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Vermont Spring Classic - The Big 4-0

by Bob Funkhouser

W.SPRINGFIELD, Mass. - The saying goes that time flies when you’re having fun and for those involved with the Vermont Spring Classic, time has definitely flown by as this year marked the 40th edition of the fun-filled Morgan show.

From the first year at the Champlain Valley Fairgrounds in Essex Junction, Vt., to the "flood of 1986" at the unfinished Grantham, N.H., fairgrounds to the historic Tri-County Fairgrounds in Northampton, Mass., to its present home of the past seven years, the Eastern States Exposition Center in W. Springfield, Mass., there have been many tales and triumphs to go with a few downfalls. Manager for more than half its total existence, Hayes Sogoloff has piloted the show through choppy waters and calm seas with a great group of dedicated volunteers who have been by his side the entire time.

"With this economy we were down this year," noted Sogoloff. "We have basically the same number of barns attending, they just didn’t bring as many horses as they usually do. You walk down through the barn and you see many top farms represented. I am pleased with the quality of horses we have this year."

As Sogoloff noted in his letter to exhibitors, the one thing that has stayed consistent is their effort "to make it a pleasant experience for exhibitors, trainers, vendors and officials." Like the family that they are, the Vermont Spring Classic exhibitors, trainers, vendors and officials continued their tradition of gathering for food following the first three evenings of the show. Sponsored by many of the area barns, pizza, lasagna and ribs were on the menu for the three gatherings. It’s a great way to bring a long day of showing to a close.

Hayes Sogoloff remarked after the show, "The Vermont Spring Classic is blessed with an all volunteer show committee, many of whom work part of our show. Josie Davis and Jennifer Russell run the youth contest. Sue Lowery and Debbie Blackett order, sort and deliver ribbons and trophies. Janet Yager handles the dressage and husband Tom is our paddock master. Anne Brown runs the carriage driving and Vermont Morgan gift table with the help of Sue Ford. My assistant, Kevin Shortell, who has tried to replace John Raymond, is another jack-of-all-trades. He even had to replace Grace Yaglou (sore knee) as the second ringmaster during the ribbon presentations. Barbara Beauregard compiles the program and web page, while my wife, Bonnie, spends hours on the computer doing the books and answering emails.

"An amazing thing occurred this year. When it became obvious that our entries would be down, some of the trainers actually collected more sponsorship money from their clients after the show started. Also, several of our paid workers altered their fee to help the bottom line. We are grateful for such loyal supporters of the Vermont Spring Classic.

 "We also had really nice horses in the winner's circle," Sogoloff concluded.

Officials for this 40th edition of the Vermont Spring Classic included Judges John McDonald, Pierre Loiselle, Keith Angstadt and Lore Homer. Jolene Galvin served as the learner judge. The voice of the Vermont Spring Classic for many years, Bill Carrington, was back in center ring as was photographer Casey McBride. The ringmaster duties were shared by Al Celecki and Grace Yaglou who had to cut her time short due to a leg injury. Keeping the flow of the show going by getting horses into the ring in a timely manner, Tom Yager served as the paddock master. Official farrier Tim Keller wasn’t needed in the ring until the very last class of the show so all in all it was a good week from center ring.

The show ended on a high note with a competitive Amateur Park Saddle Championship. Maureen Cartelli was back in the saddle to ride the athletic Starboard’s Blitz Krieg to the tricolor for Waterman, Inc and trainer Luman Wadhams. Also pumping his legs, amateur qualifying winner Key Biscayne returned to the CPM tack room with the reserve grand champion honors for Sara Foy followed by Ultra’s Dark Shadow and Lisa Denuzzo in third.

Novice winner Stonecroft Sudden Impact came back uncontested in the Park Saddle Championship with Scott Neidlinger again aboard for the Neimeth family’s Misty Meadows. While they were all Oklahoma quality entries, the rest of the park saddle and the entire park harness division saw solo performances.

Rick Lane was on hand with several stars from Cabot Morgans. Among them was English Pleasure Grand Champion MEM Sambuca who defeated qualifying winners Sea Vu Justified and Richard Boule for the tricolor. Lane also had the top ride in the junior championship with MEM Have You Ever, defeating Hillwood Irish Brogue and Kirstin Wolbarsht.

In the amateur division, Oklahoma winner and Vermont Spring Amateur English Pleasure Mare Champion One And Only was the English Pleasure Grand Champion for Kate Kertscher and Cedar Springs Farm. Brooke Grove and Paradigm Tokyo Rose came back strong to push the grand champions and earned the reserve in a well-filled class.

Among the younger riders, Laura Poulin and SLB Triple Play (Youth), Amber Green and Springmill Souvenir (Junior Exhibitor 14-17), GDT The Godfather with Emily Tarr (Junior Exhibitor 13 & Under) and Chloe Deeb’s Pacific Rim Take Aim (Walk/Trot 11 & Under) all made tricolor victory passes.

Richard Boule and Rick Lane locked horns several times throughout the weekend. After both trainers won their respective open pleasure driving qualifiers, Judge John McDonald put FRF Seattle Reign and Boule in the winner’s circle of the Morgan Pleasure Driving Championship for Jeff Gove. Mare winner MEM Shock & Awe was Lane’s reserve grand champion, driving for George Schott.

A true icon of the Morgan industry, Art Perry shows no sign of letting up. He was at the controls of amateur stallion/gelding winner Intrepid Behold to take the Amateur Pleasure Driving Championship for the second consecutive year. Moving up in the ribbons in a good championship round, RJMF Barrymore and Nancy Andreano scored the reserve streamers.

Melissa Morrell had a few pleasure driving winners with Judy Candage and SBS Sincerely bringing the novice driver and amateur mare blues back to the Moreland Farm tack room in addition to Morrell’s ladies blue with Can’t You See MEM.

Kelsey Bornt and CBMF Grand Illusions were on top of their game to sweep the Junior Exhibitor Pleasure Driving Championship and 14-17 qualifier.

Rick Lane was twice a winner, taking MEM Blue Chip to the novice win and MEM Absolute Joy to the maiden title. Jennifer Amazeen came from a reserve in the three-year-old class to win the Junior Pleasure Driving Championship over four-year-old winner Gable’s Smokin with Bonnie Sogoloff. Steve Davis and UVM Odyssey had won the three-year-old class.

In hand competition featured Grand Champion Stallion Analyze That, Junior Champion Stallion Owlwood Wild Valentine, Grand Champion Mare MEM Shock & Awe, Junior Champion Mare Simple Elegance and Grand Champion Gelding MEM Bad Boy.

There was a good mix of talent in the classic pleasure sections with the riding and driving classes being competitive. Stunning the competition, MEM Taser was the saddle stallion/gelding winner and the Classic Pleasure Saddle Grand Champion with owner Rachel Frazier aboard. SPR Black Magic made the reserve grand champion victory pass with Katharine Robertson.

Making a big move up in the standings from the qualifier, FRF All That Glitters and Lindsay Finniss paraded down victory lane as the Classic Pleasure Saddle 14-17 Grand Champions and they were followed by reserve grand champions That’s My Man and Chelsea Haber who also moved up a few notches. Finniss and All That Glitters also bested the Junior Exhibitor Classic Pleasure Driving Championship.

The best of the 13 and under classic saddle competition was Successive Endeavors NKS, ridden by Emma Kate Flanagan for their second victory of the week. Sadie Ray and Hillwood Irish Belle swept the 11 & Under Walk & Trot Classic division.

Possibly the deepest and most competitive class of the week was the nine-horse Classic Pleasure Driving Championship. Coming from the winner’s circle of the ladies class, Judy Candage and Salvador were a picture of perfection, turning back the talented challengers. It was a big win for Candage and Team Morrell. Bob Neimeth was also right in the mix with a reserve grand champion drive behind Fury’s Fortune. The reserve grand champions were followed by saddle grand champions MEM Taser and Rachel Frazier.

You never get tired of watching something special and that’s a good way to describe Western Pleasure Grand Champions FCF Montego Bay and Judy Nason who won three classes for Joanne Kieger. Reserve behind Montego Bay in the stallion/gelding qualifier, Westenfeld Musicmaster and Julianne Smith finished as the reserve grand champions. This was in addition to their amateur grand champion title where Kate Foy and Dr. Bombay commanded reserve honors.

The Devil’s Image and Kane Creek Kryptonite traded places in the Junior Exhibitor Western Pleasure Championship with Kryptonite and Emily Jones coming out on top. Bethany Towne rode the qualifying winner, The Devil’s Image.

The most consistently filled division of the week was by far the hunters. Keely Sogoloff and MEM Bailamos led the way in the open championship after taking the stallion/gelding qualifier for Jerold Nau. Scott Travers and Cingate Lucky Star were twice reserve in their debut for Jacqueline Pelletier.

Tricolor streamers went the way of Key Motion and Alanna Therrien in the Hunter Pleasure Amateur Championship. Amateur stallion/gelding winner CBMF Cutting Edge trotted out with the reserve grand champion ribbon with Julie Byrn in the irons. Amateur mare winner Garland Fleur de Lis also won the ladies class with Joyce Thoma.

Pembroke Annabella and Kathleen Vaughn were two for two in the Youth Hunter Pleasure section. Stephanie Marcelonis and CPM Five O Clock Somewhere triumphed as the reserve grand champions, while stablemates MEM Scan Dal Less and Lauren Foy were reserve in the qualifier. They did ride away with the top ribbon from the junior exhibitor 14-17 championship in which Sight Unseen and Katelyn Merrill were the reserve grand champions.

No stranger to the winner’s circle, Merriehill Isa Boo was at the top of the judge’s card for the 13 & Under Hunter Pleasure Championship. It was a repeat performance from the qualifier. JBK Buck Dakota was the first name called in the Walk/Trot/Jog 11 & Under Hunter/Western Pleasure Championship. That was also their second victory pass.

Katelyn Tobin jumped to the top of the Novice Rider Hunter Pleasure Championship just ahead of qualifying winners JBK Buck Dakota. Keely Sogoloff and Meadowair Look At Me had the right look in the Junior Hunter Pleasure Championship for top honors. Steve Davis won the qualifier with reserve grand champion UVM Neshobe.

Percy McDaniel once again entertained us with Roadster To Bike Grand Champion and open winner Blkorchid Live From NY. Victoria Brown was aboard Emotional Girl for the under saddle blue. Meadowmere Amberly covered a lot of ground to handily win both road hack classes with Valerie Brown in the irons.

Alexandria Frangiosa went unchallenged in the 13 & Under Saddle Seat Equitation Championship, qualifier and UPHA Challenge Cup. Hayley Porter earned the right to show at Oklahoma with the winning ride in the AMHA Medal. That went along with her Classic Saddle Seat Equitation Championship and 14-17 qualifier. Emma Kate Flanagan made the last pass in the 13 and under class. Sadie Ray was two for two among the Walk/Trot Classic Pleasure Saddle riders.

Both the AMHA Western Seat Medal and the Western Seat Equitation Championship belonged to Bethany Towne. Amber Bornt topped the 14-17 class before taking reserve grand champion honors.

Alexandra Warner was the name to remember from the Hunt Seat 14-17 Equitation Championship. She already had a winning ride in the 14-15 class. Stablemate Hannah Locke was the reserve grand champion after winning the 16-17 qualifier.

Closing out the show ring highlights from the 40th Vermont Spring Classic, Crystal Green rode as the Hunt Seat Equitation 13 & Under Grand Champion over Kate Vail. Jenna Jarvis scored the blue from the qualifier.

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