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Ready, Set...INDY!

INDIANAPOLIS, In. -- While specific numbers had not yet been tallied, Indianapolis Charity's Show Manager Phyllis Harris was confident that entries were up significantly from last year's approximate 330 entries.

Indianapolis Charity has had its ups and downs, and there have certainly been moments where its viability could have been lost. The show started as the 500 Charity Horse Show in 1974. It has changed hands a couple of times in the past, and was once canceled in 1991. Despite some weak spots in the show's nearly 30 year history, Harris has kept her eyes on its potential.

Her vision has paid off as this year’s show, held May 31 to June 1, 2002, proved “Indy-Charity” to be a very solid show, and a good stop for those planning trips to Rock Creek, Lexington and Louisville. The fact of the matter is that Indianapolis Charity, while only medium in size, is getting better and better each year.

The inclusion of Morgans, something the show began a few years ago, has added depth, quality and certainly numbers to this show, held at the Indiana State Fairgrounds, making it a nice pit stop for top Morgan contenders as well.

Like many shows, the Indianapolis Charity office staff ran matters to perfection last week. This show’s office staff, Phyllis Harris, Barbara Fischler and Judy McManama added a particularly special touch to the atmosphere. All ladies genuinely seemed happy to be there, happy to be a part of this historic show, and happy to be donating nearly $70,000 to the Indiana Children's Wish Fund. The Indianan Children's Wish Fund is the only wish granting organization in the State of Indiana accredited and a member of the Association of Wish Granting Organizations. It is not affiliated with or a part of any national or other wish granting groups.

This fund grants wishes to children from 3 to 18-years-old who suffer from life-threatening illnesses. More than 1,000 wishes have been granted to Indiana children throughout the past 15 years. An average wish costs $3,700 -- 84 cents of every dollar raised goes directly to a child's wish.

This year, show secretary Judy McManama was rewarded for her commitment to Make A Wish Charity, and more specifically, her dedication to making this horse show a success. The show committee made a surprise presentation of the Shining Star Award to McManama during the Saturday evening session.

For Saturday evening's stake classes, exhibitors watched as quality horses competed for top honors. Harris and Assistant Show Manager Barbara Fischler both commented, separately, on the fact that what they were most proud of was not numbers -- they are content with keeping the show on a medium-sized level -- but the quality.

"I was really pleased with the quality this year and I don't think there was a bad horse on the grounds," Harris said. She also stated that quality was likely up this year due to a few new people, including Don Harris, coming to the show for the first time.

This year, quality excelled as exhibitors witnessed some pretty exciting horses at their best. One of the more thrilling show moments resulted from the much talked about performance of To Die For and Erin Boggs. Making an absolutely breathtaking show, the duo displayed elegance, class and a true depiction of everything a three-gaited champion should look like. Gene and Kathy Boggs appeared very proud of the outcome this pair produced stating the performance -- that of an ideal ladies horse -- is exactly what they'd worked toward.

Another crowd favorite...S.S. Genuine and Merrill Murray. For those who had never seen this combination in person, what a thrilling sight to see. Murray presented this bold gelding from start to finish with brilliance and captured the gaited stake Saturday evening.

Connie Clouse and R Lady In Red made another moment for show photographer Jamie Donaldson to catch. This performance happened Saturday morning, and by the roar coming from the stands it may as well have been the last class of the show. Wow, Connie Clouse can drive that horse... and wow, that horse can fly!

With good quality and some pretty decent bouts of excitement, Indianapolis Charity shaped up in top form and if you’ve passed it up in the past you should reconsider your decision. While it’s not in Kentucky, the location is still pretty central (not to mention that Indianapolis is a pretty great city to spend a few days in) , the show staff cannot be beat, the footing in all three arenas (there are two warm up rings here) is phenomenal and finally, it’s a competitive stop along the road to some very important places.

Melissa Moore judged the American Saddlebred, ponies, roadsters and equitation and Karen Homer Brown marked the Morgan divisions, including Morgan equitation, carriage driving and academy. The following includes some championship highlights:

American Saddlebred Divisions

While Merrill Murray toppled the open five-gaited division with S.S. Genuine, who is owned by David Nierenberg from White Plains, NY, there were four other competitive horses in Saturday nights stake to edge the duo on. Taking second place behind Murray was The Rose Lady with Pleasantview's Kris Price up for Vicki Reed, moving up a notch from a third place in the qualifier.

Watching the open gaited stake is always highly anticipated throughout the week of most shows, but when you see eight viable horses come out for the Amateur Five-Gaited Championship you can't help but wonder which class you'd rather watch. At Indianapolis, Merlin Stables dominated both classes with Joan Hammond taking top honors aboard Superior's Successor, making another grand performance. Enzo and Margo Coleman made a very strong show for the reserve championship. In the Amateur Ladies Five-Gaited Stake it was Grand Mariner and Lane Rabin for Barbara Friedman to take the win out of a three-horse field.

Entries were down in the junior exhibitor class, but three young ladies made up for the small class with big performances. It was Lisa McClaren's Chandler, directed by Julie Anne Wroble -- who was, with very good reason, thrilled with Lisa's ride -- taking the championship title. This awesome combination had a successful show at Milwaukee as well, and Wroble's dedication toward this horse has truly paid off. Following her mother's footsteps for a very solid go was Kelsey Price and Fox De Jour -- just one of several top performances by Price throughout the week.

The Fine Harness Stake had only one entry but one exciting entry...Jim and Jenny Taylor decided to put Berringer Red back into the buggy just where he started as a four-year-old after recently competing in the gaited division at River Ridge.

As mentioned above, To Die For really was out of this world, provoking a lot of talk at Indianapolis. While Gene Boggs rode for a reserve in the qualifier, Erin Boggs showed back strong to take first in the Championship, reversing the pin from earlier in the week where Clark Clouse won. Clouse aboard Cameo's Carte Blanche definitely added excitement to the stake with their reserve win.

The amateur walk/trot championship filled the ring with eight distinguished pairs ready to give their all. In the end, a magnificent performance by Kiss Me Goodnight and Shanna Chambers for Donnie & Rita McClean, from Henderson, KY, captured the win. Directed by Armon Effinger, this team could have quite a season to come. Casey DeVore and Highpoint's Fantasia added another win for Tom Sworm's group with a very nice presence for reserve.

Kelsey Price was again in the spotlight in the Junior Exhibitor Three-Gaited Championship, this time with CH Carerra for Elizabeth Deknatel of Louisville, KY. Nelson Gaker maintained himself in the championship, taking another second aboard The Mustang Sally. This class, like many, was medium-sized but filled with five very determined young riders.

In the park division, Lisa Strickland appeared extremely happy with her ride at the exit gate...with good reason as she directed Blackberry Delight to a second victory pass for the week (they won the qualifier as well). Blackberry Delight is owned by Rotunda Stables from Melrose, IL. Making a huge comeback, Shady Creeks Genius moved up several notches with Lynn Durant up, taking reserve for Linden Aisle Farms in Arlington Heights, IL.

In a seven horse field, Kendra Fisher and Summer Wonder came out on top, winning the Amateur Three-Gaited Park Championship. Sisters Kendra and Shelly Fisher appreciated the win with bright smiles as all of their hard work paid off with a very well-deserved victory. Indianianapolis' own Katie Watson aboard Saha's Emerald made a nice show for reserve in the amateur park class -- a major comeback from their first run.

Again, crowd favorite Connie Clouse expertly guided R Lady In Red for the Roadster To Bike Championship victory pass for Jerry Mayes of London, KY with Raymond Shively at the lines with Intimidator for reserve for DeLovely.

Three came out for the Roadster Pony Championship. Owner/driver Brooke Jacobs took the tricolor this time, as well as in the amateur class earlier in the week.

Wild Wind and Barbara Friedman caught Melissa Moore's eye in the Hackney Pony Pleasure Driving Championship -- another win for Bell View Acres.

In the American Saddlebred pleasure division, Bill Knight had Inphallible and Debbie Seedorf Owens, of Greenwood, IN, in prime shape for an outstanding performance, grabbing the crowd, and the win for the Five-Gaited Pleasure Stake. With eight vibrant horses in the class, She's A Rockefeller's reserve was not too shabby either. Sarah White rode this mare for Susan White of Louisville, KY.

A very athletic and competitive, Lightnin Lil with owner/driver Gayle Jewett of Finchville, KY, flawlessly performed in the Show Pleasure Driving Championship, moving up considerably from the qualifier. This winner, Riverdance, who is also trained by George Knight settled for second with Randall Finken of Perrysburg, OH at the lines.

After winning the Amateur Park Stake, the Fisher girls prepared Broadway Tune for a stellar performance in the Three-Gaited Pleasure Championship. Owner/rider Kendra Fisher showed this one as well, taking top honors out of a somewhat large field of eight. Some Like it Hot! was up to par with Lisa McDonald up for reserve.

There were eight horses in the Junior Exhibitor Three-Gaited Pleasure Championship as well. This time, Emma Fortenberry, atop Spike Leigh, was the lucky lady taking home the tricolor. Actually, luck has nothing to do with the skillful execution played out by this talented young rider.

Callaway's Newscaster and Brittany Cortina had a very sharp ride and tied reserve, after a win in the qualifier.

Making a very pretty combination, Linda Lewis drove her country driving horse, Wisdom's Splash of Color, to perfection and was rewarded with the blue in the stake. Carolina Clay and Kim Links were reserve.

In the country pleasure under saddle stake, it was Linda Sullivan who pulled off a winning performance with Stonewall's Magnificant Prince for Mike McIntosh's team at High Spirit. Roman's Star, another impressive horse guided by Kendra Fisher, was reserve. Seven horses came out for the junior exhibitor stake and David Courtney strongly showed off South Beach, capturing the tricolor -- a major comeback from the first class. Callaway's Willing Spirit had another consistent go in the stake, maintaining her position at reserve.

Six western horses showed back in the Western Country Pleasure Championship and Moore tied High Concept and owner/rider Pat Webber with Hide-A-Way's Golly Miss Molly making an elegant show for second.


Equitation turned out to be one of the strongest divisions at Indianapolis, after several shows this year have seemed to have a weak turnout in these classes. The NHS Good Hands turned out nine excellent riders but in the end it was Shana Jo Brown, under the direction of Tom Sworm to capture this national qualifier. Another intense class was the USA Equestrian Saddle Seat Medal. Lucinda Hartley, who is instructed by Tammy Devore, appeared so relaxed, yet as poised as ever. Hartley's flawless workout solidified this win for her.

The Saddle Seat Equitation Championship did not have as many entries as some of the other classes, however no one could be sure who'd take the victory pass here until the name was announced -- two very capable girls riding their best. In the end Kelsey Price added another victory under her belt and Cape Cod's Katherine Gaker followed for reserve. Six riders showed back for the pleasure equitation championship and Paula Murray's polished presentation aboard her horse, Simbara's Salutation trotted out with the tricolor.

Morgan Divisions

Morgans joined the Indiana show three years ago, and their attendance has played a huge factor in the growth of this show. Show Manager Phyllis Harris said she was thrilled with their inclusion and also noted that the numbers for this breed in particular were up significantly from last year.

In the Morgan Park Saddle Championship, Jim Lowry expertly showed Arboria Invictus for Donna Zimmerman, after Zimmerman herself won the qualifier. Cheryl Woosley was up for a strong second place ride with Minion Absolute for Brock Rutledge.

In the Morgan English Pleasure stake, Saturday Night Live boldly trotted around the ring, catching the eye of the judge, as well as catching the support of the crowd for a tricolor performance with Karen Shields up. John Hufferd captured reserve with All Hail To The Chief for owner Julie Spanbauer.

The amateur stake class combined entries from the ladies, amateur and junior exhibitor qualifiers. Judge Brown honored SCMF Tantara and Katherine O'Connor as the amateur champions. SCMF Tantara is owned by Oak Forest Morgans, Ltd, of South Lyons, MI and is just one Indianapolis Champion trained by Mike and Ann Slomkowski. After a successful win in the Ladies English Pleasure Class Friday evening, Shannon Connor guided Hollybrook Romeo for a fine reserve finish.

In the Morgan Pleasure Driving Championship, Jim Lowry was at the reins for another victory pass, this time with Crestfield Hi Command for Susan Brown. JP's Livin On The Edge followed Lowry's exceptional go with a reserve win. In the amateur qualifier class, Jennifer Hazen beat a four-horse field with PT Stormin' Normin for owners, and parents Sammi and Bill Hazen.

Lowry's took yet another Morgan championship in the Morgan Western Pleasure Championship. In this class, however, Fay Lowry was aboard Hipp's Chancellor for the victory pass. This beautiful depiction of a classic Morgan is owned by Bob and Kathleen DeGregorio of Hudson, WI. John Huse guided a very pleasant Spiceolife Saratoga for Springmill Morgans for reserve, moving up a notch from their third place ribbon in the open qualifier.

Seven horses came out for the Morgan Classic Pleasure Championship, but Katherine O'Connor, who won the junior exhibitor qualifier, captured another win for herself and Mike and Ann Slomkowski's team. This time O'Connor was aboard a very pretty Timeless Beauty for top honors. John and Elaine Stephenson's Lexmark, with John Stephenson up, made a competitive showing for second, after a win in the open qualifier.

Merriehill Stonewall Will beat a very viable group in the classic driving stake. Mel Swink drove this lovely Morgan, moving up several notches from the qualifier. Donna Zimmerman and Town Hall showed their stuff and happily ended up rewarded with the reserve ribbon, after a blue ribbon performance in the Morgan Open Classic Pleasure Driving Class.

The hunter division at Indianapolis Charity definitely turned out to be successful, where numbers are concerned, for the Morgan exhibitors. In the Morgan Hunter Pleasure Championship, Ann Slomkowski made a gorgeous go with the well-behaved bay, LCS Strategically Speaking, who is owned by Linda Groat and Lawrence Stern from Ann Arbor, MI. Jodi Maunder worked hard for a solid second aboard Memorial for owners Toni and Denny Maunder.

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