Meehan Shirey Wins OVATION Leading Equitation Rider Award

Traverse City, MI - July 29, 2011 - After an overcast start to Series IV, horses and riders were again soaking up rays today during the last weekend of the Horse Shows by the Bay Series. It was a day full of equitation in the R.L. Polk Main Hunter Ring, with the Junior Hunters having wrapped-up yesterday and Amateur-Owner and Adult Hunter riders not starting until tomorrow.

Greer Hindle, Virginia Ingram, and Meehan Shirey all took home top honors in the junior equitation classes, including the ASPCA Maclay and the Pessoa/USEF Medal. Juniors were not the only ones showing their best form and horsemanship, though. The adult riders were also eager to demonstrate good horsemanship, with Jovanna Haddad and Elizabeth Perry starring in the adult equitation classes.

The day began with the 15 to 17 Equitation on the flat, with a skilled win by Katie Nowak. Greer Hindle and her horse, Freedom, found themselves with the blue ribbon in both over fences classes. Second place in the first over fences went to Katie Nowak, followed by Abigail Kuohn in third place. In the second class, Madison Qual took home the red ribbon and Jennifer Farless the yellow. Hindle's wins over fences earned her the 15 to 17 Equitation champion title, adding to her impressive collection of wins over the past four weeks at Horse Shows by the Bay, including a win in the $10,000 Open Jumper Welcome Prix during Series I. After all points were tallied, Katie Nowak earned reserve champion in the division.

With 18 entries in the ASPCA Maclay, riders certainly had their work cut out for them. After all rounds and the flat phase were completed, Virginia Ingram earned first place in the class, with a smooth and connected ride aboard Comanche, owned by Hillary Sapanski. Savannah Mannes followed Ingram in the results taking home second place. Third place went to Samantha Pyle, while Courtney Harker earned fourth place on her Merlin.  

After a quick course change, the Pessoa/USEF Medal got underway. Today's well-defined course encouraged creative thinking and a strong relationship with one's horse. After the first round, Meehan Shirey, Savannah Mannes, Samantha Pyle, and Abigail Kuohn were invited back for the test. The test included cantering a fence straight from the gate, a difficult command since this does not give riders much time to work up their desired rhythm. The test also included a trot fence, a literal change of pace that is simple-looking but often highly challenging. After testing, Meehan Shirey earned the top spot for her mastery and precision. Pyle's fantastic rounds earned her the second place ribbon. In third place was Savannah Mannes, followed by Abigail Kuohn in fourth. The medal concluded the equitation for the junior riders, which lead to the presentation of the OVATION Leading Equitation Rider Award. This award went to the equitation rider who earned the most points throughout all of the Horse Shows by the Bay Series. Meehan Shirey also took home this well-deserved honor.  

The Adult Equitation riders then took over the main hunter ring with a flat class and two over fences classes this afternoon. The flat class was won by Elizabeth Perry aboard Conelly, owned by Pennington Farms, followed by Gabrielle Thornton in second place and Jovanna Haddad in third. Today's was a particularly tough division over fences with 22 entries. Perry took home top honors in the first class as well as the second class. In the first over fences class, the red ribbon went to Lindsay Lyden and the yellow was earned by Marika Raff. Marika Raff showed great consistency and took home the second place ribbon in the second class, followed by Anne Mullally in third.

After the first round of competition in the Ariat Adult Medal, Jovanna Haddad, Gabrielle Thornton, Julie Smith, and Elizabeth Perry were all called back to ride the test. These four riders completed the same test performed by the Pessoa/USEF Medal riders. After taking the lead in the first round with a score of 84, Haddad was able to hold onto her first place with a beautifully confident test round. Second place went to Gabrielle Thornton followed by Julie Smith taking home the yellow ribbon and Elizabeth Perry earning fourth place. These capable riders were here not only to do their best, but also to have fun. Like their equitation skills, this was easy to see, especially when speaking to Jovanna Haddad about her horse, Veron, and her experience. "The barn I got him [Veron] from called him Mr. Personality, as you can see he loves treats and loves people and just loves attention. He's a great horse to ride, I really love him because he's kind of cocky. I've been riding him for about a year and a half now. This is our second summer showing on the "A" Circuit, and last summer was his first doing the Juniors. This division is really fun, I feel like I compete with all of my barn mates so its just a really fun class to be in. This is my second year here at Horse Shows by the Bay, and I stayed an extra week just because I love it here."

During Series IV, the fourth and final week of competition, notable events include the $30,000 D-BRAIDER Cherry Capital Classic Grand Prix, as well as a $10,000 Children's/Adult Jumper Prix and VIP Sponsor Luncheon. The rest of this week will also feature multiple equitation medal classes and the finals for the Hunter Jumper Association of Michigan's medal events. A CANTER fundraiser and raffle will be held tomorrow, with tickets being available in the show office. A non-profit organization, CANTER seeks to match Thoroughbred ex-racehorses with new homes and new careers.

By the conclusion of this month-long celebration of equestrian athletes, more than half a million dollars in prize money will have been awarded. For more information on Horse Shows by the Bay or to view schedules, please visit or call 231-267-3700.

Photo: Meehan Shirey with trainer Polly Howard and Comanche Credit: Katie Anich/PMG