The Virginia Horse Council will hold its annual meeting and seminar on March 30 at the Virginia Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine in Blacksburg, Virginia.
Educational sessions will take place throughout the day, beginning at 9 a.m. Cost to attend is $20 for council members and $25 for non-members. Lunch is included.
Sue Fanelli, chairman of the Virginia Horse Council board, will talk about the council’s Cruelty and Abuse Project at 9 a.m. Other topics throughout the day include Equine Cushings Disease, law requirements for horse owners, mud management, veterinarians expectations for standard of care, and a Make a Horseshoe lab. Speakers include Jill Deegan, Dr. Scott Pleasant, Carrie Swanson, and Paul Papadatos.
The Virginia Tech Hunter Team is making Virginia proud in its first trip to the Intercollegiate Horse Shows Association Nationals, held this year at the Pennsylvania Farm Show Complex in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.
Eleven Hokies are in Harrisburg representing Virginia Tech. Four are riding individually and eight are riding as part of the team competition. One rider is competing in both the individual and team categories.
Virginia Tech had several riders already seeing success on the first day of competition.
Carolyn Rosazza was named Reserve Champion as a team rider in Novice Equitation on the Flat & also receives an honorable mention as an individual in Advanced W/T/C. Rachel Burton placed ninth as an individual in Advanced W/T/C.
Tanner Paige Price placed sixth as an individual in Intermediate Equitation Over Fences. Meanwhile, Nichole Jones received an honorable mention as a team rider in Novice Equitation Over Fences. Claire Elise Arnold received an honorable mention as a team rider in Intermediate Equitation on the Flat.
IHSA Nationals features 450 men and women from across the U.S. and Canada competing in hunter seat equitation and Western horsemanship in a range of levels from Walk-Trot through Open. The riders have competed throughout the season to qualify and will vie for team, individual, alumni championships and the coveted USEF/Cacchione Cup and the AQHA Western High Point Rider national final.
Randolph College in Lynchburg also sent three riders to Nationals. Makayla Benjamin, of Sweet Briar College, is representing Zone 4 in the Cacchione Cup Finals. After the over-fences portion of the competition on Friday morning she was in third place.
As the weather warms and the sun starts to feel just a bit warmer, daydreams shift to the promise of another great season of trail riding and hours spent on a favorite horse climbing the Blue Ridge Mountains or cantering along a river at James River State Park.
Last weekend (April 13-14, 2018) in Virginia, both fabulous weather and plans for great trail rides converged at the Virginia Horse Center for the Great American Ranch and Trail Horse Sale as 120 horses, hundreds of buyers and even more spectators gathered for another sale.
Unique to this sale are the competitions open only to consigned horses. The ranch horses go first on Friday afternoon in a class the requires them to perform an AQHA ranch horse pattern and then box and rope a cow. On Friday evening, another class of horses tackles a trail course that features obstacles such as logs, a bridge, brush, a campsite complete with campfire and a bear, an outhouse in which they must ground tie outside while the rider steps inside and a horse trailer that the horse hops inside. It also often includes a few surprises like a live animal. This year it included a goat along the trail. Horses may only enter one of the competitions.
After the Top 10 performers from Friday night came back for the Trail Horse finals on Saturday morning, Steve Meadows of Virginia and Ima Sweet Machine (Hip No. 10) took home the top prize in an especially strong group of finalists. Meadows’ 2008 black gelding then later sold in the sale for $30,000. The Reserve in the trail class went to John Roberts riding Marion G. Valerio’s AQHA gelding Get Your Shine On. He later sold for $11,700.
The ranch horse competition is in just its second year at the sale. The class showcases the working ranch horses and their ability to work cattle. In his first year consigning horses to the sale, Tanner Keith of Virginia had three of the Top 5 horses. Winning the class was Keith’s Hy Rem Cowboy, Hip No. 68. Later in the sale his price did not reach the reserve. Reserve champion was Keith’s RobPaulPayPeter, Hip No. 111. He later sold for $6,600.
While many years a champion for the competitions is also the high seller, this year it was pure beauty that took the sale by storm. Hip No. 45, GG Jonah, a gorgeous 2008 black Gypsy Vanner gelding consigned by Buckeye Acre Farm of Ohio stirred hearts all across the country before the sale. And it was a series of phone bids that sent his sale price to $40,000, topping this year’s sale. A video of the bidding can be found here.
Horses really are available at all budgets. Some prices came in at less than $2,000, many ranged between $3,000 – $8,000, and then top sellers brought more than $10,000. Some of 2018’s top sellers included:
One of the things I love the most about living in the Roanoke region of Virginia is having the Virginia Horse Center just a short jaunt up Interstate 81. The first class horse facility brings top competition and horsemen to our region each year, and 2018 will be no exception.
If you are a fan of natural horsemanship, one of the very top clinicians will be visiting the East Complex on Oct. 5-7, 2018. Buck Brannaman was the inspiration for the movie and novel character Tom Booker from “The Horse Whisperer.” He was also the equine consultant on the film. A documentary about Brannaman called “Buck,” directed by Cindy Meehl, won the U.S. Documentary Competition Audience Award at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival.
Brannaman will hold Foundation Horsemanship and Horsemanship classes at the October clinic. For more information, contact email@example.com. Brannaman’s website lists clinic costs at $700 for three days of class participation as a rider and an auditing fee of $30 a day.
The classes offered are described as follows:
This new class is for the green rider or a green horse who may feel the need for additional groundwork prior to riding. During each of the three-day sessions half of the class is dedicated to working the horse from the ground in preparation for riding, with the second half of the class horseback.
For the green horse and rider already comfortable in the snaffle bit along with aged horses needing continued work. This is the first stage of progressing into the bridle with all basic movements introduced. All levels of riders – no matter what discipline – will benefit. The class features strictly dry work – no cattle. All maneuvers stress the vaquero style of riding and are appropriate for horses from first level snaffle to experienced bridle horses. Hackamore horses welcome.
Brannaman, of Sheridan, Wyo., spends much of his year on the road holding clinics around the globe. For instance, his 2018 schedule includes stops in Australia, Italy and throughout the U.S., although most stops are in the Western U.S.
“I often tell people in the clinics, the human possesses the one thing that means more to the horse than anything in the world, and that is peace and comfort,” Brannaman told ABC News in 2012. “That’s all they want.”
The trainer grew up a child of abuse, terrified of their widowed father who forced him and his brothers to perform trick roping.
“The horses at that time in my life, they saved my life,” Brannaman told Weir. “The horses did way for me than I did for them. So they were my friends, and they were sort of my refuge. So it’s interesting that I’ve been given the opportunity to spend the rest of my life making things better for the horses.”
Brannaman is known for his quiet approach to gaining respect from horses. He emphasizes that respect and fear are not the same thing. He was for many years a disciple of Ray Hunt, one of the founders of the natural horsemanship movement, and also inspired by Tom and Bill Dorrance.
The Cross View series is a great show for all levels of riders looking for a well-run show with a low-pressure, community atmosphere. Along with the competition, vendors also camped out in the grassy section between the two arenas.
Green Hill Equestrian Center offers three arenas with dirt footing. There is a large field across from the arenas for easy trailer parking, even for the largest of rigs. There also limited stalls available. The Green Hill venue does get hot in the summer with limited shade, so bring your pop up canopies or consider arriving early to secure a spot near the woods.
The show moves along fairly quickly. On Sunday, the gaited horses and model/showmanship started the show in separate arenas. The gaited portion was completed by 11 a.m and featured Rocky Mountain Horses, Tennessee Walking Horses, Saddlebreds and Peruvian Pasos among the horses shown.
Turnout was good considering the heat in July. Youth classes were particularly well attended with 10-15 in the youth pleasure classes. However the adult classes on Sunday weren’t as well attended and the English pleasure division had just one adult showing this time. Classes run $9/class.
Cross View would hold the last show in its 2017 series on Sept. 23-24 at Green Hill Equestrian Center, where it will crown the high point winners for the entire series.
The Roanoke Shenandoah Valley Horse Show returned to the Virginia Horse Center on June 21-25. And while high-steppin’ horses took to the Coliseum to compete for top honors, there were no high jumps in a chase for a title.
While technically this is a continuation of the show once run by the Roanoke Valley Horseman’s Association at the Salem Civic Center and hosted by the Virginia Horse Center in 2016, the show is now under new management, R.H. Bennett, of Shelbyville, Kentucky.
The 2017 show was a very different affair than what fans will remember from 1972-2014. The hunter/jumper classes that were at the heart of the multi-breed Salem show are no more. Nor are the barrels or Western classes that were traditionally held on Monday. And fans would not find a Grand Prix of Roanoke to cap the event on Saturday night. This year’s show showcased only American Saddlebreds.
The show, begun in 1972, has been granted United States Equestrian Federation designation as a USEF Heritage Competition. The designation is only given to those competitions that have made substantial contributions toward the development of the sport, promote and practice equestrian ideals of sportsmanship, and have been established for a long period of time.
For 2017, there were 103 classes. Horses come from far and wide with 23 states represented. Spectators were admitted at no charge. The Salem show sold tickets to its evening classes.
During this year’s competition, Ceil Wheeler and her own Callaway’s Brioni took home the championship in the ASB Ladies Five Gaited Championship. The reserve champion was presented to Phyllis Brookshire aboard Man on the Move.
Suzanne Wright and Fort Chiswell’s Wild Kiss earned the ASB Five Gaited Show Pleasure Adult championship, with the reserve championship going to Jennie Garlington riding Kalarama’s New Moon.
In the Hackney Pony Pleasure Adult Championship, it was Toni Nastali aboard Sandra Surber’s Heartland Resplendent that received the tricolor. The reserve champion in the Hackney division went Patty Hylton riding her own, Crystal Creek’s Legacy.
The win in the ASB Fine Harness Jackpot went to Larry Hodge aboard Trust My Imagination, owned by Hillcroft Farm. Hodge also took home the win in the ASB Five Gaited Jackpot, this time aboard Two Sweet to Kiss.
The ASB Five Gaited Jackpot was dedicated to Matt Shiflet’s grandfather, Claude Shiflet, a trainer whose family has been coming to the Roanoke Valley Horse Show from the beginning. The Shiflet family was honored before the class.
In the end, careful was more important than fast as show jumping took center stage at the Virginia Horse Center on Saturday, April 29. Alexa Lowe-Wiseman and Windsor Farm’s Synapse De Blondel were the only combination to produce a double clear effort, winning the $30,000 Rockbridge Grand Prix and Dubliner Trophy. Out of 14 entries, five returned for the jump-off, with Wiseman qualifying with two mounts.
Synapse De Blondel, a 10-year-old Selle Francais mare, had previously shown with
Wiseman in her first grand prix as a sale horse a year earlier. “My mother negotiated a trade deal with Nicholas Pio to get Blondie (Synapse De Blondel) to stay in the family after the great year we had, so it was my first grand prix with her as ours. It was very special and very exciting for Synapse De Blondel to win.”
Wiseman had the first and last attempt at the jump-off. Her first was aboard Udstrum Du Lys, a green horse who was competing in his first grand prix. Each competitor had a rail down throughout the jump-off when Wiseman entered the arena for her second round on Synapse De Blondel.
“Normally the strategy, if everyone has had a rail, you still have to go fast because if you also have a rail you don’t want to be the slowest 4-faulter. Knowing that I was the last one on course on my chestnut mare that is so careful I actually played it safe and executed a slower, but safe, clear round. It’s nice when you know that you can count on your horse to leave the jump when you are sitting in that position.”
Although completing the fastest round in the jump-off, Colombian rider Andrea Torres Guerreiro took second place aboard her own Fifty Shades, an 8-year-old Westphalian gelding. Torres Guerreiro also owned the third place finisher for Colombia, Christofolini H, a 9-year-old Rheinlander gelding ridden by Manuel Torres.
As a native Virginian, Lowe-Wiseman looks forward to continually supporting the shows at the Virginia Horse Center. “Everyone is friendly, the horse show staff, the ladies in the office, and the stable manager. They do everything they can, including having people to run you up and down the hill in golf carts so you don’t have to walk. The grand prix is special because the crowd shows up at night and cheer you on and it’s all because of the management of the show.”
On Friday, April 28, Maria Shannon won the $3,000 USHJA National Hunter Derby, claiming victory aboard Buble’, a Danish Warmblood owned by Mohammad Attar. The pair rose to the challenge with a score of 169 to claim the Laura Pickett Perpetual Trophy, donated by Rolling Acres Show Stable.
Twenty entries competed over the Paul Jewell designed course in the Wiley Arena. Buble’ — in addition to the reserve champion, Cavallino — were trained by Shannon’s mother, Claiborne Bishop of The Barracks Farm in Charlottesville, VA. Shannon has worked for the farm since 2000 where she competes in the professional divisions.
The Lexington Spring Festival continues at the horse center and will be capped by the $30,000 George L. Olhstrom Grand Prix on Saturday, May 6.
The Virginia Horse Center recently hosted The Great American Ranch and Trail Horse Sale, drawing nearly 170 sale horses and hundreds of potential buyers together from April 7-8. While the weekend centers around the auction of well-broke trail and working horses, it is much more than just a horse sale. Many of the horses also vied for $1,000 Ranch Horse competition or the $2,000 Trail Horse competition the day before the sale.
The trail horse competition includes eight obstacles, six of which the consignors know such as loading and unloading from a horse trailer or crossing a bridge, and two surprise elements. This year’s surprise included an adorable yet formidable donkey and the ringing of a hanging dinner bell. The course also included live chickens in a cage nearby a tent campsite, log crossings, an outhouse that required the horses to ground tie while their riders answered the call of nature and walking through brush.
All of the horses handled the course well, but only 10 could return the next morning for the trail finals. The finals included some of the same obstacles as the preliminary round, a few twists on the old obstacles, plus some new obstacles. And after each tackled the obstacles, they were given the opportunity to show off their horses in a freestyle routine that showcased the horses’ abilities. Some did reining spins and stops, illustrating their horses’ great handles, others jumped over logs, dragged barrels and spun flags and ropes over head.
In the end, a flashy 2013 sorrel APHA gelding, Doug Only Wishes, consigned by Marion G. Valerio and trained and ridden by John Roberts Performance Horses rose to the top of the 70 trail horse competitors and took home the winner’s paycheck.
This year, the sale also included a ranch horse competition. Horses could be shown in either of the two competitions, but not both. The ranch horse class was meant to show the horses’ abilities at working with cattle and performing ranch-type tasks. One at a time, each horse completed a working pattern, then boxed a cow and then illustrated the ability to be used to rope the cow.
Topping the class of about 15 was Hip #18 Stars Stripes N Spike, a 2004 sorrel AQHA gelding consigned by Odel & Susan H. Grose of North Carolina. He later sold in the sale for $14,500, the No. 4 high-seller. The high-seller of the sale was Hip #10 Shiners Spinning Top, who was reserve champion in the Ranch Horse Competition. The 2010 gray AQHA gelding, consigned by Steve Meadows, sold for $25,000.
Gaited horses were showcased on Friday night as well in a “Gaited Horse Show Off” just prior to the start of the trail horse competition.
Besides all the competitions, horses for sale, and the general excitement surrounding the auction, the Coliseum’s concourse was packed with vendors and shoppers including booths from World Class Saddlery (who also sponsored the Ranch Horse Competition), Lucky B Trailers (who sponsored the Trail Horse Competition), Bar C Designs, Cats Tack, Cavalor Care Products, Fisher Tack, Hidden West Jewelry, In Stitches, Richard Toms and many more.
Some other stars of the sale included Hip #56 Buckeye’s Lottery Diamond, a 2014 Gypsy Vanner/Haflinger cross tri-colored paint gelding, who sold for $20,000. He was consigned by Buckeye Acre Farm. Standing 14.3 hands high, he rode and drove.
Hip No. 24, Incredibly Kool, a 2013 sorrel gelding sold for $16,000. The proven show horse had more than 80 halter points and 30 grands and reserves.
Top 10 high-sellers:
Hip 10 – Shiners Spinning Top, $25,000
Hip 56 – Buckeye’s Lottery Diamond, $20,000
Hip 24 – Incredibly Kool, $16,000
Hip 18 – Stars Stripes N Spike, $14,500
Hip 88 – Marissa, $13,500
Hip 27 – Bo Jack BB King, $12,500
Hip 70 – Mr Montana Peppy, $11,200
Hip 46 – WR Missn Dash Jet, $11,000
Hip 36 – Home on the Range, $10,500
Hip 26 – Cowboys N Margaritas, $10,000
Prices were mixed throughout the day and went down to under $2,000. But many of the horses sold in the $4,000-$7,000 range. And several consignors didn’t get what they were looking for and “no sale” was announced at the close of the bidding. While some announcements of what the seller was looking for brought grumbles of disbelief from the crowd, at least one got what they were looking for and ended up with a sale afterall.
Next year’s sale and competitions will be April 13-14, 2018, at the Virginia Horse Center.
Capt. Mark Phillips is the new FEI course designer for the Virginia Horse Trials on May 25-28, 2017, and October 26-29, 2017.
The Virginia Horse Center features two separate cross country courses, each with rolling terrain and a stunning view of the Blue Ridge Mountains.
Capt. Phillips will design the CCI*, CIC2*, CCI2* and Intermediate tracks, with VHT Organizer Andy Bowles assisting at the two-star level and John Michael Durr, designer of the Beginner Novice through Preliminary courses, assisting at the one-star level.
“We’re glad to be bringing Mark to VHT,” Bowles said. “Our hope is that his experience will increase the quality of our FEI courses and present to the competitors a challenge that is true to the level and appropriate for a destination event.”
The FEI and Intermediate competitors will experience a totally new cross country challenge than in past years. The course has been reversed and a second water complex will be built.
“There had been some concern that the Oak Hill course sent horses downhill too long near the end of the course, so to lessen the impact on the horses we reversed the track,” Bowles said. “Now all the significant climbing is done within the first third of the course. This will also place the finish line and vet box closer to the road crossing back to the barns.”
The team also received feedback on the cross-country footing and so have committed considerable efforts towards preparing the best possible galloping conditions. Construction and jump placement are scheduled to be completed early to preserve the footing on cross country, and all tracks will be aerated in advance of both competitions. Mowing has already begun and will continue on a regular basis throughout the year.
This year we’re really focused on good grass maintenance. Between mowing, aerating and keeping heavy machinery off the course as much as possible, we expect the footing to be better than ever,” Bowles said.
“We’re sincerely listening to competitor feedback and making every effort to set a high standard and provide a world-class experience for horses and riders.”
The second cross country area is home to the Beginner Novice through Preliminary courses designed by John Michael Durr. As a USEF “r” Course Designer, he joined the VHT team as part of the Course Design Mentor Program in 2015 under the tutelage of John Nicholson. As part of the natural progression for the program, Durr will be assisting Capt. Phillips in designing the one-star courses this year.
“It feels great to be involved in the design of an FEI course for the first time in my career,” Durr said. “My goal as a course designer is to educate horses and riders and prepare them for the next level. Being a part of the Mentor Program has given me invaluable experience, and I’m excited for the next step in my own education as a designer.”
The Horse Center course will also feature a newly constructed water complex that will be unveiled in May. Durr feels that this addition, as well as the multitude of other new fences constructed at VHT in the last two years, will “maximize the experience” for competitors.