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  • Written by Allie Layos
  • Category: Events

The American Royal: Endings don’t get better than this

CH Who and Cathy Rogers-Holmes had the winning drive in the Show Pleasure Driving qualifier and championship. Photo by Avis.CH Who and Cathy Rogers-Holmes had the winning drive in the Show Pleasure Driving qualifier and championship. Photo by Avis.The Royal always brings with it a mix of emotions. For many it marks the end of show season or the end of a rider’s junior exhibitor career. Home to two national equitation finals, as well as many other National Championship classes, it comes with an immense amount of pressure. But there is a lighthearted side to the Royal, too, and this is seen most clearly in the ever-popular Donkey Races, hosted by the UPHA Young Professionals, and a well-attended exhibitor’s party where tables are set up all along the vendor hall for exhibitors to mix and mingle.

This year’s show saw beautiful fall weather, and a number of touching presentations. Since Wednesday of the show was Veteran’s Day, announcer Peter Fenton introduced veteran and exhibitor Dr. Alan Raun to center ring for the opening ceremonies, and “Doc Raun” read the names of many professionals from the show horse industry who have served in the military, whether in the United States or other countries.

Another moving presentation took place on Thursday night, when Solomon Gallagos was presented with the UPHA Caretaker's Award. Through the years, Solomon has taken care of horses such as World’s Grand Champions CH Sky Watch, CH Wild Eyed And Wicked and CH Memories' Citation, along with many others. He received a standing ovation from the crowd.

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  • Category: Events

World's Championship Horse Show

The crowd presses in around Marc Of Charm after his World's Grand Championship win. Photo by Julia Shelburne-HittiThe crowd presses in around Marc Of Charm after his World's Grand Championship win. Photo by Julia Shelburne-HittiStory by Allie Layos and Sarah White Thielmeier; Photos by Avis

For all those who missed out on the “glory days” of horse showing, this year’s Stake Night gave a glimpse into how it must have felt, and we have an indomitable stallion named Marc Of Charm to thank for it. Saturday night’s session was one of the most exciting on record, with breathtakingly competitive classes from start to finish, but it was Marc’s win in the Five-Gaited World’s Grand Championship that clinched it — this one was going down in history as the night that the magic returned to horse showing.

The attempts began in 2011. He won the Three-Year-Old Five-Gaited class, the Junior Five-Gaited Stallion/Gelding class, the Junior Five-Gaited Championship, and even the Five-Gaited Stallion Stake. But that World’s Grand Championship kept eluding him. In 2011 he placed fifth, but it wasn’t too unusual — he was still young. In 2012 he placed fourth. At least his fans could console themselves with the fact that he had moved up a notch. But in 2013, in the prime of his life and after placing second in the stallion stake, he didn’t even make the workout and was pinned fifth again; to those who loved him, it was a huge shock. In 2014 he returned to win the qualifier, made the workout, but once more finished fifth.

Yet, through all this and despite all the highs and lows suffered by his fans and caretakers, the chestnut stud himself remained unperturbed, returning each year with Vedic calm and entering the ring with the same gusto to try his heart out on the Green Shavings again. And finally this year, in a storybook ending that brought tears of joy to many, after a six-horse work out, he won. It was a story that couldn’t have been invented had one tried.

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  • Written by Sarah White Thielmeier
  • Category: Events

Renovations and Old Traditions: The 79th Annual Lexington Junior League Horse Show

Photo by Avis.Photo by Avis.The Lexington Junior League Horse Show is an area tradition that draws people from all over the country. This year, The Red Mile was in the middle of getting a facelift with the front of the grandstand building and parking still under construction. The dedicated women of the Lexington Junior League made all possible accommodations, moving the horse show office and providing parking on the infield, to help the show run smoothly despite the construction.

They also had to accommodate the weather when the bright skies and warm temperatures early in the week turned to rain and storms by the weekend, postponing Friday night’s session until Saturday afternoon to have time to get the ring in shape again. This show is always known as a drought buster locally, but the amount of rain that came down in just one afternoon/evening was excessive along with the high winds. Some exhibitors who saw the ring early on Saturday scratched due to the footing, but just a few hours later, the ring was back in show shape and ready to go for the 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. sessions. Luckily, the bad weather on Friday afternoon came after the end of the last day session and spared Family Night on Thursday. Also, while the Friday night exhibitors party was cancelled, Siren Song Stables still went on with their barn party, welcoming all attendees.

While we love the show for the horses and competition, it shouldn’t be forgotten that the show is the Lexington Junior League’s biggest fundraiser, raising money for many meaningful local charities including the Alzheimer’s Association, Hospice of the Bluegrass, and the University of Kentucky’s Children’s Miracle Network to name just a few. By supporting this show, exhibitors and attendees provide much needed support for the local area as well.

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  • Written by Allie Layos
  • Category: Events

Midwest Charity: Being a bridge

Cameron Kay topped all four of her classesCameron Kay topped all four of her classesCameron Kay topped all four of her classes. She won the Good Hands and Saddle Seat Equitaiton Senior Championship aboard CH Reedanns Heir To Glory and had two winning performance rides aboard Mystery Magic as well. By Allie Layos and Meredithe Steinhauer.

Horse shows can be known for the fun, the parties or the location. They can be spring shows, used to test new teams, or championships and finals, in the late summer and fall. But, in this world of practice shows and those that are practiced for, Midwest Charity stands uniquely alone.

Midwest offers fun, great nightly parties and a convenient location, but if one thing defines the show, it is the fact that it is consistently used as a bridge between the shows of the spring and early summer and what is thought of as the heart of show season. It is the first look at the excitement we might see at Louisville, and the first time many exhibitors across the country get to test their skills against the competition they will see there. It is where you spot future champions, too; for some, it is their only stop before lighting up Freedom Hall.

This year Midwest saw a large number of entries. Rather than just filling the barns along the main street, exhibitors were stabled in every building that could suitably house a horse. The competition was intense, and, if past years are any indication, the summer and fall will only get more and more exciting. 

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  • Written by Allie Layos
  • Category: Events

Pin Oak Charity

Kara Hachigian and Party Nut took the Five-Gaited Show Pleasure Championship.Kara Hachigian and Party Nut took the Five-Gaited Show Pleasure Championship.The opening ceremonies had just finished Friday night, and the leadline class was entering the ring – a single child clad in hunt seat attire aboard a dark colored pony of uncertain breeding. I was sitting patiently, waiting for the Saddlebred classes that were to begin next.

Behind my seat, a mother and her two children, a boy and a girl, stood watching what was presumably their barnmate being led around the arena.

“Can we go sit?” the little girl asked, excitedly.

“Well, I think we’re about to go to dinner as soon as this is over, honey,” the mother replied absently, her attention obviously on the child in the ring.

In a turn of events that must have surprised even the mother, the girl wailed her displeasure, and her response sent my heart soaring even as she cried behind me.

“But we wanted to watch the Saddlebreds!”

Something that sets Pin Oak apart from other shows is that it is a multi-breed competition – one of the last of its kind. Along with the saddle seat contingent, hunters, jumpers and Andalusians populate the show, and the effect is exciting, with many rings in use and classes running all day. There are other benefits, too – sharing a show arena with the Andalusians provides the saddle seat exhibitors with less stressful sessions, as they buffer what could otherwise have been two back-to-back classes for a trainer or rider. It provides saddle seat riders the ability to watch and learn about the other disciplines and, perhaps best of all, it allows them the opportunity to watch and learn about us. In fact, the Five-Gaited Championship took place right before the Grand Prix Saturday night, the stands full of spectators who came to watch the Grand Prix but got caught up in the excitement of five-gaited horses putting on a show, and the cheers were proof of it.

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