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MHSA Spring Show Kicks Off Show Season In Michigan

by Laurie Hipps

Candids by Julie Opipari


CORUNNA, Mich. – The Michigan Horse Show Association kicked off the 2007 show season with the annual Spring Horse Show from May 17-May 20. Although the weather at the Shiawassee County Fairgrounds was less than perfect, the exhibitors showed enthusiasm and skill in the show ring. The show attracted an array of breeds including American Saddlebreds, Morgans, Arabians and Paso Finos. Other breeds were also welcomed with MHSA’s own Challenge of the Breeds classes. 


Judge Liz Sanchez of New Mexico was willing to give her advice to the exhibitors, helping them improve their showing techniques. Sanchez covered all of the classes except the Paso Fino division which was judged by Phyllis Gaudreau of Florida. Show Manager David Bedell was the familiar voice behind the announcer’s stand, teaming with ring clerk Jean Utley to call the winners, having many years of experience behind them.


Exiting the ring, exhibitors visited Cyndi Mortensen for their ribbons and trophies, while enjoying the organ music from Madge M. Ladd. Damian Hyde was never far from the ring, ready to put his skills to work, replacing any shoes thrown during the show. From the center of the ring, Ron Gekiere served as ringmaster, alongside photographer Terry Young who captured the classes in pictures.


President of MHSA Sue Hall handled everything from stabling to the exhibitors’ supper on Saturday. Russ Hall was the experienced chef, cooking the hotdogs to perfection for the exhibitors to enjoy. Many barns attended the supper, devouring hotdogs, potato salad, chili, cake and much more.


Sue and Russ Hall


Although the entries were lower than normal, the five-gaited stake class did not suffer, having five entries battling for first place. Sena Bowling racked Careless Dreamer past the competition with elegance, capturing the championship after winning the open five-gaited class. Dandy Dandy followed as reserve champion, ridden by Tom Sworm. Hey Big Spender, ridden by Danielle Hewitt, took home the blue in the amateur five-gaited class. 


The three-gaited park stake brought four horses into the ring, but only the high-trotting Shamrock’s Daredevil came out as the champion, ridden by Jodi Higdon. Kinda High on Sambuka clenched the title for reserve champion with Mackenzie Sabo up.


The show pleasure three-gaited championship had one of the best turnouts with eight entries, making it the largest Saddlebred championship of the show. Cloverleaf Skybird walked away with the championship ribbon with Kristen Siess on board. Reserve champion and winner of the junior exhibitor three-gaited class went to Salvation with Taylor Gelsosomo manning the reins.  The five-gaited pleasure class featured a blue ribbon and tricolor earned by All Stirred Up and Mindy Van Hellemont. Here, Kristen Siess was reserve with Cloverleaf Taho Taho.


The Country Pleasure Three-Gaited Championship was taken by Clifford Time ridden by Marina Nimmo. Callaway’s Big Deal and Kristen Thorin took home the blue ribbon in the junior exhibitor class. 


The ASB Western Country Pleasure Championship had six entries enter the ring on Saturday evening. I’m the Law took home the tricolor, ridden by Brooke Arington. The reserve champion Stardust’s Ruby Tuesday took home high ribbons in both the western and hunter championships with Alesia Spears on board. 


The ASB Hunter Country Pleasure Championship was dominated by the Spears family. Alesia Spears captured the championship ribbon aboard Stardust’s Ruby Tuesday, with her mother Donna Spears taking home the reserve championship title on Stardust’s Starworthy.                     


The Morgan division did not see the usual number of horses and riders as in previous years. The largest English Pleasure Championship was for the junior exhibitors, the championship ribbon being awarded to the strong and talented Gable’s Top Quark, ridden by Natalie Savoy. JDS As Required By Law earned the title of reserve champion with Robert Jacobi on board.  Both the amateur and open championships were dominated by the strong trotting Bellagio shown by Laurie Moses. 


Damian Hyde makes final adjustments

for Laurie Moses and Bellagio


Fateful Heart earned the top spot in the Classic Pleasure Saddle Championship with Katarina Klump on board. It was Whispering Obsession and Deeann Feick earning top honors in the classic driving.


The Morgan Hunter Pleasure Championship was the largest for the Morgan division, having four participants. Scarborough Fair ridden by Eliza Kent took home the tricolor, with Shaker’s Shariff as the reserve and amateur champion with rider Katherine Guyon.  Broadway Opening Night took home the blue in the junior exhibitor stake with Marrissa Rau.


Shaker's Shariff and Katherine Guyon


Although the western pleasure division was small, competition was fierce.  EB Brass Ring ridden by Richard Weaver took home the tricolor for the championship. Kelsey Rau won the junior exhibitor championship with of Ye Old Curious George, with Troikas Ebonachov and Scott Nevers clinching the amateur championship ribbon. 


A new title was given to the Challenge of the Breeds classes this year, now called Opportunity Challenge of the Breeds. With questions as to why this changed, and what it meant, show officials assured exhibitors that it was the same class as before, only with the word opportunity in order to fulfill USEF rule requirements. These classes attracted all breeds, bringing a higher number of exhibitors to the show ring. All of these classes were dominated by the Saddlebred and Morgan breeds. The Opportunity Challenge of the Breeds English Pleasure Championship was won by Callaway’s Big Deal, ridden by Kristen Thorin. The reserve was earned by Sultan’s Purrfection with rider Alexandra Giguere. 


In Opportunity Challenge of the Breeds Hunter Pleasure, the Morgan breed won when Shaker’s Shariff took home the top ribbon with Katherine Guyon manning the reins. Reserve champion went to the sleek and stylish Saddlebred mare It’s All Or Nothing shown by Melinda Hyde. Western pleasure saw Clifford Time dominate the Challenge of the Breeds with Terri Delbridge on board. 


The equitation division was competitive, having a variety of exhibitors and some of the largest classes in the show. MHSA Spring Horse Show offered equitation classes in Saddle Seat, hunt seat and western. Other popular equitation classes included the UPHA Challenge Cup and the 11 and under division.  Lindsey Greenfelder won the AMHA Medal for the hunt seat division on Hawkwood High Command. The Saddle Seat Walk and Trot 10 and Under UPHA Challenge Cup was earned by Lauren Lake with her mount Fancy Rags. The USEF Medal for Saddle Seat riders 17 and Under was won by Krystal Murphy teamed with Sultan’s Purrfection. The equitation division also offered lead line classes for riders 6 and under. Although every rider went in looking confident and enjoying the spotlight, the winner, Carmen Gonzalez, rode Stylish Dresser to an impressive first place.


 Lauren Lake on Fancy Rags

The Spring Horse Show also offered junior judging to exhibitors on Sunday, giving juniors the opportunity to test their skills and compare their votes to the judge’s. In order to compete, the exhibitor had to judge four out of the seven classes previously chosen by officials. After turning in the ballots, first place went to Abby Jacobi with Kim Churchwell in second, both from Damian Hyde Stables. 


The MHSA Spring Horse Show brought horses of every breed together to compete at the Shiawassee County Fairgrounds. Although some classes flourished, others were cancelled due to a low number of exhibitors. Hopefully in years to come, Spring Horse Show will once again see the fairgrounds filled with exhibitors, trainers and families supporting one another.

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