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UPHA Spring Premiere Turns Twenty

by Bob Funkhouser
Posted May 6, 2002
W. SPRINGFIELD, Mass. - From a small early season warm up, to large barns traveling from Kentucky and other distances because of the first rate Symphony of Horses, and now to a solid season kickoff show for the Saddlebred, Morgan, and Hackney exhibitors of New England, the UPHA Chapter 14 Spring Premiere has gone through a lot of changes during its first 20 years of existence.

One thing it has always been is innovative. Always seeking ways to make it a horsemen’s horse show, the committee, which is made up of a dedicated group of enthusiasts representing the three breeds which are showcased, worked at making this “not just another show in the Eastern States Coliseum.” The Symphony, the hospitality lounge, quiet time, nightly parties, they have all been a part of what separated this show from the rest. Jackpot Stakes for the Five-Gaited, Three-Gaited, Morgan English Pleasure, and Road Pony championships were new for this year. Entries did not have to qualify to show in those championships and the majority of the entry fees was added back to the prize money already allotted for those $500 championships. These Jackpot Stakes are being used at a few shows in the south and have helped the numbers in those championships. The most noticeable difference at Spring Premiere came in the Morgan English Pleasure Jackpot Stake which was probably the best class of the show and one of the best for Morgans in several years.

The format of the UPHA Chapter 14 Awards Party was also changed. Previously held Friday night after the show in one of the buildings on the Eastern States grounds, this year the award winners were recognized Friday night in center ring to a hearty round of applause and after the last class a party open to all was held in the main aisle courtesy of BrookCrest Stables and UPHA Chapter 14. The previous night there was a progressive aisle party which featured an array of food and beverages. Wednesday night the famous Cake Party was held at the Stonegate Farm tack room and on Tuesday evening Somersdream and Hobby Knoll sponsored a moving in pizza party.

Chairperson Jane Morrell has been the heart and soul of the Spring Premiere for many years now and her tireless dedication has carried it through. As manager, Peter Doubleday continues to give it a professional polish which is most appreciated by the show committee and exhibitors. Linda Burke once again ran the office.

Mother nature made it easy to celebrate the twentieth anniversary of the show April 17-20. In fact, many stables were caught by surprise when they didn’t bring fans. It was an absolutely gorgeous week in which many new combinations came out and several of the established teams were off and running for another successful year.

Mike Felty determined the winners of the Saddlebred, roadster, and Friesian divisions, while Sandy Sessink marked the cards in the Morgan and Equitation sections. The Saddlebreds were about the same as they had been, but with many new faces. The Morgans rallied to make this one of their best shows in a long time, while a few of the pony mainstays kept that division in tact.

Joining the other officials in center ring, Alan Keeley served as ringmaster and Bob Moseder captured all the winning photos. Up above the ring Lawrence Beard announced at Spring Premiere for the first time.

“I thought it was one of the best shows we’ve had here in some time,” said Holly Armstrong who was there both as a vendor with Rhode Island Tack Supply and as a horse show mother for her daughter Lindsay Gama. “The weather helped, but I thought there were several really competitive classes.”

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