Buffalo, NY- September 15, 2011- As a cold front moved into the downtown Buffalo area, riders and horses alike prepared for another day full of excitement at the 65th Buffalo International Horse Show. The horse show entirely benefits the Buffalo Therapeutic Riding Center, a non-profit organization that promotes and teaches horseback riding to disadvantaged and emotionally challenged children. Today, Grace Weidner dominated the Level 2 Jumpers aboard Mick O Angelo with the only double clear round. Jennifer Alfano continued to lead several hunter divisions, as well as win the championship award aboard Miss Lucy in the Green Working Hunters.
The morning began with two consistent rounds over fences for Jennifer Alfano during the Green Working Hunter classes. Alfano rode Miss Lucy to another first place and third place win today, which they added to their awards from yesterday and they eventually garnered the championship award. Alfano and Sharon O'Neill's Rose Hill earned the division's reserve tricolor award. The pair earned the third place ribbon during the first round and claimed the first place ribbon during their handy, choosing tight turns and coming to a smooth trot jump seemingly effortlessly; however, they fell just shy of the championship and earned the reserve title.
The show continued as David Boley entered the ring aboard Montenegro, owned by B&B Ltd of Skaneateles, NY. The duo started off the Conformation Hunter class with a smooth first round, earning the second place prize. Although Boley also rode Montenegro with true handiness during the second course, it was Phil In the Blank, owned by Ellen Bifano of Skaneateles, NY, who impressed the judges. Boley and Phil In the Blank earned two first place ribbons today and enough points to acquire the Conformation Hunter Grand Champion Award for the second consecutive year. Biffano followed Boley to the ring for the presentation, leading Montenegro to receive their reserve championship honors.
"Susie Schoellkopf is one of America's greatest horsewomen," Boley stated. "She really makes sure to pull out of the stops in every aspect of life, including this show. The courses are beautiful; there are great classes and a wonderful venue. She definitely makes a huge effort for everyone, and it shows."
Continuing the day, Alfano rode Fantabulous, owned by Shelley Shaulinski of Pittsford, NY, to the championship honors in the 3'6"-3'9" Performance Working Hunters. The duo earned two first place ribbons and one second place ribbon over fences today, as well as impressing the judges during the under saddle, taking home the first place prize. Sting, owned by Helen Lenahan of Buffalo, NY, who started making his come back with last weekend's Chicago Derby, earned the reserve championship honors.
Today was day one of the 3'3"-3'6"Amateur-Owner Hunter divisions, where horse and rider combinations competed for top honors. Fantabulous made a second appearance with owner Shelley Shaulinski in the irons. The pair earned the first place ribbon during their first round over fences in the 3'3" Amateur-Owner Hunters as well as a third place ribbon for their efforts in the handy. Lauren Engel and her horse Shannon Pride won the first and third place ribbons over fences as well as the first place win during the under saddle. Jennifer Gurney and her mount the Other Brother earned all second place ribbons during today's rounds as well as during the under saddle; however, everyone is looking forward to what the results will reveal tomorrow.
It was Kelly Jones, out of Seven Fields, PA, aboard O So Soxy, who swept the over fences for the 3'6" Amateur-Owner Division. Penelope Ayers and Cezanne followed right behind earning consistent second place ribbons through out the division.
BTRC's Caroline Schutte rode Nadal to the top honors during the 3' Schooling Hunters, while Ashley Glica took the second place honors aboard Sir James, owned by Bonnie Ann Glica of East Aurora, NY.
Concluding the hunter divisions, Jennifer Gurney earned the Non-Pro Hunter Championship award with Sarafina, owned by the Morrisville College Foundation. The duo swept the over fences as well as earning the top call for the under saddle. Glica once again took the second place honors as well as reserve champion aboard Sir James.
Soon after, the jump crew swiftly set the course for the Level 2 Jumpers. Brian Brown and George Heston designed the jumper course. It consisted of nine fences to be completed in the time allowed of 63 seconds, a time which several of the riders found difficult to race against. The first rider to enter the ring, Delaney Hamhill, rode Nabuco Du Theil to a clean round; however, she earned one time fault at 63.2 seconds, only good enough to earn the second place award. BTRC's Grace Weidner not only completed a clean first round, but also posted a time of 57.73 seconds. Her time and effort gave way to the short course, which consisted of a bending line as well as a couple of hard rollbacks. Even with the challenges, Weidner jumped another clean round, eventually garnering the first place prize as the only rider with double-clear rounds. Weidner also earned the third place prize with BTRC's Serato, finishing with a clear effort; however, the duo took the course with ease to practice for the equitation classes tomorrow, and ended with a time of 65.7 seconds, excluding them from the jump-off.
Considering that Weidner had never ridden the horse before, her win came as slight shock to her. "Honestly, I wasn't expecting to do as well as I did. The horse was really good, he was smooth over jumps and everything worked out really well," Weidner explained. "I kept my eye on the timer and it worked out for me. After riding him in the schooling ring I figured out that he's naturally a really good jumper, so I didn't have to worry about him too much. I knew that as long as I didn't swing very wide out in the corners I'd be fine. It was exciting to be the only rider to go double-clear, especially since I had never ridden him before."
The second day of the BIHS concluded with the $1,000 Ravens Wood Grooms Class. Eight grooms and horses lined up in the center of the Indoor Arena, ready for their close-up. This class provides a true sense of tradition, allowing the grooms to have a chance to win the prize money and blue ribbon. Each horse was examined from head to toe by the judges and the grooms' boxes were picked apart and judged accordingly. SBS Farms, Inc. claimed the first, second and third place awards with grooms Jessica Litfin, Luke Olsen and Kaylee Dreier. Juan Aceves of Ravens Wood Farm earned the fourth place award, followed in fifth by Fernando Alvarez of Little Brook Farm.
The Ravens Wood Grooms Class is an example of the generosity sponsors have provided to make the 65th Buffalo International Horse Show a reality, providing prize money and opportunities for everyone to enjoy. Without sponsors such as EMO Insurance, The Hunting Horn and HSBC Bank USA, the Buffalo Therapeutic Riding Center would not have the beneficiaries it needs to put on such a prestigious horse show and raise money to benefit their programs. The generosity continues tomorrow with the $1,000 "Full Monty" Amateur-Owner Hunter Classic and the $1,500 IBM Silver Stirrup Classic.
The five-day schedule features highlights for everyone to enjoy, including $25,000 in class prize money with $13,000 worth of hunter and jumper classics for children, adults, juniors, amateur-owners, ponies and professionals. The main highlights include Friday night's $1,500 IBM Silver Stirrup Classic, the $2,500 Johnson Horse Transportation USHJA 3' National Hunter Classic, the $2,500 Up The Creek Farm Children's/ Adult Jumper Classic and the $1,000 Stephen Comunale Low Children's/ Adult Jumper Classic.
For more information regarding the 65th Annual Buffalo International Horse Show, please visit www.thebtrc.org or call (716) 877-9295.
Photo Credit: Grace Weidner earns top call with a double-clear effort aboard Mick O Angelo. Photo © 2011 Kendall Bierer/PMG.