Buffalo, NY – September 15, 2012 – It was a quiet morning in the city of Buffalo, with a cool breeze welcoming the start of the fourth day of the Buffalo International Horse Show. Although the community was quiet, the Buffalo Equestrian Center was packed with a full hunter/jumper schedule with events in the morning and continuing well into the evening hours. The morning and afternoon hosted the first day of the Junior, Children’s and Pony Hunter divisions. The evening then kicked it up a notch as competitors prepared for three highlight events, the $3,000 Johnson Horse Transportation USHJA National Hunter Derby, the $2,500 Stephen A. Comunale Children’s/Adult Jumper Classic and the $1,000 Stephen A. Comunale Low Children’s/Adult Jumper Classic.
The morning commenced with the Syracuse PHA 3’6” Junior Medal where the top Junior riders gathered to vie for the coveted award. It was Lilly Ulrich and Patriot owned by Anne Holman of Rehoboth, MA, who took the blue ribbon with a beautifully demonstrated round. Luke Olsen and Sports Talk, owned by the BTRC of Buffalo, NY, rode to the second place honors while Bella Cramer and North Coast, owned by Ashley Foster of Brookeville, MD, were awarded the third.
Cramer also guided her second mount of the day, Emilio, to the first place finish in the WIHS Equitation Classic Hunter Phase. Olsen once again took the second spot aboard Sports Talk, with Ulrich and Montenegro riding to the third place.
“Emilio is a little grumpy in his stall, so we have to bribe him with a treat before we show,” Cramer laughed. “He has a huge stride and it takes a lot to manage, but this is a great show to get a lot of practice. This is my first year competing in the juniors, and over the last year we have been building a great relationship.”
The Small 15 and Under Junior Hunters were next to compete in the schedule. Caroline Kellogg and Felicci rode to two first place ribbons in the over fences, with Ulrich and Fortune Hunter, owned by Up the Creek Farm of Rochester, NY, following closely on their heels with two second place awards. Ulrich also was awarded the second place in the handy, while Claudia Freeman and Clockwork, owned by the Morrisville College Foundation, were awarded the blue ribbon for their handiness and athleticism. Ulrich also picked up the first place finish in the under saddle for her efforts aboard Montenegro, owned by B&B Ltd. of Skaneateles, NY.
In the Small 16-17 Junior Hunters, Maryann Osborne and Mine rode to the top of the rankings with two first place ribbons over fences, and the second in the under saddle. Cramer and Emilio were awarded two second place ribbons over fences, as well as the third place in the under saddle.
Ulrich led the way in the Large 15 and Under Junior Hunters with Monetenegro. She piloted the dark bay to a sweeping victory of the division for the first day, catching the judges’ eyes and earning top scores throughout her over fences and under saddle. Ulrich also rode Clover, owned by Sail Horse Investments of Colts Neck, NJ, to two second place ribbons in the over fences, as well as the third place in the under saddle.
The Large 16-17 Junior Hunters saw great competition from Maurgerite Heberle and Luke Olsen. The two juniors went neck-to-neck for the top ribbons. Heberle and Starring Role rode to two first place finished over fences with a second place award in the under saddle. Olsen finished at the top of the under saddle with Lions Paw, owned by Danny Robertshaw of Camden, SC, also picking up two second place ribbons in the first course over fences, as well as the handy.
“Starring Role really enjoys trail rides, and more of a laid back preparation,” Heberle explained. “He shows in the Pre-Adults, and he really enjoys his job. He has a great way of taking care of his riders. He knows what he is doing out there, and you just have to let him go. I just found out that we qualified for Zone Finals, and I am looking forward to the Junior Hunter Finals again this year. We just really tried to show our stuff today and keep a good pace but stay smooth.”
Emma Kurtz stole the show today in the Pony Hunter divisions. The young rider took the top honors in the WIHS Pony Equitation class aboard Aladdin, owned by Spencer Chapin of South Salem, NY. Kurtz guided Aladdin to a score of 76 for their efforts in the over fences, and it proved hard to beat. Eliza Gretok and Asgard Mercury, owned by Sandra Lobel of Bedminster, NJ, took the second place finish, while Allison Stabley and The Pied Piper, owned by Kocher Tack Shop of Pennsylvania Furnace, PA, were awarded with third.
Kurtz continued to shine in the Small/Medium Pony Hunters aboard Grand All Over, owned by David Gochman of New York, NY. She was awarded the first and third place ribbons over fences, as well as the first place in the under saddle. Morgan Ward and Rockport, owned by Hannah Holik of Jackson Hole, WY, captured back-to-back red ribbons, going into tomorrow’s competition as a top contender.
In the Large Pony Hunters, Mapleside Denzel, owned by Nancy Baginski of Glencoe, MO, made a clean first-day sweep of the division with Kurtz in the irons. She also piloted Aladdin to a first place finish in the classic round, as well as an additional two second place ribbons in the over fences and under saddle.
At the end of the division, riders competed in the $500 “Scribbles” Pony Hunter Classic. It was Emma Kurtz who laid down two beautiful rounds with her small pony, Everyday Enzo, owned by Rose Hill Farm of Bridgehamption, NY. The duo posted the high-ranking scores of 83 and 84 for their two rounds, taking home the first place prize with an overall score of 167 points. Ward rode Rockport to the second place award with an overall score of 164 points, while Kurtz also picked up the third place with Mapleside Denzel.
As the Pony Hunters came to a close, the Indoor Arena filled with Children’s Hunter riders and their talented mounts. It was Charlie Jacobs and Ranier, owned by CMJ Sporthorse LLC of Wellington, FL, who took the first place finish in the Taylor Harris Insurance Services National Children’s Medal. It was a nail biter, however, as the top four horse and child riders were asked to return to the ring for a test. It came down to Jacobs, Emma Bergqvist, Erica Lipke and Christina Bamann. Each pair was asked to canter immediately upon entering the ring into the tight two-stride vertical-oxer combination, and halt upon landing. With a left hand turn, they then trotted a vertical leading into a six-stride outside line where they took a final oxer and exited the ring at a walk.
Jacobs executed a beautiful opening, and his transition from the halt to the trot made him truly stand out above the rest. Bergqvist and I M Superlative were awarded the red ribbon. Lipke took the third place ribbon, while Bamann and Becoming rode to the fourth place finish.
The Syracuse 14 and Under PHA 3’ Medal dually challenged the contenders; however, Julia Betts and Amherst finished on top with an excellent round to claim the blue ribbon. Katie Jacobs navigated Sorcerer’s Stone to the second place, while Bergqvist took the third place with I M Superlative. Bamann and Becoming took the top finish in the Syracuse 15-17 PHA 3’ Medal, with Taylor Duerr in second place and Lipke rounding out the top three.
In the Children’s 14 and Under Hunter Horse, Ava Gurney and namesake rode to high ribbons throughout the division. They were awarded the first and fourth place finishes over fences, as well as the first place in the under saddle. Charlie Jacobs also posed a dominating lead with Ranier, taking the first and second place ribbons over fences to set a solid start.
Taylor Duerr and Starstruck garnered the top honors in the Children’s 15-17 Hunter Horse with solid rounds and great efforts under saddle. They earned the first place in the under saddle, and were also presented with the first and second place ribbons over fences. Lipke and Knight Call, owned by Christine Hannon, captured the second place finish in the under saddle along with the second and first place finishes in the over fences.
Spectators began to crowd the Indoor Arena at six this evening to enjoy the night’s highlight events. Executive Director of the Buffalo Therapeutic Riding Center presented the dedication of the 66th Buffalo International Horse Show to Jane and Steven Comunale, whose support throughout the years has helped to rebuild the facility and expand the therapeutic riding program. The dedication of the horse show was conceived long before Jane’s battle with cancer; however, she lost the fight in August of last year. All of the BTRC series shows have been dedicated to Jane and Steven’s son Stephen Comunale, Jr.
Following the presentation of the show’s dedication, Margaret Davis and Anya Schulman stepped into the ring for the 2012 Peach Taylor Sportsmanship Award. The award is given in memory of Peach Taylor, by her grandson Mason Phelps, Jr. Davis and Schulman demonstrated all of the qualities of dedication to the welfare of horses as well as kindness towards their peers and teachers.
The onlookers were surprised with a special presentation of Jennifer Alfano and Jersey Boy. The pair has become synonymous with the tradition, courage and athleticism required of the hunter sport. With their recent win in the $100,000 International Hunter Derby Finals, as well as numerous other accolades, they received a standing ovation from the crowd with a true admiration for the team.
After the presentation of the awards, judges Russell Frey and Sue Ashe settled into their seats and prepared to judge the $3,000 Johnson Horse Transportation USHJA National Classic. The riders showed over a course of ten fences, designed by Brian Brown. The course was reminiscent of a hunt field, using natural looking fences and challenging turns to test the horses and riders. Each rider had the opportunity to earn bonus points by choosing to take the higher options set to 3’6”.
Out of 15 entries to attempt the derby course, only 12 returned for the handy phase. It was Jennifer Gurney and The Other Brother who led the victory gallop at the end of the event. The pair entered the handy course with a first-round score of 86 points. The pair left nothing to chance in the handy, choosing to take all four high options and use a forward pace to tackle the track. They were awarded for their handiness with a score of 88 from the judges. Combined with their four bonus points, Gurney and The Other Brother earned the high score of 92 points for a cumulative score of 178 points.
“My plan going in tonight was to just have a solid first round,” Gurney described. “Since he had his surgery, we were debating whether or not to take the high options, but as the competition progressed, it seemed as though we had to—he was great!”
Gurney continued, “We just went for it tonight, and it worked out great. We got into a good spot in the first round, and then we were able to bring it home in the handy. To get a 92 in the second round was way beyond expectations. When he is on, I can think it and he does it. When he is on his game, even though he has a monstroud stride, he is as rideable as any other mount out there. He was fabulous and I am absolutely thrilled, especially six months post-colic surgery.”
Rachel Clawson rode Nureev Du Houssoit, owned by Up the Creek Farm, to the second place honors with a two-round total of 176 points. Amherst, owned by Hayley Betts of Penfield, NY, and ridden by Alicia Heberle, followed close behind with a total score of 175.5.
“I would love to more derbies, but we are going to take it day by day and let him tell us what he wants to do,” Gurney smiled. “When he is ready to be a lawn ornament, I have a farm where he will be able to retire. He is the horse of a lifetime—my dream horse—he has a home for a lifetime with us.”
The night continued with the $2,500 Stephen A. Comunale Children’s/Adult Jumper Classic. The top child and adult riders attempted the course filled with sharp rollbacks, tight turns, standalone oxers, and an in-and-out. Only five riders were able to clear the course without any faults or time penalties, resulting in an exciting jump off with the prize money, coveted award and division championship within reach.
First in the race against the clock was pathfinder Andrea Bennett and Caliente. The duo set a phenomenal pace from the start, opting to slice all turns possible. It was the inside turn from the fourth fence of the jump off that shaved the seconds from Bennett’s time. They set the target time of 38.580 seconds, a time that proved impossible to surpass.
Although Bennett’s time was intimidating, the consecutive riders attempted to catch the trailblazer. It was Lilly Ulrich and Up Stream, owned by Up the Creek Farm, who put forth a valiant effort. Although she took bold inside turns, Ulrich crossed the timers in 39.815 seconds to finish in the second place slot. Bella Cramer and Lanzer rounded out the top three with the only other double-clear effort of the classic in 48.813 seconds.
“My plan going into today was to get the same results as today. I really wanted to focus on our turns. We were able to slice a turn where no one else did and it saved me about three seconds,” Bennett elaborated. “She was great tonight, and I don’t think she is jumping her full potential right now. I would love to ride her in college and continue jumpers as we move up together.”
Bennett not only led the victory gallop this evening, but she also was presented with the Children’s/Adult Jumper Championship title. She swept the division with two first place wins in yesterday’s classes aboard Caliente. Clawson was awarded the division’s reserve championship.
The Stephen A. Comunale Low Children’s/Adult Jumper Classic concluded this evening’s events. Showing over the same course as the previous classic, the riders were faced with the same difficulties. Only two riders went clear in the first round, resulting in a nail-biting jump-off. Luke Olsen and Dream Team, owned by the BTRC, went double-clear in a time of 38.697 seconds. The crowd looked on as Megan Joyce and Truman, also owned by the BTRC, attempted to go clear for a second time and beat Olsen’s time. Joyce opted for a more conservative jump off, finishing double-clear with a time of 47.763 seconds to finish in the second place. Olsen was awarded the Low Children’s/Adult Jumpers Championship, and Joyce picked up the reserve championship for her efforts throughout the division.
“She is a very straightforward horse who definitely knows her job,” Olsen stated. “I am very luck to be able to have a relationship with her. I thought the courses were really good tonight with tricky turns. I really just wanted a solid round, she was a little spooky last night, so I showed her the jumps tonight and worked on getting her confidence built for the jump off.”
Olsen only began riding Dream Team three weeks ago during the 2012 Melanie Smith and Mindy Bower Clinic. “I think I might compete with her at some local shows and maybe jumpers in Florida on some weekends. There will probably be more riders who come along to compete and learn with her, she is a great teacher.”
Tomorrow concludes the 66th Buffalo International Horse Show with the finale of the junior, children and pony classes. The BIHS has been a tremendous success due to its sponsors and generous supporters. For more information regarding the 65th Annual Buffalo International Horse Show, please visit www.thebtrc.org or call (716) 877-9295.