Morgan Strickler and Ima Glowin Coco Chip win Virginia 4-H Western Pleasure Classic

Morgan Strickler and Ima Glowin Coco Chip

On Sept. 17, the Virginia 4-H State Horse Show crowned its top Western riders in the Classics classics. The evening classes were held in the East Complex at the Virginia Horse Center and featured the top riders from the qualifying classes earlier in the weekend.

The Classics closed with the Western Pleasure Horse Classic. With 14 showing, the two judges agreed on the top horse: Ima Glowin Coco Chip, ridden by Morgan Strickler. Strickler was also named the Sr. High Point winner.

Second went to Mary Ann Johnson riding Zippos Sweet Te. Third went to Madison Martin riding Jets Lopin Lady.


Virginia shows Extreme Mustang Makeover isn’t just for cowboys

Sarah Grady and Corrigan were the overall winners of the Extreme Mustang Makeover. Later the mare was sold for $8,500.

What do you think of when you think of the American Mustang? Perhaps freedom and the wide open spaces of the West, complete with cowboys and their Western saddles, jingling spurs, and lariats. But this past weekend at the Virginia Horse Center, the Extreme Mustang Makeover offered a different vision for the mustang.

While Saturday’s Top 10 finals was dominated by cowboys on top of the mustang mares they had 100 days to tame and train, the winner went a different direction: Dressage.

With her gray mare, Corrigan, in a more collected frame then most of her competitors, Sarah Grady rode to the win. She placed second in the preliminaries, which each rider follows a prescribed pattern to demonstrate the horse’s training. But she won the Freestyle portion, in which she trotted in with two cheery balloons following dutifully behind. Her freestyle also included two jumps and a streamer-laden hoop, each of which she went over twice without any issues. She also won Adult Trail and Maneuvers earlier in the competition. After her win, Corrigan was auctioned off, bringing fierce bidding that would close at $8,500. Corrigan is a Divide Basin, Wyoming, mustang.

Freedom and Michael Alway were crowd favorites.

Corrigan may have won the competition, but it was a horse named Freedom that won the audience’s hearts and took home the Audience Favorite award. Asked to vote via text, Freedom’s flag-waving routine came out on top. That was not to be confused with several other routines that also waved flags as the music swelled. Other popular routine highlights included a big black steer that blinked in confusion the first time he was shoved in the arena. But he would be back several times before the competition was over. There was also plenty of standing in the saddle, shooting of balloons (both with air guns and arrows), and jumping. The routines were meant to showcase their horse’s talents, and many made good use of this time. There were some blunders, such as the routine that showcased a horse’s ability to be driven in harness. However, the switch to being ridden did not go well and too much time was eaten up trying to get the horse unhooked for its cart.

All of the horses (all 5- to 6-year-old mares) were auctioned off at the end of the event. Some were bought by their trainers, others to bidders in the crowd already approved for adoption through the BLM. Prices ranged from $200 to $8,500.

A highlight for many spectators had to be before the competition began when Stacey Westfall road in the arena to talk to the crowd. She also held a demonstration earlier in the day. Westfall is well known for her bridleless freestyle reining routine that even landed her a spot on The Ellen DeGeneres Show.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.


Virginia Horse Center welcomes world-renowned trick rider Fairland Ferguson

Fairland Ferguson performing with Cavalia. Photo courtesy Cavalia

Trick-rider Fairland Ferguson, a Staunton, Virginia, native, will give a demonstration at 12:30 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 8, 2016, in Barn 6 of the Virginia Horse Center. A question-and-answer session with her will follow.

Ferguson has traveled the world performing as a trick rider. She joined Dolly Parton’s Dixie Stampede while attending college, working with that group for six years, before touring with Cavalia for six years. She also rode in Australia for a year.

Ferguson grew up riding Hunter/Jumpers, but became bored with it.  “Everybody wears the same thing, and the shows are the same,” she said. “So I got into Western pleasure, which gave you a little bit more of a creative liberty.”

In 2003, while on break from college in South Carolina, Ferguson was left fighting for her life after she fell from the top of a cliff at Smith Mountain Lake, breaking 46 broken bones, including 23 in her face, eight ribs, both arms and both legs. She had 13 operations and spent six months in hospital, followed by six months of rehabilitation, which included training to strengthen her eye muscles and learning how to walk again. She lost her basketball scholarship after the accident, but she didn’t give up riding. Ferguson found trick-riding when she took a job at Dolly Parton’s Dixie Stampede near Myrtle Beach.

Ferguson said, “Horses are said to give us the wings we lack to fly, but for me, horses were also my legs when I couldn’t walk, my energy when I had none, my spirit when it was broken and my heart when it was lost.”

Horses have taught me more about myself and my life than I ever thought possible,” she  said. “I hope to share this love and understanding with everyone Oct. 8. Whether you’re a young rider, an older cavalier or someone that has never been on a horse. It will be a blast and an event that I’m sure everyone will take something away from.”

Adult tickets are $15, while tickets for children 12 and younger are $12. Children 2 and younger are free.


Get ready for a fantastic fall of riding


School is back in session and Labor Day is on the horizon, but most would agree that our best riding days are just around the corner. Cooler fall days, surrounded by the beautiful colors of autumn make for gorgeous riding. Here are some upcoming equestrian events to help you plan your fall.


There is nothing like a trail ride in the fall. The smell of fallen leaves as they crunch under your horse’s hooves is as much a part of the season as pumpkin spice flavors for equestrians. Here area few trail ride events happening within a few hours of Roanoke this fall:

  • fleetwood
    The Fleetwood Community Center Trail Ride.

    The Fleetwood Community Center Trail Ride is Oct. 14-16 at 1357 Crabtree Falls Highway, Roseland, Virginia. The ride is a fundraiser for Nelson County’s Fleetwood Community Center. The building was once an elementary school. Today its grounds provide a beautiful location to host events such as the trail ride and for youth sports. The trail ride takes place twice a year, once in the spring in April, and once in the fall in October. It includes several rides throughout the weekend. On Friday, there is a short trail ride of 6-8 miles. Saturday there are two rides to choose from: One long ride of about 25 miles, and one short ride,of about 15 miles. On Sunday a nice easy 10-12 mile ride is available. All three rides cover a variety of terrain: water crossings, dirt trails, rocky trails, mountain ridges and the climbs to get there (some are pretty steep but we offer alternates if you want to avoid them). Fees are $80 per adult rider and $40 per rider under 18 and all non-riders. The fee includes three days and two nights of camping on a level field alongside the Tye River. Five meals, including lunch on the trail, are included. Registration is due by Oct. 1.  Questions? For registration and general questions, contact Audrey Diane Evans @ either 434-277­-5814 or or contact Nancy Brockman @ 434 277­5630 for questions
    about the trails.

  • The Liberty Trail Ride will be held Sept. 17 in Orange, Virginia. The ride is organized by Orange County Parks & Recreation and Oakland Heights Farm, hosted by James Madison’s Montpelier, and supported by the Virginia Horse Industry Board and Virginia Horse Council. The ride begins promptly at 10am, so it is highly recommended that participants arrive before 9am, though participants are welcome to arrive as early as 8:15 am. The length of the ride is between 7 and 10 miles round-trip (route may change based on weather and trail conditions), and the terrain is pasture land, wooded trails, and gravel roads, so please make sure horses are shod accordingly. (Shoes are highly recommended, without shoes some horses have experienced fatigue on the gravel roads.) This is a group trail ride with a trail master who leads the ride. This first portion of the ride is optional since it will expose horses to crowds of observers. Lunch will be provided at the end of the ride.
  • The Flint Hill Volunteer Fire Department 2016 Annual Benefit Trail Ride will be held Oct. 21-23. Campers may arrive Thursday, October 20 at 2 PM. Registration starts Friday morning at 8:00. One day tickets are $40, and three day tickets are $60. A dinner will be served on Saturday evening for an extra $20 per person.  Beautiful groomed trails with two loops, 9 miles or 17 miles. Contact Deb Miloslavich at for more information.
  • Amelia Springs Trail Ride is Sept. 16-18 in Amelia Springs, Va. Trails are self guided on private Hunt Club property and will be marked for short or long rides. Gates open at 10 a.m.. Friday for camping. Early arrivals welcome on Thursday after 3 p.m. It is a primitive site in an open field. There are no electric hook-ups. There is water, showers and horse wash at the barn. This is a pre-registration ride. The Cost is $65 for adults and $35 for youth (11 – 17) for the entire weekend, which includes camping. Registrations not post-marked by Sept. 6 the cost is $70 for Adults.


Beat the heat of the summer horse shows by catching one of these competitions this fall. Ribbons make the best colors of fall, afterall.

  • 917bb-crossview24
    Costumes are encouraged for all classes at Green Hill Equestrian Center Halloween Fun Show and your sure to find a costume class at other open shows this time of year as well.

    The Virginia Horse Center will host the Hear the Beat Open Horse Show on Sept. 4 in the center’s East Complex. Classes will begin at 8 a.m. and Lesley Morris will judge.

  • The Southwest Virginia Horseman’s Association is holding a Fall Fun Horse Show on Sept. 10 at the New River Fairgrounds in Dublin, Virginia. The show will start at 10 a.m. with game classes, then the fun show will continue at 1 p.m. with classes for English, Western and Gaited horses. Lesley Morris will be the judge. A $5 admission will be collected from spectators.
  • On Sept. 17, the Franklin County Equestrian Club will hold the 3rd Annual Franklin County Fair Open Horse Show at Ginther Farm in Rocky Mount, Virginia. The show includes a wide variety of classes, including over fences, trail, pleasure, gaited, and ranch. Speed/game classes will follow, not to begin before 1 p.m. The show is Blue Ridge Horse Force sanctioned and will be judged by Marty Wood.
  • The New London Horse Show Series finale is set Oct. 22 in Coyote Crossing Cattle Company in Bedford, Va. Wendy Snyder will judge the show, which includes classes for a variety of disciplines including Hunt Seat, Western, Ranch, Mini, Gaited and Speed.
  • Green Hill Equestrian Center Halloween Fun Show will be held Oct. 30 at the equestrian center in Salem, Va. Find a variety of pleasure and game classes to round out the show season. The show is Blue Ridge Horse Force sanctioned. Costumes are encouraged in all classes, so get ready to put your creativity to the test!
  • The Cross View Horse Show series will close its season on Nov. 5-6 at Green Hill Equestrian Center in Salem. The two-day show begins Saturday with hunters. Sunday features an open horse show with a variety of classes on the flat. The show is Blue Ridge Horse Force and Franklin County Equestrian Club sanctioned. Ann Martin will judge on Saturday and Tricia Monzingo will judge Sunday.


Did you find a few weak spots in your riding or your mount’s training? There are some opportunities to get help this fall.

Gabrielle Hooten teaches at the Dressage clinic.
  • Healing Strides will host Steuart Pittman for a cross-country and showjumping clinic, on Sept. 3-4 in Boones Mill, Virginia. Steuart is a nationally-recognized clinician whose prior clinics at Healing Strides have been very popular. He is well regarded for his teaching and training abilities and his positive, fun-loving attitude, which make his clinics both educational and fun. Register by Aug. 26 to ride.
  • Basic Horsemanship/Problem Solving Clinic with Knight Horsemanship (of Jumping Branch, West Virginia) will be held Oct. 29 at Shadow Ridge Stable in Wirtz. The clinic will be held from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. with a lunch break. $150/ride $20/audit All riders welcome !Come out and also enjoy a mounted shooting Demo with Bobby Knight. Call to reserve your spot (540) 632-3002
  • Shadow Ridge Stables in Wirtz, Virginia is hosting a Gabrielle Hooten Dressage Clinic on Sept. 3. Spots to ride in this clinic are already full, but auditors are welcome for $10. Because this clinic filled so quickly, Shadow Ridge will offer a second clinic on Oct. 1. Be sure to reserve your spot early by calling 540-632-3002.
  • The Botetourt County Horseman’s Association will host a Lunch & Learn at Green Hill Equestrian Center in Salem on Oct. 1. Come out and ride at Green Hill for the day. A local clinician will also hold sessions. The details of this event are still being worked out, so watch for updates!


Trailer in the shop, horse not up to leaving the farm , don’t have a horse at all or just plain prefer to watch others ride? There are plenty of options for hanging out along the rail this fall. Many riders are closing out their season at championship horse shows and appreciate a crowd cheering them on.

The Virginia State 4-H Championships are held Sept. 15-18 at the Virginia Horse Center.
  • It’s not quite in fall, the the Extreme Mustang Makeover on Aug. 26-28 is not to be missed for any horse training fans. This wild horse training competition will offer two divisions: Youth, ages 8-17, will compete with a mustang they adopt in-hand and adults, ages 18 and over, will ride their assigned mustang in preliminary classes to compete for a spot in the top 10 freestyle finals. This event will award $25,000 in cash and prizes. All adult mustangs will be available for adoption after the event by competitive bid. Bureau of Land Management representatives will be on site to approve interested adopters. All events are free except for Saturday evening. Tickets may be purchased in advance or on-site. Kids 5 and under are Free.
  • The VPHC Color Classic will be held over Labor Day weekend at the Virginia Horse Center. The APHA show showcases top horses in the Paint horse industry in a variety of classes.
  • The Virginia State 4-H Championship Horse and Pony Show will be held Sept. 15-18 at the Virginia Horse Center, featuring 4-H youth from across the state. Plan to stay into the evening on Saturday and attend the championship classes for Horsemanship and Western Pleasure. The Hunter championships are on Sunday.
  • The Virginia Horse Shows Association Championship will be held Nov. 10-13 at the Virginia Horse Center. This show caps a year of hard work by the exhibitors and is a great way to close the season.

For a complete list of equestrian events happening through the end of the year, visit the Roanoke Equestrian Calendar Page.


Green Hill Park Equestrian Center details planned upgrades to arena footing


The Green Hill Park Equestrian Center board has released the plan to upgrade arena footing at the park and is seeking donations to help cover the costs.

The five-phase plan is scheduled to begin this fall with regrading Arena 2 at a cost of $25,000. The project has received $5,000 in Roanoke County Capital Improvement Incentive Fund grant money. Donations also are being collected for this phase. There are a few options for donating to the project.

If you want your contribution to be tax deductible: Write a check made payable to Leisure Legacy, and mail to: Leisure Legacy Inc., 1206 Kessler Mill Rd., Salem, VA 24153. Include a note that it is a donation for Green Hill Park Equestrian Center. Leisure Legacy is at 501C3 organization and 100% of the donation will go to the project. Or go to, click on the donation tab on the left side, and fill in the information. Make a note in the comment section that it is a donation for Green Hill Park Equestrian Center. Select the pay tab in the right bottom corner. Enter your information to pay through PayPal, which take a percentage, and the balance will go to support the project.

If you do not need a tax deduction: Log on to and search for GHPEC footing improvement (GoFundMe/WePay will take 7.9% and $.30 per donation.) Or you may write a check payable to Green Hill Park Equestrian Center and mail it to:Tamla Nichols, 1557 Bore Auger Rd., Blue Ridge, VA 24064(100% of the donation will go to the project)

Phase II involves upgrading the actual footing in Arena 2. The committee is accepting recommendations for footing options.

Phase III is the upgrade of footing in Arena 1. This phase is contingent on a water-control plan to prevent damage in the future.

And the final phase is the replacement of the fencing for Arenas 1 and 2.

For more information please contact Tamla Nichols at or 540-871- 9891.

Lexington National Horse Show comes to Virginia Horse Center Aug. 9-14

coverHunters/Jumpers will reign at the Virginia Horse Center from Aug. 9-14 for the Lexington National Horse Show.

The show gets started on Tuesday, Aug. 9, with a non-USEF day and the Virginia Hunter Championships. The championships will award $60,000 in prize money. Divisions will include: Professional Hunter Classic, Pre-Green Hunter Classic, Jr/Amateur-Owner Hunter Classic, Children’s Hunter Classic, Adult Amateur Classic, Pony/Children’s Pony Hunter Classic. (The Pony Finals will be held separately because of a conflict with the USEF Pony Finals.)

In order to be a part of the classics at the Virginia Hunter Championships, horses must qualify by showing at Virginia horse shows throughout the year. Horses wishing to compete for the professional classic must have shown in at least four of the qualifying shows, while those qualifying for all other classics must have shown in at least six.

Wednesday thru Sunday will be USEF AA and USEF Jumper Two-Star event. The Lexington National also hosts the VHSA medal finals and the AYR finals.


On Wednesday, a one-day clinic with Kathy Doyle Newman will be held from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. in the East Complex.

Newman is a well known trainer, who herself was trained by George Morris. She has trained many National and Virginia champions, including her own daughter, Katherine Newman.   Mrs. Newman has  also been a board member of the Virginia Horse Shows Association, has been named VHSA Horseperson of the Year and was inducted into the VHSA Hall of Fame in 2013.

The clinic will be split into three groups: 3’6” Equitation, 3’6” Children’s/Adult Jumper and the 3’0” Equitation. One should select a group based on the division in which one currently shows.

The cost will be $230 per rider, lunch included. The Rider’s registration form, waiver, Coggins and registration fee must be  sent the VHSA office by Friday, July 22. Each clinic participant will be granted one auditor’s pass (trainer or parent) at the reduced registration fee of $15, which covers the cost of lunch. The auditor’s name and fee must be included with the rider’s reservation form.

The charge for auditors will be $50 per person, lunch included. The auditor’s name and $50 fee must also be sent to the VHSA office by July 22. After that date, please call the VHSA office at (540) 349-0910 to make arrangements.

BCHA Summer Evening Fun Show skirts storms for a beautiful night with horses


The Botetourt County Horseman’s Association tried something a little different in returning to the show ring this year, holding an weekday evening fun show on July 13 at Green Hill Equestrian Center in Salem, Virginia.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Stormy weather threatened as the show got under way at 5 p.m., but the thunder never grew close enough to delay the show. About 15 horses competed in flat classes throughout the evening. From Showmanship, Go As You Please Pleasure, Ride-A-Buck and Egg and Spoon, classes were relaxed and offered a lovely place to gain some arena miles. The show, judged by Lynda McGarry, was Blue Ridge Horse Force sanctioned as well.

Avery Lewin and Carol Bernstein hand a fleece cooler and ribbons to Beth Buchanan who won the BCHA Members Only class.

Riders received ribbons and first-place riders also won a brush and T-shirt. The winner of the BCHA Members Only class also won a beautiful navy blue fleece cooler, a nod to the benefits of being a member of the club. It was surprising to not see more members try to win the gorgeous prize as only three competed in the class although there were many more at the show.

BCHA ran the show with a nod to the community as well. The popular Open Go As You Please benefited Barn Cat Buddies and another class also benefited efforts to upgrade the footing at Green Hill Park Equestrian Center. The club’s concession stand, which served grilled hot dogs with chili, chips, drinks and cookies, donated its profits to the feed fund for the Roanoke Valley Horse Rescue.

Exhibitors seemed to really enjoy the well-run show that ran along quickly and was finished between 8 and 8:30 with plenty of time to load up and go home before the sun set.

Sallie B. Wheeler/U.S. Hunter Breeding East Coast National Championship returns to Virginia Horse Center in August


Some of the best young horses in the country will come together on August 27 at The Virginia Horse Center for the 2016 Sallie B. Wheeler/U.S. Hunter Breeding East Coast National Championship as part of the Virginia Young Horse Festival.

Find the Virginia Young Horse Festival prize list here.

Highlights will include the East Coast Best Young Horse Championship class and a party Saturday night at 5 p.m. in celebration of the Sallie B. Wheeler Hunter Breeding Championship. Several USEF Championship trophies also will be awarded on Saturday including The Dave Kelley Perpetual trophy, which will be awarded to the Overall Grand Hunter Breeding Champion; The J. Arthur Reynolds trophy, awarded to the breeder of the Overall Grand Hunter Breeding Champion; and The Foxwick Farm Perpetual Trophy awarded to the leading Thoroughbred.

On Friday, Aug. 26, the horse center will host a C-rated breeding show as part of the Virginia Young Horse Festival.

BCHA to hold midweek evening fun show

2016 Summer show

There’s something a little different happening this week at Green Hill Park Equestrian Center in Salem, Virginia. The Botetourt County Horseman’s Association is holding an Evening Fun Show on Wednesday, July 13. The gates will open at 4 p.m. with the show to start at 5 p.m. with a Stick Horse Class.

The show will consist of 20 classes that include in-hand classes such as Model, Showmanship and Leadline, fun games such as Egg & Spoon and Ride-A-Buck, and the Command Class, and pleasure classes for all levels of riders. Lynda McGarry will judge. Dress will be casual so there is no need to find show clothes. Helmets are required by all riders. The show is sanctioned by Blue Ridge Horse Force.

Entry fees are $8 a class unless otherwise noted. Some classes will also include special prizes, including Class 19 for BCHA members. (Become a member here.) Entry fees for two classes will go to local nonprofit Barn Cat Buddies and to the Green Hill Equestrian Center’s effort to upgrade the footing at the facility (make a donation).

Advance registration is available if emailed by 5 p.m. Tuesday, July 12, to Advance entries will be entered into a drawing for a gift card.

Call show manager Debbie Mooty at 540-312-8393 for more information.

Confirmed case of EEE in Virginia horse

EEEThe Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS) has confirmed the first case of Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) in a Virginia horse this year. The horse, from Suffolk, was a Saddlebred mare. She exhibited symptoms on June 22 and was euthanized June 23. Her vaccination record is unknown.

EEE causes inflammation or swelling of the brain and spinal cord. The disease is also called “sleeping sickness.” Symptoms include impaired vision, aimless wandering, head pressing, circling, inability to swallow, irregular staggering gait, paralysis, convulsions and death. Once a horse has been bitten by an infected mosquito, it may take three to 10 days for signs of the disease to appear.

Last year Virginia had three reported cases of EEE, one from Suffolk and two from Chesapeake. The disease has a mortality rate of 80 to 90 percent, so prevention is a key part of equine health. Vaccination and mosquito control and avoidance are the central elements of prevention.

In a press release dated March 22, 2016, VDACS encouraged horse owners to work with their veterinarians to plan a vaccination schedule that would protect their horses from EEE and West Nile Virus (WNV). Available vaccines are generally effective in drastically reducing the incidence of both EEE and WNV in horses. For the vaccine to be effective it must be handled and administered properly and be given at least two weeks before the horse is exposed to the virus. Additionally, to stimulate full immunity, horses must be vaccinated twice, about 30 days apart, the first year of vaccination. The vaccines are effective for six to 12 months, so horses should be revaccinated at least annually. In an area where the disease occurs frequently, such as southeast and Tidewater Virginia, most veterinarians recommend vaccination every six months.

In addition to vaccination, it is a good idea to avoid mosquito infested areas and to take measures to reduce the local mosquito population to minimize the chances of mosquitos biting horses or humans. A horse cannot transmit EEE to a person, but the presence of infected mosquitoes in an area poses a risk to both species. Wearing protective clothing, destroying standing water breeding sites and using mosquito repellents are effective strategies for mosquito control.

For more information, please contact VDACS’ Office of the State Veterinarian at 804.692.0601 or consult your local veterinarian.