If you are searching for something equine to do this weekend, head to northeast Roanoke County/Botetourt County for a trio of events clustered in the Hollins/Daleville area.
Start your day at the Hollins University Fall Horse Show. The hunters/jumper show runs all weekend, starting at 8:30 a.m. on Saturday. Jeanie Smith (USEF “R”) of Tyron, North Carolina, will judge.
Then be sure to make some time to drive over to Rockingham Co-op on Route 220 South to the Virginia Horse Council’s Essentially Equine Craft Fair. The craft fair will feature area artists’ work but with an equestrian twist. It’s a perfect place to get your early Christmas shopping done for all your horse-loving friends, plus get yourself something special, too. It’s only a 10-minute drive from Hollins if you happen to be showing this weekend. The craft sale will be open from 8 a.m. until 5.
If you like to barter a bit, Hollins Stockyard has scheduled a tack and horse sale on Saturday. At 11 a.m. tack will be auctioned and can be a great place to pick up riding essentials for less. Horses will follow later that evening at 4 p.m.
The Cross View Horse Show Series closed it’s 2017 series, crowning its high point winners for the day and the season at its fall show this past weekend. While the calendar said it was fall, the weather felt more like mid-summer with temperatures well into the mid-80s and the sun shining hot and bright all day.
By the time I arrived on Sunday afternoon, their was a decent, if not spectacular, turnout for the show. I was a bit surprised that more didn’t take advantage of the incredible September weather to come out with their horses. As with each Cross View show, the midway between the two main rings included vendors and games.
Most of the Western classes appeared to have between two and five entries. Five vied for the Jackpot GAYP Pleasure class. Laura Owen took home the largest slice of the jackpot on her sorrel gelding, Zipposhandsomedevil, who she rode without a bridle in the class.
The ranch horse classes were also well attended. Riders in the ranch rail classes were asked to walk, job and lope, but also to extend the jog.
Attire for Western part of the show was very casual for some — I saw ball caps and blue jeans on some — to gemstones and standard pleasure glitz on others. So don’t let your lack of show attire keep you from coming out to complete next year!
Covering horse shows of multiple disciplines around the region, I see a lot of different ways shows are run. And one of the big differences that I see, and have also experienced as an exhibitor, is the placement of the judge during a flat class.
In the AQHA/stock horse-led culture that I grew up in, the judge was always in the arena for the flat classes. Often they place themselves off to one corner. From there they can see most of the arena plus hear the footfalls of the horses behind them. But when I started showing hunters in college, the judges were always sitting outside the arena. Sometimes they were hard to even find. I always found this disconcerting.
Part of showing includes your presentation to the judge. At the district horse shows I attended as a teenager only the first- or second-place horse moved on to the state championship. Three judges were used and their scores were averaged to determine the final placings. One year, while two of the judges were consistently placing me high, one judge wasn’t using me at all. This was sending me down to sixth overall and outside of qualifying for the state horse show. Part of my instructions from my coach included to make eye contact with that judge as I came toward him. Did it help? I have no idea. But it was part of the showmanship: Confidently showing your horse to the judge, and let’s face it, finding a spot to make an adjustment behind the judge’s back.
I was reminded of this difference at the last show I attended: the Virginia 4-H State Championship. In the hunter pleasure classes on Saturday afternoon, the announcer had to ask each class to look up at the stands at the waving judge and then explain that they shouldn’t ride down the rail on that side of the arena as she wouldn’t be able to see them. It made for a very lopsided ride for the exhibitors with awkward turns at the corner so they could ride off the rail down one side. Maybe not so awkward if you are alone in the arena, but in classes of 15-18 horses, some exhibitors would be coming into the corner three deep. Some of them resorted to riding a little circle in the middle of the arena, which appeared to suit the judge just fine but didn’t make the horse look so great.
At the end of the class, the lineup had horses stacked up in just a tiny part of the arena so that she could see the numbers. If she couldn’t see numbers in a normal lineup, what else couldn’t she see?
I saw one very nice horse miss its lead not once, but three consecutive times, before giving a little buck and taking the correct one. This happened right in front of the judge but perhaps too close to the rail for her to know. It’s hard to say that was the case, but it was a major error that ended in a reserve championship.
Sitting in the stands seems to me to be so disconnected from the exhibitors. I couldn’t help but think to myself that all of this could have been avoided if the judge would simply come stand in the arena.
The Virginia 4-H State Championship had some judging inconsistencies. Some disciplines had just the one judge, such as the hunters and dressage equitation. One person’s opinion to decide the state title. However, when I switched gears to watch the Western divisions, there were two judges. (Both in the arena I might add.) I believe multiple judges is the more appropriate choice at a state championship. Three would be even better than two as you’d have fewer ties. Of course, the cost of paying the judges becomes a factor.
And as a further argument for judges in the arena, the exhibitors got to lineup in front of each individual judge before the final results were announced. Often the judge would chat with the winning rider as they stood there. That’s a memory that is likely to always stick with that rider.
I know that judging is a long day and they deserve a seat. And classes that involve patterns or jumping a course are a fantastic chance to allow the judge to sit. However, for the flat classes on the rail there is no reason to be up in the bleachers. Exhibitors who put their heart and soul into that weekend of showing deserve to get the chance to look their judge in the eye and show them just what they’ve got.
What do you all think? Do you have a preference as to where you find the judge?
There’s something inspiring about the Virginia State 4-H Championship Horse Show that’s held every September at the Virginia Horse Center.
Not every truck and trailer you see parked in the lot is brand new, although many are. Not every saddle is covered in silver or every show shirt perfectly tailored and covered in sparkling jewels, although many are. But the atmosphere is every bit as electric as the biggest shows, maybe even more so.
Parents stand on the rail more nervous than if they were showing, muttering instructions and tips even though their children are at the other end of the arena and couldn’t possibly hear. Horses are lovingly prepared to enter what for many will be the biggest show of the year, if not their careers, to make memories that may last the rest of the exhibitors’ lives.
Morgan Strickler of Frederick County is one such exhibitor who is bound to always have great memories of her rides at the 4-H State Championship Show. She was returning to the championship show after winning the Western Pleasure Classic last year on her Appaloosa Ima Glowin CocoChip. Sunday morning, the defending champion made it two in a row. First Morgan won the Horsemanship title in a split judge’s decision (Gillian Davis riding VS Red Solo was first under the second judge), and then she took the Western Pleasure Horse Classic in a unanimous decision. Julia Marie Haney of Prince William County and The Kyrmsun Cowboy were Reserve in the Western Pleasure Horse Classic.
Photos from the Virginia 4-H Championship Horse Show available for purchase are being uploaded now at www.roanokeequestrian.smugmug.com.
Digital copies and print versions are available.
The Classics, which require a qualifying ride in a previous class during the show, are simply a cap to what is a busy weekend at the horse center. The show begins on Thursday and runs through Sunday. The winners of the various class divisions then come back at the end of the show for the “Classic” classes… the best of the best enter the ring to vie for the class title. This year, the Hunter Pleasure, Western Pleasure, Hunt Seat Equitation and Horsemanship Classics were held in the East Complex on Sunday morning. But other Classics are held also on both Saturday and Sunday.
Emily Michelle Strom of Henrico County and her gray Arabian KK Dream Catcher won the Western Pleasure Pony Classic.
In the Hunt Seat Equitation Classic, Holly Kate Longest of James City rode Playing Hooky to victory. Holly was part of a four-horse work-off the required the exhibitors to show at a walk, rising trot, sitting trot and canter without their irons. Reserve went to Marissa Jones of Loudoun on Above the Clouds.
There’s a balance here between everyone getting a shot and the top riders achieving the giant trophy. And the trophies really are enormous — one Classic trophy required two people to carry it into the arena. Disciplines offered are as varied as the ponies. Western, Saddle Seat, Hunt Seat, Dressage, Speed, Reining and even Side Saddle are represented.
What the 4-H State Show has that many other shows seem to lack is a fabulous sense of community. Counties band together, decorate their stalls to a common theme and everyone seems to have their own cheering section when the results came in after each class. There’s a lot that professionals could learn from the youth in that arena.
The attending veterinarians reported the case in a Appaloosa-cross gelding who began showing clinical signs on August 22, including nasal discharge, swelling of the lymph nodes and fever. The gelding was initially isolated on the farm but has since been transported off the farm.
The gelding tested positive for strangles on culture by nasal swab, lymph node aspirate, and serum.
A Tennessee Walking Horse gelding and a Quarter Horse mare were also exposed as they were purchased from the same source and were hauled together prior to the onset of clinical signs. The walking horse gelding and quarter horse mare have been isolated.
Strangles is an infectious, contagious disease characterized by abscesses in the lymphoid tissue of the upper respiratory tract. The incubation period of strangles is 3–14 days, and the first sign of infection is fever (103°–106°F). Within 24–48 hours of the initial fever spike, the horse will exhibit signs typical of strangles, including nasal discharge, depression, and and swelling. Some horses have difficulty swallowing, and make noise when breathing. Older animals with residual immunity may develop an atypical or catarrhal form of the disease with mucoid nasal discharge, cough, and mild fever.
The Botetourt County Horseman’s Association will hold its 18th Annual Horse Show on Oct. 7 at Green Hill Park in Salem. The open horse show will include three over-fences divisions, model, showmanship, coached, pleasure, ranch riding, gaited and games classes. Rachel Bandy Witt will judge.
The horse show will also include a $100-added money Jackpot Pleasure class. Money from entries will be contributed to the pot for each of the top 3 placings and a rider drawn at random. The more who enter, the bigger the payout. Entry fees for that class will be $25. All other classes will be $8.
The show also includes a special classes of Arabian exhibitors. The Susan Bradley Memorial Trophy Open Arabian Pleasure class returns to the BCHA show this year. And BCHA members may ride in the BCHA Members Only pleasure class.
Eleven division champions will be crowned, with special prizes to each of those winners. Class winners will also receive prizes beyond the blue ribbon.
New this year, a hunter pace will accompany the horse show. Starting at noon, teams of two may tackle the course. The team closest to the optimal time wins. All jumps are optional and three divisions will be offered, including a trail division for those who just want to ride at a leisurely pace. All disciplines welcome. The cost to ride in the hunter pace is $35/rider for non-members, $25/rider for BCHA members. The hunter pace will run through 3 p.m.
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.
Tracy Nininger recently moved to Fincastle’s Ardmore Equestrian Center from Georgia. In Georgia, she was the owner and operator of Jump On Over Hunter/Jumper facility, and her riders competed on the local and A-rated circuit (Zone4) with the Georgia Hunter/Jumper Association. A graduate of Virginia Intermont in Bristol, Virginia, Tracy majored in Horsemanship/Stable Management with a minor in Business.
Tell me about your stable/business. What kind of services do you offer?
Ardmore Equestrian Center is a full care hunter/jumper equestrian center. We offer a lesson program for the recreational rider as well as the serious competitive rider. Our facility has a indoor arena that is 100 X 200 so lessons are never canceled due to bad weather or if it is too hot!
We have over 24 stalls that have matted floors, sliding doors and that are 12 X 12 in size. We offer pasture turnout or paddock turnout. We do not offer pasture boarding. Both of our arenas are lighted and we will offer clinics, schooling shows, summer camps, overnight camps and trail riding. Our farm supports the community’s Botetourt Food Shelter. We currently have two instructors who both have degrees and are certified.
When did you get started in horses? What is your riding background?
I began riding when I was 7 years old, and it is my passion. You can read my Bio for my background. I have experience in Dressage, Western and Saddleseat.
What makes your stable/business different than others in the area? What’s your specialty? What do you take the most pride in?
Our facility is different from the other area facilities because of our state of the art facility and care given to the horses and riders. Everyone at Ardmore is qualified to teach and train. Our employees have the degrees and certifications to do the job they were hired for. All the employees at Ardmore have the knowledge and experience to provide a professional, safe atmosphere. We meet the needs of each one of our boarders, lesson students and we strive on excellent quality care. Friendly customer service is demanded from each employee for our customers. I feel strongly that these are the reasons for our success.
I have been blessed to have participated in clinics and ridden under top Olympic riders. I have deliberately followed top professionals so that I have the knowledge to do correct training techniques and be a positive role model for others. (See BIO)
Can you describe your training/teaching philosophy?
I teach and follow the training techniques of George Morris. I have followed top equitation coaches because I feel position is everything when it comes to communicating to your horse while riding. You can not get the full potential of your riding if you do not understand how your position effects the horse’s movement. You should be as one with your horse and not just a passenger, but understand the mental and physical attributes of the horse so you ride at your full potential and be a partner with your horse.
What are your favorite breeds/bloodlines? What do you look for when choosing a prospect?
My favorite breed of a horse is a thoroughbred/quarter horse cross. However, I really enjoy all breeds as I feel each one is unique and brings different challenges with each breed as they all are different. What I mostly look for when choosing a mount for a rider is the attitude of the horse. Different riders require different attitudes so you really have to match up a rider’s personality with the horse’s personality.
Who are your riding mentors? How have they influenced your riding?
My mentor was FEI Grand Prix rider Miss Barry Lane of Full Cry Farm in Locust Grove, Georgia. Barry reflected hard-work and to never give up. Always work with a positive attitude and to keep things into perspective. I never heard her ever say an unkind word or do an unkind act.
She was always professional and surrounded herself with top professional people. She built confidence in riders and brought out the best in people. I miss her tremendously!!
My other mentor was Katie Monahan Prudent. Even though I never had the opportunity to ride with her I admired her riding techniques. She had perfect equitation in the jumper ring. She is so graceful to watch in the jumper ring and she made it look so easy and smooth. She is very consistent in her riding and she has great hands. She is like a ballerina in the jumper ring, it is just lovely to watch her.
My biggest mentor however, is my big sister. Melody Light. She is a lovely rider and growing up she would work so she could pay for my riding lessons and spent hours teaching me about horses. She is my mentor at heart!
What is the best piece of riding advice you were ever given?
The best piece of advice that has ever been given to me is to remember that each horse is different and so are people and when you match them up they need to be partners. Don’t just buy any horse for any person.
Do you have a favorite horse movie or book?
My favorite horse movie is “Secretariat”! I really don’t have a favorite book.
What one piece of advice would you give new/young riders?
Don’t try to train yourself all by yourself; that’s what trainers are for. Do you learn to play soccer without a soccer coach, a ballerina without an instructor ?
If you could try any other riding discipline, what would it be?
I am interested in three-gaited natural-tail Saddlebreds.
What is the best thing about riding/training in the Roanoke area?
Roanoke is my hometown; I grew up here and I love having the mountains to ride in. I like the trail rides and the hills. You don’t have this in Florida.
If you could change one thing about the horse industry, what would it be?
For trainers to respect each other better. Learn from each other. Work with each other better.
What is your favorite characteristic in a client/student?
I will take a student that may not be very talented but is the hard worker over the talented rider that is lazy.
What horse industry/riding trend do you wish would go away and never return?
Backyard owners that don’t have any business caring for a horse.
What was the biggest surprise about riding as a profession?
I really don’t have any big surprises about the horse industry. The industry itself educates many people, and following top professionals creates success. It’s the people that mess it up.
What is your favorite local horse show or event? Why?
The Roanoke Valley Horse Show. It was my first A-Show, I think I was 12 years old. I loved the Salem Colesium and the all-breed show classes held at night.
Tell us about the best horse you’ve ever ridden.
A Thoroughbred mare I rode in the jumpers. Her show name was Clearly Magic, and she was a horse no one wanted and she was given to me. She was fast, could turn and jump and loved it. So much fun to ride!
If you could ride any famous horse from history, who would you ride?
A horse called Snowman. He started the jumpers! Look him up!
If you could spend the day riding with any horseman, living or dead, who would it be? Why?
There are so many great horseman but I think I would like to spend the day with Rodney Jenkins. He definitely could ride, but as a little girl following him around the Roanoke Valley Horse Show, I loved his laid-back demeanor. He could spot a really good horse, too!!!
Tell us about your first horse.
My first horse was a little black small pony named Star. He was my best friend. I spent many hours trail riding him, and literally riding him all over the Poages Mill area of Roanoke, Virginia.
“I was not expecting to win [the Youth Member of the Year] and was very surprised,” Madison said. “I know a lot of great people applied for it, so it’s an honor to be member of the year. I actually got the call I had won it on my birthday, which was a great present.”
Youth Member of the Year is presented annually at the Youth World Show to an AjPHA member who exemplifies commitment to service and their community, scholastic achievement and leadership. The award is not given based on show-ring merits, but rather to a person who embodies the spirit of AjPHA and has a deep love for and involvement with Paint Horses. Winners receive a $1,000 scholarship and a custom Gist Silversmiths trophy buckle.
“I got into horses because my neighbor let me ride her horse, which is now mine,” Madison said. “I have been involved with horses for quite a while now, and I absolutely love it and love Paints.”
Beyond her involvement with the Paint Horse industry, she is also a leader in her local 4-H and Pony Club where she has been actively involved for five years.
Outside of equine activities, Madison is a member of French Club, Fellowship of Christian Athletes and plays basketball. Going into her junior year of high school, she will begin to take dual-enrollment courses and earn college credits. She aspires to attend law school and is on the fast-track to that goal by taking an Introduction to U.S. Law class this summer at the College of William & Mary Law School.
Volunteer work is very important to Madison. In 2016, she served as Senate Page for the Commonwealth of Virginia and volunteers in Sen. Steve Newton’s office. She gives back to her community by participating in trash pick-up days and is a volunteer for her children’s ministry at her local church.
Tad Coffin of Tad Coffin Performance Saddles will visit Virginia Tech at 1 p.m. on July 19 to demonstrate the neurological benefits of his new saddle tree technology, SmartRide Rx. The technology has demonstrated consistent ability to reduce back pain, stress and anxiety in many horses.
Participants with horses will be able to watch Tad use his saddle technology on their own horses and/or have an opportunity to try it themselves.