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World Class Contenders Meet In St. Louis

by Leeann Mione and Jennifer Styskal

LAKE ST. LOUIS, Mo. - The National Equestrian Center, in Lake St. Louis, hosted the 28th annual St. Louis National Charity Horse Show and several world grand champions and national champions were crowned at the show, held Sept. 28 through Oct. 1.

This show is rich in history and tradition. Considered one of the most competitive and prestigious shows on the fall circuit in the 1950s, the St. Louis National Charity has made great strides since returning in 1978 to get back to that status. Although entries this year in some of the divisions were lighter than usual, competition in the various world and grand championship classes was first rate and provided numerous highlights.

In the three- and five-gaited divisions it was a treat to see the current open world's grand champions perform again.

For the second year in a row, manager Ray Cloninger was at the helm and, with support from a big group of sponsors and committee members, ran a successful show. Saddle & Bridle has been a long time supporter of their hometown show and has poured a large amount of money into the successful Saddle & Bridle Shatner Western Finals and Saddle & Bridle Hunter Classic Finals as well as the Saddle & Bridle Pleasure Medallion program. The western, hunter and pleasure equitation divisions have continued to grow
each year and this year's finals were a clear indication of the depth of talent. Chris and Jeff Thompson were both on hand to present the various awards to the Saddle & Bridle class winners.

World grand championship titles in both the western and hunter finals were on the line and the pleasure equitation riders competed for grand championships in their medallion classes. With so many prestigious awards up for grabs, entries converged, for the sixth year in a row, on the National Equestrian Center from all over the country hoping for the nod from the judging panel of Ellen Beard Arnold, Bill Hughes, Jan Lukens and Steve Crabtree.

Hospitality throughout the week included a "Meet me in St. Louis" Welcome Party for exhibitors Wednesday evening. A "Taste of St. Louis - Italian Style" party was held Thursday evening and the traditional exhibitors' party drew a crowd Friday evening after the show.

Friday evening during the show, a special presentation was held to induct the Tom Pettry family, loyal horse show supporters, into the St. Louis National Charity Horse Show Hall of Fame. The Pettry family has a long history with the St. Louis Charity and in addition to their St. Louis Hall of Fame Award, was the Special Night Sponsor for Saturday evening's session.

Highlights of Saturday evening competition, in addition to the western pleasure world grand championship and pleasure medallion senior finals, included a performance by the current World's Grand Champion Five-Gaited 5 O'Clock. He took the victory pass in the Five-Gaited Championship with Todd Miles up for Chris and Jean Nalley. A.J. Bruwer and The Midnight Hero finished with the reserve streamers for Diana Schaefer. Both horses finished in the same order in the open qualifier.

The Three-Gaited Championship featured Miles and World's Grand Champion Three-Gaited Manila Thrilla in a solo performance for owner B & T Vonderschmitt LLC.

Mike Roberts drove I'm A Lucky Charm to the Fine Harness Grand Championship tricolor for owner Dr. M.W. Sorenson. Bruwer was reserve with Vickie Reed's SJ Great Guts. The Broadway Bay and Randy Waller picked up the yellow ribbon for Margie Torkelson.

The final class of the night, the Shatner Western Pleasure World Grand Championship, was a fitting end to a successful week of competition in St. Louis.

Ten horses entered the ring for the first split and 11 horses performed in the second section. The list of past winners as well as some of this season's most successful western division campaigners was a long one and the panel had a great group from which to pick the 12 that would return to be judged again.

When the 12 exited the ring the panel had to make the selection of the top ten from which the winner and reserve winner would be chosen. A huge ovation from the crowd greeted the 10 who returned to await the panel's decision.

Kansas City and Beth Oliver were named the world grand champions after having already won the Saddle & Bridle Hunter Classic World Grand Championship earlier in the week. CH Impressive Ruler turned in the reserve performance to add to a great week with owner Mary Strohfus. Oliver and Kansas City also qualified for the 2006 working western pleasure finals with their win earlier in the week in the 13-entry 2006 working qualifier.

The American Flag and Suzanne Bradshaw, previous winners of the class, finished in third and were followed in the ribbons by In The Zone and Susan Honkamp, Callaway's Scoop The News and Kristen Pettry, Exquisite Step and Teresa Amen, Calgary and Susan Hoskins, The Phinest and Sharon Vuinovich, CH Brett Maverick and Shari Eades and Elanwood's What A Sport with Ann Cleek.

Thursday evening the Saddle & Bridle Working Western Pleasure World Grand Champion was crowned and this time the top two horses finished in reverse order. An emotional Mary Strohfus exited the ring with CH Impressive Ruler and the world title. Kansas City and Oliver were reserve world champions.

The remaining ribbons were awarded to Exquisite Step, Stardust's Ruby Tuesday and Donna Spears, Calgary, Great Belles Of Fire and Jetta Smith, CH Brett Maverick, Cholita and Katie Haynes, He's Mr. Big Stuff and Natalie Pride and Shadows In The Sky with Susan Webster.

A top group of junior exhibitors also competed for their juvenile world grand championship title and Callaway's Trooper with Rachael Worthey topped that group in Friday evening's final. Patty Milligan directed the winning team. Winsdown Cosmos and Katie Fisk earned the reserve world championship for owner Donna Skinner. Royal Wisdom and Heidi Van Gundy, Royal Crest's Whispering Stone and Hilary Kleinart, Stardust's Ruby Tuesday and Alesia Spears, Shadows In The Sky and Rachel Loyd and Lifetime Warranty with Nathan Hinds claimed the remaining five ribbons in that order.

Eleven teams competed for the Shatner Western Pleasure class that qualified for 2006. Patti Harms and Undulata's Blustery Day earned the win in the big class. Royal Wisdom was reserve with Heidi Van Gundy for Chris Nazarenus.

The Saddle & Bridle Hunter Classic World Grand Championship was well populated with two sections of 10 horses competing. Horses in each section were required to perform rail work as well as jump a single obstacle. The jump and rail work proved to be no problem for the majority of the competitors and 12 teams were called back for the final cut, which consisted of rail work only. Earning his first world grand championship of the week, Kansas City took the victory pass with owner, trainer and rider Beth Oliver.

A close competitor, CH Impressive Ruler and Mary Strohfus were crowned the reserve world champions in an outstanding class. From the get go, these two horses would prove throughout the week that they were evenly matched and extremely competitive, as they traded places in the top two ribbons more than once.

Exquisite Step and Teresa Amen, Classy News and Kimberly Moore, LA Kiawah and Melissa Brais, Colour Me Proud and Grace Meyer, Emily Grey and Joan Todd, Stardust's Ruby Tuesday and Donna Spears, A.F. Colour Creation and Megan Mahoney and Run And Shout with Alexandra Ramage claimed the remaining eight ribbons in that order.

Kansas City was ready to defend his title before the week was even over. Oliver took the victory pass with her versatile mount in the Saddle & Bridle Hunter Seat Classic 2006 qualifier, which required all 12 entries to jump an obstacle. Stardust's Ruby Tuesday and owner Donna Spears were reserve.

The Saddle & Bridle Senior Pleasure Medallion Grand Championship showcased incredible talent from the pleasure equitation ranks and was a great way to get Saturday evening started. Though entries were lighter than in years past, 10 riders returned to the ring Saturday evening to put their skills to the test in phase II. The talented group worked hard to impress the panel, but when the cards were turned in, it was Lindsay Haupt taking the grand championship title, under the direction of Zubrod Stables, with Wizard's Icon.

Blair Barrett rode strong under the guidance of Renee Biggins and was all smiles as she accepted the reserve ribbon on Samuel Adams, owned by Pete and Christine Rives. Kristen Koenig, Kelly Creech, Sally McEwen, Anna Hormann, Danielle McGarry, Molly O'Connor, Lauren Woodruff and Aubri Kennamer finished out the top 10 ribbon count in that order.

Molly O'Connor proved to be the only rider for the 2006 Senior Pleasure Medallion qualifier however, since it was not filled, the class did not qualify her for 2006.

Twelve riders competed Friday night for the Saddle & Bridle Junior Pleasure Medallion Grand Championship. Each rider completed the workout with a strong effort and in the end it was Deanna Lanigan who was named the junior medallion grand champion after having won the UPHA Junior Pleasure Challenge Cup National Championship at All American Classic just a few short weeks ago. Instructed by Scott and Carol Matton of Knollwood, Lanigan rode Oh Gee Whiz to the title, which was his second junior pleasure medallion grand championship in a row.

Taking the reserve title back to Paducah, Ky., was Elena Breeden, riding under the Cryst-A-Kell banner. Breeden rode Santana's Diamond to the title. Jourdan Schaye, Jennifer Roberts, Kristen Gardner, Angela Darrow, Molly Bryers, Mallory Hartigan, Avery Bul, and Jessica Randall were the remaining ribbon winners in that order.

Kristen Gardner became the first to qualify for next year's championship by winning the 2006 Junior Pleasure Medallion qualifier under the direction of Robert Gardiner and Jonelle Chovanec Gardiner. Avery Bul was second under the direction of Patty Milligan.

The Saddle & Bridle Five-Gaited Equitation Grand Championship was a fun class to watch as six riders undertook the test of riding in flawless form while maneuvering their gaited horses through the pattern. Brooke Jacobs and Cydni Simmons have both racked up numerous show ring honors between the equitation and five-gaited divisions and this class called on them to showcase their skills in both disciplines. They finished in the top two with Jacobs taking the win under the direction of her father Brent Jacobs. Simmons rode under Tammy Devore's guidance to take the reserve title for Burlington Saddlebreds. Jamie Bender, Victoria Willock, Ashley Budde, and Devon Deckard followed in the ribbons.

These classes are just a few of the highlights of the 28th annual St. Louis National Charity Horse Show. Complete can be seen at by clicking on Show Results.



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