Ovation Leading Riders David and Izzy Beisel
Traverse City, MI - With the conclusion of the 2014 Horse Shows by the Bay Equestrian Festival, the Ovation Leading Rider Awards were finalized. After four weeks of competitive hunter/jumper action in the resort town of Traverse City, 12 riders and trainers rose to the top of their respective sections to earn the coveted title, a beautiful sash and a $500 English Riding Supply gift certificate. This year's Ovation Awards could have been subtitled "All in the Family," as two parent/child duos captured titles together.
David Beisel and his daughter Izzy, 7, collected the Professional Jumper Rider and Children's Hunter Rider sashes, respectively.
While David's title was secured earlier in the week, he chose to wait until the very last class of the show, the Children's Pony Hunter Classic, so the two could celebrate together with wife Paige and son Cooper looking on.
"This is a very special thing," said David, of Goshen, Ohio. "We're truly blessed to get to do this as a family."
After receiving her certificate and English Riding Supply catalog, Izzy quickly paged through and said, "Twinkle toes! I would like to get some for my ponies. I had it last year, and we ran out."
The mother/daughter pair of Becky and Mimi Gochman, of New York, New York, also posed for their Leading Rider Awards photographs together after Becky earned the Leading Amateur Rider award and Mimi, age 9, the Leading Pony Rider title.
Even though the Gochmans have had many past successes, this was the first time Becky and Mimi earned leading rider titles at the same show--last year it was Becky and Mimi's sister Sophie who received the sashes.
"Being leading rider means a lot to me because I've tried really hard here," said Mimi. "The ponies have been very good, and it's a really fun show."
Mimi spent the first three weeks showing hunters and jumpers with Sophie, who then took Series IV off to attend Summer Arts Camp at nearby Interlochen Center for the Arts.
Ovation Leading Riders Becky and Mimi Gochman
One of Mimi's highlights during the series was when she and Sophie shared their accomplishments together.
"One of my favorite moments was last week when me and my sister took turns," said Mimi. "She would be first and I would be second, she would win the classic and I would be second, then I would be champion and she would be reserve. It's fun to switch off with my sister."
Becky was especially pleased to have her two newest horses, Fredrick and Last Call, perform consistently in the Amateur-Owner hunter sections and when her veteran Empire came out for top honors during Series II, USHJA/WCHR week. Although the ribbons and honors are certainly a part of the picture, Becky pointed out the true importance of showing.
"For me, it's great to seeing my kids enjoy the sport as much as they do," she said. "We're always learning. Riding is a very humbling experience. Some days we have it, and some days we don't, but together as a family it's special to be able to learn and grow in this way."
Michigan trainer Polly Howard-Coberley received her second consecutive Ovation Leading Trainer Award for Fox Meadow Farm in Temperance, Michigan. Along with sister Meg Howard-Fuleky, Polly consistently trained students and horses to top honors throughout the series.
"I think it was a very successful four weeks," said Polly, who averaged around 40 horses in competition each week. "We have a lot of young riders at the moment, and they're moving up nicely. I think by the end of their time here they'd progressed well."
While Polly was hard-pressed to take a guess at the number of championship and reserve ribbons hanging on her tack room banner by the time they were packing up, she said that many of those ribbons had special meaning.
Ovation Leading Trainer Polly Howard with James Zulia
"As the kids start out, you'll see some from last year that were doing a division lower and at times struggling, and now you see them in a higher division and by the end of this four weeks they're very successful," she said. "That's so rewarding, and I love helping my students be successful through each step. It's also nice with our own family, my son and my niece. It's not as nerve-wracking watching them ride now! It's fun being up here, and this is a great place to spend the month of July."
Trainer Heather Irvine, of Hillside Farm in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, also enjoyed her month in Traverse City, and many of her students and horses left Horse Shows by the Bay with championship honors. One of her biggest winners was Terri Irrer, who earned the Ovation Leading Adult Amateur Hunter Rider title for the second straight year.
Irrer, of South Lyon, Michigan, showed Debra Gross' Rhythmicon and Forget Me Not to tricolors in the Adult Amateur Hunter, 36-49, section throughout the series.
"I love both of them and feel very fortunate to be able to ride them," said Irrer. "The leading rider title is so exciting, and, basically, it's all thanks to Heather Irvine and Tammy Nimbach. I'm also fortunate to be able to ride with them. Their love and care for the horses is amazing."
Ovation Leading Adult Hunter Rider Terri Irrer
Irrer, who works for horse show management companies, sold her dance studio to immerse herself in the horse world.
"I decided I wanted to do something with my business degree and the horses, because that's really my passion," she said. "I do accounting for some, give out ribbons and work in the office. It's a variety of things, and I really enjoy it."
The Ovation Professional Hunter Rider title also traveled back to Bloomfield Hills in the possession of Greg Crolick of Top Call Farm LLC. Crolick earned tricolor honors in the open hunter sections throughout the series, with such horses as Aeroplane, Zack RVR, Revival and Dancing Solo, to name a few.
Other Ovation Leading Riders Included
•Junior Hunter - Martha Ingram
•Adult Jumper - Andrew Januzzi
•Children's Jumper - Anika Pirkle
•High Junior/Amateur-Owner Jumper - Erin Haas
•Low Junior/Amateur-Owner Jumper - Emily Reder