Buffalo, NY - September 12, 2013 -There were perfect conditions for the second day of the 67th Buffalo International Horse Show (BIHS) as the Indoor Arena remained dry as rain soaked the ground outside at the Buffalo Equestrian Center. The fierce hunter competition continued as the professional hunter divisons came to a close, and the announcement of the Grand Hunter Champion was named.
Jennifer Alfano and Maggie May stood center ring for the prestigious Grand Hunter Champion presentation, after capturing a clean second day sweep of the First Year Green Working Hunter division. Alfano also piloted the young and talented Candid to the top of the Pre-Green Incentive, presented by Robert-James Sales, Inc., while also taking home the Working Hunter Championship with the renowned hunter horse, Jersey Boy. Jazz Johnston Merton and Kingston posted the first-day lead for the Amateur-Owner 3'3"-3'6"Hunters, while Penelope Ayers and Zandor were hot on their heels.
The hunter courses were designed by Brian Brown of Bloomfield, NY, and were comprised of green foliage, natural fences, brick walls and wooden gates. It was the handy course that proved a challenge with a serpentine of fences challenging both horse and rider alike.
The morning commenced with the First Year Green Working Hunter division where Jennifer Alfano dominated with back-to-back blue ribbons aboard Billie Steffee's Maggie May. Alfano not only captured the championship, but she also secured the Grand Hunter Championship for her final total of 46 points. Jaime George and Sox Appeal, owned by Kelly Waples, rode to the reserve championship after adding two red ribbons for their rounds.
"I think it is great for Maggie to have won both champion and Grand Hunter Champion," Alfano said. "She has come a long way this year, and become really consistent. I am sad that Billie wasn't here to see her go, because she went so beautifully, but I know Billie is very proud."
Alfano continued, "We are going to go to Harrisburg and the Alltech National Horse Show this year, she has been doing so great. I was so proud of how she has improved, and how well she did during this show."
Alfano's success had only just begun as she entered the High Working Hunters with the illustrious Jersey Boy, owned by SBS Farms, Inc. No other pair could best the talented team. They earned two first place ribbons over fences today, excelling in the handy round with smooth turns and athleticism. They were dually awarded the High Working Hunter Championship. Rachel Clawson and Montenegro, owned by Lilly Ulrich, earned the reserve championship.
"Jersey Boy is something special," Alfano smiled. "He feels like he is back to himself, and I think that he really went out there and proved it to everyone. He won the Grand Hunter Championship three years ago, and Miss Lucy won it last year, but it was Maggie May's time to shine-we like to keep it in the family."
The Pre-Green Hunters were hot with anticipation as riders entered a battle of the best with the hopes of securing not only the division championship, but also the $1,500 Pre-Green Incentive Stake victory. It was Alfano's very own Candid who excelled during today's competition. The duo earned the judges' nod and the Incentive Stake score of 87 points. Alfano also ranked second with Helen Lenahan's Me Again, finishing with a final score of 82 points. Alfano and Candid were awarded the Pre-Green Hunter Championship, and she also claimed the reserve championship aboard Me Again.
"I love the Incentive Program, I think it is doing great things for our sport," Alfano explained. "People now want to buy Pre-Green Horses, when in the past there was nothing to really merit them wanting to buy a young horse. It is really neat too, that I personally own Candid, he has been doing so well, and the incentive is definitely worth it. I am very impressed with how Candid has been coming along, he is becoming so consistent, and although he is still green, he is learning with each and every show. Me Again is a more recent mount, but he has really been coming along, too. I was very impressed with how he did over the last two days, and in today's Incentive Class."
The Pre-Green Incentive is a new class to the Buffalo International Horse Show, and a newly developed program designed by the United States Hunter Jumper Association (USHJA). The Pre-Green Incentive program is aimed to showcase the time and dedication that goes into the development of pre-green horses across the nation. The horse and rider combinations compete in Pre-Green Incentive classes across the country with the hopes of qualifying for the USHJA Pre-Green Hunter Incentive Finals in Lexington, KY, in 2014. The Pre-Green Incentive Program at the BIHS was sponsored by Robert-James Sales, Inc., and Jim Bokor was on site to present the award to Alfano today.
"It is a great show, and my daughter used to show here all the time. I wanted to support it, and keep the show going," Bokor stated. "We talk about the future of our sport with younger riders, but we also need to talk about the future of our younger horses. This program provides a place to grow up, show their abilities, learn and move into the bigger classes. This is an important class for our sport."
The first day of the Amateur-Owner Hunters got underway this afternoon. Jazz Johnston Merton and Kingston secured the first place win in the handy round, as well as the top finish in the under saddle. Penelope Ayers of Ravens Wood Farm also showed to a first place finish in the first round over fences with Zandor, as well as the second place in the under saddle.
"He was originally a jumper, and when we got him I started riding him in the Amateur-Owner 3'3" Hunters. I have suffered three injuries over the last year and a half, and only recently began coming back. I couldn't ask for a better horse," Ayers smiled. "I thought it was an excellent course. Because he was a jumper he can make all of the turns and leave from anywhere. He really keys in and does a great job."
Ayers has been a long-time supporter of the Buffalo International Horse Show and its beneficiary, the Buffalo Therapeutic Riding Center. She recently worked alongside Steve Kesselhaut to create the BTRC's most recent video. To view the video, please click here.
Ayers elaborated, "I had the privilege to make the new video for the BTRC that is on their Web site. I came up in June and spent a whole day with the program doing still photography, video and interviews. Steve and I put it together. This is a great show and anything to help these children is amazing. The video will be shown at the Pennsylvania National Horse Show this year. Since the BTRC is a beneficiary of the Pennsylvania National, they jumped at the opportunity to show everyone what the program is all about."
Ayers also sponsors the $1,000 Ravens Wood Farm Groom's Class, one of the most highly contested classes of the show. Today it was Jessica Litfin of SBS Farms, Inc., who took home the top prize. Maynor Dubon of Ravens Wood Farm earned second, while Kaylee Dreier captured the third place.
Ayers concluded, "This is a very special show to me, it is one of my favorite shows. I love Susie Schoellkopf and the BTRC program. I think anyone who is privileged to ride and show like I do, and have the horses I do, should spend one day out here to see everything this program offers. It is amazing to watch these children come to grips with challenges, and see how the horses benefit them."
The Amateur-Owner Hunter divisions will conclude tomorrow when the champion is named, as well as the $1,000 "Full Monty" Amateur-Owner Hunter Classic. The Junior Hunters will get underway with their divisions, as well as the $1,000 Up the Creek Junior Hunter Classic. In the evening, onlookers will have the opportunity to watch the Buffalo Therapeutic Riding Center Demonstration and enjoy the Children's/Adult Jumpers and Low Children's/Adult Jumpers.
For more information regarding the 67th Annual Buffalo International Horse Show, please visit www.thebtrc.org or call (716) 877-9295. Entries may be faxed to (716) 877-4001.