Traverse City, MI - Sun and a light breeze set the stage for a wonderful day for the hunters at Horse Shows by the Bay today. It was very busy in the R.L. Polk Family Main Hunter Ring, with over ninety rounds to be seen. As the professional hunter divisions came to a close this afternoon, several championship ribbons were presented, with Peter Pletcher of Magnolia, TX, Kelley Farmer of Keswick, VA, and Erynn Ballard of Hornby, OT taking home these top honors.
Peter Pletcher took over the reins for Kelley Farmer this morning on both of her First Year Green Working Hunter horses, Coin Toss, owned by Am Free, Inc., and Straight Talk, owned by CH Farm LLC. Pletcher rode Coin Toss to the top of both over fences classes today and Straight Talk took home both of the red ribbons. Though Coin Toss was able to edge ahead of Straight Talk in the First Year Green Hunters, Straight Talk was still able to take home the Champion ribbon for the division, having won all three classes yesterday. Coin Toss's wins today with Pletcher allowed him to take home the Reserve Champion honors for the division. After his many successful rides today, Peter commented, "I think doing the catch rides for Kelley Farmer's horses was today's highlight, that was pretty fun."
In the Second Year Green Working Hunter division Cookie Beck and Erynn Ballard brought their "A" game, both riding two horses in the division. Ballard was able to secure the Championship title on Sigfried, owned by Susanne Stroh, with a blue ribbon in both the hunter and the handy hunter rounds today. Reserve Champion went to Cookie Beck aboard Last Call, owned by Lisa Cudahy.
"Sigfried is probably the best second-year horse that we have right now, and he's won a lot for me - he won in Palm Beach, he won a class at Devon, and I have a really good relationship with him. I just meet him at the horse shows because he doesn't live with me. We just love each other, and he always tries hard. Today he just went out and did the best that he could, the handy was great, and he just tries so hard every time." says Ballard of her mount Sigfried.
The combined Green and Regular Conformation Hunter division also shined today. Peter Pletcher rode Coin Toss and Straight Talk to the blue in the first and second rounds, respectively. With so many great rounds in the Green Hunter divisions, there was a tie for the Grand Green Hunter Champion honors between Coin Toss, ridden by Kelley Farmer and Peter Pletcher, and Sigfried, ridden by Erynn Ballard.
Down to just two horse and rider pairs, the High Performance Hunter division was no less impressive this afternoon. Peter Pletcher took home the Champion honors on Jennifer Noski's Copperfield after a fantastic handy hunter round. Meanwhile, Sarah Mechlin, of Cincinnati, OH, and Yes Indeed, owned by Olivia Weaver, also had very impressive turns in both the hunter and handy hunter rounds, and were able to take home the Reserve Champion honors.
Continuing the busy day in the hunter rings at Horse Shows by the Bay was the $2,500 Pre-Green Hunter Classic. With several bold entries in the class, there was no shortage of competition. Copperfield, of Fox Meadow Farm, and Meg Howard-Fuleky smoothly jumped their way to the blue ribbon. The duo was followed by Erynn Ballard on Sarah Brook's Calistoga in second place, and Confidante, owned by Holly Burtch and also ridden by Meg Howard-Fuleky, in third place.
Throughout the month of July, Horse Shows by the Bay will continue to offer riders and fans an ideal summer experience. Feature events for the remainder of this first week, Series I, include the $10,000 Welcome Prix on July 8 and the $30,000 Grand Prix of Traverse City on July 10.
During Series II, held July 13-17, highlights include a new $10,000 Horse Shows by the Bay Open Hunter Classic, a new $5,000 USHJA National Hunter Classic,and a $30,000 Grand Traverse Bay Grand Prix and VIP Sponsor Luncheon. Series III, which occurs July 20-24, includes a $20,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby, a $10,000 Show Jumping Hall of Fame Junior Amateur-Owner Jumper Prix, and a $30,000 Grand Prix of the Great Lakes and VIP Sponsor Luncheon.
During the fourth and final week of competition, exciting events include the $30,000 D-BRAIDER Cherry Capital Classic Grand Prix, as well as a $10,000 Children's/Adult Jumper Prix and VIP Sponsor Luncheon. By the conclusion of this action-packed celebration of equestrian sport, over half a million dollars in prize money will have been awarded.
For more information or to view schedules, please visit www.horseshowsbythebay.com or call 231-267-3700.
Photo: Peter Pletcher and Copperfield Credit: Katie Anich/PMG