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UPHA Chapter 15 Children’s Benefit Horse Show

by Sharon Ellingwood

LOGAN TOWNSHIP, N.J. - The 2009 Children’s Benefit Horse Show opened July 23-25, 2009, under new management and at a new, state of the art facility. The Gloucester County DREAM Park in Logan Township, N.J., is steps from Philadelphia, Pa., and literally almost under the Commodore Barry Bridge connecting New Jersey to the southern outskirts of Philly, yet boasts open space, pastoral and marsh views and a peaceful countryside feel. It opened in June 2008, boasting state of the art facilities designed for the health and comfort of the horses. The open concept covered stabling houses 238 permanent stalls adjacent to an immense 150’ x 300’, well lit, climate controlled indoor ring. Several large outdoor rings provide ample warm up space. Indoor warm up and enclosed stabling will be finished for Chapter 15’s Fall Finale show scheduled here for Oct. 16-18.

Horse Show Coordinator Mark McCracken explained this is only the beginning for the DREAM Park. "This facility has several stages of investment and growth, and this is just the beginning of what the DREAM Park can be. It is the best alternative for what we had at Penn National as a facility. The park staff and maintenance crew were among the best I have ever seen or worked with."

Judges Armon Effinger and Cary Bartz handled well filled classes over the Thursday, Friday and Saturday schedule. In a time when pleasure horses provide the most numbers in classes, it was nice to see most if not all of the performance classes with decent numbers as well. From center ring, announcer David "Tuffy" Owens noted the "high quality" equipment and sound system and "impressive grounds."

Horse Show Secretary Joanne Bartley said, "The horse show was a grand success this year at this beautiful new facility. The local support was wonderful. I hope momentum will continue to grow."

Friday night brought some wild weather in the form of a severe thunderstorm that made everyone thankful for the indoor arena. A few classes were pushed to the morning schedule in the interest of safety for all. However, spirits were not dampened for the "Wild West" themed exhibitors’ party put on by the capable hands of Jessie Richardson and the ladies at Revelation Farm. It was family fun for the young and the young at heart, including a life size simulated roping horse and calf ride that dozens stood on line for to have their shot to "rope and ride".

Organizer Kathleen Ververeli said, "This is the most fun horse show I have been to this year. The family atmosphere made every level of rider feel welcome. All of the kids had a blast at the pool party that was organized for the Mid Atlantic Summer Saddle Seat Equitation Event. Having the older equitation kids and adult riders interact with the younger ones helps encourage the younger ones to continue in the sport."

A future is planned for more Chapter 15 shows at the DREAM Park with limitless possibilities. Mark McCracken said, "One of the big things that’s here locally between horse shows is a handicapped riding program and we are in talks to extend to them classes at our shows in conjunction with UPHA’s Exceptional Challenge Cup."

The horse show traditionally benefits children’s charities, and this year’s beneficiary was Big Brothers Big Sisters of Burlington, Camden and Glouster Counties. Their motto "We Are Changing the Way Children Grow Up In America" goes comfortably hand in hand with what horses bring to kids and families. A group of children came to the show and received a tour by Anne Butler of Saddlebred Rescue and got involved with some Saddle Horses and ponies up close on Saturday.

The area makes a wonderful place for exhibitors interested in a destination event in addition to the horse show. Many families enjoyed trips into Philadelphia’s historic district, the Amish country, or Atlantic City and the famous New Jersey shore. Many show participants arrived via mass transit to Philadelphia, which was very convenient. There is ample access to train service and the airport less than 10 miles away.

Well filled classes, top quality, state of the art facilities and grounds made for a wonderful week for the Children’s Benefit Horse Show. From wee riders starting inacademy to campaigners on their last stop in preparations for the Kentucky State Fair, there was something for everyone at the 2009 Children’s Benefit.

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