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Saddlebreds Featured at Charlotte Jumper Classic

by Merritt Pryor

CHARLOTTE, N.C. - The fifth annual Charlotte Jumper Classic was held April 11-13 at the beautiful Bobcat’s Arena in uptown Charlotte. The classes were filled with the Who’s Who of the sport of show jumping. Beezie Madden, McLain Ward and Chris Kappler who rode on the 2004 Athens Olympic Gold-medal winning team were just a few of the world renowned equestrians who made the trip to Charlotte to compete. The largest class during the show was the $500,000 Grand Prix.

Not only did the show jumping industry’s best perform, some of the Saddlebred’s best from the Carolinas performed in exhibitions held on Saturday and Sunday.

"It was a great event that we were able to attend and really promote the American Saddlebred breed," said Betsy Boone, who helped organize the Saddlebred exhibition. "Not only were the best of the best in the show jumping world here, but some great Saddlebreds were able to turn heads as they trotted around Bobcat’s Arena."

Betsy Boone, along with help from John Whalen, Steve Hanks and barns from around the Carolinas, made the event a positive experience for the trainers as well as the spectators. On Saturday and Sunday a "petting Saddlebred" was stabled on the concourse. Beth Viering manned the stall as over 150 children wanted to pet the academy star, Compari & Soda.

Saturday, during the exhibition, the history of the Saddlebred was explained while the first horse trotted in. Holly Henson rode Symbol’s Supreme Eclipse sidesaddle while she exhibited the traditional manner ladies once rode the American Saddlebred. Next in was Cydney Cutchall with Mack and Andy Everett’s My Tee Time. She showcased the type of horse that might be seen at a county fair as the country pleasure horse. She also performed patterns to display how easily the horse guided using a combination of her legs and hands.

Marie Gwinn looked stunning dressed in beautiful blue chaps and matching jacket while she jogged the multi-titled western pleasure champion Monsignor. The parade horse was showcased next. Kathie Dunn made the trip from California to show off Cybertown. It was a day of firsts for both Dunn and Cybertown as she had never ridden him and Cybertown had never had the parade tack on. It was a beautiful picture!

Alexandria Walker showed off the hunter Saddlebred, Cha-Ching Cha-Ching. Next up was Cappuccino and Steve Gassen. The crowd was thrilled to see the road pony flying around the Bobcat’s Arena. The more the crowd cheered the faster the world’s champion pony trotted. Peter Cowart showcased CH Justa Rascal during the matinee performance Saturday while Camille Cowart came back and showed off the powerful park horse Saturday evening. Quintus VanderSpuy showcased the three-gaited mount CH Man On The Run while Kim Cowart rode Stephanie Sanchez’s Stonewall Stargate as the five-gaited horse.

Sunday’s performance differed a little as there was no park horse and different horses were used for some sections of the exhibition. Paul Boone rode Kathy Lyda Berger’s multi-world champion CH Yes It’s True for the three-gaited exhibition. As the horse trotted around the arena, the announcer described the three-gaited horse by calling attention to its refined look as well as the elegant movement of the trot. Betsy Boone showcased the five-gaited horse with Leatherwood’s Hat’s Off. Boone showed the crowd the difference between the trot and the slow gait and rack. The crowd seemed to really get behind and cheer as Betsy racked lap after lap.

"The Charlotte Jumper Classic was great exposure for the Saddlebred breed to be associated with the great quality of jumpers. Everything was very well organized and the staff of the Jumper Classic, as well as the Bobcat’s Arena, helped make the experience a very positive on for the trainers and horses. Our goal is to help build the breed and show the public that there are Saddlebred farms across the country that can accommodate for any style of riding," stated Steve Hanks.

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