The world of horses seemed to be spinning a bit faster than usual this past weekend at the Virginia Horse Center as the Mid-Atlantic Reining Classic rolled into Lexington. The event boasted $100,000 in added money.
With the likes of Shawn Flarida and Rocky Dare in the saddle, there were lots of great runs to take in. The show also included classes for rookie and novice and green riders as well.
Saturday was capped by the NRHA Open Futurity, which saw Robin Schoeller ride Untrashyable to the win with a score of 223. Reserve went to Rocky Dare on Steady Mercedes. Third was Peter J De Freitas on ConquistadorWizzler. Click here for a full list of results.
The Open Futurity had 41 riders, in various levels, to show and took several hours to complete. The crowd was enthusiastic for the runs and whooping and hollering seemed to be a talent to be perfected all its own. Unlike many shows where the crowd sits as silently as possible, yelling, clapping and showing your appreciation for the rider in the arena is encouraged. None of the horses in the open futurity seemed even slightly phased by the noise. Kids in the stands loved that they didn’t have to be silent and “Go, Daddy Go” or “Giddy-up!” could be heard from children ringside.
Different from many other reining competitions that I have seen, riders seemed to be allowed to show using two hands on the reins. Most of the riders in Saturday night’s futurity rode two-handed but a handful rode with the more tradition single hand on the reins.
Attending a show at Green Hill Equestrian Center in Salem in the middle of July will make you appreciate trees and complain that no one ever thought of planting a few near the in-gate of the arenas. The sun was unrelenting at the Cross View Horse Show Series’ Luau show. A beach umbrella and a swimming pool would have been a very smart addition to every trailer.
The to-be-expected July heat didn’t cool off the attendance on Saturday, July 14, 2018. In particular, the jumper classes were well attended with some classes in excess of 10 entries and the jumper division stretching until about 3 p.m.
As the over fences classes wrapped up in the afternoon, participation did seem to drop for the flat classes. Beginner walk and walk/trot classes — usually very popular — only had one entry. Meanwhile, the adult hunter pleasure classes, which are usually some of the smaller classes of the day, showed six riders competing.
The Hunter Day of the Luau show was judged by Margaret Cornwell. Cornwell, a 2002 graduate of Ferrum College where she rode for the equestrian team in the open division, joined the Ferrum staff as the equestrian team coach in the fall of 2013.
Riders were also left fighting a common summer horse show curse: dusty arenas. While watering was planned by show management, their efforts were blocked by a broken water tank at the park show grounds.
The second half of the show kicked off with a fun class for parents/spouses to get into the action: a leadline class all their own to help raise money for the Virginia Quarter Horse Association Queen. Spouses and parents will get another chance to show off some equestrian skills at tomorrow’s open class day in the Showmanship class just for them.
The Cross View Horse Show appears to still be building momentum with each year in number of riders and quality of horses shown. The Luau show continues tomorrow with its open show featuring classes for English, Western and Hunt Seat riders. Leah Metz Hylton will judge.
On July 2, 2018, Randolph College President Bradley Bateman announced that the board of trustees voted to close the Randolph College Riding Center in Lynchburg. A fundraising effort to save the center failed to raise the $7.1 million needed.
The riding center, which sits on 100 donated acres and houses 40 horses, 26 of which are school horses, on average required $350,000 a year to operate.
Bateman said that declining interest in the riding program was also a factor in the decision. This year’s team had 25 riders, including four who rode at the IHSA National Finals this year.
The riding program will officially close in July 2019. The school will continue to offer the equine studies minor. New homes will be found for the 26 school horses next summer, Bateman said.
Virginia Sen. Mark Warner is taking again aim at “soring,” a practice used by some trainers to create the exaggerated high-stepping “big lick” gait seen in Tennessee Walker show horses.
On May 24, U.S. Sens. Warner and Mike Crapo of Idaho introduced bipartisan legislation to help protect horses from the abusive practice.
Soring is the practice of intentionally applying substances or devices to a horse’s leg to make each step painful. While soring already is prohibited under federal law, a U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Inspector General (IG) report has found that some horse trainers often go to great lengths to continue the practice.
“For more than 400 years, horses have been a part of Virginia’s culture. But despite a federal ban, horse soring — an act that deliberately inflicts pain on these animals— continues in some segments of the walking horse industry,” Sen. Warner said. “This bipartisan bill will finally put an end to this cruel and abusive practice.”
The Prevent All Soring Tactics (PAST) Act would:
Eliminate self-policing by requiring the USDA to assign a licensed inspector if the show’s management indicates its intent to hire one. Licensed or accredited veterinarians, if available, would be given preference for these positions.
Prohibit the use of action devices and pads on specific horse breeds that have historically been the primary victims of soring. Action devices, such as chains that rub up and down an already-sore leg, intensify the horse’s pain when it moves, so that the horse quickly jolts up its leg.
Increase the penalties on an individual caught soring a horse from a misdemeanor to a felony which is subject to up to three years’ incarceration, increase fines from $3,000 to $5,000 per violation, and permanently disqualify three-time violators from participating in horse shows, exhibitions, sales or auctions.
In 2017, the USDA Office of Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) incorporated some of the major tenets of the PAST Act in a rule meant to strengthen certain aspects of the Horse Protection Act. However, the rule was not finalized before the end of the Obama Administration and the Trump Administration halted that process. The PAST Act would codify these changes into law.
Numerous groups have endorsed the bill, including the Humane Society of the United States, the American Horse Council, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, the American Veterinary Medical Association, the Association of Prosecuting Attorneys, and the American Association of Equine Practitioners. The PAST Act was introduced in previous years by Sen. Warner and former Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-NH).
One method of soring involves using chemical agents such as mustard oil, kerosene, and other caustic substances on the pasterns, bulbs of the heel, or coronary bands of the horses, causing burning or blistering of the horses’ legs to accentuate their gaits. Dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO) is sometimes added to increase the effect. The treated area is then often wrapped in plastic while the chemicals are absorbed.
Other methods of soring can include pressure shoes, where the hoof is trimmed so that the sole is in direct contact with the pad or shoe. The horse may then be ridden on hard surfaces on the over-trimmed hooves, until they are very sore.
First its location changed. Then the class list dropped a large portion of the classes and became a show for Saddlebreds. And now the name is disappearing, too.
The Roanoke Valley Horse Show left the Salem Civic Center for a rebirth at the Virginia Horse Center in 2016. But that rebirth became more of a high-speed evolution. The hunter classes were gone by 2017 and the name had been tweaked to Roanoke Shenandoah Valley Horse Show. A Grand Prix would no longer cap off the weeklong schedule. And the support of Roanoke area businesses also was lost as the Roanoke Valley Horseman’s Association passed off the event to new hosts.
This year, the show will run just four days — June 20-23 — at the Virginia Horse Center. And Roanoke appears to be disappearing from its name. The artwork for the show lists it as the Shenandoah Classic Horse Show.
Lots has changed but there will still be plenty of high-stepping action if not high jumping action. And it is inevitable that even some of our most treasured horse show events will change over time, particularly as horse shows face the challenge of dropping participation.
Meanwhile, the Roanoke Valley Horseman’s Association is scheduled to hold a one-day community horse show at Green Hill Park Equestrian Center in Salem this summer. Watch for more details on that event.
In 2015, college officials shocked alumni and students alike when they announced the school, including its esteemed equestrian program, would close. Alumnae saved their beloved school, and the college’s tradition of riding excellence was saved with it.
On Saturday, May 5, 2018, Makayla Benjamin, a senior, became the riding program’s first winner of the Cacchione Cup at the Intercollegiate Horse Shows Association in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.
The USEF/Cacchione Cup is awarded to the National Individual Hunter Seat High Point Rider.
Benjamin, of Leesburg, Virginia, is one of 24 riders from across the nation who qualified to compete for the Cacchione Cup, with three riders coming from each of the eight regions across the nation.
The last Vixen to compete at nationals in the USEF/Cacchione Cup was Olivia Smith in 2014. Smith placed ninth overall. Benjamin joins Smith and Jodie Weber as Sweet Briar riders to have competed for the USEF/Cacchione Cup since 2006. Weber finished fourth in 2006, while Smith finished 33rd in 2013 and ninth in 2014.
Past Cacchione Cup winners are:
2017: Katherine Steiner – Centenary University
2016: Chase Boggio, Tufts University
2015: Elizabeth Hay, College of Charleston-South Carolina
2014: Alexandra Carleton, University of Vermont
2013: Cori Reich, Centenary College
2012: Kels Bonham, Savannah College of Art and Design
2011: Marissa Cohen, Centenary College
2010: Lindsay Sceats, Mount Holyoke College
2009: Lindsay Clark, Centenary College
2008: James Fairclough II, Drew University
2007: Whitney Roper, University of Virginia
2005: Ashley Woodhouse, Skidmore College
2004: Tara Brothers, University of South Carolina
2003: John Pigott, University of Vermont
2002: Laena Romond, Mount Holyoke College
2001: Amanda Forte, Brown University
2000: Hally Philips, Tufts University
1999: Lindsay Phibbs, Skidmore College
1998: Jennie Chesis, Cazenovia College
1997: Kelly Anne Taylor, Centenary College
1996: Kara Treiber, University of Findlay
1995: Kim Peters, Lake Erie College
1994: Daniel Geitner Sainy, Andrews Presbyterian College
1993: Parris Cozart, Hollins College
1992: Christine Kilpatrick, University of Virginia
1991: Kelly Mullen, SUNY Stony Brook
1990: Claudia Barth, Mount Holyoke College
1989: Charlotte Sprague, Hollins College
1988: Kelly Mullen, SUNY Stony Brook
1987: Heidi Bossow, Hollins College
1986: Peter Wylde, Tufts University
1985: Heidi Bossow, Hollins College
1984: Beezie Patton, Southern Seminary College
1983: CeCe Williamson, University of Virginia
1982: CeCe Williamson, University of Virginia
1981: CeCe Williamson, University of Virginia
1980: Ann Sipperly, SUNY Stony Brook
1979: Mary Buckley, Colby Sawyer College
1978: Luanne Richards, Penn State University
1977: Pam Carson, Adelphi University
1976: Suzie Horrigan, Colby Sawyer College
1975: Jean Oberg, SUNY Stony Brook
1974: Mary Webster, Bennett College
1973: Mark Weissbecker, University of Massachusetts
1972: Duncan Peters, University of Connecticut
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.
Hollins University is hiring a Director of Equestrian Program and Head Riding Coach after the retirement of longtime director Nancy Peterson.
Peterson, who turns 79 this month, told the Chronicle of the Horse in April, “I just thought it was time. I have not been coerced or pushed or pressured to do this. It is my decision. I’m really happy with it. I just feel like it is time for new leadership and somebody else to come in and take over the program—[someone] who’s younger maybe and more energetic, more stamina than I’ve got. The only expression I can use is, ‘It’s time.”
Peterson arrived at Hollins in 1972. Since then Hollins riders have earned 19 Intercollegiate Horse Shows Association individual national championships, four Fitch Trophy/Cacchione Cup Individual National High Point Rider titles, 21 Old Dominion Athletic Conference titles and two IHSA national team championships.
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: