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Vermont Spring Classic Provides Successful Season Opener For The New England Morgan Circuit


by Sadie Fowler

WEST SPRINGFIELD, Mass. – The decision to relocate to the Eastern States Exposition Center five years ago was indeed a wise one, as evident at the 2006 edition of the Vermont Spring Classic Morgan Horse Show, held May 17-20. Some trainers who’d not participated in the event in recent years were attracted to the show’s location, timing and atmosphere, and joined Vermont Spring Classic’s loyal exhibitors for four days of early season competition.

For many New England Morgan exhibitors, Vermont Spring Classic served as a season opener and this was clear as the coliseum was full of excitement and enthusiasm all four days of the show. The early season shows are always refreshing to attend for trainers, owners, exhibitors and fans who are ready to see what lies ahead after spending a long winter away from their favorite past time.

Despite some afternoon showers, especially on Friday afternoon, the sun managed to make various appearances throughout Saturday afternoon and even when the rain was too heavy for horses to warm up outside, teams were given a few minutes of warm up time upon entering the ring, which was greatly appreciated by exhibitors. Overall, the Eastern States Exposition Center is a much easier facility to deal with, in comparison to Northampton, in times of less than perfect weather.

Just about all the barns in attendance left the show with ribbons to be proud of after being judged by Terry Jones Brennan of Hollister, Calif., and John Hufferd of Roanoke, Ind. Brennan handled the duties of judging the geldings in hand, equitation, pleasure driving, park saddle, hunter pleasure, classic pleasure saddle and road hack divisions, while Hufferd marked the cards for stallions in hand, mares in hand, western pleasure, English pleasure, park harness, classic pleasure driving and roadster divisions.

Also having something to be proud of, Show Manager Dr. Hayes Sogoloff and his efficient staff provided entertainment and many perks to make exhibitors feel welcome and wanting to return next year. There was a pizza party Wednesday evening, lasagna party Thursday evening and ribs Friday evening. In addition to the great food, show management enticed the trainers by offering five $500 trainer-take-all classes Friday night with the competitive amateur championships being held Saturday night.

The show also focused this year on improving the in hand division. “In our yearly effort to improve a different aspect of the show, we decided to encourage more participation in the in hand division,” according to Sogoloff.

The show did this by offering a $500 handler-take-all in the following classes: Junior Champion Mare (won by Mark Mason handling Graywood’s Epona), Senior Champion Mare (Lynn Peeples handling Fair Catch), Junior Champion Stallion (Luman Wadhams handling Salem Transcontinental), Senior Champion Stallion (won by Richard Boulé with Cartier and Grand Champion Gelding (won by Jaisen von Ballmoos handling Haute Couture).

In addition to the fantastic hospitality and competitive prize money offered by the show, the schedule was also very popular. The show, which began Wednesday afternoon, had one long day session each day that began at 10 a.m. (on Thursday, Friday and Saturday) with a 30 minute lunch break around 12:30 p.m. Despite the short lunch break, this set up was nice for trainers and exhibitors in that it allowed for a longer break before evening classes, which began nightly at 7 p.m. Evening sessions were exciting and also relatively brief, ending between 9 and 10 p.m., just in time for exhibitors to reacquaint themselves with friends at the after show parties.

All in all, the 2006 Vermont Spring Classic will be remembered as a big hit for its great atmosphere and its solid competition. Competition in the hunter and classic pleasure divisions was clearly the deepest with many classes full to the brim and a couple having to be split.

The in hand championships were held Wednesday afternoon as always to kick off the show. This year the winning handlers in five of those championships carried home $500 each, a newly added incentive to the Vermont Spring Classic. The mares were the first on stage and Mark Mason presented Graywood’s Epona to the Yearling Fillies blue before winning the Junior Champion Mare title with the pretty filly for Katrina Wood. AMZ Tiger Lilly with Richard Boulé handling picked up the reserve junior title.

Fair Catch made her presence known with Lynn Peeples handling for Doug and Marlene Sluiter as the Three-Year-Old Mare victor prior to wearing the tricolors out of the Senior Champion Mare class and the Grand Champion Mare class. In the Grand Champion Mare class, Graywood’s Epona proved she could take on the more mature mares and garnered the Reserve Grand Champion Mare title.

Similar to the way the competition played out with the mares, Yearling Colt winner Salem Transcontinental, handled by Luman Wadhams for Salem Farm, also won the junior stallion title and finished as the Reserve Grand Champion Stallion. Grand Champion Stallion Cartier put on an impressive show, handled by Richard Boulé for Gay Gove, and was also the Senior Champion Stallion.

Jaisen von Ballmoos started out what turned out to be a winning week for Misty Meadows by presenting Haute Couture to the Five and Over Geldings blue and followed that win up with the Grand Champion Gelding where Whispering Bellavante and Vickie Wirth claimed the reserve tricolor for Paula and John Macklin.

Several championship classes kicked off the Friday morning/afternoon session, however most of them set the stage for Friday and Saturday evening’s venues. The first championship of the show was the Walk and Trot Saddle Seat Equitation 8 and Under Championship. Instructed by Keith Friday and Alicia Groff at Rolling Oaks, Sadie Ray shined in the Big E coliseum for her well-deserved victory. A strong effort was put forth by Siara Clemmey for reserve.

The Hunter Pleasure Junior Exhibitor 13 and Under Championship followed with 12 young riders putting on their game faces in an attempt to make the tricolor victory pass. No one could defeat the well-matched team of Ariel Blackett and Heyday Rising Sun, who were instructed to the tricolor by Bonnie Sogoloff. Hot on their heels for reserve, KHF Dante’ De Lion and Katelyn Merrill were named the reserve champions.

The Walk and Trot Classic Saddle Seat Equitation Championship was held next with Equitation Unlimited adding one of several top ribbons to their tack room. This time, Jean DeGutis greeted Brittany Pothier in the winner’s circle after Pothier topped a field of seven. Lauren White followed in the ribbons as the reserve champion.

Daisy Beisler was the next to collect a Vermont Spring Classic tricolor. After making a strong drive behind the lines of GDT Legend Crown Jewel, Bill Carrington announced her to be the Junior Exhibitor Classic Pleasure Driving Champion.

Meghan Bradley was the next to pick up a tricolor and did so for Equitation Unlimited in the Classic Saddle Seat Equitation Championship. Shannon Fuller put forth a strong effort for the reserve finish.

The Junior Exhibitor Hunter Pleasure 14-17 was one of the show’s largest and most competitive divisions. After winning the qualifier, Nicole Neville directed her bold moving entry Stradivarius to the 14-17 tricolor finish, topping a huge field for the Luman Wadhams team. Meadowair High Hopes and Hanna Welch managed to stand out from the large crowd for reserve honors for Andrea Sawyer.

Vermont Spring Classic wouldn’t be the same without the presence of Cedar Spring Farm and during this week their presence was very strong as their crew picked up top ribbons in numerous classes including the Junior Exhibitor Classic Pleasure Saddle Championship. In this class, Jordan Schucart directed the tried and true Salem Shazam to the tricolor. Just Jack FM and Chelsee Haber gladly accepted the reserve finish.

The Classic Pleasure Driving Championship was well filled with talent and ESS Fleur De Lis emerged from the line up at the conclusion of the tough class with owner Ernestine Smith driving her winning entry for the Waterford team. Lynn and Kathleen Peeples of Waterford were a welcomed addition to this year’s cast of competitors. Sarah Johnson represented CPM Stables for the reserve finish with Lookaway’s Vanessa.

Waterford Farm was back in the winner’s circle after the conclusion of the first class Friday evening, the Open Western Pleasure Championship. Kathleen Peeples and HL My My jogged away with the tricolor for owner Holly Seavitt of Salvisa, Ky., after winning the ladies qualifier earlier in the week. Meadow Song Rhythm and Bonnie Sogoloff maintained their reserve position, also earning reserve in the ladies class for Mary Jane Nau.

Quabbin Obsession and Larry Bonnell followed up their Limit Park Harness blue by capturing top honors in the Open Park Harness Championship for Donald Girroir. Percy McDaniel and Crystalhill Bonnie Lass secured the reserve tricolor for Lelita Hewitt.

Luman Wadhams added another winning ribbon to his large collection after directing the bold performing Starboard’s Ring My Bell to the Junior English Pleasure Championship for South Bay Morgans. Second in the nice crop of youngsters, Tara’s Momento and Scott Travers’ shone as the reserve champions.

Friday evening’s entertainment continued with seven entries making their way through the gate for the Hunter Pleasure Championship. SMS Moredelay and Laura Reed made an impressive showing for the win, while Keely Sogoloff and Townsend Out On The Town were recognized for their smooth performance with the reserve ribbon for Gloria Henry.

Dragonsmeade Carnaros and Mike Carpenter topped a very strong field in the $500 Jackpot Open Pleasure Driving Championship. This impressive entry also won the Four-Year-Old Pleasure Driving class earlier in the week for Dragonsmeade Farm. Melissa Morrell made sure Phyllis Frechette’s handsome entry Can’t You See MEM stood out and they exited with the reserve championship honors.

David Rand and Twin Peak Limitless gave the good-sized Friday night audience something to cheer about in the Junior Park Saddle Championship. This fancy entry also won the three-year-old class for proud owner Dr. Grace Steere.

Misty Meadows had a great week in West Springfield under the direction of Jaisen von Ballmoos. One of several highlights of their week came when von Ballmoos and Haute Couture made an outstanding performance to win the $500 Jackpot Open English Pleasure Championship for Robert and Loek Neimeth. In addition to starring in the English pleasure division, Haute Couture was also Vermont Spring Classic’s Grand Champion Gelding. Hartland Best Man and Alicia Fraser made the reserve victory pass for Hartland Morgans.

The Open Park Saddle Championship closed out Friday evening’s competition. Clare L. Simpson and CPM Sabrina hit a home run and trotted away with the tricolor after having won the open qualifier earlier in the week. Luman Wadhams greeted the champions in center ring. Wendy Sogoloff piloted PAF Ecstasy to the reserve finish for Pixel Acres Farm.

The final day of the show featured the Beginner Pleasure Hunt/Western Championship 9-11 as its first championship class. After claiming the blue in the qualifier class Thursday morning, Nicholas Roberts again rose to the occasion aboard his hunter TJB Opinionated for the Fox Meadow Farm. Trisha Jones had Silver Lake In Touch in prime form for the reserve finish in the large class.

Judy Nason has been putting fine western entries in the New England winner’s circle for many years and this year she greeted Meadowair Fire Dance and Hannah Welch in center ring after their eye-catching performance in the Junior Exhibitor Western Pleasure Championship for Elizabeth Chickering. DFM Poetic Justice and Jenna Britt made a very fitting pair and jogged away as the reserve champions in a tricolor sweep for Bellwether.

Securing their second win of the week, Gradell’s Wild Reflection with Max Liberty in the saddle made a commanding performance to carry away the tricolor in the Beginner’s English Pleasure Championship under the direction of David Rand. Connundrum and Gabrielle Blakeman were called out of the line up next as the reserve champions.

The Novice Rider English Pleasure Saddle Championship concluded with Sarah Sanchez picking up another victory for Luman Wadhams Stables. She made a strong finish aboard Patchwork Rhapsody for the tricolor finish while Hannah Medico and Bent Apple Liberty closed out their show as the reserve champions for Erin Kelley.

Miller Young Fina had a stand out performance for the second time of the show in the Western/Hunter Seat Walk/Trot/Jog Equitation 9-11 Championship. This poised young lady also won her qualifier under the skillful direction of Barbara Irvine. Nicholas Roberts also polished off a great week at Vermont Morgan with a reserve ride.

Sasha Klein and Indian Creek Final Touch received a warm round of applause from the crowd after being named the Youth Hunter Pleasure Grand Champions. Kathleen and Lynn Peeples directed this stellar team to the win. Savannah Cushing and Cabot Courage Command also had many people cheering them on to their reserve tricolor finish.

Adding yet another win from the English pleasure division to their colorful tack room, Moniqua Dube and Lookaway’s Hot Ticket represented RAND for the Junior Exhibitor English Pleasure Saddle 13 and Under Championship in their debut show for Pauline Richard. The Mike Carpenter-trained pair Noble Viking Echo and Hayley Porter was on the winner’s heels for the reserve finish for Mary Kuhn.

There was a large fan club back at Cedar Springs Farm after the talented young rider Emily Tarr garnered her first tricolor in the Walk and Trot Saddle Seat Equitation Championship. Jean DeGutis met the cool and confident-riding Gabrielle Blackman after being named the reserve champion.

Oak Knoll Army Brat and Christine Cote made a ground-covering performance to be named the Road Hack Champions. Gail Bodine Donahue put Graywood’s Lancelot in all the right positions for reserve.

Following up their qualifier win in the junior class, MEM Hot Shot and Rebecca Hunzeker attracted the judge and crowd’s attention and claimed the Junior Hunter Pleasure Championship under Judy Nason’s tutelage for Marion Bengtson. Scott Travers piloted Answers To No One to the reserve finish for Jane Pimental.

Rachel Menard positioned herself perfectly and bested a competitive field in the Junior Saddle Seat Equitation Championship. Equitation Unlimited’s Alexandra Lally followed up her UPHA Challenge Cup and Saddle Seat Equitation 12-13 blues with another victory pass as the reserve champion.

Winding down the entertaining Saturday afternoon session, Queen’s Upbeat and David Rand kept the crowd’s enthusiasm on a roll as they boldly captured the Junior Park Harness Championship for Firewind Morgans. Harry Sebring directed Patricia Lloyd’s flashy entry WS Commanding Spirit to the reserve finish.

Ellen McQuade is always in the top ribbons and after winning her qualifying equitation class, as well as the AMHA Western Seat Medal, this smooth and steady rider finished as the Vermont Spring Classic Western Seat Equitation Grand Champion. Beautifully dressed, Brittany Russo was greeted in center ring by Kathleen Peeples after Bill Carrington announced her as the reserve champion.

The final session of the show opened with five capable equitation riders vying for the Senior Saddle Seat Equitation title. Marlo Franco positioned herself nicely and topped off her strong rail work with a precise workout to be crowned champion under the guidance of Jean DeGutis. Cricket Hill’s Kristen Spann guided the elegant riding Brooke Gove to a solid reserve finish.

Misty Meadows added another tricolor to their banner after Robert Neimeth drove Fury’s Fortune to the Amateur Pleasure Driving Championship on Saturday night. OH Inspiration and Kathy Ranzinger inspired the crowd to cheer them on to the reserve victory pass for Lisa Keller.

A very large field of hunt seat equitation riders concluded with Stevie Meder accepting top honors after nailing her rail and pattern work. Meder carried her tricolor back to the Taylor River tack room after adding the blue ribbon from her qualifier to their collection earlier in the day. Taylor River also instructs the winner from the 13 and under qualifier class, Katelyn Merrill. Finishing reserve in the championship, Sasha Klein represented Waterford in top form in her season debut aboard WSG Mystic Impression.

NAS Simpatico and Nicole Neville entertained show spectators Saturday night as they made a bold and winning performance in the Junior Exhibitor Park Saddle Championship, following up their qualifier win under the direction of Luman Wadhams.

Just two classes later, Luman Wadhams was back in center ring preparing Gina Macari and FCF Coeur De Lion for their reserve victory pass in the Junior Exhibitor English Pleasure 14-17 Championship. In this class, Adriana Liberty and Ultra’s Proclamation polished off an undefeated week as the champions, making RAND Stables home to both age groups of the junior exhibitor English pleasure championship titles. Liberty and Ultra’s Proclamation also finished as champions in this division at their 2006 debut show, UPHA Chapter 14 Spring Premier.

Once again in the winner’s circle, Robert Neimeth and Silver Heels Synergy emerged as the Amateur Park Harness Champions for Misty Meadows. Terry Titus and her elegant Stardavari enjoyed their team debut as they delivered the reserve finish to Mike Carpenter Stables.

Richard Boulé had Jellico Colors And Honors in fine order for the Junior Pleasure Driving Championship for Taylor River Farm. Dawn Murphy drove her entry Sea-Vu Justified to reserve.

The 12-entry Amateur Hunter Pleasure Championship was next on the agenda with Indian Creek Belle Isle and Julie Byrn covering ground in elegant style to be named champions for the Cedar Spring banner. They defeated a large crop of contenders in the amateur qualifier as well. Representing the Taylor River team, Sara Heffernan had Andrea’s Radiance in all the right places in the busy class for reserve.

Collecting yet another pair of tricolors for RAND, Monnington Wish and WSG Wham O held the top two tickets in the Amateur English Pleasure Championship. These two sharp entries performed flawlessly for riders Amanda Poirier and Alice Welch, respectively.

Starting out a great night for the Evans family, Donna Evans and Futurity’s On Your Mark earned the judge’s highest mark in the Amateur Western Pleasure Championship. Melissa Morrell met the winners in center ring. Equinox Catalyst and Kris Ann Jardin held their own and exited the ring as the reserve champions.

Team Moreland was in the spotlight once again in the following class as Kristi Evans jockeyed SBS Power Play to a fabulous finish in the 19-entry Classic Pleasure Saddle Championship. Also right on target for a big finish, Money To Burn and Christine Fredette were thrilled to make the reserve victory pass.

One of the most exciting classes of the show, the Roadster To Bike Championship, had spectators in an uproar, cheering on arguably one of the most exciting stars of the show, JW Raire Review. Grace Steere was in control of this stellar champion under the direction of David Rand. Racing into the reserve position, Rodney Hicks and CBMF Solitaire put in a strong performance in their premier show in this division for Copper Beech Morgans.

The Amateur Park Saddle Championship served as the Vermont Spring Classic’s grand finale. Capping off a winning week, Eye Spy and Robert Neimeth sailed to the winner’s circle after their crowd-pleasing performance for Misty Meadows while One

And Only, with Kate Kertscher in the saddle, left with the reserve streamers flowing from the bridle for Cedar Spring Farm.


This concludes championship highlights. Complete results may also be viewed and searched at Show Results. 

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