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Spring Horse Show Kicks Off Palos Hills Stables 50th Year

Palos Hills Stables 50th Anniversary Year began in grand fashion with the first in-house academy show of the season on Saturday, March 27. The weather gods gifted with a lovely spring day and over 40 exhibitors, ranging from walk-trot through advanced, displayed the results of their hard work in the riding academy lesson program for judge Sue Collins-Wojcik of the Palos Hills Horsemens Association. The 20 well-filled classes were viewed by a large and enthusiastic  family audience and documented by horse show photographer Jeff Nickey, Hartland, WI, who spent the previous day at the barn conducting a photo shoot for a number of the stable’s boarders and their horses.

Palos Hills Stables, managed by Martha Thompson-Hoyt, is celebrating 50 years of service to the Chicago equine community. Owned and operated by the Thompson family in the same southwest suburban location since its inception in 1960, it is a full-service training and boarding facility, catering to both pleasure and show riders. Conveniently located close to major thoroughfares, the stable is also directly connected to the Cook County Forest Preserves, with scenic miles of riding trails. Many members of Martha’s show team, currently preparing for the 2010 season, caught the horse show ‘bug’ while riding in one of the academy shows that have been a tradition at the barn for most of those 50 years.  They will be easy to spot at Midwest area shows this summer in their distinctive 50th anniversary black and gold caps and shirts!

The Riding Academy conducts four school shows throughout the year. School and boarder riders compete for high point ribbons that are awarded at the end of each show. Points are then accumulated towards the overall Year- End High Point presented at the Winter Show in December.  Alyssa Court, showing her palomino saddlebred Play It Grand, was the Boarder Rider High Point recipient.  In addition, Alyssa was also the winner of the fun ‘Ride a Buck’ event made even more competitive when the class sponsor, Don Bales, added a very generous cash award.  As news of the added money class spread, the entries more than doubled for this last class of the day!   Lauren Ehrlicher took home the School Horse High Point ribbon and the added award of a lease on the special school horse of her choice. 

One of the day’s other exceptional events was a demonstration by the riding academy drill team expertly coached by their instructor, Patty Del Favero. The 12 exhibitors, a combination of school and boarder riders, with their respective mounts, put on well practiced and beautifully choreographed performance and received a rousing ovation from their audience.  Our judge, Ms. Wojcik was so impressed that she has invited the team to perform at the Horsemens Association annual fall show.  It looks like the team will be continuing their practice sessions through the summer.

While the exhibitors were busy displaying their riding skills, there was plenty of activity for the audience as well.  The Saddlebred Riders United Youth Group conducted a bake sale and contest, and ran a very busy concession stand.  Ten beautiful gift baskets went to new homes as the result of a successful raffle effort, and several local vendors set up displays to tempt the shoppers in the crowd.

With the midwest season getting underway, the Palos Hills team is setting their sights now on the UPHA Chapter 10 show in late April and to the second school show that will be held in late May.  If you are in the area, stop by and join in the anniversary festivities!  For more information, please visit and

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