Skies Cloudy, Spirits Bright at 23rd Annual Dansko Fair Hill International

Fair Hill, MD – October 13, 2011 – Bright spirits prevailed throughout the beautifully decorated Dansko Fair Hill Festival in the Country as rain held off for most of the first day of competition at the United States Equestrian Federation (USEF) CCI*** and CCI** Fall Eventing Championships.

Phillip Dutton, West Grove, PA, riding Ben, owned by Team Rebecca, is the overnight leader in the CCI*** with a penalty score of 47.2. “I was really pleased with him today. He is such a flamboyant mover, but he still struggles just  a bit in the half-pass,” said Phillip of the 10 year-old Holsteiner gelding. “He is so fun to ride – he just loves life. It was great that (owner) Sarah Kelly bought him from Julie Richards and that I have him to ride.”

Standing second in the CCI*** after the first day of dressage is No Boundaries, ridden by Erin Sylvester, Kennett Square, PA, with a penalty score of 54.4. Just trailing them in third place currently with a score of 56.2 is Tipperary Liadhnan, owned and ridden by Nina Ligon, Esmont, VA. The 20-year old rider who represents Thailand at international competitions was pleased with her new partnership. “Up until the (flying) changes we did a really good job. It’s me getting to know him. I was really pleased with his performance and how he handled the atmosphere around the ring.”

A close competition at the top of the CCI** saw Mystic My, ridden by Andrea Leatherman, Rock Hill, SC, emerge on top of the leaderboard with a penalty score of 47.5. The 9 year-old Thoroughbred mare, owned by Brad and Suzan Johnston, was described by Leatherman as “wild” during her early competitive starts, but now she said, “… she is still pretty green.  Her trot work has gotten really good, she has a beautiful trot. We are still working on her canter. She is an amazing horse, like a little sports car!”

VDL Ulando H ridden by Karl Slezak, Tottenham, Ontario, received a score of 48.9, while Vamor, shown by Australian rider Scott Keach, were a close third with a penalty score of 49.7. Keach described the Dutch gelding who has mainly been competed as a show jumper as “wary and careful”. “He needs a bit of ring time for the dressage. I have just evented him sporadically. Mainly he show jumps, but I got him to be an event horse.”

Dressage competition resumes at 9:30 am Friday, with the second half of the CCI*** and CCI** competitors to perform for their respective international Ground Juries. Competition officials this year for the CCI*** include President David Lee (IRL), and members Sue Baxter (GBR) and Christian Landolt (SUI). Judging the CCI** are President Kellie Towers (CAN) and Burkhard Beck-Broichsitler (GER).  Rounding out these international panels are Technical Delegates Martin Plewa (GER) and Christian Struck (DEN).

This year’s Dansko Fair Hill International once again welcomes the Professional Riders’ Organization (PRO) Tour Series. The PRO Tour Series highlights seven advanced competitions across the United States throughout the year. PRO was founded in 2009 by international event riders to promote the sport of eventing and is dedicated to improving the standard of competition, promoting safety, and attracting new fans, sponsors and participants to the sport.

Taking place concurrently in the William T. duPont, Jr. Main Arena is the United States Eventing Association (USEA) 2011 East Coast Young Event Horse Championships. The Young Event Horse Championship for four- and five-year old horses of any breed is being held for the third year at Fair Hill International. This competition focuses on education and preparation of the event horse, judging Conformation and Type, Dressage, and Jumping/Gallop.

Leading in the Five-year old Division after Conformation and Dressage judging today is Royal Tribute, a bay 17.2 hand Oldenberg gelding ridden by Doug Payne, Pottersville, NJ, owned by Doug Payne and Kristin Burgers. “He is a very laid back five year-old, he has done some Novice and Training level events this year,” said Payne. “He has a huge amount of scope and balance, especially for his size. I can’t wait to see his future. I’m very excited about him.”

The current leader in the Four-year old Division is Corneel , a grey 16.2 hand Dutch Warmblood ridden by Kelli Temple, Round Hill, VA. Temple has only been riding the horse since the summer. “He is owned by Jules Stiller and only came over from the UK in July. He has just done three events, but he handled the atmosphere really well. What a wonderful program to have for these young horses,” she commented.

“I am impressed with the number and quality of this year’s Young Event Horses,” said Trish Gilbert, Dansko Fair Hill International Co-President. “They are better than last year, and it is nice to see them compete in the duPont Arena.” Competition culminates Friday with the Jumping/Gallop judging, where points will be added to today’s Conformation and Dressage scores to determine the USEA East Coast Champion Four- and Five-year old Young Event Horses. The Jumping competition will begin at 8:30 am  Friday at the  Saw Mill Field at Fair Hill Natural Resources Management Area.

Among the favorite events returning to the Dansko Fair Hill International Festival in the Country is The Art and Sport of Falconry With Live Birds of Prey on Saturday, October 15. Master Falconer Mike Dupuy brings his audience up close and personal while he and his birds provide an unforgettable educational experience for people of all ages.

Members of the United States Pony Clubs will also be on hand for the USPC President’s Cup Invitational Games. During the Games, riders in teams of five will compete in a variety of challenging and entertaining relay races; awards will be presented to winning teams on Sunday.

The Kid’s Corner will also return, offering a variety of activities for the younger set. Miniature horses will be performing on both Saturday and Sunday. Don’t miss JoAnn Dawson’s musical production “HorsePlay”, on Saturday. The play uses live horses and riders to chronicle the relationship between man and horse throughout history. New to the Festival will be Singer/Songwriter/Entertainer Ray Owen of Gettysburg, PA, who will present three fun-filled shows for the whole family on Saturday.

The popular canine demonstrations will be highlighted with some new and exciting opportunities for dog owners. In addition to agility and flyball demonstrations, all dog owners are invited to participate in a “show and go” class that will let them test their dog’s potential for agility competition.

Classic cars will be on hand Sunday (weather permitting) for those who want a chance to reminisce about their younger years, as well as for younger people looking to connect with icons from an earlier era.

Visitors to the Dansko Fair Hill International Festival in the Country can once again look forward to the popular Country Shops, which feature over 40 vendors selling tack, jewelry, artwork, pet needs, exceptional apparel and fine gifts for the approaching holiday seasons. The VIP Tent offers fine dining, while visitors seeking a more casual snack or meal will find pubs around the Fair Hill grounds serving classic Maryland crab cakes and other treats.

The Dansko Fair Hill International Festival in the Country benefits Union Hospital in Elkton, MD. The hospital, whose mission is to enhance the health and well-being of the residents of Cecil County and its neighboring communities, has been caring for area families and neighbors for more than 100 years.

Healthy feet, healthy body, healthy planet. That’s the spirit behind Dansko. Founded in 1990 by husband and wife team Peter Kjellerup and Mandy Cabot, both former horse trainers, Dansko shoes, socks and apparel are now sold in over 2,500 premium retailer locations across North America. Dansko is the leader in all-day comfort.

For more information on this year’s Fair Hill, including how to purchase tickets, please call  (410) 398-2111 or visit

Photos: Phillip Dutton and Ben; Andrea Leatherman and Mystic My. Shannon Brinkman Photos