Devon, PA - The Devon Horse Show and Country Fair, May 27 to June 6, opens with Junior weekend, including three days of equitation, hunters, jumpers, ponies and pony breeding classes on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. A Devon blue ribbon is greatly prized, and winning a championship is a great honor, indeed. One rider returning to defend her championship is, despite her youth, an old hand at winning at Devon.
She is Reed Kessler, and at 15-years-old, she has been riding and winning in the Dixon Oval for 10 years, and this year will mark her 11th year competing in that arena. Her first blue ribbon came in 1999 in the Lead Line, under 4 Years, and last year she won the Junior Jumper Championship on her chestnut mare, Ice d”Ancoeur, taking the blue ribbon in two of the three Junior Jumper Classes, the Time First Jump-off Friday and the $15,000 Junior Jumper Classic Saturday evening. Kessler was also named the Leading Junior Jumper Rider.
Kessler works hard at staying on the top of her sport and says she’s more interested in how she rides than in winning. “If I ride well and don’t win, I’m happy,” said Kessler. “If I ride badly, I’m furious with myself. It’s not the winning, it’s the riding well.”
Reed comes naturally to the sport, as her mother, Teri, and her father, Murray, also compete, both very successfully. Reed trains with grand prix rider Katie Prudent, who has been best friends with the family for many years, and is, in fact, Reed’s godmother.
“The number one thing that makes any rider successful is motivation,” said Prudent. “And the easiest thing about teaching Reed is that it comes from within her and her family. She wants to do the very best she can with no excuses.” Prudent found Ice d”Ancoeur in Europe and knew she would be a good fit for a young rider.
“She has a beautiful mouth and super scope,” said Prudent of the 13-year-old Selle Francais mare. “When you are sitting on her, you know she is going to the jump and you know she is going to make it. And you know that you can control her.”
The Devon Horse Show has been honored with the United States Equestrian Federation’s designation as a USEF Heritage Competition. An historic Pennsylvania equestrian event that has become a part of the fabric of the American horse show scene, Devon is only the fourth show to receive this honor. The designation of a USEF Heritage Competition is reserved for those competitions that have been in existence for a quarter century or more, that have promoted and grown equestrian sport and have made a contribution to the community.
Devon opens Thursday, May 27 with a full day of equitation in the Dixon Oval and pony breeding in the Gold Ring. Children 12 and under will be admitted free on opening day, courtesy of Hartstrings.
Junior hunters and jumpers and ponies compete Friday and Saturday, with the Junior Jumper Classic deciding the championship Saturday evening, followed by the traditional Horse Hunt Teams, Parent and Child and Family Class.
The Carriage Pleasure Drive opens a week of adult competition, arriving at the Dixon Oval at 2 p.m Sunday, followed by Pony Jumpers Sunday evening.
Adult Jumpers compete on Memorial Day, Young Jumpers on Tuesday and Wednesday and Open Jumpers Tuesday through Saturday, beginning with a time First Jump-Off class at 7 p.m. Tuesday evening.
Hunters compete Monday through Wednesday, with Side Saddle featured Wednesday afternoon, and Saddlebreds, harness ponies, fine harness, Friesians, roadsters and coaching begin Wednesday.
Breeding classes take over Thursday, followed by “Devon at Sunset” at 4:30, featuring the piece de resistance of the Devon Horse Show, the $100,000 Grand Prix at 8 p.m.
Amateur-owner hunters and jumpers compete Friday and Saturday, with the Open Jumper’s Gambler’s Choice Friday evening at 7:30 p.m., and the Open Jumper Stakes deciding the championship and the Leading Rider title as the last classes Saturday evening.
There will be a reining exhibition by Stacy Westfall on May 28-30., and the beloved Budweiser Clydesdales will perform in exhibition the last four evenings, Wednesday through Saturday, June 2-5.
The Country Fair has redesigned and rebuilt the Pavilion, the Souvenir and the Candy booths, opened up the whole picnic table area and renovated the interior of the Art Gallery. The remainder of the Country Fair area remains the same.
The Country Fair offers boutique shopping for sports wear, often appliquéd with a horse, dog or fox design, gorgeous hats, boots, beautiful gold and silver jewelry, again often with an equestrian design, paintings and prints, leather goods, collectibles and souvenirs.
Food to tempt any and all palates ranges from gourmet dining in the Garden Cafe to hot dogs and hamburgers and includes the famous Devon tea sandwiches, Devon fudge and lemon sticks. Rides and games line the west end of the Fair and include the Ferris wheel, merry-go-round and all kinds of fun games with prizes.
For ticket information, call 610-688-2554. The ticket office is open Monday, Wednesday and Friday 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and Saturdays 10 a.m. to noon. Devon is also selling tickets through TicketLeap, but ticket packages and seats for the Grand Prix Thursday evening will not be sold over the internet in 2010. For additional information visit www.devonhorseshow.org.
Photo Credits: Reed Kessler of Armonk, NY, Leading Junior Jumper Rider at Devon in 2009. Photo by Daria Killinger
Reed as a Lead Line competitor with mom, Teri, in 1999. Photo by Julie Watson.