Buffalo, NY - September 14, 2011 - A cool breeze greeted competitors this morning at the 65th Annual Buffalo International Horse Show (BIHS). Today marked the beginning of the five-day competition held at the Buffalo Therapeutic Riding Center (BTRC) in Buffalo, NY. The competition consists of classes for different levels of experience as well as over $25,000 in prize money. The BIHS will run through Sunday, September 18, utilizing their large indoor arena to not only provide a competition everyone can enjoy, but also to benefit their therapeutic riding program.
Beginning bright and early, NBC's Buffalo affiliate WGRZ 2's Kevin O'Neill interviewed participants from SBS Farms and the Buffalo International Horse Show. Jennifer Alfano, Sarah Rimmler, Grace Weidner and Executive Director of the Buffalo Therapeutic Riding Center Susan Schoellkopf were all featured in the morning segments. The Daybreak segment of WGRZ 2 asked curiously about the events taking place throughout the week as well as the different riders who have travelled from all over the northeast to compete at the prestigious show and raise money for the therapeutic riding program.
The morning progressed as judges Scott Williamson and Frank Willard took their seats and began to mark up their judges' cards. The Green Working Hunters began the show as Jennifer Alfano claimed top honors aboard her mounts. Alfano rode Miss Lucy, owned by Helen Lenahan of Buffalo, NY, to the first place ribbon in the under saddle as well as two second place ribbons over fences. Rose Hill, owned by Sharon O'Neill of Snyder, NY, earned the first place in round one of the over fences, the third place ribbon in round two and the second place ribbon during the under saddle with Alfano in the irons. Alfano also claimed the first place and third place ribbon over fences aboard her horse Michigan Avenue, and the third place ribbon during the flat phase.
"My horses all went great today, and even when you ride a lot of horses you want them to go as well as they can, it doesn't really matter how the results end up, you just want them to do the best they can," Alfano explained.
David Boley dominated the first day of competition in the Open Working Hunter division with Phil In the Blank, owned by Ellen Bifano of Skaneateles, NY. Boley also rode Montenegro, owned by B&B Ltd of Skaneateles, NY, to top honors today, earning the first and third place ribbons in the Conformation Hunters. The winning streak did not stop there as he continued to earn top awards for the division aboard Phil In the Blank and Kingdom Come, owned by B&B Ltd.
Next in the ring were the Low Hunter combinations. Megan Holiday garnered the championship award aboard What's Up, owned by Up the Creek Farm of Rochester, NY, earning the two first place ribbons and the fourth place ribbon over fences. Holiday also claimed the reserve championship award with the talented mare CR Lena, owned by Patricia Garrett of Victor, NY, claiming the blue ribbon both over fences and during the under saddle. Holiday was very happy about her wins, especially since CR Lena is one of her student's horses which she was preparing for her to show later in the week.
"I thought that my rounds today went really well," Holiday said. "I thought that both of the horses were great. This show makes it fun to ride and everyone has a great time. It really allows for a great warm-up and is beautifully done."
Alfano stole the show during the Pre-Green Hunters with her most recent mount, Maggie May, owned by Billee Steffee of Novelty, OH. Although this was only their second time showing her, Alfano completed effortless rounds and garnered the championship tricolor. Their efforts earned the duo the first and second place honors over fences as well as the third place in the under saddle. Even with his first place ribbon, third place ribbon and fourth place ribbon over fences, Tony Sgarlata aboard Ever the Optomist, owned by Gina Badagnani of Fulton, NY, could not beat Alfano and earned the reserve champion honors.
"Maggie is pretty new to us, I am really excited about her. I think she is a great horse; she's very green, but she's young, I see a lot of potential in her," Alfano noted. "She has such a smooth beautiful canter and has such a great jump, she is going to be one to watch out for."
Alfano did not stop her winning streak as the show progressed into the 3'3" Working Performance Hunters. The talented rider mounted Shannon Pride, owned by Lauren Engel of Baltimore, MD, and swept the over fences as well as earning top honors in the under saddle. Although Jaime Bates George followed close on her trail with Step In Style, owned by Jennifer Basile of Williamsville, NY, she eventually was awarded the reserve championship award.
Grace Weidner rode BTRC's horse Zenith to the win during the 2'6" Schooling Hunter division. "Grace was hungry for this competition," said Schoellkopf. "We were more than happy to help her get there. This show really benefits everyone."
The first day of the Buffalo International Horse Show came to a close as the announcer revealed that Christina Tretter-Herriger had taken the top honors for the Baby Green Hunters aboard her horse Boy Wonder. The generous sponsors were thanked yet again for their support to make the show a reality including EMO Insurance, The Hunting Horn and HSBC Bank USA. The hunter excitement continues tomorrow with the conclusion of the professional hunter divisions and the beginning of the amateur-owner classes.
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 Friday night's $1,500 IBM Silver Stirrup Classic, 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 www.thebtrc.org or call (716) 877-9295.
Photo Credit: Jennifer Alfano won the Pre-Green Championship award aboard recent mount, Maggie May, at the Buffalo International Horse Show. Photo © 2011 Kendall Bierer/PMG.