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UPHA 14 Winter Tournament Season Closes Out At Cater Stables

DUNBARTON, N.H. - The fifth successful UPHA Chapter 14 winter tournament of the season was held at the sparkling, new showcase known as Cater Stables in Dunbarton, N.H. Having held an open house for their new facility just the weekend before, it was a little hectic for David and Kristen Cater and their staff and customers but it all came together nicely.

Cater Stables' world and national champion walk and trot riders Maggie McCool and Kasey Saccocia gave a demonstration during the lunch break.

Devon Garone served as the judge and was assisted by ringmaster Gary Saccocia Jr. Doug Cater served as the announcer while Heather Thompson presented ribbons and Don Spann made the barn calls.

Enough cannot be said about the work that Sarah and Jon Lettre put into the UPHA 14 Winter Tournament program. They do a tremendous job of securing venues and officials for the tournament series. Five tournaments were held this season beginning in November at Phoenix Stables, followed by Chrislar Farm in December, High Tail Acres in January, Judy Nason Stables in February and closing out at Cater Stables in March.

Forty-five riders competed at the last tournament in everything from beginners’ lead line to advanced WTC Equitation. A total of 264 entries competed in the five tournaments.

"Despite all the bad weather that this season dealt us and two postponements, all the tournaments were a great success again this year," said Sarah Lettre. "We had two new hosting barns and many new participants. I would like to thank all of the hosting barns and all of the exhibitors for supporting the UPHA 14 Winter Tournament program. It is a great learning experience during the winter months and a super fun day!"

My Big Day
by Ali Funkhouser

After spending the first six years of my official riding and training life with my little bay Welsh pony, Twiggy, I was devastated when I got too big for her and found out we had to sell her. But my grief was shortly ended because within two weeks after we sold Twiggy I met Major. It was the Connecticut Summer Classic Horse Show in W. Springfield, Mass., where I became acquainted with the handsome chestnut horse with the big white face from the Saddlebred Rescue program.

Bob and Raye Lynn Funkhouser with their daughter, Ali, who showed for the first time ever.

We went to the aisle where two Rescue horses were stabled, one being Major and the other a liver chestnut named Sergeant Pepper. My whole family instantly fell in love with Major. A day later I got the chance to try him out in the ring during the lunch break. He was a perfect gentleman. We all knew then he was the one and we adopted him into our horse family. With him, I have learned how to do figure eights, canter and so many other things I could have only dreamed of before. He has truly given me more than I could have hoped for.

If you fast-forward a few months you will find yourself on Sunday, March 16, the day of the winter tournament at Cater Stables and my first time competing. At 7 a.m., I was unwillingly awakened by my dad so we could get on the road. I was both excited and nervous. But I knew I had nothing to worry about. Major and I were ready. And besides, as my dad constantly reminded me, it was just for fun.

After an hour and a half car ride, we finally pulled up to Cater Stables. I was excited and I could tell Major was too. We were lucky enough to grab a spot on the cross ties right near the door to the arena. Then, we got settled and the waiting began. It was the terrible kind of waiting. It was the kind of waiting where I wanted to get it over with but at the same time I wanted time to slow down so I would have more time to prepare. On the other hand, Major was enjoying this time as many people from his fan club came by to meet him. I didn’t know I had a celebrity as a horse.

At last, the lunch break came and I went into the arena for a practice ride. My mom warmed Major up and I got on him to go around a few times. Then we went back to the cross ties and waiting there for us was more waiting. But this time it was taken up with fun preparations, like getting my first number: 776! I don’t think I’ll ever be able to forget it after all the times I’d said it in my head. I have it pinned up on my bulletin board and that is where it will always be. Next, we got to braid his mane (they are right up next to the number on my board)! I’ve always helped my parents get ready for showing but now they were helping me!

Then I got on him and walked up and down the aisles, trying not to bump into anything. Finally, it was time to go into the ring! I started by walking half circles and talking to Major to relax. Then they called for the trot and the pleasure class began. Trying to remember where he looked at things and when to turn right or left while listening to my mom and dad was a lot to take in. Then we reversed and went through the same process. When they called for the line up, I came to the center and caught my breath. But soon it was taken away again when I heard my number and name for first place! My mom came out to see me and I was so excited it took me a minute to process everything. But I knew that the day wasn’t over and I still had equitation.

The same order of events took place but this time I was concentrating on my form and posture and everything else that hurts. When I came into the line up this time I was even more taken back to hear my name being called for first again! To hear people cheering for me and my horse was one of the best feelings I’ve ever known.

After being congratulated and saying thank you many times, we packed up and started the trip home. Although excited about winning, I knew I have set pretty high standards for myself. I will continue to work hard with the best horse anyone could ask for. Major has given me an experience I will never forget. He has given me confidence and determination. I can’t wait to show again!

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