Buffalo, NY - Saturday's competition at the 2010 Buffalo International Horse Show (BIHS) featured a full schedule of events in the Buffalo Therapeutic Riding Center's large indoor arena. The morning and afternoon competition saw the first day of the Junior, Children's and Pony Hunter divisions.
The competition then kicked into high gear in the evening as the exhibitors showed for excellent prize money in both hunter and jumper classics. The BIHS is held each year as a benefit for the Buffalo Therapeutic Riding Center and is Buffalo's most prestigious horse show.
The evening's festivities began with the $2,500 "Winston" USHJA National Hunter Classic with 18 entries to compete in the first round. The top 13 were then invited back for the second round to compete over a handy course, and it was Sarah Mechlin and Favorite who earned the overall victory. The pair earned scores of 91 in both the first and second rounds for a two round total of 182. Jane Gaston and Lumiere earned scores of 85 and 90 to finish with a 175 in second place. Third place honors were awarded to Kate Haley riding Abigail Wexner's Serato, with scores of 81 and 92 to finish with a 173. Other top finishers included Jen Gray and Cornerstone in fourth, Lydia Ulrich and Becoming in fifth, and Meghan Kaupp riding Wingman in sixth.
Class winner Favorite is a five-year-old Belgian Warmblood owned by Richard Cheska. Twenty-two-year-old Sarah Mechlin, of Cincinatti, OH, rode the young gelding to his first big victory tonight while in Buffalo with Patty and Richard Rodgers of Branch Hill Farm. "This is his first horse show indoors and his fifth horse show ever, so we are very proud of him," Mechlin beamed after the victory. "He rose above our expectations; he jumped beautifully and just went great, so I was very pleased with him."
"I thought Phil [DeVita] did a great job of designing a really smooth course that also had a lot of challenging aspects to it," Mechlin noted. "This is my first time at the Buffalo horse show and we are having a great time. They do a nice job of putting the show on and the ring is beautiful. Jen [Alfano] and Susie [Schoellkopf] are very accommodating and it has been a really great experience. We talked to Jen at the hunter derby in Chicago and she said we should come and that it is a great prep for indoors and so here we are and we love it."
Following Mechlin's victory, the classes continued with the $2,500 "Up the Creek" Children's/Adult Jumper Classic with ten to compete. Six were able to complete the first round course to advance to the jump-off and it was then an exciting race against the clock. Monica Harvey and Dark Side of the Moon came out victorious as the final pair to jump off over the shortened course. Jumping double clear in 26.232 seconds, Harvey and 'Dark Side' were just able to top the first double clear set by Meghan Kaupp and Entourage. Kaupp and Entourage finished in second place with their time of 26.678 seconds. Bella Cramer was a close third riding Happy Hour through the timers double clear in 28.252 seconds. Olivia Weaver rode On Tour to fourth place in 30.116 seconds and Lydia Ulrich and Lamarni finished in fifth in 30.157 seconds. Madison Brayman and Only Jumping Boy were very close to topping the class with a blazing fast time of 23.142 seconds, but a rail at the last fence would put the pair in sixth place.
Also showing in Buffalo for the first time this year, 16-year-old Monica Harvey traveled to the show with two jumpers from Masillon, OH, training with Scott Petrie and Petrie Show Stables. Harvey's winning mount, Dark Side of the Moon, was imported from Germany two months ago, and the pair is getting to know each other quickly. "Dark Side was in quarantine and then the week he came to Ohio I showed him," Harvey stated. "Ever since then we have kind of been on a winning streak and have been doing really well."
"I was happy with my ride tonight," she continued. "I was a little upset about some of the first round, but he is good to me. The jump-off was very exciting. He is a smart horse; he has done this for a long time and it is not out of his range of jumping, so I just had to let him follow his head because he knows what to do."
The final class of the evening was the $1,000 Stephen Comunale Low Children's/Adult Jumper Classic. After an exciting class, Delaney Hamill and Lady Liberty came out on top with double clear rounds and a jump-off time of 29.707 seconds. David Laks and Oh My finished in second place after jumping double clear in 32.516 seconds. Hamill also rode OT Tina to third place honors with one rail down for four faults in 30.505 seconds.
The Children's/Adult Jumpers were then presented with championship honors for their divisions at the conclusion of the evening. Monica Harvey and Dark Side of the Moon earned the Children's/Adult Jumper championship with Madison Brayman and Only Jumping Boy in reserve. Delaney Hamill and Lady Liberty were presented with the Low Children's/Adult Jumper championship with Candace Bredenberg and Mr. Brown in reserve.
Earlier in the day the $500 "Scribbles" Pony Hunter Classic was held for the Small, Medium, and Large Pony Hunters. After two beautiful rounds of competition, Morgan Ward and April Rose earned the first place honors with a two round total of 152. Tyler Petrie and Lifeline were second with a score of 148, and Ashton Alexander finished in third riding Blue Ridge Sunset to a score of 145.
Tomorrow's competition will conclude the 2010 Buffalo International Horse Show with many exciting events to look forward to. The day's competition will feature the completion of the Junior, Children's and Pony Hunter divisions with the presentations of championship awards. The evening portion of the event will feature the first ever USHJA International Hunter Derby to be held at the BIHS. Many of the nation's top horses and riders will compete in the two round competition, showcasing the beauty and power of show hunters over a special course set by Phil DeVita. For more information regarding the 64th Annual Buffalo International Horse Show, please visit www.thebtrc.org or call (716) 877-9295.
Photo Credit: Sarah Mechlin and Favorite earned the top prize in Saturday evening's $2,500 "Winston" USHJA National Hunter Classic at the 2010 Buffalo International Horse Show. Monica Harvey and Dark Side of the Moon won the $2,500 "Up the Creek" Children's/Adult Jumper Classic. Photos © 2010 Lauren Fisher/PMG