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Youthful Spirit Keeps Octoberfest Above Water


by Bob Funkhouser

W. SPRINGFIELD, Mass. - There aren’t many shows that can survive three solid days of torrential rain without having a bunch of grumpy trainers and exhibitors. It’s especially hard to keep them happy when most in attendance had experienced four or five days of hard rain prior to the show.

Getting a big “thumbs up,” the Eighth Annual Octoberfest Horse Show was blessed with four fun-filled days of hospitality and competition, and a lot of rain wasn’t about to get anyone down. There were enough parties and activities to keep the atmosphere upbeat and festive. Much of it began with every stable once again going all out with the Halloween decorations. The stabling area was one giant fun house and children from five to 75 had a blast October 13-16.

“Everyone is in such a good mood because there are so many children here,” said Millie LeBoff, a lady who knows something about running a fun horse show as well. “This show caters to the youth and they don’t care if it’s raining or not. Everyone is here to have a good time.”

Show manager Helen Fenton is teamed up with a most active Twin State American Saddlebred Association headed by President Robin McGahey and Octoberfest committee Sue Arthur, Martha Kipp, Dottie Reinert, Sue Smith, and Kevin Tomasko. The group works hard promoting the fun side of Octoberfest and the timing makes it just right.

Trick or treating, costume contests, tack room area contests, the Apple Crisp Party, the ever popular Progressive Aisle Party, and after hours Pumpkin Bowling are just a few of the reasons why exhibitors came with a record 364 horses, up 30 from last year.

“I am tickled with our turnout,” said Fenton. “Our exhibitors have been very cooperative and we try to make it fun for them.”

Judges Jimmy Robertson (Saddlebred, pony, equitation, Friesian) and Anne Lawter (Morgan) had large classes with enough quality to make most of them very competitive. Ringmasters Larry Wahl and Barry Caisse had to keep the traffic in order with many classes ranging from eight entries to the mid-teens. Paddock master extraordinaire Jason Lawrence had an even harder job as a good portion of the show exhibitors had to warm up by walking up and down the main concrete aisle of barn C.

Inclement weather renders the warm up areas totally unusable at the Eastern States facility and that was the case for the majority of the classes during the first half of the show. This was the one black mark on a wonderful show and it was due to the limitations of an otherwise nice facility, which was hit with extremely wet weather. Besides horses not getting to warm up it was a dangerous situation with that many horses on concrete in a small area, waiting to enter the show ring. There was nothing that could be done given the physical limitations of the warm up rings and everyone was at the same disadvantage, so it was on with the show.

Announcer Peter Fenton was the voice of Octoberfest and he played to a good sized audience at each session. These exhibitors came to show their horses and they brought a crowd with them.

There was plenty to cheer for, even in the beginning. On opening night, six entries competed for the Open Five-Gaited blue and the bold moving Cameo’s Sudden Appearance finally got the nod. Ridden by Darlene Trento-Wright for Jodie Goff, the busy campaigner had been a strong reserve several times this year but victory lane was theirs twice at Octoberfest. Coming off the Five-Gaited Championship at Eastern States with trainer Jan Lukens, Grand Marq was reserve in the open class with owner Louise DeBlois in the irons. Aboard the Pearson family’s new entry, Party For Two, Deidre Henry rode to the reserve grand championship to close out the show late Sunday afternoon.

Photographer Shane Shiflet had plenty of nice horses to shoot in the nine-entry Amateur Five-Gaited Championship on Sunday morning. There was a lot of racking and trotting going on as Kate Codeanne and Yes I Have put the lid on a great season. Champions time and time again, they scored two more with strong wins in the amateur championship and qualifier. Raye Lynn Funkhouser and The King Of Music came back with a solid performance to earn reserve grand champion honors. The new team of Anne Kennedy and Callaway’s Rhapsody In Blue finished in third having qualified with a victory pass in the junior exhibitor class for Phoenix Stables. They were followed in both the amateur championship and junior exhibitor class by Maureen Mikrzycki and Collector Series. Gail Wirtz-Costello and Blackhawk’s Girls Night Out scored the red ribbon from the amateur qualifier but went on to win the ladies class in which Louise DeBlois and Grand Marq were reserve.    


Open three-gaited was literally the lone light spot of the show as the open qualifier was canceled. Dorothy Riley and The Cardiac Kid came from the winner’s circle of a highly competitive six-horse amateur qualifier to win the Three-Gaited Championship under the direction of Nicholas Villa. Margaret Biggs and the extremely talented four-year-old Hawkwing was reserve in the amateur qualifier ahead of Strapless and three other nice entries.

There was a different winner in the championship round for amateur riders in which six competed. Moving up several places, Betty Reeves and A Design To Remember represented trainer Peter Axtel in tricolor fashion.  Margaret Biggs and Hawkwing were on the money with a nice reserve grand champion performance. It was a deep championship with Careen Dubuc and Strapless in third and Doreen Weston aboard Capsacin in fourth.

Maybe one of the best classes of the show, the Ladies Three-Gaited class featured a roster of champions from top to bottom. Making his best performance of the season, Sightline was the champion every step of the way with Holli Esposito in the irons. The Rob Turner-trained combination was popping off both ends. They had to be good as the grand, black four-year-old mare Broadway’s Mamma Mia, with Careen Dubuc, was also marching off both ends to wear the red streamers. Margaret Biggs and Hawking had to settle for a yellow prize in this one, while amateur winner The Cardiac Kid was fourth for owner/rider Dorothy Riley.

Michael Murphy and his clients have presented several nice Morgans all season long. However, Octoberfest was the debut of his new three-gaited star, Callaway’s Born A Star. In their only appearance of the week, Maura Fratus piloted Born A Star to the winner’s circle of the Junior Exhibitor Three-Gaited class ahead of Corrina Arruda and Star Of The Millennium.


Continuing what was a wonderful week, Sally Kropp and Chemistry In Motion recorded their second win in the open park division. In both the six horse championship and Open Three-Gaited Park qualifier they were pushed by reserve champions Dragon Fire and Teresa Warka.

World’s champion Desert’s Supreme Lady was a sport off both ends to win the Amateur Three-Gaited Park Championship with Margaret Biggs. This was another tricolor ribbon for the Jan Lukens tack room. They had to settle for reserve in the qualifier as reserve grand champion Mystery Guest was called to the winner’s circle in the qualifier with owner Diane Tambussi aboard. Stablemate What’s KY Rose led the way in the Junior/Novice Park class with Rob Turner aboard for Miriam Hirshon. David Arnold and Pearl Buck’s Leading Lady were reserve.

Junior exhibitors were also extremely competitive in their Three-Gaited Park class. Gianna Allen and Delta Phire took command of the class to earn the blue prize. Having enjoyed a great season, Ellen Kipp and CH M.T. Hopper marched a big trot as the reserve champion.

The always popular A-1 Three-Year-Old Park Sweepstakes featured Rob Turner aboard a sporty bay youngster named Charm’s Choice. Owned by Debra Faulkner, Charm’s Choice marched a strong trot to the winner’s circle ahead of Jan Lukens and I’m Delighted, an entry belonging to Katrina Wood.

Kendall Jackson and Daryl Carlow have been sharp all season long and Octoberfest was no exception. Under the direction of David Arnold they captured the Fine Harness Championship and qualifier. Charlotte The Princess was driven by Pete Holiday to the reserve grand championship for Smoke Hollow Farm. Bucky Brannon had driven her to reserve in the qualifier.

Nancy Locke’s Killian was the lone road horse on the grounds.  However, the pony division was much better. Seven entries went head to head for the Road Pony Championship which went back to New York with Mike Chase and Namesake’s Abbie. Brian Fitzsimmons and Blaze Of Glory were knocking on the door and wore the reserve championship streamers out of the ring. Chase and Namesake’s Abbie scored the blue prize in the amateur class in which Courtney Cahill and Rhythm King LF pushed hard for reserve honors.

Seven Hackney pleasure driving ponies with winning records went at it for their championship. Mary Cichowski and Steal The Show did just that with their tricolor performance. They warmed up with a blue in the Northeastern Hackney Pleasure Driving Pony class. Reserve in the open qualifier and championship was Daryl Carlow’s Lovelyanna. Open class winner Model Of Excellence was third in the championship with Dawn DelTorchio.

Trying to encourage young people to show ponies, the Junior Exhibitor Hackney Pleasure Driving Pony Challenge was held again. It was a repeat champion as Lilly Birch and Oh Happy Day made a championship performance. Donald Pasquariello and Atta-Boy held reserve grand champion honors, while Brittany Logan and Sky Image turned in a good show for third.

Darlene Trento-Wright made it two for two with the leg-waving Heartland Classic. They won both the Hackney Pony Championship and qualifier for Maureen Quackenbush. Nancy Locke’s Cool Breeze took reserve honors.

It was great to see Bud Lavio and A Fine Affair in the winner’s circle of the Harness Pony Championship. Their closest competitors were reserve grand champions Diane McGrath and Southern Dreams.

One of the stars of the show came from the Junior Park Pleasure Championship and qualifier. Rob Turner and Pachelbells Canon, the upfronted I'm A New Yorker daughter, impressed everyone, including judge Robertson with her beauty and talent. She handily won both classes for owner Leslie Bovenzi. Under the direction of Robin McGahey, Lauren Sopen and Uwharrie’s Street Legal marched a nice trot to command reserve grand champion honors.

Jan Lukens had Tracy Massaro and CH Titleist Commander back on top of their game. Both the Five-Gaited Pleasure Championship and qualifier belonged to the team with a long winning record. Sharon Stoltz and Don’t Ask Why rode away with the reserve championship, while Kaitlyn Alemian and Tova’s Priceless Gem had a strong reserve in the qualifier to finish another winning season.

The driving duo of Ms Black Ice and Sally Kropp slipped past the competition in both the Show Pleasure Driving Championship and qualifier. Bringing a grand first season together to a close, Millie LeBoff and Mundy’s Landing came back strong to garner reserve grand champion honors with the Somersdream team cheering her on.

Rob Turner just kept sending teams to the winner’s circle. He directed Adult Three-Gaited Show Pleasure Grand Champions Spool’s Lady Boyle and Sheana Kerwin. This grand champion was owned by the David Fields family. Gail Wirtz-Costella stepped up with My Dakota to take the reserve championship. In the qualifier Cheryl Innis and her young star Society’s Upper Krust were right on the money to earn a blue ribbon victory pass.

Also in the show pleasure division, Michelotti, LLC and Cathy Rogers-Holmes captured the novice rider class ahead of Anne Porte and Midnight’s April Dancer.

What a second half of the year Megan Derby and Mr. Diamond Merchant put together. Under the direction of Ricky Harris at Somersdream, this combination swept the junior exhibitor show pleasure division. They were coming off strong wins from Eastern States. Stepping up for reserve grand champion honors in the 12-entry championship was Phi’s Phancy, and entry owned and ridden by Kaeley Ryan.

The beginning riders were so strong the Walk and Trot Pleasure Saddle Seat Championship had to be split and the competition was fierce. In the first round of eight 9-10 year old riders, Brooke Alley and Whispering Dance With Me turned back all challengers as they did in the qualifier. They were followed for the second time by the eye catching team of Dakota’s Cloudburst and Alexandra Percoco. Dakota’s Cloudburst was one of the busiest and most successful horses of the show also winning the Leadline class with younger sister Nicole Percoco and the Open Pleasure Driving Championship and qualifier with grandmother Jayne Romano.

Results switched in the 8 & under Walk and Trot Pleasure Saddle Seat Championship. High Tail Acres was home for grand champions Katharine McCaughey and Oak Crest Centennial Miss. They had been reserve in the qualifier to eventual reserve grand champions Kasey Saccocia and Indian Creek Belle Star. Belle Star was also quite the family horse being shown by younger sister Kellie in Leadline and dad Gary in pleasure driving.

It’s been a storybook season for The Petite Princess and Kate Codeanne that includes a reserve world’s championship. Octoberfest’s Adult Country Pleasure Championship belonged to them as well. Just About Midnight and Dawn Snyder got the nod in the adult qualifier, while Erin McCracken rode up on Some Kind Of Magic for the reserve grand championship. McCracken owned the winner of the Junior Exhibitor Country Pleasure Championship and qualifier. Libby Green rode Midnight Eclipse to the top prize for McCracken. Nicole York and Gotta Luv Me trotted up for the reserve grand champion streamers. Mary Coon and Stonewall’s Night Of Pandemonium put on a blue ribbon performance in the novice rider class.

New to Octoberfest, Sharon Stoltz enjoyed a winning performance with Harlem’s Last Call in the Country Pleasure Driving Championship. This was their second win of the week. Bernie Weinheimer and Pretty Songbird moved up to earn the reserve championship from the Denise Vespa Stables.

Strolling down victory lane in the ASB Country Western Pleasure Championship was Tropical Night, an entry ridden by Kate McCracken for Nealia McCracken. Julie Lanocha and Manhattan Medic made the reserve grand champion performance.  Paula Decker and Solitaires Vision were blue ribbon winners in the Shatner class, while Pat Johnson and CH A Magic Surprise saw blue in the Country Western Pleasure qualifier.

ASB Hunter Pleasure honors belonged to Santana’s Giselle Lullaby and Lindsey Beckett. Amanda Boutet and Specially Designed came away with reserve grand champion honors.

New York stables did quite well at Octoberfest. Part of that success went to Saddle Seat Equitation Grand Champion Danielle Benson. Under the direction of Peter Axtel, Benson started the weekend with a reserve ride in the qualifier. Winner of that qualifier, Wright Hall Stables’ Marissa Gillispie finished as the reserve grand champion.

Getting a jump on next year’s Finals, Melissa Swain dropped by to capture the NEHC Saddle Seat Medal. Gary and Marsha Garone instructed her to the winner’s circle ahead of Marissa Gillispie and six other riders.

Always a top competitor, Christie Milbury turned in a tricolor ride to close the season as the Pleasure Equitation Grand Champion. The Phoenix Stables rider qualified with a reserve finish in the 15-17 class behind Elizabeth Loftus. Veronica Oritz was smooth to garner the reserve grand championship. The 14 & under blue belonged to Hannah White.

Walk and trot equitation is as strong in New England as anywhere in the country and at Octoberfest the championship had to be split between the 8 & under riders and the 9-10 age group. Darlene Trento-Wright directed Michaela Gillispie to the winner’s circle of the 9-10 championship and it wasn’t her first visit down victory lane this year. One of her many winning rides this year came in the large UPHA Walk and Trot Challenge Cup. Katie Owen finished the week as the 9-10 Walk and Trot Equitation Reserve Grand Champion.

Reserve to Gillispie in the UPHA class and the winner of the 8 & under qualifier, Kaitlyn Powers came back to defeat nine other riders for the 8 & Under Walk and Trot Equitation Championship. With a smile and riding skills you won’t forget, this Lillian Gilpin student has visited the winner’s circle at virtually every show she’s attended this year. Representing RMD Stables, Natasha Cote left the ring as the reserve grand champion.

The participation among the young riders in New England is incredible. Not only was the walk and trot section so large it had to be split, the leadline classes were also overflowing with talented young jockeys. Fourteen entries made their way to the ring for the Saddle Seat Leadline class and in that one the always smiling Nicole Percoco was called to the winner’s circle for her winning form. A third generation horsewoman, she hung her blue prize on the Lukens Stables tack room. A fourth generation horsewoman, Molly Codeanne displayed her talents as the reserve grand champion. There was lots of family involvement in this class as Alice Rowland, Kellie Saccocia, Holly Hacskaylo and Connor Patrick Henry rounded out the ribbon winners.

Leadline for Hunter/Western Seat riders was 12 strong. The best of this grand group of beginning riders was Olivia Kudas and she was followed by reserve champion Hannah Remillard. Delaney Pluta, Montana Lambrecht, James Zahradnik, and Rebecca Rowland finished in the ribbons.

It is always surprising to see such a good Morgan turn out with the Morgan Grand National going on at the same time. There was some quality and quantity to be found throughout the different Morgan divisions.

Results were swapped in the Morgan Park Saddle Championship as FCF Angelo and Rachel Frazier moved up to make the tricolor victory pass while representing Wright Way Stables. Reserve grand champion honors went to open class winner The Silver Brook Surprise. The beautiful Tim Lydon entry also topped the eight-entry Morgan In Hand class.

Who would have figured 10 teams in the Morgan English Pleasure Championship? None of them could defeat open class winner KGA’s Center Stage, an upheaded and expressive entry ridden by David Arnold for Linda Dzicek. Melissa Lambrecht and Ruthless Endeavor made the reserve grand champion victory pass. Whispering Dance With Me defeated eight other entries in the Morgan Amateur English Pleasure class with Amy Reny riding. Marie VandeMark and Scarborough Fair were reserve champions.

Manistee Blaze O’Glory and Brynne Cummings represented the best of the Morgan Junior Exhibitor English Pleasure competitors. They had moved up four notches from the qualifier in which reserve grand champions Brianna Gariepy and Another World smoothly made the victory pass for Sue Allen.

Westenfeld Band Leader knew the way to the winner’s circle and he found it again as the Morgan Pleasure Driving Grand Champion. Dean Bartholomew was at the controls for Susan Kamiler. Breathing down their necks as the reserve grand champions was the talented new team of Enough Said and Amanda Hill. Hill and Enough Said made the victory pass ahead of Band Leader in the qualifier.

Of the six entries in the Morgan Classic Pleasure Championship, Cingate Suzy Q and Heather Mallette emerged from the line up as the grand champions just as they did in the junior exhibitor qualifier. Adult winner Fury’s White Diamond was the reserve grand champion with Toni Sabella in the saddle. Cingate Suzy Q had to take a reserve placing in the junior exhibitor championship. That one went to Sarah Nerz and Up Hyre Main Street.

Rollie Olson and Lasting Views Flash Again were two for two in the Morgan Western Pleasure Championship and qualifier. Twice reserve was the team of BEF Finduilas and Rachel Coombs. This team also won the Morgan Junior Exhibitor Western Pleasure Championship.

They were 17 deep in the Morgan Junior Exhibitor Hunter Pleasure Championship and no one could outdo Equinox Adagio and Emily Hammond, winners of the 12-entry open class. Making a big leap in the ribbons was reserve grand champion FVF Promise Me Something with Mary Prescott in the irons. Equinox Adagio and Hammond also made a tricolor performance in the Morgan Hunter Pleasure Championship ahead of The Daughter In Law and Elizabeth Vaughan. This team had been reserve to the champions in the open class as well for Maura Fratus.

A cast of seven competed for the Friesian English Pleasure Saddle Championship. The black giants floated down the straightaways and leading the pack was Gouitzen Fan Teakesy, an entry ridden by Jan Lukens for Annika Bruggeworth. Reserve grand champion honors went to the multi-titled Jorrit, owned by Lou and Delia Fox and ridden by David Arnold.

In addition to the Saddlebred, Hackney, Morgan and Friesian divisions there was a large open pleasure division with many different classes available for both riding and driving. These classes were filled to the brim with everything from Miniature Horses to Friesians. It was certainly a fun New England horse show filled with competition from top to bottom.

Complete results can be found by clicking on Show Results.

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