Traverse City, MI - July 24, 2011 - Clouds and humidity could not dampen the spirits of the hunter riders at Horse Shows by the Bay today, as they smoothly traversed the courses on this final day of Series III. Champion and Grand Champion honors were granted this morning and afternoon, with the adult hunters beaming despite the lack of sun. The Adult Amateur division in particular drew quite the crowd for the $1,000 NAL/WIHS Adult Hunter Classic, in which the top 12 horse and rider pairs returned for a competitive second round.
Sue Hehl and her own Something's Cookin' cooked up a win in the classic, with Jodi Waller on Sokko, owned by Lindsey Waller, coming in second. Gabrielle Thornton and Az Is, owned by Terri Dandino, completed the top three, making for a talented trio of horse and rider combinations taking home hunter ribbons today.
The younger section of the Adult Amateur division turned out better than Lindsay Lyden and Fox Meadow Farm's Copperfield could have imagined, with the pair winning all four over fences classes. The pair were also a solid second in the under saddle class. Terri Irrer rode Rhythmicon, owned by Debra Gross, to the Middle Adult Amateur Hunter champion title, which they accepted with a smile. Stephen Martines and one of his three mounts, Westcliffe, earned the champion ribbon and cooler in the older section of the division. The Grand Adult Hunter Champion title went to Lindsay Lyden and Copperfield, who accumulated the most points in the division. There was nothing but positivity in the Adult Amateur ring today, enough to make anyone's day a little brighter.
The $1,000 North American League (NAL)/Washington International Horse Show (WIHS) Classic began after all sections of the Adult Amateur Hunters finished up over fences, with the second round score determining the top 12 riders to return for the NAL/WIHS Adult Hunter Classic. The competition grew, as did the crowd, when the class started with the nine fence course. A few horses seemed a bit tired after having already completed two courses, but second winds prevailed and many polished rides emerged. Sue Hehl and her own Something's Cookin' had the third-highest score going into the second round with 83 points. After a beautiful second round and a score of 85, the highest in round two, the duo won the class with an overall score of 168. Earning 78 points in the first round and a smooth 82.5 points in the second round, Jodi Waller and Sokko, owned by Lindsey Waller, took home second place in the classic. Rolling into third place in the classic was Born to Roll and owner/rider Alana Andrews with a final score of 155.5, just five points behind Berger and Sokko. Today's Adult Classic was sponsored by Camping World - Ila Lemonis.
Discussing her 12-year-old mare Something's Cookin', who has been with her for five years, winner Hehl said "Her attitude is her biggest asset in the ring. She's very cooperative and listens to everything I say to her. She needs a quiet ride; she likes to be relaxed and quiet. My trainers, Meg and Polly Howard at Fox Meadow Farm, have been the utmost help, and if it weren't for them, she wouldn't be the horse she is." Hehl added, "My favorite thing about this division is the challenge of it. There's a lot of really good horses in it and really good riders, so I think it's a hard division." Hehl has been to Horse Shows by the Bay before, and will stay to compete next week as well. "I love Traverse City," she said. "I love the show, I love the area, the whole thing. There's nothing I don't love," said Hehl of the area and the show.
The Adult Amateur Hunters were not the only group of adult competitors to shine on this overcast day. The Amateur-Owner Hunters also had the opportunity to smile through a classic hunter course in the first round and a curving and exciting handy course for round two. The handy hunter course was designed very fluidly, allowing riders to be handy, conservative, or anywhere in between. Kate Gibson and Santiago of Shadyside Farm had brilliant rides and took home the champion honors in the 3'6" Amateur Owner Hunter division. Caroline Gibson and Silvano, also from Shadyside Farm, took home the reserve champion ribbon, just behind Gibson. The fantastic weekend continued for Kate Gibson as she also took home top honors of Grand Amateur-Owner Hunter aboard Santiago. In the 3'3" Amateur-Owner division Weatherly Stroh and Sigfried earned the champion prize, just as they did during series I of Horse Shows by the Bay.
One can definitely see the love Stroh has for Sigfried and the sport when she speaks. "As you can see, he has lots of personality," she noted after receiving her ribbon. "He's very mouthy, but he's cute because you'll walk in the barn and he'll nicker to you, so he recognizes people. He's really fun because he's always really consistent, he comes out of the barn and he's exactly the same horse every day, which is really nice. He's fun to ride." Stroh has ridden Sigfried since January of this year, and will be back to compete at Horse Shows by the Bay next week as well.
In the $1,000 NAL/WIHS Children's Hunter Classic, Ashley Cross rode her own Arabella to a win in the 15 - 17 years old section. Second was Emma Unterberger on West End, owned by Happenstance Farm, and third was Christina Hayden on Cedarburg, her own horse. Leanna Schulte and her horse Gabriel triumphed in the 14 and under group in the children's classic, with Natalie Thornell coming in second on Jumping for Joy, owned by Loveland Equine. Finishing third in this class was Natalie Robbins on her own Lagonda.
The North American League offers year-long Series in six divisions: Children's Hunter, Adult Hunter, Children's Jumper, Adult Jumper, Pony Jumper, and Low Junior/Amateur-Owner Jumper. The 2010-2011 season marks the first time that the NAL features two year-end finals. Joining the NAL's traditional National Finals at the Pennsylvania National Horse Show are new West Coast Finals at the Las Vegas National Horse Show.
The NAL includes classes held at hundreds of horse shows across the United States and Canada. Riders need not be members of the NAL to compete in the qualifying classes, but only members earn points toward the year-end finals. With the annual membership fee only $35, many riders join in hopes of earning points that may qualify them for a trip to Harrisburg or Las Vegas. For more information regarding the NAL series, including series specifications, current standings and a list of upcoming events, please call (717) 867-5643, email NAL@Ryegate.com or visit www.ryegate.com.
The multi-series Horse Shows by the Bay will continue to offer riders and fans the ideal horse sports venue throughout the month of July. During the fourth and final week of competition, held July 27 - 31, notable events include the $30,000 D-BRAIDER Cherry Capital Classic Grand Prix on Saturday evening, as well as a $10,000 Children's/Adult Jumper Prix and VIP Sponsor Luncheon on Sunday afternoon. Next week will also feature the fourth $10,000 Open Jumper Welcome Prix, multiple equitation medal classes, and the finals for the Hunter Jumper Association of Michigan's medal events. Over half a million dollars in prize money will be awarded by the conclusion of this month-long celebration of equestrian athletes.
For more information or to view schedules, please visit www.horseshowsbythebay.com or call 231-267-3700.
Photo: Sue Hehl and Something's Cookin' Credit: Katie Anich/PMG