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Young Riders Shine at Mid Atlantic Fall Finale

By Sherrill Ducharme

UPHA Chapter 15 hosted the 2nd Mid Atlantic Fall Finale this year as a solo enterprise; last year’s inaugural edition of the show having been co-sponsored by the New Jersey charter club of ASHA. Unlike last year, when the show itself was challenged by the unusual weather phenomenon of back-to-back nor’easters, this year’s run of the show, October 15 through October 17, saw beautiful, clear skies and seasonable temperatures.

Originally conceived as a replacement venue for the lost Saddlebred division at Penn National, the show hoped to attract former Penn National exhibitors as well as to welcome new stables to competition in the area. Sadly, like many shows this season, attendance was down this year, perhaps owing to the still-recovering economy. Those who did attend, however, made the most of their opportunity to enjoy the brisk fall weather and DREAM Park facility with their horses, families and friends.

The staff for the show was first rate with Gene van der Walt of Shelbyville, Ky. judging all sessions, aided by announcer John Owens of Dousman, Wis., and Steward Scarlett Mattson of Irvington, Ky. Local stalwarts Jeanne Lavelle volunteered as Ringmaster as did Barn Announcer, Chris Rupnow. Joanne Bartley, an invaluable secretary at many of the New Jersey area shows also proved herself an adept Show Manager, taking on those duties here for the first time. Photographer Courtney Church of White Bear Lake, Minn. captured the memories for competitors. Chuck Ruitenberg was on duty as Farrier.

A Halloween-themed Exhibitors’ Party held on Saturday evening after the last class featured a costume parade and contest, as well as a trick-or-treat scavenger hunt for the young exhibitors and their siblings. Philadelphia Cheese Steak Company generously hosted the buffet with their signature sandwiches and sides. Soft drinks and plenty of sweet treats rounded out the menu.

The Academy ranks had the arena bustling on Saturday and Sunday mornings. In addition to a full slate of qualifying and championship classes for these participants, the show also presented Academy Finals Medals to the top scoring riders who garnered the most points in each division across the two mornings of competition.

In the Walk/Trot/Canter division, all ages, the Gold Medal went to Ally McHugh, Silver to Sam Frost and Bronze to Kaitlin Sheehy. The 11 and Up Walk/Trot division had a two-way tie for Gold between Erin Gates and Brianne Hromnak, with Silver awarded to Brooke Wolkwitz and Bronze to Jackie DiCaro. The highly competitive 10 and Under Walk/Trot group had a three-way tie for the Gold with Natalie Parker, Emily Vicari and Grace Allison sharing top honors. Silver was awarded to Jordan Ferrier and Bronze to winners Emma Lu and Cara DeForge. Top Lead Line Honors went to Sam Villa.

After being called to center ring, these competitors received medallions honoring their achievement. Winners will also be receiving a custom-embroidered fleece vest from MAFF to mark their accomplishments.

UPHA Chapter 15 would love to introduce new stables and competitors to the top-rate facilities and staff at the DREAM Park in New Jersey and invite all to consider adding this show to your schedule for 2011.

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