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Ready For Spring At The Kentucky Horse Park

by Leeann Mione

LEXINGTON, Ky. – It seems that horses have a way of providing "feel good" stories just when it seems we need them the most. The Kentucky Derby sure did that with the spectacular come-from-behind win of gelding Mine That Bird by six and a half lengths in the Kentucky Derby.

The 20th annual Kentucky Spring Premier Horse Show also contributed to the weekend’s "feel good" atmosphere with a nice show featuring some of the industry’s most prominent barns.

At the Kentucky Horse Park, it’s hard not to love and appreciate all that horses do for us when no matter where you stand, no matter where you look, you are on some of the most beautiful grounds in Kentucky at a place that is a virtual shrine to everything "horse". It was difficult not to have "spring fever" while enjoying the beautiful grounds.

It is a setting that can take your breath away, especially when you look around and realize that in 2010, one of the most prestigious equine events, the FEI World Equestrian Games, will be showcased in the United States for the first time at the Kentucky Horse Park and be seen on the world stage. The construction and work being done to get the horse park ready for an onslaught of international visitors gives only a hint of what is to come.

It’s easy to celebrate and tout the big impressive horse shows. It’s easy to celebrate and tout the big show barns, but it’s easy to forget that with horses, you can’t ever count the "little guy" out.

Mine That Bird, with a big crowd of Saddlebred, Hackney, roadster and equitation enthusiasts gathered around the big-screen television on the concourse of the show arena watching in near-disbelief, perhaps reinforced the notion that sometimes its more a matter of attitude than dollars.

Kentucky Spring Premier, while it boasts incredible quality, probably can’t be considered one of the "heavyweight" horse shows. The numbers aren’t staggering, the budget for hospitality and entertainment isn’t huge and it has to compete with "Derby Fever" every year in addition to numerous other competing horse shows around the country. For those reasons, it doesn’t typically host a huge number of entries.

It does, however, serve an important purpose in the early season horse show lineup. The horse park provides a relatively easy place to show horses, whether they are new combinations, seasoned veterans showing in a new division or young equitation or academy riders needing to "work the kinks out".

With Manager Scarlett Mattson, Show Chairman Chuck Walker, entry secretary Beth Snider and stable manager Scott Snider keeping things under control, in addition to announcer Tuffy Owens, photographer Terry Young, videographer Richfield Video, farrier James Quiram, veterinarian Dr. Louis Johnson and USEF Steward Donna Rocchetti, the staff is one of the very best in the country and that’s half the battle in having a good horse show.

Let’s face it, the economy isn’t doing anyone any favors right now, including or perhaps especially, those associated in any manner with the horse industry. But when you stood in that group of people Saturday night at the Kentucky Derby party at the show and watched Mine That Bird beat the odds and pull off his stunning victory, then looked around at all that the Kentucky Horse Park stands for horse lovers, it was hard not to feel good.

Brian Reimer stood in center ring all weekend watching those who decided to "take a shot at it" and he marked the card in the performance and equitation divisions. Katie Case judged Saturday morning’s academy session which featured 18 classes.

This year’s show was one of four designated to feature a Kentucky Breeders’ & Owners’ Association (KSOBA) Incentive Fund class. Kentucky Spring’s Fine Harness Championship, along with Rock Creek’s Three-Gaited Championship, Lexington Junior League’s Five-Gaited Championship and Kentucky Fall Classic’s Three-Gaited Park Championship make up the list of the four USEF licensed competitions eligible for incentive monies.

The top Kentucky bred horse in each division will be awarded $6,000 to be divided equally between the horse owner, breeder and stallion owner. This year’s Fine Harness Grand Champion was Voulez Vous (Periaptor x Akasha) and she is indeed a Kentucky bred Saddlebred. Owner and breeder C. Jean Nalley received $4,000 and stallion owner, Loose Family Trust, picked up $2,000 for the win with Tiffany Wheeler showing.

Kentucky Spring is also a member of the Equine Roadster Cup $10,000 Added Point Incentive Program. Points are given for eligible horses in open and amateur road horse classes. Fedex, shown by trainer Mike Felty, won the open class and Matt T Tup, with Deborah Koning, won the amateur class for David Crockett.

Friday night’s Five-Gaited Stake closed out a busy day of competition and CH According To Lynn and Mary Gaylord McClean just couldn’t be denied. They finished with the tricolor for Golden Creek Farms under the direction of Rob and Sarah Byers. Let’s Talk and Dena Lopez were next in line for a ribbon and they were named the reserve grand champions for Alyssa and Dave Lopez, both who showed to top ribbons as well.

Memorize and soon-to-be-graduating Sarah Sessoms put on a show to win the ladies gaited class under the direction of Nelson Green. Imperiaptor and Laurel Nelson took the title in the amateur stake under the direction of Mitch Clark and topped a pair of nice competitors for the victory, including reserve grand champion Just Heavenly with Harold Denton up. Tre Lee directed the reserve grand champions.

Traci Massaro took the victory pass with The Echo Of Thunder in the amateur qualifier after Brian Reimer named them the winners for Kingswood Stable. Massaro was directed to her win by A.J. Bruwer.

Stevie Bagdasarian topped a nicely filled Limit Five-Gaited class to head to the winner’s circle on board Rebel Rooster, under the direction of her sister Kristen Bagdasarian of Diamond View.

Three junior exhibitor riders burst through the gate for their gaited championship and they all rode hard, but when the card was turned in, it was Monica’s Megan Bucks taking the tricolor with Lindsey Sheilds up for Linda Shields, showing from Hart To Hart Stables. Catie Ray Clark and Four Ever A Dream followed in the ribbon count to add the reserve tricolor to the Betsy Webb Stables count.

Owner Connie Schweitzer was overcome with emotion when Samantha Johnson headed to center ring to pick up the blue with He’s A Big Wheel in the junior exhibitor qualifier.

Patrice and Joe O’Brien’s Ashlyn Farms claimed several wins over the weekend including Rob Byers’s winning ride with Ashlyn’s Voodoo Charm in the Limit Five-Gaited class.

Jack Noble rode Ben West to the title in the junior horse class for Nancy Noble and Rob Byers rode three-year-old Tremendous Style to the blue in the UPHA Five-Gaited Classic for Ashlyn Farms LLC.

Mitch Tunstall was on board I See Daylight, with his dad, Mike Tunstall, on the rail, to win the Five-Gaited Pony class with Barbara Von Borries’s entry.

After numerous wins in her career in harness, Seaforth’s Bonnie Lass made a triumphant debut in the three-gaited division for Pidgeon Roost Farm. Byers took the mare on the victory pass in the Three-Gaited Stake after she topped five other top competitors including reserve grand champion Punch Baby with Jackie Tanner for Joe and Sarah Benza.

Kristen Bagdasarian was in the irons this time for the blue ribbon ride when she guided Simbara’s Bountiful to the win in the Ladies Three-Gaited Stake class.

Handsome Heir, with owner Susan Hanna up, returned to win the amateur stake after winning the limit horse class earlier in the week. Tammy Devore directed the winners. My Cheatin’ Heart and Susannah Sherman, directed by Wyatt DeHart, claimed the amateur reserve grand championship for Hart To Hart Stables, Inc.

Little Piece Of My Heart was just one of the winners for the Crockett-Koning team at Kentucky Spring. Deborah Koning rode to win the amateur qualifier for owner David Crockett to add to his win in the roadster division.

Lexi Rueff and Lady Latte teamed up to take the win in the Junior Exhibitor Three-Gaited Championship from Betsy Webb Stables followed in the ribbons by reserve grand champion Miss Believin and owner Christine Oser. Oser showed under the direction of Linda Gahwiler.

Mollie Kregor and Gloria Vanderbilt, owned by Wrapped In Rainbows Farm and Ashlyn Farms LLC, took the blue ribbon in the junior exhibitor qualifier which featured four hard riding young exhibitors.

Show Material and Tami Reiser were the blue ribbon recipients in the Limit Three-Gaited class for Tami and Morgan Reiser. Majestic’s Jackie O captured the junior horse title for owner Amy Dix Rock with Rob Byers making the winning ride. Jackie Tanner rode to the win in the UPHA Three-Gaited Classic with Brookhill’s Glam Slam for the O’Brien Family Trust.

Tanner captured the tricolor with Born Ideal to take the title of Park Grand Champion for owner Aliyah Asch. Brookhill’s Reveille and Joe Elam teamed up to claim the reserve tricolor streamers for Touch The Moon LLC.

CH High Heat and Melissa Moore helped lead Sunrise Stables to a strong showing at the horse park when they were named the winners of the Open Park qualifier. Hillside’s Sensation, also from Sunrise, won the three-entry Amateur/Junior Exhibitor Park Championship, with Jennifer McGowan up, after winning the Amateur Park class for Jennifer and Steve McGowan. Flyercracker and Vickie Webb were the reserve grand champions for owner/trainer Morgan Reiser.

Emily Stumbo was in the irons for the winning ride with Phantom’s Double Trouble in the junior exhibitor park qualifier. Stumbo rode for owner David Dieckmann.

Patricia Misko and Tre Lee teamed up for a successful show. Lee rode S’More Undulata to the top spot in the Junior Park class which featured a strong group of five to close out the park division.

Legend Of Troy, with Melinda Moore driving, finished as the Fine Harness Reserve Grand Champion for owner Marcy Lafferty King and Poser Farm. Joan Adler and Gothic Revival defended their Amateur Fine Harness blue ribbon and returned Saturday night to add the amateur tricolor to their total under the direction of Melissa Moore. Summerset Morn and Kristen Solien exited as the amateur reserve grand champions.

Mary Gaylord McClean drove Cherished King to the title in the Limit Fine Harness class to continue the Sunrise Stables winning streak and add another blue to the Golden Creek total. Cherished King topped four other teams for the victory.

A Royal Gift was the UPHA Fine Harness Classic Champion for Rigby’s Green Farm LLC with Blue Willow’s Joe Elam driving.

Owner and trainer Melinda Moore drove Talledaga Nights to win the Novice Road Horse To Bike class and owner Shane Sallee rode Little Richard to win the Road Horse Under Saddle class.

Patrice Watson O’Brien and Toni Nastali added wins to the Majestic Oaks total for the week. O’Brien drove Boogity Boogity to the Roadster Pony Championship and Nastali drove Heartland Victory Maker to the win in the amateur class. Heartland Flyaway and owner Robert Woodyard were the open reserve grand champions under the direction of Chad Cole of Signature Stables.

Mollie Kregor drove Kayce Bell’s Heartland City Boy to the blue ribbon in the AHHS Youth Medallion Roadster Pony class.

The Remington, with Juliet McDonald driving, was the Open Harness Pony Champion from Majestic Oaks. Stablemate Heartland Candidate won the Open Hackney Pony class with owner Sandra Surber driving. Surber also drove Heartland Entitled to the tricolor in the Pleasure Driving Pony Championship after winning the qualifier earlier in the show. Neon Dion was reserve in the championship with Ann Fitzpatrick showing for Lib Jones.

Eight teams competed in the Five-Gaited Pleasure Championship and qualifier and Reimer named two different teams to head to center ring for the winning presentation. Roseridge’s All Mine won the championship with Rachel Kelley showing from Devore Stables. Talkin To You and Alyssa Lopez were the reserve grand champions for Double D Ranch. Ali Judah, from Premier Stables, captured the blue ribbon in the qualifier with Divine Renaissance on behalf of Judah Saddlebreds.

It’s All About Me and Chris Nalley topped the Novice Five-Gaited Pleasure class under the direction of Biggins Stables.

Brooke Jacobs showed two different horses to wins during the weekend including Recoup’s win in the Park Pleasure Championship and open class for Werk Way Stables. Sarah MacKenna and Rocky Bay exited with the reserve tricolor for owners Jessica and Glen Carter and showed under the Hart To Hart Stables banner.

Wendy Sogoloff, from Infinity Stables, teamed In Charms Way to the win in the five-entry Novice Park Pleasure class for owner Teresa Smith to add another win to the Infinity total.

Stonecroft Our Treat and Kelly Mount added another blue to Nelson Green Stables’s total when they were named the winners of the Junior Park Pleasure class for Mount Saddlebreds. Amber’s Blue Thunder added another win to Patricia Misko’s total when Tre Lee rode to the winner’s circle in the UPHA Park Pleasure Classic.

CH My Southern Charm carried Brooke Jacobs to the winner’s circle yet again with the winning effort in the Adult Three-Gaited Pleasure Championship. Detached and owner Claudia Schultheis took reserve in the competitive class under the direction of Biggins Stables.

An Heir Of Magic went two for two by winning the adult qualifier and also winning the largest class of the show, the 10-entry Novice Three-Gaited Pleasure class. Owner Michelle McCune rode from George Knight Stables.

CH Ninety-Eight Degrees also went two for two with Katherine Randall of Brookdale Farm. They were the Junior Exhibitor Three-Gaited Pleasure Grand Champions and champions from Blue Willow Farm. Callaway’s Spending Spree, with Allie Hagan, followed in the championship ribbon count to claim the reserve grand championship for Watermark Farm.

Cocktail Ring was also a two-time winner for the weekend with Joellen Fisher Blount. They swept the show pleasure driving division under the direction of Melinda Moore. Foxy Camilla and Aubrey Lambert claimed the reserve tricolor in the stake from Morgan C. Reiser Stables.

Tremendously Charming and Kathy Capsuto-Walker won the Adult Country Pleasure Championship for Paula Schmidt and Kathy Capsuto Trust after they had previously won the novice class. Winner of the adult qualifier, Bibbidi Blackidi Boo finished next in line for a ribbon in the adult stake with Katie Lapera riding for Dr. Janalyn Prows under the direction of Joe Elam and Julie Kaufman.

Irish Epic and Alle Hagan won the Junior Exhibitor Country Pleasure Championship, and Skylar Rueff added another ribbon to the Rueff family total when she won the qualifier from Betsy Webb Stables with CH Heirilee. Protector and Dylan Hines, showing from Devore Stables, were the junior exhibitor reserve grand champions.

Heirithmatic swept the country pleasure driving division to add two more wins to the Blue Willow total. Owner Donna Smith drove to win the championship and Heidi Bowie catch drove in the qualifier. Royal Clout and Mary Ellen Borza were directed by Larry Gardinier of Granite Hill Stables to the reserve title in the championship.

Reimer named Willie Angel the Western Country Pleasure Grand Champion and Western Country Pleasure Champion to add two more wins to the Double D total. Dave Lopez rode for both wins for Dave and Alyssa Lopez. Reserve Grand Champion Gunsmith and Arlys Solien, from Granite Hill, captured the blue ribbon in the Shatner class for Arlys and Kristen Solien.

Payton Walker, riding A Touch Of Pizzazz, followed up her win in the UPHA Walk & Trot 10 & Under Challenge Cup with the win in the Walk & Trot Equitation 10 & Under Championship. Trainer Tammy Devore directed the winning team to continue her group’s great week. Hope Haynes, riding The Bank Robber, was reserve in the championship under the direction of Jeff Humble.

Megan Todd won the UPHA 17 & Under Challenge Cup and the 17 & Under Pleasure Equitation class from Biggins Stables. Todd rode Whispering Oak’s Ebony Lace to both victories.

Owner Susan Swope and Onne were the Friesian Saddle Seat Pleasure Walk/Trot Grand Champions. Arend F and Alex Nelson followed to claim the reserve streamers. Tjebbe and Denessa Harper won the Friesian Saddle Seat Walk & Trot blue ribbon in the four-horse qualifier for Karen Frickey and Frickey Farms, Inc.

The 18-class academy division was well filled for the most part and Saturday morning was devoted to those classes.

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