Presenting The Farnam/Platform USEF National Hunter And Jumper Champions

Mar 16, 2006 - 10:00 PM

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Grand Champion Regular Hunter

Regular Working Hunter

Second Year Green Hunter
“I look forward to getting on him at every horse show,” said rider and owner Terry Brown of Sequel. “I know him so well, and I know he can rise to the occasion, and there’s no real pressure on me. It’s just fun.”

Brown, of Showcase Ltd., in Canton, Ga., makes her living selling horses, but she’s relishing keeping Sequel for now. “He’s my best friend. He’s a good horse for me to have, because he challenges my riding and keeps me on my toes. And he’s a lot of fun to have around the barn,” she said.

Brown imported Sequel in 2003, and he showed in the first year green division in 2004. When Brown started showing him in the second year green and regular working classes in 2005, she had a good feeling about the 12-year-old Hanoverian. “I knew the minute he stepped into the ring the first time in the second years that we were in for a great year–he was ready to win,” she said.

Sequel’s commanding lead in the year-end standings in both divisions came in 28 weeks of showing. He earned tricolors in Mississippi, Louisiana, Kentucky, Georgia and Indiana. Sequel earned the second year green championship at the Washington (D.C.) International and the reserve at the Capital Challenge (Md.). In the regular working hunter division, he earned the reserve cham-pionships at the National Horse Show (Fla.) and the Pennsylvania National.

“He’s what every professional and owner hopes for. You always buy them with the highest hopes and the best of intentions, and it’s so rewarding when they turn out to the best of your expectations,” she said. Brown plans to keep Sequel and continue to enjoy showing him in the regular working division.

“He actually brings business to my door. People ask me about him, and frequently, we end up doing business with them,” she said.

Grand Champion

Conformation Hunter

Regular Conformation Hunter
Mandarin burst on the scene in 2004 and claimed both the regular conformation and regular working hunter year-end titles. The national honors were a bit of a surprise for owner Jane Fraze, who had bought Mandarin as a potential amateur horse for herself.

“We never had any idea when we got him how good he was going to be,” she said then.

And in 2005, Mandarin continued impressing them. Not only did he defend his regular conformation title, but he also finished fifth in the regular working hunter national standings.

Joie Gatlin and Peter Lombardo shared the riding duties on Mandarin in the professional divisions, while Archie Cox trained the 15.3-hand, chestnut dynamo. Mandarin earned 15 championships and six reserve tricolors through the year and took the HITS Desert Circuit (Calif.) regular conformation circuit championship.

Fraze moved up from the adult amateur division to the amateur-owner classes with Mandarin, and she’s continued the winning trend.

Grand Champion Green Hunter

First Year Green Hunter
Winning the Zone 7 Finals in the green working hunter division capped a year full of blues for Posse and Matt Cyphert, who rides the Westphalian gelding for owner Chris Guthrie.

Terry Brown imported Posse in November 2004 and started 2005 with him. They earned the first year green circuit championship at the Gulf Coast winter circuit (Miss.), and Guthrie bought the bay gelding after the Queen City Classic (N.C.) in April. Posse made his way to Texas in May, and he and Cyphert debuted with the first year green tricolor at the Las Colinas Show Jumping Classic.

Their wins continued in Tennessee, Colorado, Oklahoma and Kentucky.

Green Conformation Hunter
Penny Lombardo has spent three years turning Game Plan from a 4-year-old, green-broke prospect into a winning show horse. But the journey paid off with the USEF year-end title.

Game Plan, now 8, and Lombardo started their victories during the Winter Equestrian Festival (Fla.), where they earned tricolors at the Kilkenny Internationale and Wellington Open. Their winning continued in Kentucky, and they earned ribbons at the Devon Horse Show (Pa.). They finished the year with the reserve championship at the Capital Challenge (Md.), and ribbons at both the Pennsylvania National and the Washington (D.C.) International.

Grand Champion Amateur-Owner Hunter

Amateur-Owner Hunter, 18-35
“It’s so much fun to be part of a young horse’s learning experiences, figuring out what his role in life is supposed to be,” said Avery Dimmig, of Rougemont, N.C., former owner, rider, trainer, and groom of Due North. She bought him three years ago as a 6-year-old.

“Duey,” an eye-catching chestnut Canadian Sport Horse (Rio Grande?Olds Carla), has clearly found his vocation in the show ring.

He accounted for championships or reserves at many of the circuit’s most prestigious stops, including the Winter Equestrian Festival (Fla.), Devon (Pa.), the Pennsylvania National, and the Washington International (D.C.).

Of their numerous victories, “Harrisburg was pretty awesome,” said Dimmig. The pair placed first or second in every class en route to the tricolor.

Trainer Rodney Bross has helped her navigate Duey’s campaign. “He is truly amazing with the young horses,” Dimmig said. “They know exactly what their morning is going to be like, from when the braids are put in to the moment they step into the show ring. He’s just brilliant with training horses to be show horses.”

Dimmig, the winner of the 2000 ASPCA Maclay Finals, takes complete care of her own mount.

“I don’t have a groom unless I hire a friend to set jumps for me!” she said. “It’s something I really enjoy doing, because your horses get to know you inside and out, and you know them inside and out, and they know they can trust you. I think it really makes a difference to be so involved.”

Due North will continue his career in the junior hunters under new owner Clementine Goutal of New York.

Dimmig already has a new star, a bay 6-year-old named North Country.

Amateur-Owner Hunter, 36 and Over
As the owner of many top-caliber hunters, Mary Ann Weisberg-Perry certainly knows a good horse when she sees one. But she bought Country Grammar, whom she said is “the most remarkable horse I’ve been a part of in 30 years of amazing horses,” without ever laying eyes on him.

Trainer Karen Healey had spotted the dark brown gelding showing in the junior hunters with Nancy Amling during the 2003 fall indoor circuit, and she thought they would make an ideal match. Weisberg-Perry, Los Angeles, Calif., trusted the wisdom of her mentor of 20 years and bought him from across the country.

Her faith in Healey was well-founded. The 8-year-old warmblood “has been remarkable from the minute I started riding him,” said Weisberg-Perry.

Country Grammar takes his nickname “Frasier” from actor Kelsey Grammar’s popular sitcom alter ego. But she said that perhaps she should have named him instead after Frasier’s prissy, effeminate character brother “Niles” instead.

The nearly unbeatable pair won more than 50 blue ribbons in only 18 shows, picking up a championship or reserve on each outing. Highlights of the year included championships at Menlo Park (Calif.), Del Mar (Calif.), and Indio (Calif.), where they also took the grand amateur-owner title.

Their prodigious success may be attributable to Weisberg-Perry’s practice of feeding each of her horses 20 pounds of carrots a day. “I try to spoil them as much as they spoil me,” she said. The ritual is also an insurance policy of sorts: “It’s critical that one of us can see where we’re going!” she said.

In addition to his star turns in the amateur ring, Frasier served as English jumper rider Nick Skelton’s mount in the International Hunter Challenge at Las Vegas (Nev.).

Weisberg-Perry plans to do no more than a dozen shows with Frasier. “Everyone should have a horse like him. He’s the kindest, loveliest, sweetest animal alive,” she said.

Grand Champion Junior Hunter, 15 and Under

Small Junior Hunter, 15 and Under
When Ann Marie Walker’s trainer, Holly Shepherd, found Tobasco as a green-broke 3-year-old turned out in a field, neither one of them knew just how good he’d become.

“I always knew he was a nice horse, but I don’t think I realized the magnitude of it until we were looking back on it,” Walker said.

When she bought Tobasco, a 6-year-old Trakehner-Thoroughbred (Abdullah–Conquerer) in the spring of 2003, Walker was just 11 and had only ridden ponies. But under Shepherd’s guidance, she started showing Tobasco right away. Tobasco debuted in the show ring in the spring of 2004, as a 4-year-old, in the 2’6″ divisions with Shepherd and Walker. After six months, they moved up to three-foot classes, and they started in the 3’6″ divisions in 2005.

“Holly’s got a great eye for young horses, and she just fell in love with him. And I did too,” said Walker. “He definitely had some green days, but he was always a very easy horse to ride. He was perfect for my ride–super-scopey, and he doesn’t hold a grudge.”

Walker and Tobasco earned tricolors in Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, New York and Kentucky. They also picked up ribbons at the Devon Horse Show (Pa.), the Pennsylvania National, and the Washington (D.C.) International. The National Horse Show (Fla.) in November was their last together–Tobasco has moved on to new owner Alexandra Thornton.

“He was just a great horse, and I’ll miss him forever. I was very upset, but it was time to move on. He’d been my first horse, and I’d done a lot of firsts on him–my first indoors, my first Devon, my first national title. I don’t think I could have done a lot of those with any other horse.”

Grand Champion Junior Hunter, 16-17

Small Junior Hunter, 16-17
Stephanie Danhakl’s Galatea successfully defended the national title she earned last season. With Danhakl, the Oldenburg mare won the small junior hunter, 16-17, circuit championship at HITS Desert Circuit (Calif.), adding tricolors from several California shows, including the Palms Classic, Oaks Blenheim and Showpark, to their already massive collection.

They had a consistent eastern tour too, earning respectable ribbons at Devon (Pa.), Lake Placid (N.Y.) and Saugerties (N.Y.) before returning to their home state to take the championship at the West Coast Junior Hunter Finals.

Riders Monica Bernstein, Rebecca Bruce, Rachel Kummer and Ashley Stander contributed their talents to further Galatea’s campaign in Danhakl’s absence.

Galatea and Danhakl were reunited at the very end of the season at the National Horse Show in Wellington (Fla.).

Danhakl, of Pacific Palisades, Calif., is a freshman at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia.

Large Junior Hunter, 15 and Under
Even before the show season began, this bay gelding’s name was already familiar to millions across the country. Euri Uchiyama, of Cincinnati, Ohio, named her 8-year-old Westphalian (Ehrentanz I–Fair Lady) after rap artist Pharrell Williams of the popular hip hop group N.E.R.D.

In spite of his edgy musical moniker, the equine Pharrell is “really sweet. He’s a big teddy bear,” said Uchiyama, 16.

She bought him a year ago, and since then he’s become “one of my favorites to ride. He’s a lot of fun.”

Pharrell is as entertaining around the barn as his superstar namesake is onstage. “He’s so cute. He eats everything!” said Uchiyama.

With the occasional assistance of catch rider Kacey McCann, the pair claimed the overall circuit championship at HITS Ocala (Fla.). They remained consistently successful throughout the year, logging wins at Atlanta (Ga.), the Cavalier Classic (Va.), and the USGPL Finals (Va.), among many others. Emily Gardner, Maggie McAlary, and Maria Schaub proved themselves able substitutes when Uchiyama was unable to show herself, ensuring that Pharrell’s rise to the top of the charts continued uninterrupted.

Uchiyama, a junior at Cincinnati Country Day School, plans to continue showing him in the older section of the division. They trained with Don Stewart for the 2005 season.

Large Junior Hunter, 16-17
Onlookers at the USEF awards banquet must have wondered why Margot Sutherland cried throughout the entire awards presentation.

Her tears were not only an expression of her joy at winning the coveted national title; Sutherland, 18, had just sold her beloved mare Odette, and “I was distraught!” she said.

Ironically, she nearly missed her chance to own the extraordinary 9-year-old, Dutch Warmblood (Zeus De?Amarant) at all. The day after Christmas of 2001 found the Suther-lands entertaining several family members at their home in Olathe, Kan., when trainer Mike McCormick of Dallas, Texas called them about a horse he’d found. They were initially reluctant to leave their guests, but McCormick, Margot’s trainer of seven years, persisted, warning them that the chestnut mare was so special that she’d surely be sold within the week.

Sutherland and her mother caught a flight to Texas that day. She knew instantly that Odette was the horse for her.

“I fell in love with her,” said Sutherland, “I loved her personality?really sassy. She’s a red-headed mare, and she acts like one!”

Success in the show ring came somewhat less swiftly. Sutherland remembered, “When I first got her, I could either get the lead changes at the end of the ring, and take out strides, or I could get the steps and not the lead changes. I think I got maybe four ribbons in the first year!”

By 2005, their fourth year together, the pair’s shaky start was merely a memory. They convincingly demonstrated the strength of their bond, collecting 17 championships and reserves at such highly competitive shows as Country Heir (Ky.), Lake St. Louis (Mo.) and the American Royal (Kan.). Said Sutherland, “She was unbeatable when she was on.” The last show of the season, Waco Thanksgiving (Texas), was their swan song.

Sutherland, a freshman at the Miami University of Ohio and a member of its equestrian team, still misses her mare, but she looks forward to watching Odette carry new owner Amanda Cohen, also of Ohio, to similar success.

Sutherland also plans to breed Odette via embryo transplant.

Small Pony Hunter
Last year was one long party for Reed Kessler and Cardiff Mardi Gras, who won so often that they earned the national small pony title without adding a single extra show to their original schedule.

Kessler, 11, of Bedford, N.Y., has owned the Welsh pony (Gayfield’s Big Easy?Cardiff Lillith) for one year. She’s trained with Patricia Griffith of Heritage Farm (N.Y.) for five years.

“Mardi is the little stallion of the barn,” said Kessler, “He’ll shake you down for food–if you don’t give him a treat when he comes out of the ring, he’ll take a chunk out of your arm!”

Their parade of victories started in Florida, where they were circuit champions at Littlewood and reserve circuit champions to Kessler’s other small pony, Helicon Take Notice, at the Winter Equestrian Festival.

As they made their way north to Old Salem (N.Y.), Devon (Pa.), and Lake Placid (N.Y.), the wins continued to rain down like confetti.

But a red ribbon at the Pennsylvania National (Pa.) was a special highlight of their season. “We really stood out at Harrisburg in the Challenge class,” said Kessler, who was justifiably proud to have held her own among exalted company.

“So many great people had gone really well, and Mardi was absolutely amazing–just breathtaking!”

They concluded their tour of the fall indoor circuit with yet another win, taking their final blue in the stake class at the Washington International (D.C.).

Kessler credits her pony’s extravagant style for their incredible success. “He jumps up in the sky a mile high over the fences and touches his knees to his chin,” she said.

Her own classic technique was rewarded with several best child rider awards. Kessler was also named the World Champion Hunter Rider for the northeast region and ranked fifth nationally.

But all parties must eventually come to an end, and “Mardi” is now for sale. Kessler has leased a large pony, Orlando, for the new year, and is looking for a horse. “I’m going to miss my little baby,” she said sadly.

Kessler also claimed fourth place in the national standings with Helicon Take Notice.

Grand Champion Pony Hunter

Medium Pony Hunter
Cavallo Farms’ Tuscany and Jennifer Waxman of Chagrin Falls, Ohio, enjoyed la dolce vita in 2005.

Waxman leased the bay gelding, already established as a top pony hunter in his home state of California under owner Caroline Spogli, in January 2005.

They dominated the medium pony division with a spectacular succession of championships, taking the circuit championship at the Winter Equestrian Festival (Fla.) and championships at Devon (Pa.), the Pennsyl-vania National (Pa.) and the Washington International (D.C.), and the reserve at the Capital Challenge (Md.).

The unstoppable pair, trained by Ken and Emily Smith of Ashland Farms in Florida, added the grand pony title to their accumulated awards at both Devon and the Pennsylvania National.

Waxman, 14, was crowned best child rider on a pony at each of those shows, as well as the Capital Challenge and the Washington International.

Large Pony Hunter
Who’s Kidding Who and Samantha Schaefer defended their previous national championship with consistent performances throughout the 2005 season.

Schaefer, 12, of Westminster, Md., and her 10-year-old, gray Welsh gelding (Pendock Masterpiece?Tease Me Not) demonstrated that they weren’t kidding around at all with an impressive start in Florida.

They won tricolors at Littlewood and Jacksonville before taking complete command of HITS Ocala, where they claimed the division championship each week and left with the circuit title.

Schaefer and “Ralph” had a superlative summer. Champions once again at Lexington (Ky.), they arrived at Devon (Pa.) at the top of their form and accounted for two of the show’s coveted blues. But even this accomplishment wasn’t the peak of their tour.

The polished pair was nothing short of phenomenal the following week at Upperville (Va.). Ralph was both large and grand pony champion, and Schaefer was named best child rider on a pony.

They added more championships and reserves to their resume throughout the summer at Loudoun (Va.) and Manchester (Vt.) as they prepared to challenge top ponies from across the country at the USEF Pony Finals. Ralph and Schaefer finished ninth overall in a field of 86 competitors.

They ended their year in predictable style, winning the reserve large pony championship at the Washington International (D.C) with two blues.

Two other stars in Schaefer’s string finished in the top six of the national rankings. Her small pony Blue On Blue was reserve national champion, and Red White And Blue was fifth in the small green pony hunters.

Schaefer trains with Kim Stewart.

Small Green Pony Hunter
Fort Knox steadily stockpiled wins throughout the season to secure the national title, in spite of a pair injuries to owner and regular rider Devon Walther, of Warrenton, Va.

Walther bought the 7-year-old, English Riding Pony gelding a year and half ago from Tinker Harris of Ocala, Fla.

She and “Daz” got off to a strong early start in their home state of Virginia and its environs, picking up championships at The Barracks (Va.), Stonewall Country (Va.), and Raleigh (N.C.). By the end of February, everything was going according to plan–until misfortune intervened.

While schooling another pony, Walther’s saddle suddenly slipped sideways. She landed in just the wrong way, fracturing her arm.

The injury kept her sidelined for nearly two months.

Taylor Harpman piloted Daz to still another tricolor while she recovered.

Walther resumed the ride in April without missing a beat, taking the championship at her first show, the Commonwealth National in Culpeper (Va.).

She and Daz had a spectacular spring and summer, earning consistently good ribbons wherever they went.

But as the summer waned and USEF Pony Finals approached, bad luck struck again. Walther, who had guided Dreamboy to the small pony championship the previous year, suffered a broken femur in another fall four days before the start of the show.

Jennifer Waxman stepped in and brilliantly catch-rode Daz to the small green pony championship.

Walther made a second triumphant return at the Washington International (D.C.), with a victory in the pony medal.

She locked up the national title with a final victory at Raleigh in November. That show marked the conclusion of her time riding Daz, who has since been leased to a rider in California.

Additionally, the pair was small pony, small green pony, grand green pony, and grand pony champions of the Virginia Horse Show Association.

Walther, 11, has ridden her all her life under the guidance of her father, Russ, at the Walthers’ Morningside Farm. The sixth grader also trains with Christina Schlusemeyer and Kristy Kear. During the rare moments that she’s not riding, she enjoys skiing and practicing with her school’s dance team.

Grand Champion Green Pony Hunter

Medium Green Pony Hunter
Megan Massaro summed up her year on Macy Grey in a single word–“awesome!”

Carlye Byron-Nelson’s 7-year-old, Welsh mare (Gayfield’s Call The Cops?Silver Slippers) arrived from her home state of California only three weeks before the start of the HITS Ocala (Fla.) winter circuit.

And she completed her first show as champion. “So we kept showing her, and she got better and better,” said Massaro, 17, of Summerfield, Fla. She’s trained with Don Stewart and Bibby Farmer Hill of Ocala, Fla., for six years.

The mare is “a princess,” according to Massaro, and was given the royal treatment. “We really protected her–we never, ever jumped her at home. I only rode her once or twice during the week between shows. She definitely had the life of Reilly!” Massaro recalled.

They were circuit champions at Ocala and took home tricolors from Culpeper (Va.) and Saugerties (N.Y.), among others. They were seventh overall in the USEF Pony Finals.

“She’s pretty simple and really brave, with a huge stride, so I just walk down every line. She really had no flaws. She’d be green now and then, but she went in a rubber snaffle. She was special,” said Massaro.

Their last show together was Atlanta Fall (Ga.), where Massaro said Macy “was perfect. All of our work paid off. I didn’t have to worry about anything–I just put my hands on the neck and just went. I was kind of shocked and really excited.”

Massaro found her experience with Macy especially satisfying because she was the pony’s sole rider.

“I did it all myself, so it’s so rewarding that she goes in there now and trots right around like a perfect little pony. It’s a great feeling.”

Since Massaro has aged out of the medium ponies, Macy has returned to California, where Lucy Davis is showing her. Massaro is riding Bill Schaub’s large green pony, Along The River Run, as well as an assortment of Stewart’s horses.

She is clearly very aware and appreciative of the opportunities she has received as a result of her affiliation with Farmer and Stewart.

A senior at Belleview High School, Massaro will attend the University of South Carolina this fall on a riding scholarship. She’ll study nursing and aspires to become an anesthetist or nurse practitioner.

Large Green Pony Hunter
When Rachel Roter, 13, bought her Welsh pony Mapleside Magic Dancer (Magical–Hillcrest’s Snowdancer), she lived in an area of eastern Pennsylvania far removed from the big-time show scene. She and her mother made the daily four-hour round trip to trainer Patty Miller of Pipersville, Pa., for six months before the family relocated to Ottsville, Pa.

Roter was then as green as her pony. Said Miller, “She learned everything, from how to count strides in a line to how to change leads.”

In spite of her inexperience, Roter impressed Miller with her dedication and determination to learn. “She would take three lessons every day, and do her homework in the car on the way home. Her mom, Rebecca, is just amazing–she’s super-devoted,” said Miller.

Roter relished the challenge of training her own mount as she and “Dancer” learned the ropes together.

They emerged at the head of the class in 2005, taking the large green pony championship or reserve 19 times from Littlewood (Fla.) to St. Christopher’s (Pa.), and Monmouth County (N.J.). The USEF Pony Finals (Ky.) were a particular highlight of the year. There, among the top ponies in the nation, they placed sixth over fences and 10th in the model to finish fourth overall.

Roter has already qualified the 10-year-old, gray gelding for a return trip to the Pony Finals in 2006, and she hopes to qualify for Devon (Pa.) and the fall indoor shows.

Dancer is so named because “he’s a goofy pony–he doesn’t stand still at home!” laughed Roter. Fortunately, he “knows when he’s on stage, so he’s good at the horse shows,” she said. “He has the best mind. He’s really, really honest, and he always helps you out.”

In addition to riding Dancer in the large pony division, Roter will show her first horse, Wizard Of Oz, in the children’s hunters.

Grand Champion Hunter Breeding

2-Year-Old Hunter Breeding
Masquerade’s Cove has matured quite a bit since capturing the USEF yearling hunter breeding championship in 2004.

“She’s become a good-sized little girl,” said Oliver Brown of Reva, Va. “She’s full-figured.”

The elegant, Thoroughbred mare (Castle Cove–Bit Of Masquerade) was bred by John W. Kelly Jr. of Middleburg, Va., and is now owned by Kimberly Maloomian of Massachusetts.

Brown has handled “Lucy” since she was a weanling. Although many young horses have enough of showing on the line by their second year, Brown said that she’s never tired of the spotlight. “She’s been a joy. She’s very easy to work with–she knows her job and wants to do it,” he said.

And Lucy did her job well in 2005. She won her class at Devon (Pa.), Upperville (Va.), Loudoun (Va.), Warrenton (Va.) and the Kentucky National (Ky.), among many other victories. She was reserve best young horse at the Sallie B. Wheeler/USEF Hunter Breeding National Championships-East and the champion 2-year-old filly of the International Hunter Futurity Challenge Series.

Yearling Hunter Breeding
Foxy’s Remember When is carrying on his family’s unforgettable winning tradition.

Bred and owned by John W. Kelly Jr. of Middleburg, Va., the Thoroughbred gelding (Absolut?Autumn’s Magic Fox) is a full brother to two-time national hunter breeding champion Absolut Magic.

Although the bar was already set high, handler Oliver Brown of Reva, Va., said that the colt “matured even better than expected.”

The year was full of memorable victories. He won his class at Devon (Pa.), Warrenton (Va.), Lexington (Va.), and the Kentucky National (Ky.) and was named best young horse 10 times. Additionally, he was best young horse in the International Hunter Futurity Challenge Series and was its yearling colt champion.

Brown said, “He’s one of the two or three best colts I’ve ever shown. Conformationally, he’s a hard one to fault. He has a lot of bone and a lot of step.”

The colt was broken to ride in October, but he won’t begin serious training under saddle until after the spring breeding shows have concluded.

3-Year-Old Hunter Breeding
Unlike most horses and humans, Robin Parsky’s Pajama Game never went through an ungainly awkward phase.

The Dutch Warmblood-Thoroughbred (Aristos B–Amarette) gelding was reserve champion in the International Hunter Futurity West Coast as a yearling. He actually improved during the typically gawky “teenage years,” stepping up to the championship as a 2-year-old. With the USEF national title added to his laurels, Parsky, of Buena Vista Farms in Rancho Santa Fe, Calif., concluded, “He’s the real thing.”

“P.J.” got his nickname the day he was born. Parsky named the colt in honor of the late Paul Junior, with whom she served on the Del Mar racetrack (Calif.) board. The chestnut’s four tall white stockings reminded her of a child’s one-piece sleeper pajamas. That image brought to mind the Broadway musical “Pajama Game,” a theatrical title appropriate for a show horse.

Oscar Salazar has been P.J.’s only groom. “He’s been just wonderful with him. He really worked hard with this horse from day 1,” Parsky said.

Salazar was responsible for P.J.’s perpetually perfect turnout in the ring, accentuating his long, elegant neck with no less than 65 braids.

P.J. left home last fall to begin training with Louise Serio of Kennett Square, Pa. Parsky admitted that cutting the apron strings “was a lot harder for me than I thought it would be. I was used to seeing that beautiful face every day. For me, it was like sending him to college.”

Serio trained and showed P.J.’s dam, Amarette, Parsky’s former amateur-owner mount. “We’ve gone full circle,” said Parsky.

P.J. won every class he entered in 2005 and was best young horse nine times.

Ladies Side-Saddle
Given their success in 2005 as both Zone 2 and national champions, one would never guess that the now well-established partnership of Metronome and Patty Lechmanik, of West Chester, Pa., was inaugurated with an incapacitating injury.

Lechmanik said that only a few months after she bought him, she was schooling for the Pennsylvania National horse show when the “very opinionated” chestnut gelding bucked her off to eloquently express his extreme displeasure with the slightly less than ideal fit of his side-saddle. The fall left her back broken in two places.

But Lechmanik returned to riding as soon as she got clearance from her doctor, only six months later, and showed Metronome at Devon (Pa.) that spring.

She bought “Sonny,” a Thoroughbred-Hanoverian, as a 5-year-old in 2001 from Ben Guanciale of Maryland. His show name was inspired by the relentless consistency of “his amazing canter rhythm,” she said.

Lechmanik said that Sonny was difficult to fit with a side-saddle because of his “uphill, warmblood build.” He remained demonstrative of his opinion; if the tack was anything less than perfect, “he’d curl his lip and go around with his tail up in the air,” she remembered. Lechmanik tried and rejected more than 20 side-saddles before finally finding one that met with Sonny’s standards.

Their trainer of four years, Beth Spatz of Oxford, Pa., was instrumental in teaching him to accept the side-saddle “by making it part of his routine so that it wasn’t a big deal,” said Lechmanik.

Lechmanik’s tenacity and faith in her horse was ultimately justified. They placed third in the hunter hack at Devon (Pa.), and took the tricolor at the Middlesex (N.J.), Snowbird (N.J.), Coppergate (N.J.), and Monmouth County (N.J.). Kit Roszko of Jackson, N.J., rode Sonny to two seconds at the Pennsylvania National.

Sonny and Lechmanik also competed successfully in the pre-adult division, earning year-end championships in three different local associations.

For the 2006 season, Lechmanik said she “plans a relaxed campaign in the side-saddle and pre-adults,” but her focus will remain on simply enjoying her horse, who she keeps at home.

Adult Equitation
Amy Suzanne Brubaker appreciates variety. She showed 15 different horses in the adult equitation and amateur hunters. Solving the various puzzles posed by multiple mounts is her “favorite thing in the world!”

Brubaker, of Pasadena, Calif., rides with Archie Cox at his Brookway Stables in Los Angeles. She won 12 USEF Adult Medal classes on her way to the title.

“Archie has fabulous horse after fabulous horse for me to ride,” said Brubaker, who typically leased her mounts for a week at a time.

Of the many horses she showed this year, Marissa Banks’ Well To Do was her favorite. A long-time veteran of the junior equitation division, the 15-year-old, Hanoverian gelding is “perfectly trained,” Brubaker said. “He’s just the coolest horse.” She leased “Quincy” for several months, from last September through the first three months of the current year.

One of her most satisfying victories on Quincy was at the Flintridge Amateur (Calif.) show in September. After placing second for five consecutive years, Brubaker finally won the Pacific Coast Horse Shows Association Adult Horsemanship Medal Final with an impressive second round score of 92.

“I can’t say enough about Archie and his program. The guy doesn’t sleep! I’ve never seen anyone that works as hard as he does,” said Brubaker.

As a director at the Deloitte tax firm, Brubaker is rarely able to ride during the work week. So she values the serene atmosphere at Brookway. “It reduces the stress level and makes it more fun. That’s a huge thing for me. It’s a pleasure to ride there,” she said.

Brubaker recently bought a horse of her own to compete in the amateur-owner division. Although the ownership restrictions of the division will cut down on her catch rides, she thinks that her new mount, Rodeo, a 12-year-old Swedish Warmblood, is worth the sacrifice.

“It’s fun to move up to the higher fences,” said Brubaker, who may also test the waters in the jumper ring in the near future.

Open Jumper
While Rich Fellers is justifiably thrilled with McGuinness’ year-end award, he’s even more proud of just how he accomplished the feat.

“I think it’s fairly significant that we didn’t take him to many shows. McGuinness only showed for 11 weeks in the United States and five weeks in Canada [where his earnings didn’t count toward the USEF award],” said Fellers.

“It just goes to show that if you’re consistent and well-prepared, you don’t have to show a lot to earn money and make it worthwhile,” he added.

Wins in the $100,000 HBO Grand Prix of Del Mar (Calif.), the $75,000 HITS Desert Circuit Grand Prix (Calif.), and the $75,000 HITS Saugerties Grand Prix (N.Y.) were among McGuinness’ five blue-ribbon performances, but he was also in the money in at least eight other grand prix classes.

In 2004, McGuinness finished second in the USEF national standings, behind Authentic. “Every year, he’s been a little bit better than the year before. When you look at his results over the last three years, it’s obvious how consistent he is and how he keeps improving,” said Fellers, of Wilsonville, Ore.

That talent was evident in McGuinness, now 11, as a young horse in Ireland. A frequent winner in 5-year-old classes there, the bay, Irish-bred gelding (Cavalier–Farnagh Goldie) drew the attention of big-name European riders. But his difficult personality gave them pause.

“He was a tough little sucker. He’s a really strong, tough horse to ride. He was rowdy and difficult, and he didn’t want to be controlled,” Fellers said.

But McGuinness’ wild side didn’t bother Fellers, who bought him for loyal owners Harry and Mollie Chapman. “I didn’t mind how tough he was–I liked that he was a winner,” he said. “He’s got a huge heart and he always fights for it. He’s little–a shade under 16.1 hands–but he’s tough. He’s matured and settled in now. He walks into the ring and wants to do it right.”

Next, Fellers hopes to qualify for the FEI World Cup Final, to be held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, in late April.

Amateur-Owner Jumper
Michael Kennedy has spent five years showing Marco, and couldn’t be happier that he’s won a USEF title in the process.

“It’s really recognition of him being a good horse. He’s been a difficult horse at times, and people have seen him be difficult. He has moments of brilliance, but he also has moments that aren’t so brilliant. So, for him to put together a whole year and be consistent was really rewarding,” said Kennedy, of Newton, Pa.

And now, Kennedy can match bragging rights with his wife, Kris Hoffman Kennedy, who won the amateur-owner jumper year-end title in 1984. Riding and showing are a bit of a juggling act for both Michael and Kris, who work full-time. Michael works in title insurance, while Kris is a graphic designer.

Michael found Marco in November 1999 in the Netherlands. “He just seemed like a nice type horse. He had a few show miles, but not many, since he was just 5,” he said. He’d bought Marco (Holland–Edelina) with the goal of competing in the 2000 6-year-old Young Jumper Championships, which they did, although Marco didn’t qualify for the finals. Throughout 2000, they showed in both the young jumper classes and the low amateur-owner divisions.

In 2001, Michael moved Marco up to the high amateur-owner division, and they’ve been competing in both the low and high sections ever since. “He’s not a grand prix horse. When the high division is really legitimate and set at 4’9″ all the way around–like in Palm Beach [Fla.] and the Hampton Classic [N.Y.]–it’s a little more difficult, and he’s not really suited to that,” Michael said.

But in his niche, Marco is more than capable. “The way he comes off the ground is very powerful. He gives you a great feeling in the air. He jumps every single jump with authority–you know you’ve jumped a jump,” he continued.

Junior Jumper
Brianne Goutal’s historic equitation wins might have headlined her 2005, but she also achieved remarkable success with Onira. This year’s national title is a repeat from last year, and Goutal recorded a dominant double win as well. She took the individual gold at both the North American Young Riders Championships (Va.) and the USEF Prix des States Individual Junior Jumper Championships at the Pennsylvania National aboard Onira.

Goutal showed Onira sparingly in 2005. They showed during the Winter Equestrian Festival (Fla.), then placed second in the high junior jumper classic at Devon (Pa.). After the NAYRC in July, they went to the Hampton Classic (N.Y.), where they won the $10,000 Junior/Amateur-Owner Welcome Stake and took third in the $25,000 Calvin Klein Jumper Derby. They concluded the year with a second place in both the $10,000 Senator’s Cup at the Washington (D.C.) International and the $40,000 Junior/ Amateur-Owner Grand Prix at the Syracuse Sporthorse Tournament (N.Y.).

Pony Jumper
Kaitlin Campbell’s pony Magic BB is quite a bit slower than a speeding bullet.

“He’s really, really quiet for a jumper–I have to use big spurs on him, and I’m constantly kicking!” she said.

As one might expect, the black New Forest Pony “doesn’t really like running courses, he likes turning courses because he’s really slow,” said Campbell, 14, who has owned him for two years.

She considers Magic BB’s deliberateness to be a byproduct of his advanced age. Nevertheless, Campbell said that the 18-year-old pony more than compensates for his reduced speed: “He likes to turn fast and jump high!”

Campbell has trained with Patty Miller of Pipersville, Pa., for seven years.

The pair shot to the top of the pony jumper standings, taking the reserve circuit championship at the Winter Equestrian Festival (Fla.). Other magical moments were the wins of $1,000 classes at Four Seasons (N.J.) and Queen City (N.C), and the $2,500 class at the American Gold Cup (Pa.). At USEF Pony Finals, they were members of the second-placed Zone 2 team and third overall.

While she also enjoys showing her two hunters, Campbell appreciates the objectivity of jumper classes. “You don’t have to be worried about having the perfect distance or a swap. You know that if you had a rail, it’s your fault,” she said. Her children’s jumper, Lucy In The Sky, rounds out her string.

This will be Campbell’s final season with Magic BB, who’ll be retired or leased out at the end of the year.

Category: Horse Shows

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