Veteran handler Kenny Wheeler must have been feeling a sense of déjà vu as he stood under the Oaks at the Upperville Colt & Horse Show on June 7 in Upperville, Va. He held a championship ribbon in one hand and the 2-year-old Thoroughbred gelding Holden in the other.
The pair was fresh off of their best young horse victory at the Devon Horse Show (Pa.) on May 28 (June 12, p. 44), and they’d earned their first best young horse title at Keswick (Va.) earlier in May.
Former hunter rider and judge Mary Jane Hunt of Florida bred Holden (Indian Ocean—Hold The Dream, Hold Your Peace) with the expectation that he would have a career on the track. He’s registered with the Jockey Club as Hold On To Dreams. As soon as Hunt saw him, however, she knew that he could have a future in the show ring.
Hunt was an active hunter competitor, winning at the Washington International Horse Show (D.C.) in 1980, but she now concentrates on breeding race horses.
Early this year, she turned to her old friend Wheeler for help. She sent pictures of the gelding to Wheeler, who immediately liked the fine-featured bay. Unwilling to rely only on pictures, Wheeler dispatched his nephew Ronnie Rhoades to Florida to evaluate Holden’s quality in person.
“He can judge a horse,” Wheeler said of Rhoades.
After meeting with Rhoades’ approval, Holden was shipped up to Wheeler’s Cismont Manor Farm in Keswick, Va. Wheeler has shown Holden only three times, each time taking home the best young horse championship.
“He’s a beautifully built horse,” Wheeler effused. “He’s got good quality and beautiful legs.”
Bill Schaub’s Countess K (Popeye K—Vanity) earned reserve honors for best young horse. Last year, she won the other than Thoroughbred yearling fillies championship but failed to secure a best young horse title. Since then, the flashy bay has been improving by leaps and bounds.
After a successful season showing on the line in Florida, Countess K secured high placings at Devon before dominating at Upperville, where she also won the other than Thoroughbred breeding championship.
Blue For Blue
Wheeler wasn’t the only handler who refused to relinquish his title from Devon. Richard Taylor claimed the title of best young pony with Blue Horizon (Land’s End Poseidon—Blue Meany In Paris, Smallwood Paris), a 2-year-old colt owned by W. Gary Baker. Taylor won the same honor two weeks ago at Devon with Thora Pollack’s Falling Moon Cabaret (Telynau Royal Anthem—Claire).
Taylor has been showing Blue Horizon since the beginning of the year. The crossbred pony also showed as a yearling with his breeder holding the reins. Taylor said that he doesn’t attribute the pony’s calm, confident demeanor in the ring to his experience, however.
“He’s a natural at what he does. He wants to be a show pony,” said Taylor. “He’s fun to show. I stand there and I hold him.”
Fred and Jenny Garton bred Blue Horizon. They have a working relationship with the Taylor family, who operate Venture Farm in Montpelier, Va. The Taylors stand the Welsh stallion Land’s End Poseidon at their farm and breed many of the Garton’s mares. The foals are born and raised at the Garton’s Scottsville, Va., Honey Do Farm.
When Blue Horizon was a yearling, they sent him to Venture Farm to be consigned at the Select Pony Breeders Sale in Virginia. Taylor gave the pony to his wife Patsy to prepare for the sale, and they developed a liking for him as he matured and blossomed. Prior to the sale, several people assured Taylor that they were going to buy him. Taylor was determined to outbid them to keep Blue Horizon in his barn.
Taylor brought Blue Horizon home but owned him for less than 24 hours. Longtime client Baker had seen Blue Horizon at the sale and knew immediately that he was special.
“Gary Baker called me that night and said, ‘I’ve got to have him,’ so I sold him to Gary,” recalled Taylor, adding that Blue Horizon stayed on at Venture Farm. “I always have Gary’s ponies.”
Daughter Drew showed Blue Horizon at Devon.
“She and I share. She gets to pick which ones she shows. You only do that for your child,” Taylor said with a laugh. Because Drew told her father he didn’t have the patience to show Thora Pollack’s Royalty (Land’s End Poseidon—Chelsea’s Renaissance), she took the reins and earned the reserve best young pony honors, the same title earned at Devon.
Royalty and Blue Horizon are both by Land’s End Poseidon, and the Taylors have found much success with his offspring in the breeding ring.
“All of the Poseidons have the class and look that it takes to be a pony hunter at the highest level these days,” said Richard. “We would like for all of our in-hand ponies to look like they’re ready to be champion in the small pony ring.”