Traverse City, MI - July 21, 2011 - With the weather hot and steamy today at Horse Shows by the Bay Series III, riders were literally rolling up their sleeves and getting down to business. Hunt coats were waived as the day progressed, adding visible intensity to the competition in the hunter rings. By day's end, Peter Pletcher had earned the impressive Grand Performance Hunter title, blazing past the host of skilled equestrians entered in this week's classes. Kelley Farmer continued to impress as well, sweeping the Conformation Hunter division with a scorching set of wins. Both the Performance Hunter and Conformation Hunter classes took place in the R.L. Polk Family main hunter ring at Flintfields Horse Park in Traverse City, MI.
With nine entries, the 3'6" Performance Hunter division was bound to be both competitive and fun. Peter Pletcher and Sleepy P Ranch's Primero earned the top honors with 31 points throughout the division. Primero and Pletcher have had a very successful time so far at Horse Shows by the Bay in the High Performance division. There was a tie for reserve champion this week in the 3'6" Performance Hunters between Kara Roposa on Carentino, owned by Alexander Cooper, and Caroline Weeden on Condanas, owned by Lacey Gilbertson. Both horse and rider pairs earned a total of 16 points and with neither riding in the under saddle portion, they both had the same number of points over fences and were able to share the title.
Elizabeth Scoville and Bianca Buschor's The New Yorker also had impressive rounds in 3'3" Performance Hunters, taking home second place in both over fences classes today. When talking about her rides today, she said, "I think practice makes perfect, but perfect practices makes perfect. The New Yorker is a young, very inexperienced horse that actually has a little bit of mileage in the jumpers. We've been doing these types of hunter courses to give him the mileage that he needs, and what's been really exciting here has been to see him understand his new job. Like now, for instance, to see him standing so calmly here at the ring, waiting for the jog and practically falling asleep, is so great because previously, he would start to get anxious when it was jump-off time. He's been very excited here so far, we've been doing the greens and the performance hunters, and we just keep going back in until we get it right, and we got it right this afternoon."
Scoville appreciated the relaxed atmosphere of Horse Shows by the Bay, stating, "This is the first time I've been here, and I love it. I absolutely love it. The rings ride great, the horses are beautiful, and the flowers are fantastic. Also, the openness of the location is nice as well. It's hot, but it's also breezy. It's just wonderful. I will be back, no doubt. Next year, I will definitely try to come for a few more weeks. I had never been to Traverse City and seen the bay, and even the water is just gorgeous."
Caroline Weeden cheerily told of her mount, The Spy, saying "We've had him for three years. He's really funny, he's kind of like a little boy, always thinking, the wheels are always turning. He's a really good jumper, in a small package. He's very correct, always willing and curious. It was fun getting to go in the big ring today, and the jumps were bigger and he seemed to like it more."
The 3'3" Performance Hunter division proved challenging, with 33 entries vying for the top spot. Caroline Weeden and The Spy, owned by Ila Lemonis, jumped their way right into the champion title, hoping to earn the top prize in the performance hunter division, Grand Performance Hunter. Also trying for these honors was Lacey Gilbertson on her own Dallas and Peter Pletcher on Isabelle, owned by Shadyside Farm. After all the 3'3" Performance Hunters had ridden the courses and division champions had been presented, The Grand Performance Hunter Champion was announced. This coveted honor was presented to Peter Pletcher and Primero, who rode superbly in the 3'6" Performance Hunter division. Pletcher was all smiles as he accepted the prizes and title.
In the Conformation Hunters, not even the rising temps could stop Kelley Farmer and her impressive winning streak. As everyone prepares for the $20,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby, to be held in the Grand Prix Ring tomorrow evening, Farmer is already showing that she has what it takes. With multiple wins and high scores in the previous two weeks, Farmer continues to win, taking home three of the four grand champion prizes. After the Green and Regular Conformation and the Green Working Hunter divisions wrapped up, the performance divisions took the ring with large, diverse classes. The competition was tough, but many smoothly mastered the beautifully laid-out course.
The Green Working Hunters started the day and set a great tone for the following classes. Kelley Farmer and Coin Toss, owned by Am Free Inc, and Larry Glefke, earned first place in every over fences class, totaling 44 points in the division. These 44 points landed the pair in the division champion place. Also having a great past few weeks, Peter Pletcher guided Valobra, an entry of Eva Bisso, into reserve champion behind Farmer and Coin Toss. The two teams showed their ability to gracefully navigate the course with characteristic ease and confidence.
After the eight Green Working Hunters finished, the Green Conformation Hunters began with seven entries. Kelley Farmer continued her incredible series of wins, earning the champion title aboard Straight Talk, owned by CH Farm LLC. Straight Talk and Farmer swept the division, taking home every blue ribbon and a total of 55 points. Reserve champion honors went to Ehrin Braeutigam aboard Lockhart for Erin Galsterer. The pair garnered 25 points. Lockhart and Braeutigam have been taking home great ribbons in the first two weeks, but they were able to top it all this week and take home the reserve honors.
Once again Farmer earned the champion title, this time riding Jane Gaston's Clearly in the Regular Conformation Hunter division. Kara Roposa and Westray, owned by Catherine Hanlon, jumped into the reserve champion spot. This was the beginning of a fabulous day for Roposa, as she later took home top ribbons and honors in the 3'3" Performance division. When the Regular Conformation classes came to a close, grand champion honors were announced. Kelley Farmer tied for the honors with two of her mounts, Clearly and Straight Talk. Farmer made a clean sweep on both horses, winning every class in each division and earning 55 total points on each horse.
The multi-series Horse Shows by the Bay will continue to offer riders and fans the ideal horse sports venue throughout the next two weeks. Highlights in Series III, held July 20-24, include a $20,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby, a $10,000 Show Jumping Hall of Fame Junior Amateur-Owner Jumper Prix, and a $30,000 Grand Prix of the Great Lakes and VIP Sponsor Luncheon. Additional feature events include a $5,000 Adult Jumper Classic and a $5,000 Children's Jumper Classic, both of which will be held before Sunday's Grand Prix. During 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. Over half a million dollars in prize money will be awarded by the conclusion of this month-long celebration of equestrian athletes.
For more information or to view schedules, please visit www.horseshowsbythebay.com or call 231-267-3700.
Photo: Kelley Farmer and Clearly Credit: Katie Anich/PMG