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Some Things Never Change...

by Sadie Killian

LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- Change can be a good thing. For the Rock Creek Horse Show, however, tradition, ambiance and everything that familiar trip down Rock Creek Drive leads to is just fine exactly the way it is.

Actually, it’s better than fine. The unique, picturesque setting of this show has the nation's best barns showing up. This year, the famous Rock Creek Horse Show was held at its usual location, the Rock Creek Riding Club, from June 2-7, 2003.

The feeling of Rock Creek is what keeps the show so popular. Assuming weather cooperates -- this year was mixed with a couple of nights of tolerable rain and a few absolutely stunning evenings -- people turned out in flocks, ready to enjoy knock out competition and great company. Whether it be at the Rock Creek Club House, with close friends back at the barn or ring side, Rock Creek has become a favorite for many in attendance.

“This is by far my favorite horse show,” said Lora Johnstone. “I just love the atmosphere.”

Picturesque setting aside, Rock Creek, while not quite as big a show it once was, has tons to offer as far as competition goes. One of the few outdoor evening horse shows left, Rock Creek Drive is one of the major stopping points for teams on their way to the green shavings.

Likely a Louisville favorite, walk/trot stake winner Callaway’s Sugarplum was just one standout at Rock Creek this year. Trained by Debbie Foley, this current world’s champion mare was a sight at Rock Creek. Sugarplum had several stablemates to help her collect the solid row of blues and tricolors for Silver Brook Stables. Foley not only took the walk-trot stake, she also won the Five-Gaited Championship with Undulata’s Georgie Girl. Silver Brook Stables was by far a dominating force at the horse show.

Debbie Foley was joined by many of the top Kentucky barns for the week of competition. One such barn, Biggins’ Stable, had a fabulous show, with what seemed like 100 blues on their tack room. Realistically, Biggins did have a great bunch of top ribbons contributed by Lori Mitchell, Carol Hillenbrand, Yasmin Wazir and Tate Bennett, just to name a few.

Aside from the “Kentucky” crowd, the Saddlebred world was well represented with barns like Cape Cod representing Ohio, Clover Leaf representing Tennessee, Todd Graham and Mercer Springs for West Virginia and the list goes on.

This year’s competition was analyzed by the very creditable judging trio of Raymond Shively, Bo Lucas and Steve Crabtree. All three put forth great effort in working their way through the tough competition. It should also be noted that there were many unanimous decisions throughout last week’s show.

While not in the ring, exhibitors had a chance to relax at Friday evening's jamming exhibitors party. Actually, at Rock Creek there’s plenty of down time. Each afternoon people had the chance to tool around the quaint Rock Creek area, enjoying the shopping and cute eateries. Another option...just hang back at the barn. On Saturday evening, many exhibitors surrounded the small TVs at various tack rooms to witness the Belmont. Sadly, we watched Funny Cide lose a hard fought, very close race that could have left him with the Triple Crown had he won...No horse has captured aTriple Crown in more than 25 years. Again, some things never change.

All in all, Rock Creek is appealing for many reasons. Most of all, it is a tradition in the Saddle Horse industry. If you’ve never been, will not be disappointed. If it has been a while since you’ve driven down Rock Creek Drive, it’s probably time for you to make another trip. You’ll be glad you did!


The only thing that could have made the gaited stake better would have been a few more horses. The night was beautiful and the crowd was excited as they watched the show’s grand finale. Unfortunately, only three horses showed up for the event. Debbie Foley topped off a fantastic week with the impressive mare, Undulata’s Georgie Girl. The pair racked away as champions for owner Debbie Gabbert after claiming the blue in the open classes Monday evening. Christine Broder was aboard Callaway’s Gossiper for the reserve.

The six-entry Ladies Five-Gaited class featured six tough-riding lady riders working for the blue. Talented horse person Luanne Kilday turned in the winning performance aboard Already Famous. The pair later exited the stake with a tricolor ribbon. Katie Raque and Prolific Memories were reserve in the Ladies Five-Gaited Stake.

A remarkable Amateur Five-Gaited Stake was filled with nine entries. Under the direction of Debbie Foley, Time Well Spent and Barbara Manilow were the last to exit the ring. Lucrative and Karla Kucera were the amateur reserve champions. The qualifiers were broken down into a mares class and a stallion/gelding class. Premier’s beautiful combination of Amusing and Amy Dix Rock took the blue in the mares class and it was again Time Well Spent and Barbara Manilow on top of the cards in the stallion/gelding qualifier.

All nine elected to return to the ring for Saturday night’s Junior Exhibitor Five-Gaited Stake. Turning heads both times out, Kelsey Price and Fox de Jour won both the qualifier and the stake. Dakota Willimon rode Caramac’s Big Ticket to reserve for Silver Brook.

The Junior Five-Gaited Championship had Debbie Foley collecting the tricolor again. Foley expertly showed Callaway’s Lloyd Stark to this win while John Biggins was reserve with Callaway’s Betty Hearnes for Carol Hillenbrand. Take Me Away and Mary Gaylord McClean took the victory pass in the junior mares stake while Callaway’s Lloyd Stark and Debbie Foley warmed up their week with a blue in the junior stallion/geldings class. The Thursday evening session concluded with I’m First and Steve Wheeler giving it their all for the blue in the Three-Year-Old Five-Gaited class. Last year's Two-Year-Old World's Champion started out the year with another convincing performance for Stonecroft Farm.

Twelve entries made the gate call in the Novice Five-Gaited class. Peter Palmer rode Spode to this victory for owner Jane Mueller. Christine Broder and Callaway’s Gossiper, who were reserve in the open championship, collected the red ribbon.

The competition was fierce in the Five-Gaited Pony Stake Friday night. Rain nor mud could get in the way of these junior exhibitor riders. Ali Judah’s new mount Champagne In Winter, who is trained by Kalarama, finished up with the tricolor. Little Lord Huntly and Renee Zubrod took home the reserve. The mighty CH Sammyshine and Cydni Simmons took the blue back to the Cape Cod tack room on Tuesday night, as this crowd pleasing team was crowned winners in the Five-Gaited Pony qualifier.


As a young mare who continues to excel with time, Callaway’s Sugarplum was a sight at Rock Creek. With Debbie Foley up, the current junior world’s champion was named Three-Gaited Champion with Debbie Foley riding for David Nierenberg. Gliders Star and Matt Shiflet together were together in a new division...they finished up in the reserve spot.

After winning the ladies qualifier, anticipation ran high for the Cape Cod crew as Erin Boggs entered the ring with Kris Campbell’s popular chestnut To Die For. While they looked as sharp as always, the pair fell short of the win and exited with reserve. Under the guidance of Rob and Sarah Byers, another new team, former junior world's champion Pas de Deux and Rosemarie Fernanzez came together for the Ladies Three-Gaited Championship in the tough class.

The Amateur Three-Gaited Championship was deep in quality and numbers. Nearly 10 showed up for a chance at the prestigious Rock Creek title. Callaway’s Abigail Adams and Sally Groub Gayeski were right on the money for the tricolor. Kelly Mount put in hard fought battle aboard her beloved mare Harlem’s Town Scandal but fell just short of the win. This Cardinal Farm-trained team finished as the reserve champions, however, they did take a trip down victory lane in the 15.2 and over qualifier on Monday evening. Callway’s Buttons and Bows and Mary Gaylord McClean were the winners in the under two class.

Building a resume most kids in the Saddle Horse industry dream of, Aaron Stump and his seasoned mare Undulata’s Perfect Gift added another victory to their list, which includes wins from Bonnie Blue, J.D. Massey and more from 2002, in the Junior Exhibitor Three-Gaited Championship. Becoming one of the teams to beat, Aaron Stump and his world's champion mare are trained at Clover Leaf. Another former world's champion, CH Radiant Success and Ali Judah were named the reserve champions. They turned in a blue ribbon performance to reverse the order in the qualifier.

Last year at Rock Creek, spectators were truly moved as they witnessed the three-year-old debut of An Heir About Her and Chris Reiser. The pair went on to make history as they captured the Three-Gaited World’s Grand Championship. Reiser and Steve Hanes' stunning beauty made a season debut again this year and claimed the Junior Three-Gaited Stake. Call Waiting and Mike Felty finished reserve. Felty was also up for the win in the three-year-old walk-trot class, riding Blues Clues to the win for Jackie Wahrmund.

Closing Scene and Debbie Foley impressed the panel for the Novice Three-Gaited blue.

Under the direction of John and Renee Biggins, Lost Token and Yasmin Wazir happily collected top honors in the Three-Gaited Pony Stake and qualifier. Callaway’s Bugle Boy and Angela Fischer were reserve to the champions both times out.

After collecting the blue in the open class, 98 Degrees was just as explosive in the Open Park Stake with Steve Wheeler aboard for Chris and Jean Nalley. Reserve in the six horse stake was another crowd pleasing entry Go Baby Go. John Field rode the reserve champion for Dr. and Mrs. Donald Petit.

On top of their game and continuing their streak of wins, Luanne Kilday and her big-trotting chestnut CH A Step Of Time collected two titles at Rock Creek. After winning the amateur qualifier, the pair met Debbie Foley center ring for the Amateur Park Championship victory pass. The judges had Another Bay and Brenne Baumer next in line for reserve.

The UPHA Park Pleasure Classic blue went back to the Carriage Lane banner. John Conatser expertly guided So Audacious to the win in the 11-horse class for Sally and Alexandra LaPlant. Erin Boggs had an impressive go aboard Mama Loves Mambo for reserve as the Simmons family cheered the pair on.


When we often see only two or three in a Fine Harness Stake, it made it a lot easier to appreciate the five-entry stake at Rock Creek on Saturday night. It was no surprise to see CH Rejoice called out as champion. The elegant chestnut mare was driven to the tricolor victory by John Field for Dr. and Mrs. Donald Petit. Another beautiful harness horse, Romanov was the reserve champion with Mike Hylton at the whip for Sarah Riganti.

CH A Sweet Treat was in perfect form, despite the rain on Friday evening, for the Amateur Fine Harness victory pass. John Scheidt enjoyed the winning drive for Stonecroft Farm. CH Mercer Raceabout and Mia Blevins collected the reserve for Blevins Farm.

The junior class was fairly deep with eight working toward a good finish. Harlem’s Santa Fe was the chosen winner with owner Susan Bartlett behind the lines. Kid Russel and Peter Palmer were on the cards as the reserve champions. Palmer also enjoyed a successful drive in the Two-Year-Old Fine Harness Stake, taking top honors with Galoshes for Carl Fischer.

There were nine entries in the UPHA Fine Harness Classic. After evaluating a solid class of world class contenders, the judges tied Pistolero and Danette Musselman. Joyce Cashman is the winning owner. After collecting top honors at the Kentucky Spring Premier, Don Harris and Amelia’s Heir Cat were right up there once again. This time the pair settled for the UPHA Fine Harness Classic reserve ribbon.

The ASHA Foundation Junior Exhibitor Fine Harness Driving Classic featured two young ladies. While both put in excellent effort, Kelsey Price and Lucky Vision, for Alliance, finished as the winners. Watermelon and Rachel Shoemaker received a nice applause for their go as well.


Heir’s Curtain Call and catch driver Garry McBride were all smiles after being named Show Pleasure Driving Champions. Owner Mary Beth Alosa was also pleased with the great finish. Misty Hill’s Herb Headwell was reserve with CH Dances On Air. Both held the same positions in the nine-horse qualifier.

The ASHA Foundation Show Pleasure Driving Junior Exhibitor Challenge had four young exhibitors working hard for the blue. Under the direction of McConnell Stables, the classy combination of Rebecca Salley and Foxy’s Delight turned in the winning performance.

The Five-Gaited Show Pleasure Championship was exciting and very intense. Making every pass count, CH Specialty Item was as flashy as always. Under the direction of Biggins’ Stable, Lori Mitchell rode the gelding to the tricolor after making their mark by winning the qualifier earlier in the week. Premier put Pam Milligan and High In The Sky together for reserve.

Royal Scot’s Donna Pettry Smith met Ashley Alden and Peppermint Sonburst in the ring after their winning performance in the Junior Exhibitor Five-Gaited Pleasure Stake. Peppermint Sonburst is owned by Marjorie Ferguson. Collector of Blues, who took the reserve championship, was on top of the cards in the qualifier with Tate Bennett riding for Susan and Timothy Saxe.

Improving every time out, Callaway’s Hit Man and Heidi Bowie turned in a fabulous ride in the eight-entry Novice Five-Gaited Show Pleasure class. This newer team is trained by Pat and Julie McConnell.

The 11-horse Adult Show Pleasure class left The Bess Yet and Carol Hillenbrand on top of the cards. This Biggins team collected reserve in the championship behind teammates He Walks On Water and Melissa Shirkey.

There were also 11 entries in the junior exhibitor class. Stars in their division, CH Riva Diva and Ali Judah turned in the tricolor performance after collecting the blue in the qualifier earlier in the week. Sports Night and Sally Wilson respectfully finished reserve.

The Gary Guz-trained pair of She’s Exquisite and Jennifer Makem turned heads in the Novice Show Pleasure class, finishing on top in the 14-horse class. Jo Cornell directed Vida Eraser and Lauren Pope to the reserve for Lindsay Haupt.

For the walk and trot riders, She’s All That and up and coming Hannah Whitfield garnered the Rock Creek blue while Callaway’s North Wind and Holly Wilson finished with reserve.

As usual, the Country Pleasure division thrived at Rock Creek, with almost every class full. The Country Pleasure Driving Championship featured seven entries. Moving up a notch, Reedann’s Phorsythia and Ann Marie Brickzen finished with the tricolor. Qualifier winners What’s On Second and Millie Pyles settled into the reserve position.

Maneuvering their way through a pretty deep class and lots of mud and rain, Callaway’s Blue Agate and Carol Hillenbrand were right on the money for the Adult Country Pleasure Championship. A Perfect Lady stepped up a notch from the qualifier and collected reserve. Christine Broder was up.

The Junior Exhibitor Country Pleasure Championship went to Harlem’s Half Moon and Kerri McDaniel. Chad Cole assisted Lindsay Taylor and Spice Queen to their reserve performance. McDaniel and the bright Harlem’s Half Moon finished on top in the qualifier as well. This team is trained by El Dorado.

The novice class was somewhat light with four making the gate call. Chicago Hope and Jennifer Holdren had a polished performance for the blue.

Rum Tum Tigger and Luanne Kilday went two for two in the Western division. This fancy pair collected the Western Country Pleasure tricolor where Sue’s Great Day and Marilyn Swimmer were reserve.


Three teams raced for the tricolor in the Roadster Horse To Bike Championship. Danette Musselman had the crowd roaring as she captured the tricolor. Delorenzo and Kim Crumpler were the reserve champions and also finished first in the open qualifier.

In addition to the Roadster Horse To Bike Championship, Danette Mussleman also won the Roadster Under Saddle class with Lady Hawke.

After winning the amateur qualifier, Jeff McClean showed Sis to the Roadster Pony Championship. Dun-Haven’s Awesome Image had a good go for reserve with Georgia Blevins. Mary Gaylord McClean drove Heartland Production to the blue in the open qualifier. Ann Fitzpatrick had an excellent drive in the Amateur/Junior Exhibitor Road Pony Stake where Amadeus and Debbie Gabbert happily accepted reserve.

The very talented Daniel Lieberman drove Mastercraft’s Gambler like a pro in the AHHS Roadster Pony Medallion. For the under saddle medallion, Boxford’s Courageous was granted the blue with Richmond DeHart on board for Christine DeHart.


Black Merlin and Sharon Lewis were the lone entries in the Hackney Pony Stake. Nonetheless, the pair was looking good for their championship victory pass. There was only one in the amateur class, too. Diamond’s Show N Off and Dinwiddie Lampton put on a show for this win. Lampton also drove Carried Away to the Harness Pony Stake win. Competition stepped up a notch for the amateur harness championship where Heartland Triple Crown and Mary Gaylord McClean were on top of the cards for the tricolor. Kathy Capsuto’s beloved mare Heartland Lilac finished as the reserve champions.

The pleasure pony division picked up significantly as nine showed in the Hackney Pony Pleasure Driving Championship. Mary Gaylord McClean drove Motown to the win. The tried and true Bold Lad came back for the reserve championship win with Donna Smith at the lines.


The Equitation competition at Rock Creek was outstanding. The beautifully riding Jessica Saft has been making her mark in the show ring all over this year, with solid rides at J.D. Massey, Bonnie Blue and now Rock Creek. Under the direction of Bill and Lisa Waller, Saft won the NHS Saddle Seat Event where Tasha Rose Sandler confidently rode to the reserve. Saft finished off her week with a knock out workout in the Saddle Seat Equitation Championship. Saft celebrated her win with the Clover Leaf crew.

Cape Cod put some terrific riders in the ring at Rock Creek. The very talented Sarah Taylor was the winner in the UPHA 14-17 Challenge Cup where Infinity’s Joel Dorignac was reserve. Taylor was also named the USAE Saddle Seat Medal Champion where Emily Garten, also of Cape Cod, finished reserve. For the 13 and under challenge cup, Zubrod Stables directed a very polished Olivia Weber to the win with CH High Expectations.

The age group equitation classes were also filled with top contenders Dakota Willimon rode Worthy Am I to the 14-17 blue. Willimon is instructed by Premier. Clover Leaf’s up and coming young lady, Rachel Machamer was first in the 11-13 class.

Team member Jessica Northcutt was happy to finish first in the Walk and Trot 10 and Under Championship after winning the UPHA 8 and Under class earlier. Chelsea Jo Roby worked through the rain aboard her mount Selby Lane to take reserve. Roby was also the judges’ choice in the UPHA 9-10 Walk/Trot Challenge Cup. The qualifier had Alexa McWilliam, who is becoming more and more familiar with the winner’s circle at each show she attends, won the 10 and under qualifier.

After some great rail work, four riders were asked to perform individual workouts in the Pleasure Equitation Championship, which started out the Saturday evening sessions. Tate Bennett had a fabulous ride for the tricolor. Not far behind, Blair Barrett turned in a beautiful ride for the reserve finish. The order was the same for the top two spots in the qualifier.

Instructed by Sugar Knoll, the very elegant riding Christina O’Connell-Carne was named the Saddle & Bridle Pleasure Equitation Medallion Champion.

The above highlights the Rock Creek Horse Show. For complete results, please see the show results section of this website.

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