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The Leaves Are Changing In New England - 9th Annual Octoberfest


by Bob Funkhouser

Mass. – The leaves are turning vibrant hues of red and orange, the night air has a distinctive nip to it and the fair crowds of Big E and Deerfield are behind us. That means one thing to most of the New England horse show set; it’s time for the Twin State Octoberfest.

Now in its ninth year, Octoberfest has become quite popular as the season ending show in New England. There are a few that go on to Penn National or the American Royal, but for the most part, this is it for another year. And while coming to W. Springfield and the Eastern States grounds for the fourth or fifth time since the spring is nothing to look forward to, management and the Twin State Association do a great job in making this a different event.

The fall season, and Halloween in particular, gives this show a flavor all its own. The main barn resembles a giant spook house more than it does an aisleway for a good horse show. Octoberfest has a laidback, fun-filled atmosphere but it takes a good horse or pony to hang a blue or tricolor amidst the other decorations adorning the colorful tack room drapes of the different New England barns.

Different is the key word here. New England, more so than any other area of the country, blends the different show horse breeds to make for entertaining events as the various breeds break up an otherwise monotonous schedule. This week American Saddlebreds, Hackney ponies, Morgan horses, Friesians and National Show Horses all competed for championship honors in front of judges Tim Lockard and Todd Trushel.
This was the last year for Show Manager Helen Fenton. A longtime fixture on the
New England circuit, Fenton attracted horses from all parts of the region to close out her chapter on a strong note.

“It was time to give this one up,” said Fenton.

As always, Fenton had a top group of professionals in key roles. Mary Wahl and Skeeter Combs were again the smiling faces keeping exhibitors happy in the show office. In the coliseum, Peter Fenton was the informative voice of Octoberfest. When it comes to informing the audience and giving exhibitors to the minute calls for their classes, it just doesn’t get any better. Larry Wahl provided back up for Fenton before he arrived from the Morgan Grand National. Also on the microphone, Jason Lawrence is also in the “just doesn’t get any better” category as the paddock master.

Assisting judges Lockard and Trushel were ringmasters Kent Moeller and Barry Caisse who ably controlled the traffic inside the ring. Terry Young made his first appearance as show photographer and he sent home exhibitors with many mementos for their walls, while Peter King provided the always-reliable video service. Thank goodness the services of Rick Howe weren’t needed often. He was the official farrier. Also part of the official family, Robert Dunham provided the background music on the organ.

Octoberfest continues to grow with horses well over the 350 mark. The large number of open pleasure classes help draw barns of all sizes as the different breeds and professionals can show in them. One open pleasure class had 19 entries and all of them were well-filled. Also in its second year were the Academy Championships.

The gaited division wasn’t overflowing, but competitive to say the least. Already with Five-Gaited Grand Championships at UPHA 14 Spring Premiere, Syracuse International and Big E, Cameo Appearance added both classes at Octoberfest to the credits. Darlene Trento-Wright was again in the irons for Jodie Goff. Twice reserve was Shamrock’s Locomotive with Kristie Cutting.

Jon Douglas and New Yorker’s Royal Gift put on a nice show in the junior/novice class to win the blue for Judy Heinbach. Others making victory passes in the gaited division included Yes I Have, Montgomery Burns, Party For Two, Hawkcrest and Collector Series.

Best of the walk-trot division turned out to be the Junior Exhibitor Three-Gaited Championship and qualifier. Both were large and extremely competitive classes. Tricolor honors went home with Maura Fratus and Callaway’s Born A Star. The Mike Murphy-trained champions had plenty of competition including that from reserve grand champion Tony Leone, ridden by Giovanna Leone.

In the junior exhibitor qualifier, it was the debut performance for Anne Kennedy and her new four-year-old I’m Out To Impress. Put together by Kevin Tomasko of Phoenix Stables, this team started off in the winner’s circle. Fratus and Born A Star were reserve in this one.

While there weren’t a lot of entries in the three-gaited division (it’s been a small division in New England all season) there was an array of talent that wins on the national level. Among them were Holli Esposito’s Sightline and Careen Dubuc’s Broadway’s Mamma Mia!

One of the strongest divisions in New England all year long has been the three-year-old park. Most of that talented cast was on hand again and this time it was Darlene Trento-Wright and Twist And Twirl trotting away with the A-1 Park Sweepstake titles for the three-year-olds. On top most of the time this year, He Is The Heir was the reserve champion with Kevin Tomasko riding.

Dianne Tambussi and Mystery Guest were two for two in a good amateur park division as were Lauren Sopel and Uwharrie’s Street Legal in the junior exhibitor park section. They represented the L.M. Turner and RMD Stables, respectively.

One of the most pleasant surprises was the number of fine harness horses competing. With six entries looking for the blue in the open class it was newcomer CH Cagin Martini making the victory pass with Gordon Gerna in the buggy for Paula Percoco. Beautiful and talented, Cagin Martini was a perfect fit in the harness division to also win the championship round. Judy Motley and Roseridge Steven Kyng were twice reserve.

There were also actually two road horses, whereas most of the roadster classes have been cancelled or not offered at all due to lack of entries in the region. Ben Shat had Evil Knieval on top, followed by Nancy Locke and Killian.

Six road ponies went head-to-head for their championship. Bob Funkhouser gave Heartland Double Trouble the winning drive, dedicating the drive to good friend and partner in Double Trouble, Tim Lydon. Lydon has been having a tough time with his battle against cancer and the crowd responded with great applause on the victory pass when announcer Peter Fenton acknowledged Lydon, “a great friend to many here tonight.”

Heartland Double Trouble qualified with a blue ribbon performance in the amateur class. Road pony reserve grand champion was open class winner Twin Willow’s High Yield. This ground-covering pony was owned and driven by Herbert Headwell under the direction of Ryan Fornango and John Gregory of Misty Hills Farm.

Fornango was in the viceroy when Twin Willow’s Dimitri was called to the winner’s circle as the harness pony grand champion. Reserve among the four entries was open winner High Mark, driven by Darlene Trento Wright for Maureen Quackenbush.

Pleasure ponies have been well-represented lately. David Arnold greeted Daryl Carlow and Lovely Anna in the winner’s circle as the grand champions among the six entries. Also winning blues were Oh Happy Day and Lilly Birch, and Model Of Excellence with Lexie Quarantiello.

Don’t Ask Why and Good Will Hunting traded places among the entries in the Five-Gaited Pleasure Championship and qualifier. Sharon Stoltz was the winning rider in the championship with Don’t Ask Why, while Juli Baranello rode Good Will Hunting to the qualifying blue.

One of the young horse standouts of the weekend had to be Pearl Buck’s Leading Lady. David Arnold had the beautiful Buck’s Co-Star daughter tuned to perfection for the Junior Park Pleasure Championship. She had been reserve in the qualifier to another top young star, Charm’s Choice ridden by Erica Faulkner.

Turning back all challengers in both adult pleasure classes were Michelotti LCC and Cathy Rodgers Holmes. Co Ed’s Impressive Lady and Star Of The Millennium took turns in reserve.

Meredith Frost and Starumphant moved up a notch from the qualifier to take the Junior Exhibitor Three-Gaited 15-17 Show Pleasure Championship. Qualifying winner Meadowlake Fandango was reserve grand champion for Riley O’Neil.

Alexandra Percoco was grinning from ear to ear while making her victory pass in the 14 and under show pleasure championship aboard Dakota’s Cloudburst SCS. Kate Owen and Elusive Love Affair had won 14 and under qualifier. Percoco qualified with a winning performance in the novice rider class.

Alexandra’s grandmother, Jayne Romano, made it three generations of the Romano/Percoco family to win at Octoberfest this year. Her new entry, Mahvalous Guy, was the Show Pleasure Driving Champion and Grand Champion. Herb Headwell and Mi American Gigolo were twice reserve in good company.

Adult country pleasure had two different winners. Some King Of Magic and Erin McCracken opened with a blue, while Jenna Haramis and Spot A Victory wore the tricolor. Also turning in a top ride, Alex Batista guided Middle March to the reserve championship victory pass.

Julieann Demers and Bi Mi Malahene swept the Junior Exhibitor Country Pleasure Championship and qualifier. Novice rider winner, Pam Perwein, was reserve grand champion with Starmaker’s Starburst.

In his third class, Orion’s Star won his first class, the Country Western Pleasure Championship with Marge Brown. Also winning Country Western blues were He’s Baack and Jenilee Shippee and CH MT Hopper with Careen Dubuc.

Specially Designed was the best of the country hunter pleasure contenders. Amanda Boutet provided the winning rides among the three competitors.

Having just won the NEHC Medal Finals at Big E, Marissa Gillispie was back for more to win the Saddle Seat Equitation Championship and qualifier. NEHC Medal winner Brynne Cummings was reserve grand champion with Thomas Santaferra Jr. taking reserve in the qualifier.

Reserve grand champion in the NEHC Walk and Trot Finals at Big E, Margaret McCool topped Big E’s grand champion Michaela Gillispie to be crowned Octoberfest’s Walk and Trot Equitation Grand Champion. It was the same way in the 9-10 qualifier and the UPHA Walk and Trot Challenge Cup. Holly Hacskaylo was the first name called out in the 8 and under class. Devann Lapointe swept the Hunter/Western Walk Trot Equitation division among tough competition.

Phoenix Stables was again at the forefront with Christie Millbury topping the Pleasure Equitation Championship and 15-17 qualifier. Heather Mallette was the 14 and under winner.

High Tail Acres stablemates Clara McCool and Conor Patrick Henry were first and second in the Saddle Seat Lead Line competition to represent the DelTorchio family in winning fashion. Madison Bang and Ashley Voght took the blue and red streamers from the Hunter/Western Lead Line class.

Even with the Morgan Grand National going on in Oklahoma City there was still a nice turnout for the Morgan division. There was a load of talent in the Morgan English Pleasure Championship. Showing from Northgate Stables, Lynne Plourde and RN Champagne Summer went home with the tricolor. They had won the amateur class and were second in the open qualifier as well. At the top all year long, KGA’s Center Stage and David Arnold were reserve grand champions for Linda Dzicek after winning the open class.

From the John Bennett Stables, Brynne Cummings and Silverheels Cimmaron made both victory passes in the Morgan Junior Exhibitor Championship and qualifier. In the championship round their closest competition was Cedar Hills Desiree, shown by Mary Grygorcewicz.

Displaying the versatility of the Morgan breed, RN Champagne Summer was also the Morgan Pleasure Driving Grand Champion. This time husband Phil Plourde was in the buggy. Dean Bartholomew drove the veteran champion Westenfeld Band Leader to the reserve tricolor. Rob Fratus and Highover Party On Command were on top in the qualifier.

John Lampropoulos and his Northgate entries were doing quite well while wife Sheri Lampropoulos was in Oklahoma directing Michelle Aulson and Whispering Rhythm N Blues to a world title. Dylan Spence and Cedar Creek Samurai added to the Octoberfest totals with the Morgan Park Saddle Championship and qualifying blue.

From the Morgan Classic Pleasure division, Manistee Blaze O Glory was the grand champion for Elizabeth Tylawski. L’Cima Valentino and Sensational Touch won classic qualifiers.

A many times winner in the English pleasure division, Trebles High Command was a two-time winner in Morgan western pleasure with Judy Davis in the saddle for Diann Sanel.

Equinox Adagio was the name to remember in the Morgan Hunter Pleasure Championship and qualifier. Emily Hammond was the winning rider. If that wasn’t enough, they also won the junior exhibitor qualifier. Mary Prescott and FVF Promise Me Something ended up winning the junior exhibitor championship.

The Friesian competition keeps growing in New England. Annika Bruggeworth had a most successful week as she rode Daimler B to the Friesian Open Pleasure Championship. They qualified with the victory pass in the junior/novice class. Bruggeworth also owned reserve grand champion Gooitzen Fan Teakesyl who was catch ridden by Rob Turner. Earlier in the week Gooitzen was crowned in the Friesian In Hand Champion. In the open pleasure qualifier with was the multi-titled Jorritt on top with David Arnold presenting for Lou and Delia Fox.

Arnold came out with the tricolor streamers from the Friesian Walk/Trot Pleasure Championship. He was aboard Rosemary Saccocia’s topnotch entry Hattie. Debbie Thomas and Hibrand Fan Fjildsicht wore the reserve streamers after winning the qualifier.

Wietse Fan Unia State and Eugene Sweeney represented Van Guard Friesians as the Pleasure Driving Champions. They were also winners of most unique Friesian Costume class.

The list of open pleasure winners went on and on. Representatives of the American Saddlebred, Morgan and Friesian breeds all won titles there.

Rounding out the schedule of classes was a good group of academy championships to go with such fun things as the Costume class. The variety and atmosphere are what keep lots of New England equine enthusiasts coming back year after year to support the Twin State American Saddlebred Association.

Complete results can be seen and searched by clicking here.

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