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Louisiana Fall Festival Horse Show

by Ann Bullard

GONZALES, La. – Witches and voodoo queens made their appearance on Halloween night for the opening performance of the Louisiana Fall Festival Horse Show. Costumed youngsters and adults opened the performance with an entertaining costume class, followed by 117 Saddle Horse, Hackney Pony, Arabian, Half Arabian and open breed classes over the next two days.

The weekend of Oct. 31 through Nov. 2, 2008 offered opportunities for Louisiana and Texas exhibitors to compete, socialize and, as they would say on the bayou, "make a good time." The show schedule and the Lamar-Dixon Exposition Center’s outstanding facilities, located approximately halfway between New Orleans and Baton Rouge, made excursions to fine restaurants and casinos an easy jaunt.

Show Manager Charles Byron assembled his good team to put on this annual event. Steve Crabtree of Elizabethtown, Ky., marked the cards. Janie Hamilton, Hixson, Tenn., handled the entries, capably assisted by her sidekick, Nancy Lassiter of Dallas, Texas. Mark Farrar, Shelbyville, Tenn., handled the announcing while Stacey Beam of Murfreesboro, Tenn., kept things moving and some exhibitors dancing in the stands to his entertaining organ music.

Hamilton, dressed as Louisiana’s favorite voodoo queen, Marie Laveau, and Elphaba , the Wicked Witch of the West, set the stage on Halloween evening. The two offered ‘spells’ for sale during one of the breaks in the action. Opportunities ranged from "A Blue Ribbon Spell" at $1,000, to Wish You Could Ride Like Your Favorite Trainer Spell at $2,000 and "The Horse Show Judge Blind Eye Spell," priced at $3,000, and "Instant Riches" for a mere $1 million, brought no bids.

Louisiana is famous for its hospitality. For years, exhibitors from across the country traveled to Baton Rouge for the Dixie Jubilee Horse Show, moving on to Montgomery, Ala., the next week for what was, for most, the season’s end. Today, the show is sandwiched between Alabama Charity and the American Royal. That and being located so far from the center of Saddle Horse land has helped make the Louisiana Fall Festival a regional show. The hospitality remains the same, with the Pennington family sponsored meals on Thursday through Saturday for exhibitors, trainers and staffs.

Two Texas barns added numbers and depth to the Louisiana-based competition. Bluebonnet Farms returned again this year, with Sandra Currier giving young horses another outing before Kansas City and presenting Reedann’s Talked About as the sole Open Five-Gaited entry. Currier rode the well-chromed, three-year-old IPOD to win the Pleasure Prospect qualifier and championship. Four-year-old Diablo Blue and Currier won the Park Pleasure qualifier with Scooter Scheurich stepping aboard the big, black horse to win the Park Pleasure Championship for his mother, Barbe Smith.

SGF Winning Ways Farm introduced their newest combination, owner Sherry Frankel’s aboard Walterway’s Headline Material in the adult show pleasure division, earning the qualifying blue and a reserve grand championship in one of the more competitive classes of the show. Frankel and her seasoned country pleasure star, The King’s Champagne, brought that tricolor back to Tomball, Texas. The show was a homecoming of sorts for May and Steve Chadick, both of whom grew up in New Orleans. May Chadick celebrated by winning the Roadster Pony Open and championship with Regal’s Special Effort LF while her husband introduced Slam’s American Dream to the show ring and a pair of reserve titles for her new owners, Shaylyn and Christie Randle. Megan McCarty and Rose Marie Chambers each made debuts, with McCarty showing Miss Fancy Pants to win the Amateur Three-Gaited qualifier and Chambers winning the Academy Show Pleasure Adult qualifier aboard the seasoned Shamrock’s Phi Guy.

Not surprisingly, Barbe Smith’s Cascade Stables brought the largest number of horses. Smith, assistant trainer Jeremy Granier and their staff kept hopping with 28 horses and many more riders, particularly in the academy division.

One of the broadest smiles among the Cascade contingent came from Elisa Champagne, who picked up a pair of blues and a tricolor in UPHA Country English Pleasure Novice Horse class, for which she also won the ‘Pink ribbon,’ sympolic of the fight against breast cancer, and the Adult Equitation qualifier and championship. Anne Doyle was not to be outdone, as she watched Bleyken and David Doyle earn blues and reds in walk and trot equitation. The third of Smith’s ‘young boys’ group, William Nalty continued his winning ways, topping his walk and trot equitation classes.

Marjorie Judd and her crew kept running all weekend, with 17 horses plus assorted riders going through the gates. Caroline Burglass draws near to the end of her junior exhibitor career, adding another pair of top ribbons to her and My Teddy Behir’s collection. Paige Pennington and CH Mahvelous Asset simply were unstoppable, with Pennington pinning the blue and tricolor from the Junior Exhibitor Three-Gaited and Junior Exhibitor/Amateur Championship to Judd’s tack room.

Tommy Benton’s Maranatha Stables enjoyed a weekend of balmy weather and blue ribbons. Rebecca Salley celebrated her fall break from Columbia University at LAHSA, riding Revival’s Raphael to a pair of Amateur Park titles. Trey Watson added to his 2008 ribbon collection by winning the Junior Exhibitor Country Pleasure qualifier and championship. Mary Katherine Powell and Showcountry’s Shadow Chaser stepped up to win the Show Pleasure Novice Rider blue.

Stephany Monteleone and Jessie Pettie represented Abel Vega and John Shea Stables in the pony division, with each earning blue ribbons. Vega also drove Golden Creek Farms’s Limited Edition to win the two Open Hackney Pony titles.

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