Jane Gaston and Lumiere Named Grand Amateur-Owner Hunter Champions

Buffalo, NY - The 64th Annual Buffalo International Horse Show (BIHS) held its third day of competition on Friday in Buffalo, NY, with a full schedule of hunter and jumper competition. Held as a benefit for the Buffalo Therapeutic Riding Center, the BIHS is Buffalo's most prestigious horse show, bringing competitors from all over the Northeast region to compete for top prize money and awards.

After two days of excellent competition, Jane Gaston and her nine-year-old Oldenburg gelding Lumiere earned top honors in the Amateur-Owner Hunter division.  Gaston and Lumiere were named the Amateur-Owner Hunter Grand Champions, earned the division's championship tricolor, and also topped the $1,000 "The Full Monty" Amateur-Owner Hunter Classic. Meredith Lipke rode Accomplice to the Amateur-Owner Hunter reserve championship.

"Susie [Schoellkopf] and I have been long time friends for I don't even know how long and I have threatened her for a lot of years that I was going to come back," Gaston laughed. "I used to ride for her in the 80's and 90's, and so last week I decided that we would just come up and get a good school in for indoors. It is just great to visit friends and the horse is having a great school."

"I have been thrilled with him here," Gaston continued. "He is wonderful; he just does whatever you ask and he is always cheerful. He has a lot of power and he is great in the turns."

Gaston bought Lumiere from Bob Crandall as a four-year-old and started him as a pre-green horse. The pair has worked their way up to the amateurs and has been successful all over the country in the past few years. "He is just a great horse and I am having a great time here," Gaston smiled. "I think everybody is nice, I think that Philip DeVita has done a wonderful job with the courses, and the weather is great."

Later in the morning, the Adult Amateur Hunters competed with the Grand Championship and division championship being awarded to Alexis Mierzwa and Hooligan, owned by Howard Epstein. The pair also topped the $500 "Shogun" Adult Hunter Classic, and Mierzwa rode the BTRC's Nadal to the division's reserve championship honors.

"Hooligan is a sale horse of SBS Farms that we just got this week and I was lucky enough to get the ride on him for the adults," Mierzwa explained after her win. "I do not know much about him actually, but Jennifer Alfano did him in the Low Hunters earlier this week and said that he was a really nice jumper and that I would have a good time on him. He was great; once I got through the ingate he was perfect and he was a blast to ride."

"Nadal is only seven years old and he is great," Mierzwa continued. "He does the therapeutic program with Libby McNabb and he was a donation. He is very willing to do anything, you just have to tell him what to do and he's got it."

Mierzwa is originally from Buffalo and has ridden with SBS Farms for many years, also working for the barn through school. The rider now lives in Virginia and made the trip up to New York just for this week's show.  "This is such a great horse show, so I had to come home and see my friends and ride for the week," she stated. "When I moved to Virginia somebody gave me a ride on a horse, so I have been doing a lot of showing down in the Northern Virginia area, but anytime I can come home and get a lesson from this crew and show with them it is like icing on the cake."

Also competing today were the Pre-Adult and Pre-Children's Hunter divisions. Zenith, owned by Hannah Goodson-Cutt and ridden by Stacey Hanson, earned the Pre-Adult Hunter division championship with On Island Time and Roseann Deni in reserve. In the Pre-Children's Hunters Lucky Charm, owned by the BTRC and ridden by Meghan Joyce earned the championship tricolor with Up the Creek Sherman, owned by Beth Congel and ridden by Patricia Garrett in reserve.

The $1,500 IBM Silver Stirrup 2'6" Classic was the feature event of the evening to conclude the third day of BIHS competition. The Pre-Adult and Pre-Children's competitors returned for the Classic and completed two rounds of competition. Victoria Schaber and Break out the Blue led both rounds with scores of 86 and 85 for a two round total of 171.  Roseann Deni and On Island Time finished in second with their score of 148, and Up the Creek Sherman and Patricia Garrett earned a 144 for third place.

Twenty-year-old Victoria Schaber is from Grand Island, NY, and trains with Christine Hannon. Break out the Blue is owned by Ferndale Farms and Schaber has been riding the chestnut gelding on and off for three years. "He is just a perfect boy," she smiled. "He goes around and does his thing and he is great. I thought my rounds tonight were really good. It has been a while since I could put it all together and tonight I did."

Schaber has shown at the BIHS several times and likes coming back each year. "I love it here; it is a great atmosphere and everything is really nice," she concluded.

Along with the evening's competition, the Buffalo Therapeutic Riding Center hosted a special cocktail party and featured student demonstrations and a volunteer thank you to show appreciation for all of the hard work that goes into the program each year. Many guests attended and enjoyed the excellent competition ringside.

Tomorrow's competition will feature the first day of the Junior, Children's and Pony Hunter divisions as well as three special classics in the evening. The $2,500 "Winston" USHJA National Hunter Classic will begin at 6 p.m. followed by the $2,500 "Up the Creek" Children's/Adult Jumper Classic and the $1,000 Stephen Comunale Low Children's/Adult Jumper Classic. For more information regarding the 64th Annual Buffalo International Horse Show, please visit www.thebtrc.org or call (716) 877-9295.

Photo Credit: Jane Gaston and Lumiere were named the Grand Amateur-Owner Hunter Champions at the 2010 Buffalo International Horse Show. Photos © 2010 Lauren Fisher/PMG and Randi Muster Photography.