Grace Weidner Wins USEF Talent Search with Serato

Buffalo, NY- September 16, 2011- Competitors of the 65th Buffalo International Horse Show were greeted by a brisk morning as the hunter classes began. Today commenced the third day of the prestigious horse show, full of horse and rider combinations competing to win top honors and prize money in their respective divisions.

The morning divisions featured the $1,000 "Full Monty" Amateur-Owner Hunter Classic, where Penelope Ayers aboard Cezanne took the top honors. The $500 "Shogun" Adult Hunter Classic also featured gifted pairs, but it was Kelly Campbell aboard MI Shebeirach, who finished with a score of 147, winning the champion tricolor and cash prize. Grace Weidner dominated the jumpers classes during the afternoon, posting all double-clear efforts and practically untouchable target times.

The morning commenced with the 3'6" Amateur-Owner Hunter division. Kelly Jones and her mount, O So Soxy, impressed the judges, claiming the first place ribbon during the first round and the second place ribbon during the classic round. The talented duo not only won the championship award for the division, but were also announced as the overall Amateur-Owner Grand Champion. Penelope Ayers and her mount Cezanne were named the reserve champion for the division, finishing their second course with the class high total of 85 points.

Jennifer Gurney rode The Other Brother to the top honors during the Low Amateur-Owner 3'3" class, and combined with yesterday's consistent rounds, the pair also earned the championship award. Lauren Engle aboard Shannon Pride claimed the reserve tricolor.

The hunter action continued as the $1,000 "Full Monty" Amateur-Owner Hunter Classic got underway. Using the second round totals from the 3'3"-3'6" Amateur-Owner Hunters, riders completed their second round for the classic. Penelope Ayers of Ravens Wood Farm sponsored the Classic in dedication to her long-time amateur hunter, Full Monty. Lauren Engle rode Shannon Pride to a round total of 73 points, totaling 155 points; however, their effort was only good enough to claim the reserve championship award. Entering the ring with her first round classic score of 85 points, Ayers continued to impress judges Frank Willard and Scott Williamson with her effortless round, resulting in a score of 87. Her total score of 172 points garnered the pair the championship honors.

Ayers bought Cezanne about a year ago from a younger amateur rider, and they have begun to really form a bond with one another throughout that time. "He always gives 150 percent," Ayers described. "He's a terrific jumper and his disposition is very pony-like, he's very fresh and very cute. He jumps phenomenally all of the time. This win was extremely special us to win because I sponsored it in honor of my most beloved amateur-owner horse, The Full Monty. It was really exciting, having Cezanne win his older brother's classic."

Each year, Ayers sponsors classes for the BIHS. Her love for this show is due to their cause as a benefit to raise money for the therapeutic riding program. "Every time I ride in this ring and see the pictures of the children and those horses at the end of the ring, it reminds me how lucky I am to be able to wake up every morning and do what I do," Ayers explained. "It's really important to come to this horse show because it is such a great cause."

Continuing the day, Kelly Campbell and MI Shebeirach, owned by Susan Kaufman of Virginia Beach, VA, stole the show during the Adult Amateur Hunters. Her impressive rounds earned the pair two first place ribbons and a second place ribbon over fences as well as the third place ribbon for the under saddle. The horse and rider combination garnered the division's championship award. Chelsea Jones aboard Real Magic, owned by Cindy Ford of Saratoga Springs, NY, earned the reserve championship honors with her first place ribbon and second place ribbon over fences, as well as the fourth place ribbon during the under saddle.

Using the scores from the third round of the Adults Amateur Hunters, hunter riders lined up for the second round of the $500 "Shogun" Adult Hunter Classic. Campbell and MI Shebeirach were awarded the top honors for their efforts, and Alexis Mierzwa aboard In the Know, owned by SBS Ltd., claimed the reserve championship award.

"This is a horse I have only had since April, she was very green when we first got her, and she's hardly ever shown in any 3' classes," Campbell noted. "She's come a long way this summer and I have gotten to figure her out more and more. She's a very adjustable horse, sometimes she gets really excited in the ring when jumping and has a little too much fun, but she did great today."

Madeline Frank rode Gryffindor, owned by Cindy Ford and Skidmore College of Saratoga Springs, NY, to the Pre-Adult Hunter Championship award with consistent rounds and a smooth under saddle. The duo earned the second and third place ribbons over fences, and also claimed the second place award for the under saddle. Although Chelsea Stanbro and BTRC's Logan earned the first place ribbon during their first round over fences as well as the fourth place ribbon during the under saddle.

Rio's Reflection, owned by Harper Hills LLC of Buffalo, NY, ridden by Sarah Rimmler snatched the judges' attention during the Pre-Children Hunters. Her fourth place ribbon during the first round and first place ribbon during the second course of the over fences eventually earned the duo the reserve champion honors. It was Caroline Smith aboard Luther, owned by Jackie Boychuk of Orchard Park, NY, who bested the talented pair.  The horse and rider combination won the first over fences class as well as the second place ribbon during the second round.

The show continued into the afternoon as the jump crew hopped into the arena and began to set up for the Children's/Adult Jumpers classes. The course consisted of nine jumps set with several single verticals, a vertical to oxer combination, and what proved to be a difficult in-and-out. Both the hunter and jumper courses were created by Brian Brown of Wellington, Fl, and George Heston of Free Union, Va, and were designed to challenge both horse and rider alike, with sharp turns and a need for speed during the jumper classes.

The Children's/Adult Jumpers began with Only Jumping Boy and Grace Weidner in the irons. The duo started the class with a clean round in a time of 53.05 seconds. They also posted a tough jump-off time of 28.480 seconds; however, their double-clear efforts and fast times proved only good enough for the second place award. The next rider to enter the ring was Alayna Pastuk aboard Quadrigo, owned by Tucker Johnson of Hobe Sound, FL. Although the pair also went double-clear, they fell just shy of Weidner's time, claiming the third place award. Rider Delaney Hamhill was next, with only one thing in mind, to win. She and Nabuco Do Theil, owned by Vannina Battaglia of New York, NY, blazed around the first round in only 52.176 seconds, the fastest first round of the class. They continued their momentum into the jump-off where they beat Weidner's time by nearly three seconds, stopping the timer at 25.695 seconds. As hard as each consecutive rider tried, with five making it into the jump-off, nobody could touch Hamhill's time.

"I thought it went really well out there. He cooperates with me extremely well and we have learned to trust each other more and more recently. We just bought him not too long ago, and he's come a long way," Hamhill explained. "He's very strong and very scopey. He's also very careful and hates hitting the rails, so he makes sure to never touch them which is a huge benefit in those classes. I think my time stuck so well because I love going fast, it's the best feeling in the world, with the wind and everything, I feel so empowered."

The Children's/Adult Jumper Speed class got underway with Weidner keeping her eye on the prize. She and Only Jumping Boy made sharp turns and kept their speed consistent, tripping the beam at 36.844 seconds and ending with a clean round. Although the remaining riders attempted to speed around the course, Weidner's time stood. Ben Phillips aboard Amendment 15, owned by Darren Chiacchia of Ocala, FL, took the second place honors with a time of 39.126 seconds, followed by Caliente and Andrea Bennett posting a time of 40.279 seconds.

The afternoon progressed with the Low Children's/Adult Amateur Jumper Speed class. Weidner continued dominating the jumpers' divisions, this time aboard Mick O Angelo, stopping the clock at 35.968 seconds. Lauren Reilly posted the next best time with Different Drummer, owned by Cassidy Quinn of Columbia, MD, at 46.587 seconds, earning the second place award. Alyssa Boker won the third place award with a time of 50.223 seconds aboard Carafino, owned by Redfield Farm of Califon, NJ.

Weidner came back in the ring aboard Mick O Angelo for the Low Children's/Adult Amateur Jumper class. Out of the seven who competed, only three progressed into the jump-off. Weidner's target time of 24.414 seconds stood from the beginning until the end. Boker and Carafino took the second place award, followed by Charles Emerson and Hollendesia, who both completed double-clear efforts, but fell shy of Weidner's untouchable time.

The USEF Talent Search division wrapped up the afternoon with Weidner once again making her mark aboard Serato, owned by BTRC.

The show began buzzing with excitement as the preparations were made for the cocktail party and BTRC demonstration. Sponsors and spectators alike gathered inside the Indoor Arena as Executive Director of the Buffalo Therapeutic Riding Center, Susan Schoellkopf addressed the crowd and gave her thanks to the amazing sponsors, volunteers and competitors who make the Buffalo International Horse Show a success each year. The show, in its entirety, benefits the therapeutic riding programs at the BTRC. 97 percent of the students can only afford the physical therapy due to scholarships from gracious sponsors as well as the money raised from the BIHS.

"The Buffalo Therapeutic Riding Center has a very special piece in my life," BTRC's Secretary Candy Bredenberg described. "It's a very special part of my life, not only did I grow up here and ride here when it was the Saddle and Bridle Club, but I have been riding and volunteering with the program ever since I moved back. I think when a little girl falls in love with horses, it never goes away, I am living proof. This program I think means as much to me as it does to the students in it, and it's such a rewarding experience to be around horses in any sense, especially for these children."

The demonstration featured three children and horses from the BTRC. They walked around a small course of obstacles, demonstrating what kind of physical therapy takes place when on a horse. The therapeutic riding program has become known for the therapy it has in both physical and emotional ways. For instance, every time a student posts on one of the horses, they are thrown off balance and have to utilize their leg strength as well as their abdomen and back to retain balance and a good posture. The program also uses words and counting as a way to help the students with reading and math skills.

"The riding and the interaction with the horses provides them with the opportunity to develop a trusting relationship with the animal to improve their confidence and interactive skills. On the physical side it helps to build their muscles, stamina and muscle control," said President of the BTRC Board, Allison Flammer. "I think for many people in the Western New York community, they don't have an opportunity to see and understand the program we have established here for underprivileged children and disabled children. This gave them the opportunity to see the teaching tools, it was a nice snap-shot for them to take away this evening."

After the demonstration, the last class of the night commenced. The $1,500 IBM Silver Stirrup Classic consisted of Pre-Adult and Pre-Children's Hunters. The last entry of the class, Stacey Hanson and Zenith, owned by BTRC, were the ones who made a lasting impression. In the first round the talented duo scored the high score of 83. They stayed consistent with another smooth round, earning a score of 84, once again the class top score. The pair ended with a two-round total of 167 points earning the top honors. Caroline Schutte followed behind with Nadal, owned by BTRC, in second place with a total score of 160 points. Sarah Rimmler earned the third place honors aboard Rio's Reflection, owned by Harper Hills LLC. Weidner lead the victory gallop, concluding the third day of the Buffalo International Horse Show.

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 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 or call (716) 877-9295.            

Photo Credit: Grace Weidner dominated the jumpers divisions at the Buffalo International Horse Show, posting all double-clear efforts and practically untouchable target times. Photo © 2011 Kendall Bierer/PMG.