Lexington, KY - Bright blue skies and hot breezes welcomed competition this morning in the Stonelea Ring for the Amateur-Owner Hunter divisions at the Kentucky Horse Park. Crowds hummed in anticipation as the Kentucky Summer Shows are slowly concluding this park, coming to a final and exciting finish this Sunday, August 22, 2010.
The $100,000 Chronicle of the Horse/USHJA International Hunter Derby Finals also began today, just prior to the Amateur-Owner Hunters.
Excellent horsemanship was displayed in the Stonelea Ring at 12:30 p.m. during the Amateur-Owner Hunter divisions. First in the ring was the Amateur Owner 18-35 Hunter over fences classes. For the first round of this division, it was Bridget Hallman on her mount, Hearsay, who took home the blue ribbon prize. The incredible duo received a distinguished score of 87. The first place winner for the second round of the Amateur Owner 18-35 Hunter class was Saer Coulter aboard Positano after earning remarkable final score of 90.
"I thought it went great today," smiled Hallman. "He was perfect, and he jumped beautiful, probably the best round I've had in a long time. Everything worked right out of stride, I was really happy. He's the perfect amateur horse; he's the same every day. I just trail ride him and keep him happy!"
Hearsay is an 11-year-old whom she has owned for seven years now. "He's got a great personality, and just wants to play with you. He goes in and does just a fabulous job. I couldn't ask for a better, ideal amateur horse!"
Grinning, Hallman added, "I love Kentucky. It's my favorite show of the year. The rounds are amazing, the footing is great, the opportunity, especially for one like mine to go and trot the cross country field and stay out of the ring. It keeps his mind so happy and fresh, so when he comes in the ring and the jumps are so beautiful, it really helps him jump well."
The next division featured in the Stonelea Ring today was the Amateur-Owner 35 & Over Hunters. Crowds were amazed as Stacy Arani on Bolero exhibited a beautiful ride over the course. Sailing over the jumps sharply and keeping up a perfect stride won her the first place ribbon for the first round and the second round.
"That was a blast, what a horse!" said Arani as she dismounted. She added, "It's funny because in the schooling area I was a little off but he goes in the ring and he knows his stuff, he gallops around, and it's the most beautiful feeling! I feel a little blessed because that horse has the most amazing feeling. You're just there for the ride, he jumps and he's just so smooth, it's just wonderful."
Arani continued, "During my second round everything just showed up. He rode beautifully and he jumped the last jump the best. He didn't get tired, he didn't get low, and he just soared. He's so much fun! When he gallops, you hear him and feel him, so it's just a blast." Arani bought Bolero as a First Year Green Hunter in 2008 and a year later Arani started show him in the Amateurs.
"He's been amazing," admitted Arani. "We've won a class at every major show. He's been a real pleasure. I would really like my daughter, Kelly, to show him in the Junior Hunters. She's twelve now, so in a year or two I want him to be her Junior Hunter. I enjoy watching him, almost more than riding him."
Arani added thoughtfully, "Kentucky is such a beautiful place. You can go on the cross country field. It's amazing footing, especially if you love for your horse to stay sound and happy. He feels like he's at home, he's relaxed. The Horse Park is my favorite place to show.
Tomorrow, the Amateur-Owner Hunter divisions will complete their second day of competition, determining championship and reserve championship honors. The Junior Hunter divisions will get underway next, along with the Equitation classes. The Final Round of the $100,000 Chronicle of the Horse/USHJA International Hunter Derby Finals will be held in the Indoor Arena at 6p.m.
For more information about the Kentucky Summer Horse Shows please visit www.KentuckyHorseShows.com.
Photo Credit: Stacy Arani and Bolero won two blue ribbons in the Amateur-Owner 35 & Over Hunters at the Bluegrass Festival Horse Show. Photo By: Kristen Snyder/PMG.