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Twin State Finishes Better Than Big Brown

by Bob Funkhouser

DEERFIELD, N.H. - The first weekend in June is welcomed by many of the New England exhibitors as they get to spend an enjoyable few days on the picturesque Deerfield Fairgrounds of New Hampshire. The site of several shows throughout the year, Deerfield again played host to the 23rd annual Twin State American Saddlebred Association Horse Show.

In many ways it’s a step back into yesteryear as the atmosphere is that of a grass roots county fair, yet the quality of horse and rider - especially this year - in many cases is up there with anything you’ll find on the upper East Coast. The spacious facility along with its towering trees and grandstands makes for a most beautiful setting. Deerfield is also one of the few outdoor facilities that could have withstood the amount of rain that fell over two days and still have a horse show.

What makes this show so different than the others held there are the show committee and the attitude of the exhibitors. It’s a show where you can let your hair down and enjoy it, but still be very competitive. Show Manager Sue Arthur and her crew, starting with the ladies in the office, always have a smile on their faces and are always asking what they can do for the exhibitor.

Arthur has a veteran crew that includes Show Secretary Mary Wahl and her assistants Skeeter Balch and Christine Balch, along with ringmasters Larry Wahl and Barry Caisse, organist Nancy Roberts, stable superintendent Ron Boucher, photographer Ted Douglass, videographer Blue Ribbon Video and new announcer Andy Bailey who added a lot to the weekend’s festivities. Jay Wood from Plato, Minn., made his first visit to New England and did a good job in the Saddlebred, Morgan and Hackney divisions.

Socializing is right up there with showing horses when it comes to Twin State. In addition to the many individual gatherings across the grounds throughout the weekend there was a move-in pizza party, a "Have Your Cake And Eat It Too" party, and the now famous Saturday afternoon Belmont Race Cookout. Hosted by Northgate Stables, Rocking Horse Farm, Miscoe Meadow and friends, the annual party has grown from a few barns getting together and cooking out for the Belmont race to a full fledge exhibitors’ party. Hundreds of pounds of ribs, steak tips, chicken, deep fried turkey, hamburgers and hot dogs were cooked and served prior to the oh-so-disappointing Belmont Race where Big Brown reminded us all what horses are capable of doing… or in this case, not doing.

With great food and a couple betting pools for the race, several hundred exhibitors gathered around to celebrate the weekend, watch the horse race and then cheer on their own barns in the "Battle Of The Jog Carts" chariot race. These hearty exhibitors had endured a day and half of solid rain followed by two days of unseasonably hot temperatures, yet were still having a great time.

From academy riders to world’s champion performers, there was a good mix of horses and riders in the ring representing the Saddlebred, Morgan, Hackney and Friesian breeds. Judge Wood had his work cut out for him in many instances and when all was said and done, Twin State ’08 went down in the record books as another success.

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