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Mercer County Packs 'Em In

Judge: Armon Effinger

Photographer: Doug Shiflet

Announcer: David Collier

Videography: Richfield Video

Ring Master: Charlie Wilson

Veterinarian: LeMayne Ellis, D.V.M

Organist: Gene Wright

Farrier: Eddie Williams

Horse Show Secretary: Brenda Musick

Horse Show Chairman: Brad Noel


by Margaret Cordes


HARRODSBURG, Ky. - The Mercer County Fair Horse Show filled the stands even during a downpour Friday Night. Shows across the country are asking how to get an audience at their shows but in Harrodsburg, Ky., nothing sends the exhibitors or the locals away. “It’s a hometown camaraderie,” explained show judge Armon Effinger, who has also been attending this show for decades. Show secretary Brenda Musick describes the support for this show as “unreal!”


It is, as its sign boasts, America’s oldest continuous fair and horse show, established in 1828. “Mercer County Fair has a lot of tradition and a lot of enthusiasts,” said show manager Brad Noel who has been managing the show for five years. “A lot of people who don’t own or train horses still come out every night because it’s their crowd. They are all big fans of the late Tom Moore, he did so much for the local industry and you get it in your blood and you keep on coming.”


Friday night brought a downpour that at most shows would have sent exhibitors and trainers packing. A ring, considered one of the best in any circuit, couldn’t even handle the volume of rain. Still, the stands were filled and some classes even crowded. One class worth noting was the UPHA Three-Year-Old Park Pleasure Classic. “I was amazed,” said Noel. “Here we have a night of pouring down rain, just miserable and a 16 horse class and the stands are full; who can explain this!” Noel was interviewed on a local radio station that night and said, “I think the crowd is still here because they can’t get to their cars.”


The show grew this year from four nights to five with the addition of several new classes that included Antique Carriage Driving, Three-Year-Old Road Pony, splitting the limit and junior road pony division and adding a Show Pleasure Driving Championship. Noel says he’s already taking suggestions on additions and changes for next year. One change may be a bigger separation between the Amateur Five-Gaited and Ladies Five-Gaited classes so there are more opportunities to show. “It’s little things you pick up to meet the needs and get more horses in.”


More than 500 horses showed at the Mercer County Fair this year. That does not include the 147 entries for Saturday’s academy classes that were rescheduled for the following week because of Friday night’s rain.


Each year two people are inducted into the Mercer County Hall of Fame. This year it was the late Jim B. Robertson and Dr. John S. Baughman who had served on the fair board as president for 10 years. Robertson you might say is a legend to the county fair, returning more than anyone for a record of 52 years. Judge Armon Effinger remembered many of those years, as he has been drawn to the show for decades as well. And this year, according to Effinger, “The show drew an extremely high quality of horses that provided several very competitive classes. This was definitely an exceptional show, not just volume but quality.”


Jimmy and Helen Robertson received the honors

Saturday night for the late Jim B. Robertson

when he was inducted into

the Mercer County Hall of Fame.


There were many exciting moments for Effinger who described the ring as very workable for larger classes allowing the entries to be easily seen by the judge. Several classes stood out in his mind as he noted the new combination of Callie Smith and She’s Gone Blonde making their debut in the five-gaited show pleasure division. Lisa Schlesinger and her One Night Stand in adult show pleasure who, according to Effinger, “stood out and beat some really nice horses.”




Game, good and getting settled is how Redd Crabtree described Callaway’s Winning Ways after the Five-Gaited Championship Saturday night. A memorable night for Leatherwood Farm and the audience said the announcer when he welcome one of the industry’s historic trainers to center ring on stake night.


Redd Crabtree and Callaway’s Winning Ways


In reserve were Neil Visser and Calif First Night Out for Elisabeth Chelberg. It was this team’s American debut as Calif First Night Out was recently purchased from the Bulmer family of Hereford, England.


The top quality and top contenders filled every gaited class. In the ladies division, Melissa Moore won with Zara Spook for Dr. Wendy Troyer. Kris Knight and Shez So Delightful finished in reserve.


In the amateur division, Andrea Nelson and her The Light O Love moved up from a reserve in the qualifier to claim the championship. Anita Meyer and Limebank King Of Clubs also climbed up the judge’s card to be awarded the reserve in the championship class. Laurel Nelson and her Catamaran finished first in the qualifier.


Junior exhibitors had one class to themselves and it was dominated by Justin Cowley and Elmo Greer’s Radiante. Sarah Sessoms finished in reserve on her Memorize.


Tipsy Gypsy is becoming a familiar name with trainer John Conatser for High Hickory Farm. The team earned a blue in Novice Five-Gaited class with Neil Visser and Here Comes The Storm in reserve for James Orr.


Judge Armon Effinger could not believe the turnout for the Junior Five-Gaited class. Even after hours of steady rain, the ring was flooded with eager and top contenders. Fairing the best and never dropping ear, Ricky Cook and Alice Nunley’s Aussie never lost sight of their drive for a blue. The only stumble for Mike Spencer and Kim Crumpler’s Yippeekiyokiyey came from the announcer as he tried to call this horse for reserve. “Just call him Yippe,” Nancy Spencer said.


It was a little drier but still muddy for the UPHA Five-Gaited Classic but a good night for Joan Hamilton’s Kalarama’s Hottie and Gregorio Maldonado. In reserve, Mike Tunstall presented He’s A Big Wheel for Connie Schweitzer.


Get out of the way for Ivy Johnson and her five-gaited pony Miss Outta My Way as the team works their way back to Louisville by claiming the Mercer County blue. Callaway’s Exception To The Rule and Alexa Williams finished in reserve.


Jerry Hutson greeted Ivy Johnson

and Miss Outta My Way




The Open Three-Gaited class brought Todd Miles and Ostentatiously to center ring for Fish Creek Stables.


Todd Miles and Ostentatiously


Gene van der Walt and A Genesis were strong to pick up the reserve after a blue ribbon in the novice division. Maggie Haproft and Wind Up Doll finished in reserve in the Novice Three-Gaited class.


The Ladies Three-Gaited class welcomed Cindy Maloney and her Heir By Design to the pagoda in center right for a victory picture. Hollywood Agent and Renee Rinzler put on a picture perfect performance for reserve in both the ladies and the amateur championship. Elizabeth Shatner and her Boston Legal returned Saturday for an Amateur Three-Gaited Championship victory pass.


Elizabeth Shatner and Boston Legal

with trainer Tre Lee


A new team and already the first blue ribbon for Cindy Hettinger Carcione’s Kalarama’s Twister came in the Amateur Three-Gaited class. Lynda Sullivan and her Let’s Boogie celebrated a reserve ribbon.


The team of Hero’s Forever Ablaze and Caitlin Cooper tested the ring for a great victory pass in Junior Exhibitor Three-Gaited Championship. Teammate Tyler Miles brought home a blue in the qualifier for Patricia Buchanan on Callaway’s Emancipation. Micaela Evans and Tipitina finished in reserve.


Todd Miles and Lynda Norman’s More Than Enough continued on their blue ribbon run in the junior division. Jerry Hutson showed It’s Z Prince for Carl Holden to finish in second.


The three-gaited pony Cloudsplitter might have been an appropriate candidate for Friday’s call. But instead Olivia Weber enjoyed a nice and dry victory pass Tuesday night on her pony.




 An under saddle debut brought victory for Darrell Case presenting Heavenly Thunder for Nancy Leigh Fisher in the Open Three-Gaited Park class. This horse showed successfully as a three-year-old in fine harness last year and has finally made the move to under saddle. Wyatt DeHart collected a reserve ribbon for Vicki Bennett and her Buena Vista. Joan Hamilton’s Meadowlark Jubilee came to the show Saturday for a victory pass in the amateur championship to make it their third win in only a few months as this horse is just entering the show ring this year. Joellen Fisher Blount and her Cocktail Ring enjoyed a strong reserve Saturday night. In the Amateur Park class, Mary Jane Peeples and Pistolero earned their fourth blue ribbon this year. Bill Marple and his French Kiss took reserve.


Fine Harness


 Surfer Boy and George Knight had no trouble jumping the waves in what was still a soggy show ring early Saturday night. The young fine harness horse seemed to enjoy the crowd and the cooler air as he performed for a victory pass in the open championship. In a performance that fit his name, Pernickety!, shown by Gene van der Walt for Alison Benz, collected the reserve.


The Amateur and Ladies Fine Harness were combined at Mercer County. Susan Bartlett and her Harlem’s Santa Fe have been successful in both divisions and proved it with a victory pass Thursday night. The new amateur team of Candace Meili and her Coco Loco continued their strong run finishing in reserve.


First time out this year, junior harness horse Hillcroft Claret brought a blue under the direction of Larry Hodge. Martha Murdock drove Laurel Hill Pennies From Heaven to reserve for Jerry Reeder.


It was not just a first time out this year, but a blue ribbon debut for three-year-old Harlem’s Lunar Eclipse under the direction of Larry Hodge for Garlington Saddlebreds in the UPHA Classic class. Casey Crabtree showed Still Enchanted for David Crockett top the reserve.


Martin Teater presented this year’s two-year-old champion, Bob Bobaloo, for AE Nelson.


Road Horse


The ring was a little sticky but ready for speed, traction and James Nichols showing I Can Book to the tricolor honors for Jimmy Chancellor in the Roadster To Bike Championship. Holly Russell and her John T Bert N Me finished in reserve. In the open division, Mike Felty took on the crowd with the speedy delivery of a blue ribbon for Deborah Butler and her Fed Ex. Merrill Murray raced right behind them with King Simcoe.


Deborah Butler, known for loving fast, took home her own blue ribbon with her favorite amateur teammate, Dirt Devil. Milward Dedman showed BJS Hail Storm in reserve for Edwin Freeman. That’s only three of the nine road horse classes offered at Mercer County, so hang tight as the list goes on.


In the ladies division Ty Thomas showed her Stylish Stepper to victory Thursday night with Deborah Koning and Scruff in reserve. Megan Todd showed At Full Throttle for Lisa McMackin and for a victory pass in the youth division. Kelsea Rookard and Norwell Dancer warmed up right behind them in reserve.


Deborah Koning returned with her silks and this time took Matt T Up for a victory run in the USTA Roadster To Bike class. The novice roadster ribbon went to Thunderbolt and Raymond Shively for Judy McNeish. Under saddle, Melinda Moore and Quill were still number one for new owner Holli McDowell. Shane Sallee and her Hustle Hector hung on for reserve.


Judy McNeish and her Invincible Summer raced into the ring in the roadster to wagon division to continue a blue ribbon streak that started this spring. Ty Thomas and Stylish Stepper exchanged their carts and returned for a reserve.


Road Pony


 Eight classes were offered for the road pony competitors. Heartland High Command and Connie Smith earned the show’s top honors in the Road Pony Championship for Beth Jones. Regal’s Miss Kate LF and Mike Cox were in reserve. The remaining seven blue ribbons for the road ponies went to amateur team Fame And Fortune and Monford Greer, Dun Haven Grandiose and Kirstie Buerkly in the AHHS Youth Medallion for Blevins Farm, The Man and Wendy Winstead in the Limit Road Pony for Stacy Swalla, Kilbro’s Moment Of Attraction and Jack Noble in the Junior Road Pony, Hightower and Tom Lowry in the Three-Year-Old Road Pony for Golden Creek Farms, Pure County and Samantha Johnson in the Road Pony Under Saddle for Lisa McMackin and Shooting Star and Connie Smith in the growing Road Pony to Wagon division for Beth Jones.


In reserve the teams included Diamonds Beauty and Lisa Bartman in the Amateur Road Pony, Catch Me If You Can and Lauren Mathewson in the AHHS Youth Medallion Road Pony, Power Of Attraction and Matt Shiflet in the Limit Road Pony for Beth and Sarah Bushell, Templar and Rob Wilson in the Junior Road Pony, Hightower Craycroft Victorious and Steve Quaid in the Three-Year-Old Road Pony for Mary Hyatt, Cowboy Magic and Nathan Stein in the Road Pony Under Saddle and Riding Shotgun and Lanny Judd in the Road Pony To Wagon.


Harness Pony


 The Harness Pony Championship welcomed Mary Gaylord McClean’s Mastercraft’s Promoter LF down victory lane with Caroline Kamer and Heartland Flirtation in reserve in the championship and open qualifier. Golden Creek Farm presented its Twin Willow’s Wild Thing in the open division with McClean at the lines.


Hackney Pony teams Romeo’s Miss Mariah and Mary Gaylord McClean and General Mills and Gen van der Walt finished first and second respectively in the championship. In the open division it was Sandra Surber’s Heartland Candidate driven by Maureen Lydon and Classical Dancer with Renee Lavery driving for Kathy Buente.


Laura Lassiter came all the way from Texas for two blue ribbons with Nancy Lassiter’s pleasure pony Once Upon A Time. Heartland Night Prowler and Kelsey Herbert finished in reserve in the championship for Darrel Kolkman. Kenhurst Voodoo Doll and Kristen Gallagher took reserve in the qualifier.




 It was an incredible debut for Callie Smith as she headed to Mercer County with new her five-gaited pleasure teammate She’s Gone Blonde. With only one practice ride under their belt, this team held nothing back and earned the combined adult and junior exhibitor championship as well as the qualifier in the junior exhibitor division. The show was also Smith’s debut in the five-gaited division. Ali Judah presented Jennie Garlington’s Champagne Treat for the reserve ribbon in the junior exhibitor qualifier.


Five-gaited favorite Miss Genevieve and Chris Nalley returned for a reserve in the championship after a blue ribbon in the adult qualifier. Singing Hill’s Nicola van der Walt showed Intriguing Masterpiece top the reserve in the adult qualifier.


The park pleasure division welcomed Lenore’s Prairie Whoopster to center ring twice in the open championship and the open qualifier. With a half-dozen blue ribbons already this year, Steve Wheeler collected two more for John and Dorothy Lenore. Rob Tanner brought in a reserve for Ginger Failor with her Everybody Loves Raymond in the Park Pleasure Championship while Best Of News and Joe Brown earned the reserve for Dr. Robert Alexander in the qualifying class.


The Junior Park Pleasure call brought Sassy Dawn and Sarah Crane to center ring. Stonecroft All That Jazz with Wyatt DeHart in the irons returned to the barns with a reserve for Marlstone Farm.


Todd Miles continued his blue ribbon streak with the three-year-old Bouffant for Fish Creek Farm. Heir Guitar and Mitch Clark were reserve for Jennifer Corcoran.


Mercer County will be a memorable one for Lisa Schlesinger and My One Night Stand. Last year she left Mercer County with a reserve and headed to Louisville where again she claimed reserve honors in a tough adult pleasure division. This year she left Mercer County with two blues in the adult three-gaited pleasure division and is headed to the World’s Championship Horse Show.


Lisa Schlesinger and My One Night Stand


My Southern Charm and Brooke Jacobs finished in reserve in the qualifying class. Melissa Flint and The Royal Lad took the reserve ribbon home in the championship


Junior exhibitor catch rides turned into victory passes for several talented young riders. Ali Judah stormed her way to the junior exhibitor pleasure class winner’s circle for Terri Dolan on her Tornaado’s Storm Warnings. Jordan Mattingly brought Sports Night out of the line up twice for a reserve including the 14-17 division and the combined age group championship. The 13 and under honors went to yet another incredible catch-ride by Tyler Miles on Blackboard for McLinney Farm. Caitlin Ramsey earned the reserve ribbon on Diamond Dividend for Linda Gahwiler.


The Show Pleasure Driving class brought out four different combinations. In the blue were Joyce Cashman and Heirs Curtain Call with Nancy Lassiter and CH Callaway’s Head Over Heels up for reserve. The championship blue went to Firecracker Jack and Vicki Reed with Periaptus Infinitus and Megan Todd in reserve.


The adult country pleasure division offered two victory passes to Geneve and Alexa Noble. CeCe Hagen and her Irish Epic enjoyed two reserves.


In the Junior Exhibitor Country Pleasure Championship Piano Man and Courtney Greenbank celebrated with a tricolor. Highpoint’s Prince and Megan Todd finished in reserve. Emily Druckman earned the first blue ribbon with her League Of Nations under the direction of John Conatser in the qualifier. Elise Lockwood and What’s My Line trained by Mike McIntosh finished in reserve.


The Straight Guy and Jane Steinkamp took home the championship and qualifier titles in the country pleasure driving division. Charlotte Goodman’s Highpoint’s Prince earned the qualifier reserve while Lindsey Shields and Lenore’s Promises Kept moved into reserve for Julie Greentree in the championship.


Western country pleasure is now a division at Louisville and points are needed to qualify. In Harrodsburg, Harry Spotter and Paul Price were the favorite. Chelsea Ruxer and Samuel Charles finished in reserve.




 Saddle Seat 17 and Under Champion Belle Owen is fitting in with new a teammate with ease. Owen also captured the NHS Goods Hands qualifier. All the way from Texas for the summer, Avery Bul finished in reserve in both classes.


In the 17 and under division Christina Collis took her ride seriously, earning a blue ribbon with Micaela Evans in reserve. Brooke Jacobs finished first in the Adult Saddle Seat Equitation class with Anna Hormann in reserve. Amber Lynn Lowery earned the UPHA 17 & Under Challenge Cup. In the walk and trot division Alexa Flint took home the 10 and under Challenge Cup. Peyton Miller finished in reserve.


One age group put all pleasure equitation riders in the ring together with Premier’s Kelsey Olson taking the blue and Emily Abbott in reserve. Alison Harpole earned the Pleasure Equitation Medallion.

Kelsey Olson



This concludes the highlights of the Mercer County Fair Horse Show. Complete results can be found by clicking here.


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