Fair Hill, MD - Persistent autumn drizzle on opening day was not enough to dampen the spirit of competition at this year's 2010 Dansko Fair Hill International, which returned to the Fair Hill Natural Resources Management Area in Fair Hill, MD, October 14-17.
Despite dreary first-day conditions, which would transform to clear skies and sunshine later in the weekend, top-notch displays of competition were seen in the United States Equestrian Foundation (USEF) CCI*** and CCI** Fall Eventing Championships as well as the Spalding Labs/USEA Young Event Horse Championship.
Hannah Burnett of Ocala, FL, prevailed to win the USEF CCI*** Fall Eventing Championship in a nail-biting finish aboard St. Barths, owned by Richard Thompson. Burnett, who won last year's CCI** at Fair Hill, was in second place following the dressage and cross country phases, and made the move up to first place following a flawless round in the final show jumping phase.
"I'm really excited," said Burnett of her win. "I have been building up to this event all year. My horse just keeps on getting better and better, so I feel like I've improved over the year and my horse has too."
Finishing second in the CCI*** was two-time Olympic team Gold Medalist and four-time Fair Hill Champion Phillip Dutton of West Grove, PA, and Fernhill Eagle, owed by Rebecca Broussard. Dutton's appearance at Fair Hill came on the heels of the World Equestrian Games in Lexington, KY, where he competed as a member of the USEF Eventing Team.
Finishing directly behind Dutton in third place was Kristin Schmolze of Califon, NJ, and Cavaldi, owned by Kristin and Janet Schmolze.
In the USEF CCI** Fall Eventing Championship, it was Clark Montgomery of Chatsworth, GA, and Loughan Glen, owned by Holly Becker and Kathryn Kraft, who took home the win. Montgomery and Loughan Glen took the lead following the dressage phase, and maintained it following both the cross county and stadium jumping phases.
"It always feels fantastic to win," said Montgomery. "It solidifies that you are on the right path with these horses and what you are doing is working."
Montgomery also finished in second place in the CCI** aboard Universe, owned by his wife Jessica. Rounding out the top three was Phillip Dutton and Why Not, owned by Jan Byyny.
This year's Dansko Fair Hill International was also host of the Spalding Labs/USEA Young Event Horse Championship, which featured young horses (ages 4 and 5) competing in three sections: Conformation & Type, Dressage Test, and Jumping Test/Gallop/General Impression. The Young Event Horse classes focus on the education and preparation of the event horse in a correct and progressive manner.
Taking home top honors in the Spalding Labs/USEA Young Event Horse Championship for 5 Year-Olds was Lucia Strini's Dutch Warmblood gelding Artesian, ridden by Will Coleman of Gordonsville, VA.
"I think this program is wonderful," said Coleman. "It is my first opportunity to compete in this format. The program aims to do the right thing and showcase young horses. With all young horses, it is the versatility of the program at home that produces results."
Winning the 4 Year-Old division of the Spalding Labs/USEA Young Event Horse Championship was Boateng, a Dutch Warmblood gelding owned by Tyler Abell and Matt Flynn, and ridden by Matt Flynn of Gladstone, NJ.
"He was imported in April, and has just done two Novice horse trials. He is part of a sales program of imported horses that I have. Bess and Tyler Abell have been great owners to ride for. They really enjoyed coming here and watching," said Flynn. "This has been a good program for getting people interested."
This year's Dansko Fair Hill International also welcomed the Professional Riders' Organization (PRO), and was part of the 2010 PRO Tour Series. The Professional Riders' Organization was founded in 2009 by event riders Phillip Dutton, Buck Davidson, Craig Thompson, Laura VanderVliet and Allison Springer with the thought that professional event riders have a special obligation to promote and strengthen their sport. PRO is dedicated to improving the standards of competition and promoting safety while working to attract new fans, sponsors and participants to the sport of three-day eventing.
In addition to the world-class equestrian action at the Dansko Fair Hill International, there were also plenty of fun activities for all to enjoy.
Dansko Fair Hill International Festival In The Country favorites included Master Falconer Mike Dupuy who performed his show, The Art and Sport of Falconry With Live Birds of Prey, the United States Pony Club President's Cup Invitational Games, The Kids' Corner, miniature horse performances, JoAnn Dawson's musical production, "HorsePlay," Jack Foreaker's puppet show and the popular Country Shops.
New this year, a series of dog activities delighted the crowd of about 13,000 throughout the weekend. They included Jack Russell Terrier races, flyball and retriever demonstrations, and dog agility clinics that allowed members of the public to see whether their family pets have the speed, agility, and intelligence to compete in this increasingly popular sport.
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, boots, and sandals are now sold in over 2,500 premium retailer locations across North America. Dansko is the leader in all-day comfort footwear.
For more information on next year's Fair Hill, including how to purchase tickets, please call (410) 398-2111 or visit www.fairhillinternational.com.
Photos: Hannah Burnett of Ocala, FL, prevailed to win the USEF CCI*** Fall Eventing Championship aboard St. Barths, owned by Richard Thompson. Photo (c) Shannon Brinkman.
In the USEF CCI** Fall Eventing Championship, it was Clark Montgomery of Chatsworth, GA, and Loughan Glen, owned by Holly Becker and Kathryn Kraft, who took home the win. Photo (c) Fair Hill International.