Buffalo, NY - September 18, 2011 - Today marked the final day of competition for the 65th Buffalo International Horse Show (BIHS). The day was filled with intensity as horse and rider combinations competed for the top honors in their respective divisions. The Junior, Pony and Children's divisions concluded their second day of competition today, presenting the championship honors. The final highlight events consisted of the $1,000 Up the Creek Junior Hunter Classic as well as the $500 "Say Hey" Children's Hunter Classic.
The BIHS is the largest fundraiser for the Buffalo Therapeutic Riding Center's therapeutic students-most of whom are financially supported by this show. The generous support of donations, sponsors and exhibitors are only a few of the ways the BTRC raises money to fund the therapeutic riding program and cater to groups such as Be A Friend, Kids Escaping Drugs and St. Mary's School for the Deaf, as well as over 100 independent students challenged by autism, fetal alcohol syndrome, cerebral palsy and Down syndrome.
The Junior Hunter divisions commenced bright and early this morning, completing the final classes of the division. The Grand Junior Hunter Championship was awarded to Maryann Osborne showing Mine, owned by Alexandra Vespico of Canton, GA. The duo also rode to the Small Junior Hunter division championship, earning the first and second place ribbons for their efforts over fences. The reserve tricolor was awarded to Claudia Freeman and Clockwork, owned by The Morrisville College Foundation of Morrisville, NY.
"We're just starting out together," Osborne explained. "This is actually our first horse show. In my opinion, we are a really good match. He can be really lazy at times, but once you get in the ring, he knows his job. We work with one another, and our rounds are able to flow because of it."
Next in the ring to compete were the Large Junior Hunter division horse and rider combinations. Grace Weidner and Castell, owned by Ralph Caristo of Saugerties, NY, were presented with the division championship. The talented duo stayed consistent with yesterday's rounds, winning the first and second place ribbons. Lilly Ulrich rode Athena, owned by Up the Creek Farm of Rochester, NY, to the reserve honors. Ulrich was also presented with the Best Child Rider award for her impressive cumulative point total.
After the presentations, the $1,000 Up the Creek Farm Junior Hunter Classic began. Although Caroline Kellogg began the classic with a first-round score of 75, she and Felicci, owned by Alexandra Vespico of Canton, GA, executed a smooth round, winning the top honors with a total score of 157. The duo beat Freeman and Clockwork by only a single point. The third place honors were presented to Osborne and Mine, finishing with a total score of 149 points.
"Felicci is really sweet and really nice to me," Kellogg explained. "I can mess up during a course, and he'll always be right there to help me out. I was really happy with my rounds, especially my second Classic round. It went really smoothly and I think the judges saw that and it gave me that little bit extra."
Soon after, the ASPCA Maclay Horsemanship class began. Riders from all over the nation attempt to earn top honors in these classes to qualify for the Emerging Athletes Program. The class judges each of the riders on their horsemanship and equitation skills. The top four riders were asked by the judges to complete additional testing. The test this morning involved counter cantering to a single vertical in the center of the ring, picking up a strong canter through a left turn to another single vertical, and completing the sitting trot to their place in the testing line at the far end of the arena. Ulrich and Nureev Du Houssoit emerged the champions. The duo also claimed the top award for the USEF/Pessoa Hunter Seat Medal.
Later in the day, the Pony Hunters concluded their divisions and awarded championship honors. Eight-year-old Kate Taylor rode her pony Quicksilver Butterfly to the Pony Hunter Grand Championship after dominating the Small/Medium Pony division and earned the championship tricolor over April Rose and Morgan Ward who rode to the reserve honors. Madison Sellman rode Sweet Treat, owned by Sarazen Ltd of Honeoye, NY, to the division championship in the Large Ponies over Bella Cramer and Andaba in reserve; however, the duo did earn top call for the Syracuse PHA Pony Medal.
"I haven't had her for that long, but so far we have done really well. I am really proud of her today, she did a great job at this show," Taylor said. "She's so sweet and is always willing to give it her all. Her canter is very smooth and comfortable; she's really fun to ride. I'm hoping that if we keep it up, in two years we will be able to win Pony Finals."
Concluding the afternoon's competition, the Children's Hunter divisions completed their second day of competition and showed in the $500 "Say Hey" Children's Hunter Classic. The Children's Pony Hunter Championship award was presented to Naomi Bennett and Proud Hawk, owned by Jane Carter of Rochester, NY. Steel Rosette, owned by Justin Meyers of Ransomville, NY, and Jazzlyn Igiel rode to the reserve honors. The 14 & Under Children's Hunter division also presented championship honors with Ava Gurney riding Sarafina to the top tricolor. Julia Betts and Amherst earned the reserve championship.
It was a fantastic day for Whitney Reynolds and her mount Montana Magic as the pair topped the 15-17 Children's Hunter division championship, winning back-to-back blue ribbons. The pair also won the Children's Classic with the top score of 165. Cramer and Emilio fell one point behind the duo in the Children's Classic, earning the second place honors for their score of 164.
Reynolds has owned Montana Magic for about five years, and although the beginning was a little rocky for the pair, their time together has allowed them to succeed. "I couldn't have asked for a better horse," Reynolds explained. "He has a very smooth ride and our rounds yesterday and today were fantastic. We did really well last year in the Children's Hunter division, I think that we are always improving, I'm excited that we came back this year and did even better."
Sunday's competition concluded the 2011 Buffalo International Horse Show for its 65th annual competition. The BIHS is held each year as a benefit for the Buffalo Therapeutic Riding Center and had another fantastic week of competition thanks to the many exhibitors and all those involved.
For more information regarding the 65th Annual Buffalo International Horse Show and the Buffalo Therapeutic Riding Center, please visit www.thebtrc.org or call (716) 877-9295.
Photo Credit: Maryann Osborne and Mine won the $1,000 Up the Creek Junior Hunter Classic on the final day of the Buffalo International Horse Show. Photos © 2011 Kendall Bierer/PMG.