Walk/Jog Western Equitation 11 and Under Championship.

Shermandell Asgard also represented River Run in the winner’s circle by taking the titles in the Morgan Hunter Pleasure Open and Amateur Championships with Nicoline Malkvist. ALS Bedazzle and Michellie Jones, from Miller Equestrian, were next in line for a ribbon in the open championship.

It was a special moment for qualifier winner and reserve grand champion BVW Miss Scarlett. Betsy Viets Wallen was thrilled when the mare she bred, raised and trained herself won her first class ever and then returned to take the amateur reserve grand championship.

Siger and Lance Bennett were just one of the winning teams for Joan Fernandez and Friesian Focus. They won the Friesian Park Saddle Championship.

Barbara Beamer switched gears from showing in the five-gaited division and drove Tjalke to the Friesian Show Pleasure Driving Championship for Carole Gatti.

Kassandra Sapia took yet another victory pass for Friesian Thunder when Sieger Fan Ferwalde won the Friesian Saddle Seat Pleasure Stake.

It was obvious Joan Fernandez was having a great time with Winze in the Friesian Show Pleasure Driving Championship, as evidenced by her big smile. That smile got even bigger as they headed down victory lane.

Devin Bowman did a great job catch-riding Alie Van Easterboarn to the win in the Friesian Walk/Trot Pleasure Championship for Friesian Focus. Sapia and Tymo followed in the ribbons for Friesian Thunder.

Electra Mustaine is growing up fast and she’s been having a great career with Gerrit since they teamed up last season. They claimed the tricolor in the Friesian Walk/Trot Amateur Championship, followed by Tymo Fan de Stuken and Sapia.

Lance Bennett rode Itse to the Friesian Hunter Pleasure Championship title to add to the Friesian Focus total. Rachael Stokes, who just gave birth to beautiful baby Sophia two months ago, presented Mariken van Moerkerkenland to the reserve tricolor for Gary and Marilyn Lane.

Intrepid Behold won the Halter Championship, which was open to any breed, with Robb Wallen showing. Just Dreamy and Xena Vimercati headed out with the reserve tie.

The OTAB classes were well filled and it was nice to see the various breeds competing against each other.

Joan Fernandez drove yet another Friesian down victory lane, but this time it was her entry Daen. They captured the championship in the open pleasure driving division. Ron Rollins and Just No Tellin’ were reserve for Ledda and Puchta.

Nicole Johnson’s Premier West already had a bounty of blues and tricolors on the wall but she added to that total by riding Rum Brook Immortal Valor to the OTAB Western Pleasure Championship for Dianne and Murphy Lents to keep their good show going.

When Matthew Roberts and Makin’ A Splash took the victory pass in the Open Hunter Pleasure Championship, it was complete validation for owner Dr. Amy Dru that she had made the right decision. "I knew earlier this year that something was wrong with him. He just seemed to somehow be hurting, but we’d done everything we knew to do to have him checked out and no one could find anything wrong", said Dru. "I knew I couldn’t ride him and I didn’t think he would be successful with anyone else so I decided to call Bill Thompson to see if he could take him at his retirement farm. I had my hand on the phone to have him sent but at the last minute, I just couldn’t do it. I called Matthew and said ‘Let’s give it another shot".

The result is a happy and successful hunter who loves his job and proved it at Jingle Bell by topping a great class for the win. Dru added, "We turned a very sour lemon into a lovely sweet glass of lemonade".

Blacky van de Stoven and owner Morgan Oomps, from Firefly Equestrian, were the reserve grand champions under the direction of Cathryn Hager.

Victoria Walz was again named the grand champion in the walk and trot division and this time she was on board Kingsgrove Dynasty in the OTAB Walk and Trot Pleasure 11 and Under Championship. Despite the fact that her mom, trainer Rachael Stokes, was a nervous wreck, Haley Stokes rode like a pro and finished with the reserve ribbon. She rode Kathie Dunn’s I’m W.O. Bentley.

Jingle Bell is a show that proves if you make people feel welcome and appreciated and provide great competition, great hospitality and some time to enjoy the location, owners, trainers and exhibitors will come. They did just that again this year to make year number 10 a huge success and the biggest Jingle Bell ever.

It will be a tall order next year to top their accomplishment, but as the history of this show has proven, it just continues to get bigger and better.

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