When CH Honey Badger entered Freedom Hall Wednesday night at the World's Championship Horse Show, it was the first time his fans had seen him compete in over a year. It was a serious and even life threatening injury that had kept him from the show ring, so it was an emotional moment when he trotted and racked his way to the blue in the Five-Gaited Gelding Stake looking possibly better than ever, eliciting tears from his Matt Shiflet Stables family and his fans alike.
Here is everything you wanted to know about Honey Badger, or "Rocky," and his comeback.
There may have never been a horse more aptly named than Carol Reedy's three-year-old superstar, Lovely. The beautiful fine harness mare made Tuesday evening in Freedom Hall one to remember when she pranced to the blue ribbon during her electrifying performance in the 2017 ASR National Three-Year-Old Fine Harness Futurity.
In addition to her stunning looks, she stood out for her exceptional talent; at just three years old, she looks like a seasoned campaigner. Her arched neck and effortless bouncing park walk turned heads and took breath away, with everyone wanting to know who she was and where she had come from.
Marty Schaffel and daughter Zoe achieved a potentially unprecedented honor at this year's World's Championship Horse Show when they drove Iamnotacow to back-to-back wins in their respective divisions under the direciton of Five Gait Stables.
It was in 2015 that Marty became the first of the family to drive the horse they call "Big Junior" to a World's Championship, winning the Amateur Roadster To Bike qualifier and championship. The following year it was Zoe's turn when she and Big Junior took the Youth Roadster To Bike World's Championship honors.
Saturday night at the World's Championship Horse Show was a big one for Willowbank Farm, as they captured both the ASR Weanling Futurity and Yearling Futurity with two of their outstanding colts.
Both colts were by the incredible stallion Undulata's Nutcracker, who stands at Willowbank. Weanling winner, Rogue One, out of Robert's Passion, and owned by Sandra Corney and Willowbank Farm, wowed the audience with his incredible motion. Guitar Murphy, out of Nanette Roulette and owned by Willowbank, displayed beautiful conformation to win the yearling futurity just six classes later.
Michael Petty and Michelle Partridge toast each other after taking champion and reserve in the Adult Show Pleasure Championship.
Tampa Charity may have been a testing site for dozens of new horse and rider teams for 2016, but it was not a warm-up show. Instead, it was like jumping right into the heart of show season, with ultra-competitive classes and barns that came from as far away as Kentucky.
For example, the Junior Exhibitor Five-Gaited classes contained five exceptional horses, all of which had a chance at the victory pass. King’s Carma and Nissa Sultan took the blue in the qualifier, with Tango Mango and Emily Candelaria earning the red ribbon. In the championship, however, Belle Reve’s So Photogenic and Rose Marie Wheeler took the tricolor and The Hathaway Man and Victoria Robinson earned the reserve.
Grey Ridge was one of the barns that made the long trek to Tampa, and it was well worth it for them. Among other wins, the barn dominated the eleven horse Adult Show Pleasure Championship when CH Mighty Thor and Michael Petty took the tricolor and Michelle Partridge rode Takin’ It To The Street to the reserve honors.
Besides the impressive level of competition, there was plenty of time for fun as well. One of the most interesting events took place on Thursday at Helen Rich’s property, just thirty minutes from the show grounds. Helen welcomed attendees off the chartered buses, and invited them to enjoy brunch as they watched a demonstration with her German Shepherd dogs. Afterward, everyone was free to walk around the grounds and visit her menagerie of animals.
The following night was the show’s exhibitor’s party, which included a live and silent auction, 50/50 raffle and a delicious dinner of chicken, mashed potatoes, green beans, salad, cake and more. Exhibitors also had the chance to meet and greet a number of NFL players who were on hand, and even hold a Super Bowl ring.