Category Archives: Phelps Media Group

Phelps Media Group

Haley Redifor and Ballon Secure Victory at Virginia Horse Show Association Medal Finals

Haley Redifor and Ballon. Photos Courtesy of Teresa Ramsay Photography.

Lexington, Va. – August 30, 2016 – After four days of elite competition at the picturesque Virginia Horse Center, Haley Redifor rode away with the tricolor ribbon and victory in the 2016 Virginia Horse Show Association (VHSA)/EMO Medal Finals aboard her new mount, Ballon. The Lexington National Horse Show hosted top athletes and trainers from across the country, wrapping up competition on August 14.

The 16-year-old and her 9-year-old Dutch Warmblood have been working together since March. The pair has qualified for the Pessoa/USEF Hunter Seat Medal at the Pennsylvania National Horse Show and hope to qualify for the ASPCA Maclay Finals at the National Horse Show, as well.

“Ballon is extremely easy,” Redifor said. “He may be the easiest horse I’ve ever ridden. He just loves to do his job. He was perfect all weekend. He was perfect from the second I got him. We clicked immediately. You pretty much just show him where to go, and he’s going to do it. He loves what he does and he’ll do it without question.”

Redifor capped off a hat trick with the Medal Final victory at the end of the week, after also earning wins in the Virginia Hunter Championships Pony and Junior-Amateur Finals on Tuesday, August 9.

“The wins meant everything to me,” Redifor expressed. “I have so much support from friends and family. I was so nervous, because I didn’t want to let anyone down and I wanted to do well. I am so happy that I was able to go in there and lay down rounds that my trainers (Chris Wynne and Glenn Moody) would be proud of. I am really happy.”

She added, “I love the VHC facility. It’s one of my favorites. There are so many places to ride around. The Dover Saddlery sponsored trail ride is so much fun. You can take the horses on the trails and find tokens for a chance to win prizes.”

Kesli Okun had a perfect ending to her junior riding career, earning the blue ribbon in the VHSA Horsemanship Championship during the Lexington National Horse Show with Monopoly.

“Lexington National and all the spring series are some of my favorite shows,” Okun shared. “The management is like family. We’ve been showing there for so long, and I’ve watched this final every year. To come home and finish like is just huge for me.”

Sophia Vella, a sophomore at Virginia Tech, competed at the premier event as a catch-ride trainee for Gordon Reistrup. The 19-year-old rode Steel Me Away, an 8-year-old Thoroughbred owned by Jennifer Oliver. Together, the rider-and-horse duo surpassed their own expectations and were crowned the 2016 Adult Medal Finals Champion.

“This show was our third show together,” Vella explained. “The medal final was my second time doing equitation on Steel Me Away. It was thrilling to win, because I went in with the mindset, ‘We’ll see how it goes and be happy with whatever happens.’ He was just really rideable and consistent the entire weekend.”

Commenting on her blue-ribbon weekend, Reistrup added, “Sophia was truly delightful, and I give all the credit to Sue Homan, who trained her throughout her entire young life. Sophia was super receptive and had an amazing horse show. She’s a super rider.”

Vella was not the only athlete benefitting from Reistrup’s training throughout the weekend.

The 11-year-veteran coach for Washington & Lee proudly watched his student, Lizzie Bailey, take home the victory in the Amy Ylvisaker Reistrup (AYR) Equitation Challenge Finals, a class named after Reistrup’s late wife.

“Lizzie rode beautifully all week,” Reistrup said as he fought back emotions. “She scored a personal best of 90 in the first round in the AYR Equitation challenge. That class was started in memory of my late wife. It requires the riders to walk the course themselves and don’t get any trainer input. It’s a real test of horsemanship. This win and this year was extra special. My wife passed away 10 years ago. It’s a great way to carry on her legacy. I couldn’t do anything, but watch Lizzie from the stands. I wished her good luck before she headed down to the arena. It was quite special. She rode beautifully, and the horse went beautifully. ”

Bailey and Acido 7 had a stand-out weekend, placing within the top eight of each class they entered. The 17-year-old has owned and trained the 17.2 hh Oldenburg for three years under Reistrup’s direction.

“Acido 7 is great, because he has a classic style,” Bailey explained. “He can do the hunters, but also the jumper-style equitation classes and has a big enough stride to make it under the time allowed. I think he just has a nice look and jumps a good jump, which adds to the picture. We’ve come a long way since we were first paired. It’s been fun growing together. My riding and his strength and ability have grown over the years.”

Jason Berry and Acido 7
Jason Berry and Acido 7

Earlier in the week, the Lexington National Horse Show hosted the USHJA National Hunter Derby, where Jason Berry captured the victory aboard IAmWhatIAm. The professional rode on behalf of Dawn Maxon and earned the blue ribbon finish during the prestigious event.

“The horse performed great and won both rounds,” Berry said. “It was a big class, and was really competitive. I definitely tried to be as handy as possible in the handy round, making the sharpest turns I could. He was excellent and was right there with me the whole time.”

Berry continued, “IAmWhatIAm really wraps around the jumps. He’s scopey and jumps high and round. The higher the jump, the better he jumps. The win meant a lot to the owner. She’s from California and has had the horse for a long time, since he was a 2-year-old and brought it along herself. It’s great to have an owner that stands behind their horse.”

Berry is a local at Virginia Horse Center, who has earned his fair share of victories. Sharing his thoughts, he said, “It’s a great facility. It’s like home, and I love showing there.”

To learn more about other upcoming horse shows and events at the Virginia Horse Center, visit

Rebecca Walton for Phelps Media Group, Inc. International

Phelps Media Group, Inc.
561-753-3389 (phone)
561-753-3386 (fax)

Tori Colvin and Cafino Capture $40k Bluegrass Festival Grand Prix at Bluegrass Festival Horse Show

Tori Colvin and Cafino.

Hesslink Takes Blue in $5,000 Hallway Feeds USHJA National Hunter Derby to Earn Series Title

Lexington, KY – Aug. 21, 2016 – Before she heads to the Hampton Classic on Monday, Tori Colvin snuck in one more victory aboard Take The High Road LLC’s Cafino in the $40,000 Bluegrass Festival Grand Prix, sponsored by Audi of Lexington, on the final day of Bluegrass Festival Horse Show.

“This is my favorite week because the course designers bring the cool jumps out,” Colvin said. “It’s amazing to win on Cafino. I knew he was ready today, so I was really going for it out there. I’m really happy to have him going so well. Karen [Long Dwight] has been the one who helped us with him, and she’s the sponsor and the owner. She’s wonderful, and Cafino is just perfect.”

Bobby Murphy’s course still contained many elements from last night’s USHJA International Hunter Derby Championship, including the obstacle that certainly stuck in most riders’ minds: the 1.57m wall, which was set at 1.54m for the grand prix.

“The only thing I thought was just stay on at the wall, and I’m good,” Colvin laughed. “That’s it; just hang on. I loved having the wall out there. I loved this course because it was like half hunter derby and half grand prix.”

Murphy’s hunter-esque course saw 37 entries in the first round, with six entries eventually advancing to compete over the short course.

Among the jump-off-qualified horse-and-rider combinations was Shane Sweetnam and Main Road, who is owned by Sweet Oak Farm and Seabrook LLC. After a second place finish in another grand prix during the Kentucky Summer Horse Show series, Sweetnam said he was looking for a win aboard the gelding.

The duo came close, turning in the first clear round of the afternoon and setting the early time to beat at 41.775 seconds in the jump-off.

“Main Road is a very good horse,” Sweetnam said. “He’s only 8; he’s had a good summer. It was a difficult course, but I think he jumped really good in both rounds.”

It was not long until Colvin and Cafino overtook their lead, however, turning in a fast round and tripping the timers in 41.23 seconds. Colvin’s lead would hold out for the win, while Sweetnam settled for second.

“I could’ve been maybe a bit quicker turning after the double,” Sweetnam said. “I think it would’ve been harder for them to beat me if I had turned quicker. I think that’s what cost me the win. He’s still learning.”

Colvin said she began riding Cafino about a year ago, and she loves the soft, easy ride the gelding gives her.

“Cafino is the easiest thing to ride,” Colvin explained. “You literally just loop the reins. When he lands, it’s like you’re on a cloud. He’s perfect. He doesn’t land hard, he’s just soft. He has a little quirk, because he will buck when he gets a little excited, but I just have to hold on.”

A final challenger, Sloane Coles, piloted the Spring Ledge Group’s Esprit to the third place spot with a clear round completed in 43.573 seconds. Clocking a faster time, but unfortunately picking up 4 faults in the jump-off, was Sweetnam and another entry, Spy Coast Farm LLC’s Chaqui Z. Fifth place went home with Blythe Marano and Virginia Ingram’s Figeac De Reve with 4 faults and a time of 44.007 seconds. Aaron Vale and Sarah Turner’s Acolina R turned in another very fast round in 43.267 seconds, but unfortunately lowered two heights to finish on 8 faults and in sixth place.

Hesslink Takes Blue in $5,000 Hallway Feeds USHJA National Hunter Derby to Earn Series Title

It was the 20-year-old, newly-turned professional rider, Geoffrey Hesslink, who took home not only the blue ribbon and championship cooler for Sunday afternoon’s $5,000 Hallway Feeds USHJA National Hunter Derby, but also for the entire Hallway Feeds Hunter Derby Series. Saturday’s derby marked the last leg of the popular series, held during the Bluegrass Festival Horse Show at the Kentucky Horse Park.

Geoffrey Hesslink and Esco
Geoffrey Hesslink and Esco

Hesslink piloted Garland Alban’s Esco to victory, after receiving an 89 in the classic round and an 83 in the handy, collecting a lead score of 172 points to seal the win. He successfully tackled three high-option fences. While Hesslink has competed in the Alltech Arena more times than he can count due to his illustrious equitation career as a junior, it was Esco’s first time in the intimidating indoor arena.

Hesslink, of Shelburne, Vermont, said, “I started riding Esco post-circuit at the Winter Equestrian Festival this year. He’s been great. He does the Performance Hunters and the derbies. He’s been perfect.”

Hesslink enjoys participating in the Hallway Feeds National Derby Series so much that he has not missed one this year. “I love the derbies because I feel like it’s a great place to show off your horse and your handiness as well as how smooth and soft you can be,” Hesslink said. “Esco really excels at it because he doesn’t care about any of the jumps. He never spooks at anything.”

Although it was Esco’s first time in the large indoor venue, and their partnership is fairly new, Hesslink was not concerned about the 8-year-old Rhinelander.

“I know he’s always a steady eddie and he doesn’t care about those things. For sure, it’s more spooky. There’s more pressure on the horses with this atmosphere,” Hesslink acknowledged.

Hesslink has made a smooth transition into his budding career as a young professional under the guidance of Tim and Kelly Goguen of Boggs Hill Farm, as well as the generosity on behalf of Dina Testa and Garland Alban.

As the winner of the Hallway Feeds USHJA National Hunter Derby Series, Hesslink took home the $10,000 Hallway Feeds Leading Rider Bonus. “I think it’s amazing,” said Hesslink. “I think that it really helps to advertise and get the name out there for the derbies and I think it drives people to want to do them more and participate. I know Taylor [Kain], Aaron [Vale] and Sydney [Shulman] all came back and wanted to do them again and I did the same. I think it’s a great program and it’s a good thing for people who are here.”

Earning second place honors in this weekend’s derby was Courtney Baggett’s Highmark, ridden by Amanda Dougherty. She took on three high options and judges awarded the pair with an 82 in the classic and 85 in the handy. Tori Colvin rode Rivercross Onyx, owned by Rivercross Farm, to third-place honors with a total score of 167.5 points.

Hallway Feeds’ close proximity to the Kentucky Horse Park provides ample opportunity to utilize the freshest feed, manufactured with time-honored commitments to high standards of quality and the latest scientific advancements. Combining a premium nutrition package with a professional level of dedication in horsemen and women provides equine athletes with the formula for success.

For more information on Hallway Feeds, please visit

The Hallway Feeds USHJA National Hunter Derby series would not be possible without many generous sponsors including Hagyard Equine Medical Institute, Fenwick Equestrian Products, EquiVision, Inc., Caddel Equine Therapy Center, Bauer Hay & Straw, Alfagreen Supreme, Trouw Nutrition, The Andersons, Mark Fischer Inc., Double S Liquid Feed Services, Inc., Agri-Business Insurance Services and Sweet PDZ Horse Stall Refresher.

The $40,000 Bluegrass Festival Grand Prix, sponsored by Audi of Lexington, marked the conclusion of the Bluegrass Festival Horse Show. The action will continue at the Kentucky Horse Park during the KHJA Horse Show, which begins on Wednesday.

To learn more about the Kentucky Horse Shows, please visit

Media Contact: Rebecca Walton
Phelps Media Group, Inc. International
phone 561.753.3389 fax 561.753.3386

Kelley Farmer Dominates during First Day of USHJA International Hunter Derby Championship

Kelley Farmer and Baltimore (Photo: Shawn McMillen)

Aaron Vale and Finou 4 Win $25,000 Hagyard Lexington Classic at Bluegrass Festival Horse Show

Lexington, Ky. – August 19, 2016 – Out of 66 entries in the first classic round of the USHJA International Hunter Derby at the Bluegrass Festival Horse Show, Kelley Farmer had four of the rides. Not only did the hunter derby veteran qualify two of her mounts, Baltimore and Kodachrome, for Saturday’s handy round, but she also took first and second place honors for Lane Change Farm.

Baltimore, owned by Jane Gaston, was the first ride of the day for Farmer. She took the 11-year-old Oldenburg around the course, designed by Danny Moore and Bobby Murphy, to earn scores of 92, 95, and 92 for a total of 291 points going into Saturday’s handy round. Farmer also chose to jump all four high-options. Contrary to the USHJA Pre-Green Incentive Championship, where the top 30 qualified horses go into the final round with a clean slate, the classic points will carry over to merge with Saturday’s handy round score.

Although Farmer had three other rides left, she was able to maintain her first place position with Baltimore throughout the entire class. As much as the other riders tried, Farmer’s near-perfect scores could not be beat as the class continued. Since she got the ride on the bay gelding by Balou du Rouet, Kelley has also earned many titles and championships in the Regular Conformation Hunters and High Performance Working Hunters.

Kelley did not let the thought of going early on in the class take away from her concentration.

“He was amazing. He was unbelievable. He went first last week in Saugerties and I sort of was glad to get it over with,” Farmer said. “It was a little nerve wracking that I had to do him first, but he was unbelievable. I mean, he tried so hard and he’s so brave. He can jump so much, so I never worry about what they build.”

Larry Glefke of Lane Change Farm added, “I never say this, but it was flawless. Because usually, I have a lot to say when she comes out of the ring. Flawless.”

Friday was bittersweet for Farmer, because her usual winning derby mount, Mindful, is currently out of commission. However, Farmer was happy as he is set to get back to work at the beginning of next week.

“It is what it is, but he’ll be back for Florida,” Farmer said about her longtime partner. “He’s been a great horse for me and I’ll be excited to have him back.”

Coming in second place during Friday’s classic round was Farmer and Kodachrome, owned by Nina Moore. Although Farmer has not had the ride on him for very long, the pair still laid down a beautiful trip to earn the red ribbon and a grand total of 280 points.

Trainer Larry Glefke was also extremely pleased with Kodachrome’s performance, saying, “He fits in with Mindful and Baltimore. He has that kind of ability to pop at the jumps. He has a freaky jump, and it gets bigger every week because he’s getting stronger. Both of those horses have quality; [Miss] Lucy has the same quality.”

He continued, “They walk to the jumps every day and they don’t want to knock them down. I mean, things go wrong, things can happen, but they make an effort to jump the jumps every day. You never have to ask them to do too much. Their sincerity is to jump this high over everything.”

Farmer agreed, “It’s a nice feeling when you know that no matter what you aim at, they not only can jump over it, but they can jump over it high, clean and well.”

Kristy Herrera had the ride on Helen Lenahan’s Miss Lucy, who is normally Jennifer Alfano’s mount, and took third place in the classic round. Alfano is currently injured from a fall that occurred at the Devon Horse Show, so she entrusted her longtime friend, Herrera, to take the reins for her. Herrera only had one other show under her belt with Miss Lucy, so she was a little nervous going into Friday’s classic round on the “quirky” mare.

According to Alfano, “She has a little bit of a funny canter, and she doesn’t really like you to touch the reins.”

“It’s Lucy’s way or no way. I was the one that needed to adjust to her,” Herrera said with a laugh. “She has her own way of going and it is different from a lot of other horses I’ve ridden, but she’s so incredibly athletic and smart that once you get it, you don’t have to do anything else.”

She continued, “I was nervous about it, but she walks in that ring and puts her ears forward and gives you the confidence that you can jump anything. It was awesome.”

While Alfano was a little sad that it was not her in the irons aboard Miss Lucy, she was very proud of Kristy and Miss Lucy’s trip that received a combined total of 276.5 points.

“I couldn’t be more thrilled. I was so nervous, I thought I might have a heart attack. I mean, I’m not going to lie, I woke up this morning and I was a little sad and feeling sorry for myself. Watching her go around, it made me teary eyed. That was a hard thing she did today,” Alfano said.

“And I don’t think if anyone else was standing on the ground, I could have walked in there on a horse like that,” Herrera said.

Alfano said that her efforts were a result of trust and friendship built over many years. Alfano had faith in Herrera to take the ride on Miss Lucy, and Herrera trusted Alfano to instruct her as to how best ride the mare.

“I think what made it easier was that we have such a long-standing relationship. We’ve been together since she was 9 years old,” Alfano said. “She may not know the horse, but she and I are so in sync. Lucy is a little different. Kristy has the faith in me to say, ‘Okay, if that’s what you say to do, then that’s what I’m going to do. I’ll take your word for it and do it.’ I could not be any more proud of either one of them.”

Thirty horses and riders have qualified to compete in Saturday’s handy round, which will take place at 6:30 p.m. in the Rolex Stadium. Keep your eyes out for Kelley Farmer and her two horses, as well as Kristy Herrera and Miss Lucy.

Aaron Vale and Finou 4 Win $25,000 Hagyard Lexington Classic

After winning the 1.40m Open Jumpers on Thursday, Aaron Vale was looking to continue his winning streak under the lights on Friday night. The Ocala-based professional and Finou 4 did just that, stealing the win from Shane Sweetnam and Cobolt in the $25,000 Hagyard Lexington Classic at the Bluegrass Festival Horse Show.

Aaron Vale and Finou 4
Aaron Vale and Finou 4

“This was a great class,” Vale said. “It was good fun, and I’m glad I came out on the long end of the stick. It ended up being an entertaining class. You get a little flavor this week with the jumps for [USHJA International Hunter] Derby Finals. The horses are so used to jumping stripes, so tonight we got more of a natural tone to some of the obstacles, so that was a fun thing.”

Bobby Murphy’s first-round course produced a 16-horse lineup for the jump-off, with Sweetnam and the Blue Buckle Group LLC’s Cobolt going double clear and setting the early lead with a time of 36.909 seconds.

Vale re-entered the ring aboard Thinkslikeahorse and Don Stewart’s Finou 4, and used his horse’s massive stride to his advantage, cutting his turns and tripping the timers in a blazing fast 33.035 seconds.

“Each horse you have to ride to their strengths, you know,” Vale said. “Finou has a big enough stride that I can leave a stride out, even in a forward line. It’s a strength of his, covering ground.”

Two more challengers came close to Vale’s time. Sharn Wordley and the Sky Group’s Famoso D Ive Z were the first to come within seconds of the lead, clocking a time of 35.84 seconds to eventually finish in third, bumping Sweetnam down to finish in fourth.

Going second-to-last in the order was Benjamin Meredith and Shader Sporthorses LLC’s Anabelle 28. Meredith and Anabelle finished strongly in second place after stopping the clock in 34.022 seconds – just fractions of a second behind Vale, whose time proved unbeatable.

“I didn’t see Aaron go, but for sure I was going to try to beat him,” Meredith said. “The only place I could have gotten ahead of him was the first line. I jumped the first jump, and I landed and said there’s no way I can leave a stride out. But the rest of the course Anabelle kept up with him. We tried to win again, but we just couldn’t get there.”

Vale said he began riding Finou 4 about a year ago. Surprisingly, the gelding is blind in his left eye. Vale said that Finou 4 is instinctively very protective of his body, and will swing himself around worriedly to be able to see.

“He’s a little difficult to train because he’s working against his instinct and he’s worried,” Vale explained. “When he has a good day he usually wins. He’s got enough stride, he has a lot of ability, and he can be really fast in the jump-off. When I have his brain right, he gives me a great class. There were a few things I was worried about for him tonight, but he handled it all.”

Making his victory even sweeter, Vale has reclaimed the top spot from Pablo Barrios in the Hagyard Challenge Series standings, moving one step closer to earning the leading rider bonus.

“We’re all chasing the $50,000 bonus,” Vale laughed. “I’ve got a wedding next week, so I’m missing that class. I know Pablo was at the Olympics this week, so he missed this one. You’re not supposed to count points. You’re supposed focus on riding your horse in the class, so it’s just an added pressure. For people like me it makes a difference, so thankfully we got it done tonight. Hopefully we can come out on the right end of the bonus, because it’s a great thing for Hagyard to do and Kentucky to put it on. We love coming here.”

The Hagyard Challenge Series consists of seven grand prix classes to be held during the 2016 show series at the Kentucky Horse Park. Following the final event, a cash prize of $50,000 will be awarded to the rider accumulating the most points throughout the series as well as a $10,000 prize for the reserve champion.

The series concludes with the $65,000 Hagyard Lexington Classic held during the Kentucky National Horse Show. Following that exciting competition, the winner of the $50,000 Leading Rider Bonus will be announced and presented with the cash prize by the Hagyard Equine Medical Institute. New this year is the $200 Best Turned Out award, sponsored by Bob Mickler’s, which will go to a well-deserving groom following each grand prix. In addition, a Hagyard’s Handsomest Hound contest will also be held at each grand prix, sponsored by MedVet Medical & Cancer Centers for Pets.

The title sponsor, Hagyard Equine Medical Institute, is one of the oldest and largest equine veterinary practices in the world. Founded in 1876, the institute offers a staff with qualifications unparalleled by any single non-university veterinary group in the equine industry. Hagyard veterinarians have dedicated themselves to the health and well-being of the horse.

The facility at Hagyard Equine Medical Institute offers 13 digital radiology systems, 1.5 Tesla Siemens MRI, nuclear scintigraphy, an on-site laboratory, an on-site pharmacy, full medical and surgical services, 24-hour emergency services and hyperbaric medicine. The practice has performed veterinary medicine for more than 137 years and is currently composed of over 50 experienced veterinarians, with 13 board certifications in specialty areas of medicine, surgery and theriogenology. For more information on the Hagyard Equine Medical Institute, please visit

The Bluegrass Festival Horse Show will resume on Saturday with the finale of the 2016 USHJA International Hunter Derby Championship. Other highlight events include the $5,000 Hallway Feeds USHJA National Hunter Derby. Jumper highlights include the $40,000 Bluegrass Festival Grand Prix, sponsored by Audi of Lexington.

For more information, please visit

Media Contact: Rebecca Walton
Phelps Media Group, Inc. International
phone 561.753.3389 fax 561.753.3386

Scott Stewart and Storm Watch Take Over Lead in USHJA Pre-Green Incentive Championship

Scott Stewart and Storm Watch.

Sharn Wordley Claims Win in 1.40m Open Jumpers at Bluegrass Festival Horse Show

Lexington, Ky. – August 17, 2016 – Scott Stewart guided Rivers Edge’s Storm Watch into the new leading position on the second day of the USHJA Pre-Green Incentive Championship with a total of 520.5 points. Storm Watch is a 6-year-old Oldenburg by Chacco Blue, and even as a relatively new addition to the River’s Edge team, he has made his mark at the Kentucky Horse Park during the Bluegrass Festival Horse Show.

“We bought him at the end of last year, when he was still a stallion,” Stewart explained. “He got castrated, and then he was shown a couple times in Florida in the Pre-Green Hunters. Then, he did Kentucky Spring Horse Show and I haven’t really shown my horses since then, so he’s just been at home getting trained.”

The gray gelding placed fifth over the Patrick Rodes-designed course, after being tied for second place Tuesday.

“He was awesome. He was great both rounds. He’s very laid back. He likes to go like a hunter with his head and neck low,” Stewart said. “He’s probably one of the best jumpers I’ve ever had. He really tries hard every time over these jumps that are kind of small for him.”

Stewart’s plan for Thursday’s third and final round of the USHJA Pre-Green Incentive Championship will be simple and straightforward.

“He’s pretty laid-back, so I only jump a few verticals before I go in. He’s brave, so I’m not going to do too much. He’s pretty quiet as well,” Stewart said.

He continued, “Today, I only jumped three jumps and went in. They’re all getting a little tired.”

When asked about the USHJA Pre-Green Incentive Championship, Scott said, “I think it’s great. It’s nice prize money for these young horses and we get to showcase them a little bit. It’s a very good thing for the hunters.”

While Storm Watch is currently in the lead overall, it was Tim Goguen and Davidson that captured the blue ribbon during the second over-fences round of the USHJA Pre-Green Incentive Championship.

Goguen was quick to mention that Davidson really tries to give it his all in the show ring, and that is what helped him both days.

“He went really well today and yesterday,” Goguen stated. “He’s just a trier; he’s been really good. He’s been going well for the past two days. He got a low score the first day from one of the judges. I think he was like 25th overall going in, but I think today moved him up a little bit.”

Davidson, a homebred warmblood, has only been showing under the expertise of Goguen since the end of June. Despite their short time together, Davidson has made it to the winner’s circle every time out.

“I started riding him at the Country Heir Horse Show, which was in June or July, and I’ve shown him maybe three times,” Goguen shared. “He’s been champion all three times. He’s just been a great horse.”

Davidson enters Thursday’s phase in the ninth place position, with a total of 513.5 points.

Dr. Betsee Parker’s Liberty Road is now in second place overall with 519 points. Chicago, owned by Douglas Wheeler, narrowly missed the second place spot with 518 points. Both horses were ridden by esteemed hunter rider, Hunt Tosh.

On Wednesday afternoon, a new winner for 2016 will be crowned as the championship will culminate after the top 30 horses battle it out for the coveted title. The course walk for the third and final round is set to begin at 3:15 p.m. and officials can begin walking the course at 4:15 p.m. The opening ceremonies will take place at 4:30 p.m., and the championship round is planned for a 5 p.m. start.

Sharn Wordley Claims Win in 1.40m Open Jumpers

As the jumper action began on Wednesday in the Rolex Arena, it was Sharn Wordley and Glamour Van De Kakebeek who brought home the blue ribbon in the $5,000 1.40m Open Jumper division at the Bluegrass Festival Horse Show.

The Rolex Arena was filled with intricate sand sculptures, fully decorated and ready for the USHJA International Hunter Derby Finals, which begin on Friday. Despite the decorations and the light rainfall, Wordley and Glamour Van De Kakebeek navigated the course successfully, going clear in a time of 66.018 seconds.

Sharn Wordley and Glamour Van De Kakebeek
Sharn Wordley and Glamour Van De Kakebeek

“My plan was to just go fast,” Wordley said. “There were a lot of fast people in this class, including Aaron Vale and Tori Colvin. I had to go reasonably quick if I wanted to beat those guys. With the course, I know Glamour Van De Kakebeek doesn’t spook at anything, so the sand sculptures didn’t bother him at all. I could have jumped over the sand pile, and it wouldn’t have mattered to him. He felt great today.”

Wordley said that he got the ride on the Kerry Anne LLC entry two months ago, and has been showing the 10-year-old gelding to successful finishes in the 1.40m division. His goal is to eventually show the gelding in FEI ranked classes.

“It’s been really easy getting to know him,” Wordley said. “The first show I went to with him, we won a class. The second and third shows, he was champion in the 1.40m. I’d say I’ve done about seven classes with him, and he’s won five of them.”

The gelding was previously owned by Darragh Kenny, who alerted Wordley when he realized the two would be a great match.

“I had a horse that I bought from Darragh,” Wordley explained. “But he called me saying he had another horse that would be more suited to me. So, he sent me Glamour Van De Kakebeek, and he was right – this one is a great little horse. He’s a real winner, and he just wants to get out there and go as fast as he can.”

Finishing second to Wordley was another rider known for his speedy rounds – Aaron Vale. Vale turned in a clear round aboard Acolina R, tripping the timers just behind Wordley in 66.871 seconds. With a time of 67.328 seconds, Wordley also came in third with Caiman De Sequoias, who is owned by Sharn Wordley and The Sky Group.

Earlier in the day, the 1.35m Open Jumpers had the stage in the Rolex Arena, and it was Richard Rinehart and Virginia Bartholomay’s Donnalaris who swept the field of 32 entries to earn the win.

“I took it as a good sign that it stopped raining before my round,” Rinehart said. “Donnalaris was just awesome. My plan was to try not to take any chances, but to save time where I could. I’m really lucky to have Donnalaris to ride.”

Rinehart, who is based in Indianapolis, said he began riding the 8-year-old mare during July of last year.

“She’s got girl-power,” Rinehart laughed. “She’s very brave, and she gets it done. She’s so nice to ride, and she’s really obedient. I feel like she’s always trying to please. And she likes this ring, even with the sand. I just really wanted her to jump the Diane Carney jump clean, because she’s my trainer, so I’m happy that she did.”

The Bluegrass Festival Horse Show will resume on Thursday with the finale of the USHJA Pre-Green Incentive Championship. Other highlight events include the 2016 USHJA International Hunter Derby Championship, which will take place over the course of two days, and the $5,000 Hallway Feeds USHJA National Hunter Derby. Jumper highlights include the $25,000 Hagyard Lexington Classic, and the $40,000 Bluegrass Festival Grand Prix, sponsored by Audi of Lexington. For more information, please visit

Media Contact: Rebecca Walton
Phelps Media Group, Inc. International
phone 561.753.3389 fax 561.753.3386

Jenny Karazissis and Puissance R Lead USHJA Pre-Green Incentive Championship

Jenny Karazissis and Puissance R.

Lexington, KY – Aug. 16, 2016 – For Jenny Karazissis, making the journey to Kentucky from Calabasas, California has already proven to be worthwhile. Karazissis and Puissance R bested a field of 132 top-caliber entries to win round one of the 2016 USHJA Pre-Green Incentive Championship at the Bluegrass Festival Horse Show on Tuesday.

Going later in the order, Karazissis unseated Scott Stewart and Storm Watch from the top spot, taking over his score of 261.5 points with her score of 262.5 points. The course provided the riders with an option from fence one to two, with two lines available to choose from.

“I really loved the fact that the course designer gave us the option of left or right lead to the first fence,” Karazissis said. “I chose the left-lead option. I knew immediately, and I never doubted that option. Pui is very brave with the jumps, so I knew that was not going to be a problem. I went in there very confidently with my plan, and the whole way around she gave me her all.”

After arriving on Saturday, Karazissis said she rode Puissance R, or Pui, as she’s called, on Monday and knew she was ready to shine in the ring.

“When we schooled in the Walnut yesterday, I jumped maybe three or four jumps, and I felt like I just shouldn’t do anymore because Pui just felt so good and ready,” Karazissis explained. “Today was the same thing in the warm up. She just jumped like four or five jumps beautifully, and I said, ‘you know what, she couldn’t be any more ready.'”

This year marks Karazissis’ first time back showing in Kentucky since 2007.

“I showed in the inaugural [USHJA International Hunter] Derby Finals in 2007, and I have not been back to show myself since,” Karazissis said. “I’ve been here with students showing at Maclay Finals a couple times, but I haven’t shown since then. And I haven’t done the Pre-Green Incentive, so this was really a new experience for me.”

Karazissis said she got the ride on the 10-year-old mare last year when her owner, Lisa Hankin, moved from New York to California. When Hankin found the mare at 6 years old, she was doing dressage.

Hankin explained that she had another horse, Madison Avenue, by the same sire who she absolutely loved, and was interested in buying a younger version of him, which led her to Pui.

“Jenny has been riding her ever since she’s been at Far West Farms,” Hankin said. “They’ve built a beautiful partnership. Pui has been more than I ever could have dreamed, but it never would have happened without Jenny. I’m so happy. Pui is going to get the entire box of Mrs. Pasture’s cookies when she gets back to her stall!”

Karazissis echoed Hankin’s love for the mare, saying, “The very first time I sat on her I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, I just love her.’ She just gives you the best feeling. I actually have goose bumps just thinking about it. She’s lovely. She’s a chestnut mare, and she proves me wrong every day with that myth or stereotype.”

Heading into Wednesday, Karazissis holds the lead, while Stewart and Storm Watch are tied for second place with Kristy Herrera and Helen Lenahan’s Girl Crush. For Wednesday’s final round, Karazissis said she will be focusing on letting Pui do her job.

“Pui is ready,” Karazissis stated. “I just have to be careful to not get in her way and overdo it.”

The Bluegrass Festival Horse Show will resume on Wednesday with round two of the USHJA Pre-Green Incentive Championship. Other highlight events include the 2016 USHJA International Hunter Derby Championship, which will take place over the course of two days, and the $5,000 Hallway Feeds USHJA National Hunter Derby. Jumper highlights include the $25,000 Hagyard Lexington Classic, and the $40,000 Bluegrass Festival Grand Prix, sponsored by Audi of Lexington. For more information, please visit

Media Contact: Rebecca Walton
Phelps Media Group, Inc. International
phone 561.753.3389 fax 561.753.3386

Natalie Jayne Pilots Woodlands Stevie Ray to Second Medium Pony Hunter Championship

Natalie Jayne and Woodlands Stevie Ray.

Gold Medal Goes to Bailey Doloff and Wishlea Star Dasher in Pony Jumper Individual Final

Lexington, Ky. – August 13, 2016 – A little on-again, off-again sprinkling of rain at the Kentucky Horse Park did not interfere with Natalie Jayne’s impressive ride on Woodlands Stevie Ray in the Medium Pony Hunter division at this year’s U.S. Pony Finals.

Saturday’s over-fences section saw 167 of the best medium ponies in the country jump around the Walnut Arena, but it was Jayne and “Stevie” who walked away with the blue ribbon. In the under-saddle phase, the pair came in 21st out of a large class. Stevie is owned by Hannah Bernstein.

The 12-year-old rider from Elgin, Illinois trains with her mother, Lynn Jayne, at their Our Day Farm. She is also trained by Patricia Griffith of Heritage Farm and Kristen Carollo of Courtyard Farm.

Jayne got the catch ride on Stevie when his current leaser, Emily Aitken, had to decide between him or her other medium pony, Cleverist. Aitken chose the latter, and that meant that Jayne only had a short amount of time to figure out how to ride the 12-year-old gelding, who was also champion last year at U.S. Pony Finals in the same division with Alexa Aureliano. Luckily, the pair clicked right away.

“He rides a lot like a horse. He’s my kind of ride,” Jayne acknowledged. “I practiced a lot this week and jumped around the course, but he’s pretty easy to get used to.”

Perhaps some of Jayne’s innate talent in riding comes from her passion for all animals, especially horses and ponies. This affinity began at a very young age.

“I’ve always liked being around animals, so it’s nice to be able to interact with them,” she said. “I started riding since I was born, basically. I’d stand on the pommel of the saddle and my mom would walk around and cool out her horses. So I’ve been riding forever.”

While warming up, Jayne’s trainers emphasized getting Stevie moving forward off of her leg before beginning the course.

“They said just to make sure I got him going before the first jump – he’s lazy. And, to make sure he didn’t swap off to the right lead,” Jayne said.

Natalie’s mother, Lynn said that her calm disposition that can easily adjust to different types of ponies is what sets her apart from the rest.

“She’s very easy going and nothing really gets to her,” noted Lynn. “Last year, when she was in the Pony Medal, that was a catch ride who she’d never ridden before. She is just one with the horse and it’s easy for her to adapt.”

Natalie has also accumulated many top wins on horses recently. In addition to her Small Junior Hunter, Outlook, with whom she most recently won a class at Junior Hunter Finals, she also has a jumper. She is looking forward to showing at Pessoa Medal Finals and ASPCA Maclay Regionals in the fall.

The Woodlands Pony Farm’s Kay Randoph was elated when she found out that the pony she had bred ended up in the winner’s circle at U.S. Pony Finals for the second year in a row. The farm is located in Brodnax, Virginia.

“I’m super proud of him and I’m so happy to come out and see him all braided up,” she said, beaming.

“We have a big farm and they’re all pretty much just born in a paddock. They live a good life. Then, when their attitude is good we’ll get them ready. We try to get them at least green broke,” Randoph said.

Stevie is a Welsh Pony cross by Woodlands Velvet Rain, out of Woodlands Fire-n-Ice. The ponies that Randoph has bred over the years are all special, and usually she finds out that most of the ponies she has raised and sold have qualified for U.S. Pony Finals.

“I think on average we would have like 16 to 18 ponies that will qualify each year,” said Randoph. “They can be any age, from five year olds on up… We’ve had some come here in their 20s.”

Capturing the reserve championship prize was Hunter Champey and Annabelle Sanchez’s News Flash. Together, they were thirteenth over-fences and second in the hack. During Thursday’s model phase, the judges gave News Flash a tenth place ribbon in a large crowd of ponies.

“I just kept calm and rode. My day was going great; I knew I just had to go in and keep a nice, easy canter,” Champey said.

“My twin sister rode News Flash last year, and we just switched this year,” Champey stated. “The owner keeps texting my older sister asking about the pony. He’s just a great pony. His owner is going to be very excited, I already know.”

Gold Medal Goes to Bailey Doloff and Wishlea Star Dasher in Pony Jumper Individual Final

In his final junior year and second time at Pony Finals, 17-year-old Bailey Doloff and Wishlea Star Dasher captured the victory in the 2016 U.S. National Pony Jumper Championships Individual Final.

Doloff and Dasher, as he’s called, turned in an eight-fault round to start off the night, creating a three-way tie for the lead with Isabella Durnell and Carlton Diva, and Maya Lovdal and Miracles Happen.

Bailey Doloff and Wishlea Star Dasher
Bailey Doloff and Wishlea Star Dasher

“In the first round, I got a little bit forward at the combination, and he got flat,” Doloff said. “I had the back rails down. I surprisingly felt less pressure when I did that – I’m not sure why, but I felt better after that.”

As the night continued, nobody was able to break the tie for the lead, so the top three riders from round one returned for a jump-off to settle the score.

Durnell and Carlton Diva returned first and went clear to set the early time to beat at 35.775 seconds. Lovdal and Miracles Happen were next to attempt the short course, and lowered two heights to finish on a time of 36.244 seconds.

Doloff was last to take the stage, entering the ring confidently with Dasher to take over the lead, going clear in a time of 33.327 seconds. Lovdal finished with the bronze medal, and Durnell with the silver medal.

“Dasher is naturally quicker than most ponies,” Doloff said. “Even when I’m not really pushing, he has a faster step, so I knew that I didn’t have to take any crazy gambles, because I knew that he would be fine. I knew I still had to keep the rails up, so I just tried to nail each fence as quickly as I could without losing my mind like I did last year.”

After Doloff unfortunately went off course during his first Pony Finals last year, he said that coming back this year and winning feels incredible.

“This is a fantastic comeback, and I just think that this was great, because after last year I was really down,” Doloff explained. “I was making a lot of mistakes, and I was going off course, and I was at my lowest point. I went to Capital Challenge, and I was in the lead, ready to win, and then I completely blew it in the jump-off.”

After his trainer, Dorna Taintor, recommended that Doloff read up on sports psychology, Doloff said his luck began to change as he learned how to relax and change his perspective going into the ring,

“I just worked on putting everything in perspective,” Doloff continued. “At the end of the day, it’s just a show. Whatever happens, happens, and there’s going to be more shows in the future. It’s about preparing for the next one.”

Doloff said he began leasing Dasher three years ago, and only planned to lease the talented pony for one year to compete in pony racing. However, as Doloff discovered the pony’s scope over fences, the plans changed, and the duo began training to compete in the Pony Jumpers with the goal of competing at Pony Finals.

“The first year was just getting to know each other, and we realized he could jump big but he wasn’t really in a program, so we were just galloping around,” Doloff said. “We’d go to a race one week and then go to a horse show, which was a bit counterproductive.

“I think the turning point was in my second year with him. We went to Devon Fall Classic in 2014, and I didn’t really know what a formal show was. I had to borrow a man’s tweed jacket and tie, and I’m wearing too-small pants, and I have a blue saddle pad. It was the most ridiculous thing ever. We got second, and it was the first time we did 1.05m, and he did fantastic. I think it was when we finally got real clothes.”

The 2016 U.S. Pony Finals will wrap up on Sunday with the Pony Medal.

For more information about the 2016 U.S. Pony Finals, please visit

Media Contact: Rebecca Walton
Phelps Media Group, Inc. International
phone 561.753.3389 fax 561.753.3386

Kyla Sullivan Earns Second Tricolor in Two Days at U.S. Pony Finals

Kyla Sullivan and Not So Secret.

Maddie Schaefer Captures Overall Large Green Pony Championship with Minted; Victory for Zone 5/6 in Pony Jumper Team Championship

Lexington, Ky. – August 12, 2016 – The Medium Green Pony Hunters boasted a grand total of 67 entries on the fourth day at the U.S. Pony Finals, and it was Kyla Sullivan aboard Back Country Farm’s Not So Secret that reigned supreme. Sullivan was also reserve champion on Thursday in the Small Pony Hunters with A Dream Come True, owned by DK-USA Sporthorse LLC.

Sullivan is 12 years old and trains with Jill and Sydney Shulman at the Greenwich, Connecticut-based Back Country Farm. Although this is Sullivan’s fourth time at the prestigious U.S. Pony Finals, this year proved to be extra successful. Being able to block everything out and concentrate on putting in a solid round is just one of many of Sullivan’s strengths.

“I just try to focus on what I’m doing and not what everyone else is doing,” she said. “It helps a lot.”

“Oliver,” as Sullivan calls her pony back in the barn, was described as “very easy going and very smooth and he’s a lot of fun to ride.” She added, “He landed all of his leads which is really good for him and he went very smoothly and nicely.”

While Jill Shulman has owned Oliver for quite a while, Sullivan’s partnership with the liver chestnut gelding only began about six months ago. Waiting at the Walnut Arena in-gate, Jill Shulman’s instructions for Sullivan were clear but simple.

“We wanted it to all match we wanted it to be smooth, for a green pony it can be dramatic and have some brilliant moments. We just wanted to be pretty solid all the way around,” Shulman stated.

Sullivan followed the directions she was told and it paid off – the pair earned the blue ribbon over-fences. In the model phase, Not So Secret was given seventh place by the judges out of a large field of entries. Combined, the pair earned 985.380 points across the division.

“He is very easy, really one of the easiest green ponies we’ve ever brought to the ring. I think it’s because he had some real little kids ride him in the short stirrup,” Shulman noted. “He’s very tried and true.”

The talented team will also try their hands in the Pony Medal on Sunday, the final day of U.S. Pony Finals, before traveling to CHJA Finals and then indoors in the fall. Sullivan is also planning to show a Large Green pony, Tiger Lily, this week at U.S. Pony Finals.

Claiming the overall reserve championship in the Medium Green Ponies were Laura Owens’ Editor’s Note, with Augusta Iwasaki in the irons.

The long journey from the West Coast to the bluegrass state was all worth it for the Calabasas, California native. Iwasaki is a 12-year-old rider who trains with her mother, Liz Reilly, and John French at Makoto Farms.

Iwasaki guided the 6-year-old gelding around the course to a sixth place finish over-fences. Rounding out the top three spots were Alexa Aureliano and Taylor Howard’s Westwood Oliver Twist with 956.330 points.

Maddie Schaefer Captures Overall Large Green Pony Championship with Minted

Maddie Schaefer is no stranger to the horse show scene, especially when it comes to the U.S. Pony Finals. Not only is her mother, Stacey Schaefer, a top trainer, but her older sister, Samantha, also shows and helps Maddie out whenever she can.

Schaefer, of Westminster, Maryland, took the win aboard her own Minted in the Overall Large Green Pony Hunter division after collecting a total of 1001.51 points. This year was her ninth year competing at U.S. Pony Finals.

Maddie Schaefer and Minted
Maddie Schaefer and Minted

The 15-year-old trains with her mother and sister at their Shadow Ridge Farm, and the team imported “Robbie” from Robert Baider about a year and a half ago.

Schaefer said, “He’s a good boy. He’s a solid citizen. He’s always been wanting to help us out and win. He’s always been generally a very good boy.”

She attributes some of Robbie’s success comes from his “willing to please” and laid-back attitude.

“I love his attitude. He never really has an opinion and it’s great because when they have too much opinion sometimes it makes them a winner and sometimes it makes them a loser. It makes him a winner, his attitude,” she explained. “He’s always wanting to help you out. He’s never like, ‘You can do this one on your own.’ He’s always like, ‘Alright! Come on!'”

Schaefer agreed that the Bobby Murphy-designed course was challenging but at the same time it was appropriate for green ponies. The pair placed second over-fences. In the model, judges gave them eleventh place out of a very large section.

“It was inviting for green ponies. I did not like the short approach we had to do inside, but I guess it makes sense; they don’t want everyone taking five minutes on their entrance. They always cut off the far end and I love the brush jumps when we have the option.”

Schaefer does not just ride ponies, however. She also has two equitation mounts – one that was recently imported and one named In the Know, who her sister also rides in hunter derbies. The young rider also rides Michael Hughes’ horse, Red Hot, in the High Children’s Jumper division.

Patricia Lafoe’s Baby Blue and Ella Reinauer took reserve championship honors after accumulating 999.700 points overall. Ericka Koscinski claimed third place overall with North Shore Equestrian Center’s Honorable. Together, they garnered 996.450 points overall.

Competition will resume tomorrow at 7 a.m. in the Walnut Arena beginning with the over-fences for the Regular Medium Pony division. More than 150 pony and rider combinations are set to compete on the second to last day of the U.S. Pony Finals, presented by Collecting Gaits Farm.

Victory for Zone 5/6 in Pony Jumper Team Championship

The pony jumpers continued on Friday during the 2016 U.S. Pony Finals, and it was the combined team of Zones 5 and 6 that rose to the challenge to capture the team gold in the Phase II Team Championship competition.

Anna Spitzer with Silver Charm, Isaiah Wiseman and Midnight Heart, Natalie Hinz and Rumor Has It, and Maya Lovdal with Miracles Happen composed the combined team that bested the field in the two-round, Nations Cup-style jumper class.

“We didn’t really know each other before today,” Wiseman explained. “But I’ve my pony for three years, and this is my third year doing the pony jumpers on him. At home he’s so calm, but when he gets to the show he knows his job.”

“We’re all new to each other, so no matching shirts,” Lovdal continued, laughing. “But we all worked well together.”

Up against eight other teams comprised of the nation’s best pony jumpers, the Zone Six/Seven team rode both rounds impressively, finishing on a total of 44 faults for the victory. At her Pony Finals debut, Spitzer and Silver Charm delivered one of only three double clear rounds of the day, helping to boost her team into the lead

The challenging track posed problems for many of the horse-and-rider combinations, with a number of riders pulling rails through a triple combination that was followed by an oxer on a bending line.

“The course was set up really well,” Lovdal said. “There were a couple of tricky fences, like the combinations and the water. My pony is only a medium, so the only thing we really have trouble with are the oxers because he’s so little and he has to stretch over them. He knows his job, though.”

“It’s my first time at Pony Finals, so I was super nervous the first day,” Spitzer said. “But Silver Charm loves the arena. He’s been so good and so willing, which has made this experience really fun. I’m excited, and I think we’re all really happy.”

Although the gold medal was decided by the first and second round scores, a tie meant the silver and bronze medals were still in contention, requiring each team to send one rider to compete in a jump-off round to decide the order.

Each team had faults in the jump-off, but the best round was delivered by the combined teams of Zones 4 and 9, so it was decided that Isabella Durnell, Rachel Long, Kayla Long and Nadia Rosenbaum would be coming home with the silver medal on 72 faults. The Zone 1 team, which consisted of Riley Kram, Sydney Berube, Elize Albertini and Bobby Bolger, finished in third on 84 faults.

The 2016 U.S. Pony Jumper Championship will wrap up tomorrow with Phase III – the individual final. Leading the standings tied with four faults are Rachel Long and Zumba, Bailey Doloff and Wishlea Star Dasher, Maya Lovdal and Miracles Happen, and Isabella Durnell and Carlton Diva.

For more information about the 2016 U.S. Pony Finals, please visit

Media Contact: Rebecca Walton
Phelps Media Group, Inc. International
phone 561.753.3389 fax 561.753.3386

So Enchanted and Caroline Passarelli Earn Small Green Pony Hunter Championship

Caroline Passarelli and So Enchanted.

Mimi Gochman Earns Large Pony Hunter Championship with Storyteller

Lexington, KY – Aug. 10, 2016 – For Caroline Passarelli, her sixth time at the U.S. Pony Finals proved to be the charm, as the young rider earned her first championship aboard So Enchanted in the Small Green Pony division with a total score of 1052.4 points.

“So Enchanted was an incredible pony to win my first championship on,” Passarelli said, beaming. “I knew the pony was capable; I just didn’t want to let myself get in my head. She’s really, truly impeccable, and I think it’s rare to find one that excels so well in the model, hack and over fences. She’s wonderful.”

So Enchanted, or “Lex” as she’s known in the barn, has entered the show ring a mere seven times before Pony Finals, making her clean sweep of the Small Greens even more impressive.

“We got her in the beginning of June, and she was extremely green,” Passarelli explained. “We started going back to the basics of flatwork and just getting her to really accept the bit and relax. Soon, she just started to get it. Every lesson you would see her getting better and better. She’s gotten so brave and trusting and relaxed, which is great.”

Patricia Griffith, who trains Passarelli out of Heritage Farm, said that she had a lot of confidence in the small chestnut mare’s ability to succeed. Lex’s owners, Jessica and Michaila Zandri, approached Griffith all the way from Canada about training the mare, and said that they wanted Passarelli to have the ride. The Zandri sisters had one goal in mind: to prove their pony could win at Pony Finals.

Instead of backing down from the challenge, Griffith saw the quality of the pony and placed her faith in the abilities of the mare with Passarelli as the rider. The duo worked with the pony, fine tuning her skillset and showing only twice before their big debut at Pony Finals.

“Everybody at the show roots for Caroline,” Griffith said. “She’s just a lovely child with a work ethic like no other, and she has put a lot of work and time into this. The pony is obviously really top-quality.”

Going into her round, Passarelli said she was focusing on keeping her ride smooth and giving the mare the confident ride she deserved. The owners watched safely from afar, too nervous to come any closer or jinx the duo.

“Down the last line, I was thinking that she was nailing it and all I had to do was let her do her job, and she was so brave,” Passarelli said. “She went in there so willing to do her job, and she really knew that she was on top and she wanted to come out on top, too. To win like this is incredible, I can’t thank the Zandris enough for letting me show her for these past couple of months, and to Patricia and Dottie and the whole team at Heritage.”

Bringing home the reserve champion honors with a score of 995.98 points was Patti Foster’s Picturesque Bow Tie, shown by Casey Oliver. The duo finished impressively in second place over fences, sixth in the under saddle and eighth in the model.

Mimi Gochman Earns Large Pony Hunter Championship with Storyteller

The U.S. Pony Finals, a prestigious event that many young riders eagerly try to qualify for during their careers, is well underway at the scenic Kentucky Horse Park. Between the rolling green hills and the sprawling pastures, this show set in horse country is anything but ordinary.

Mimi Gochman and Storyteller
Mimi Gochman and Storyteller

These attributes make it the ideal environment for young equestrians to chase their dreams. Mimi Gochman, of West Palm Beach, Florida, has been coming to U.S. Pony Finals for five years. Gochman wrapped up the Large Pony Hunter division on the second day by winning the over-fences to make her grand overall total 1080.4 points. Her pony, Storyteller, won the model and came in third in the under saddle phase Tuesday.

Gochman and Storyteller, who is owned by Fair Play Farm, joined forces about a year and a half ago. She currently trains with the teams at River’s Edge and Baxter Hill. When she and her sister, Sophie, walked the course with their trainer, Scott Stewart, he advised them to jump the inside option fence in the last bending line coming home. This advice ensured Gochman’s round over the Bobby Murphy-designed course ended smoothly and flowing.

“I think that was a better idea than having to run up for the ten or running on the inside in nine [strides],” she explained. “The ten was just a nice canter down the line and he jumped it better than the flatter jumps.”

The pair topped the over-fences class out of a whopping 136 entries. “Story,” a 13-year-old German Sport Pony, is quite popular in the barn with his grooms as well, due to his quiet and sweet demeanor, Gochman explained.

“The grooms all love him. He’s very easy and not complicated. He doesn’t need too much lunging. He’s a pretty easy, all-around subtle pony that doesn’t need too much work.”

Sophie also enjoys getting the ride on the chestnut gelding from time to time.

“Every once in a while she’ll show him and she really likes him,” Gochman said. “We all love him so much. He’s a sharing pony – everyone can ride him.”

“He’s very sweet. You can always go in his stall and cuddle. He loves treats so you should probably go in there with candy or something,” she said with a laugh.

Although Gochman has had her fair share of experiences competing at U.S. Pony Finals, this year marked her first time capturing the championship prize. Last year, she just missed the title, coming in reserve.

“It’s a great honor to be champion, especially with such a great pony. He’s always there and he always helps me out,” she smiled.

Coming in reserve was Devin Seek, of Ocala, Florida and Ashley Aycox’s Garavani. Seek rides for Don Stewart and Bibby Hill, as well as Michael Newman. Just like Gochman, Seek is not new to U.S. Pony Finals. This is her ninth year showing at the annual event. She came in eighth place over-fences, which made her overall score 246.700.

Odds were stacked against the 15-year-old rider. She had just come down with strep throat only three days ago, and she and Garavani only showed together twice this year – once in Tryon, North Carolina, to qualify for Pony Finals, and last week during the Kentucky Summer Classic.

Seek showed with Garavani last year at U.S. Pony Finals, but she made it her goal to come back and perfect her rounds. Her dedication throughout the year paid off, and the judges took notice.

“We got the ‘Most Improved’ award! He jumped around the first time. I’m so proud of him…” she said. “He’s still like a green pony in his own little heart.”

She continued, “He was really good last year, but one jump caught him by surprise and he scared himself. So Michael was like, ‘Next year, he needs the same type of ride,’ so we planned on this. It wasn’t a last minute thing. We knew we were going to do this.”

Garavani likes his rider to be focused and confident in the saddle, so he feels his best in the ring.

“You have to keep him confident because he’s looking to you for that. After the first jump, he was like, ‘Oh I got this!’ That’s all he is looking for – confidence.”

Seek hopes to continue her winning ways this week as she is entered to show a Large Green pony, Phillippe, named after the luxury watch brand.

When asked why she keeps coming back year after year to this event, Seek explained that it gives riders the chance to compete at such an elite horse show held at an incredible venue.

“My favorite part is the fact that they give everyone a chance to shine. They give plenty of ribbons; anyone can come here and have a chance. And they make the course appealing to everyone.”

Tantallon Co-captain, owned by MDHT Equestrian LLC, was ridden by Dakota Champey and together the duo rounded out the top three overall winners in the Regular Large Pony Hunter division.

Competition at the 2016 U.S. Pony Finals will resume Thursday morning in the Walnut Arena starting with the Medium Green and Large Green models and under saddle classes.

For more information about the 2016 U.S. Pony Finals, please visit

Media Contact: Rebecca Walton
Phelps Media Group, Inc. International
phone 561.753.3389 fax 561.753.3386

Storyteller and Mimi Gochman Lead Large Ponies on Day One of 2016 U.S. Pony Finals

Mimi Gochman and Storyteller.

So Enchanted and Caroline Passarelli Sweep the Small Green Pony Hunter Model and Under Saddle

Lexington, KY – Aug. 9, 2016 – Mimi Gochman kicked off her fifth year at U.S. Pony Finals with a win aboard Fair Play Farm’s Storyteller in the Large Pony Model and a third-place finish in the Large Pony Under Saddle, heading into day two of competition sitting in the lead with 521.8 points.

“I’m really excited and very happy,” Gochman said, smiling. “Since I’ve done Pony Finals so many times, it makes me so happy to have success here. In the past few years I’ve gotten better at doing this, but modeling is hard and hacking can be very hard, so to win out of so many kids, I’m very proud of him.”

The 11-year-old, who is based out of West Palm Beach and trains with both the Baxter Hill and Rivers Edge Farm teams, said she got the ride on Storyteller around this time last year, just one week after Pony Finals.

“Story has always been really simple,” Gochman said. “He is easy. He has a great personality. You can always trust him to be safe, and you can always have fun on him, which is really good. He’s funny – he has a great personality. It’s really fun to have a pony that you can hang out with, too. He has a big, grand neck and he’s pretty shiny, thanks to my groom.”

Going into Wednesday’s over-fences class, Gochman acknowledged that her job was not done yet, and said she is going to focus on thinking ahead and continuing to ride her best.

“Tomorrow, I have to keep going,” Gochman said. “I can’t just say that I did well now and not try tomorrow. I’ve got to keep trying really hard. I try not to be nervous and to make it like it’s another show, but again this show is so much fun and we’re in the big ring. The ponies don’t get to go in a big ring like this a lot, so it’s special.”

Coming in second with 258.760 points in the Large Pony model was Ashley Aycox’s Garavani, who was handled by Devin Seek. In third place with 257.37 points was Tantallon Co-Captain of MDHT Equestrian LLC, handled by Dakota Champey.

In the under saddle, it was Iwasaki & Reilly’s Small Soldier and Augusta Iwasaki who took home the blue ribbon with their score of 264.58 points. Taking home second place on the flat with a score of 262.5 points was Foxlair Syncopation, ridden and owned by Kayla Jacobs.

Coming in second overall at the end of day one with 509.85 points is Garavani, owned by Aycox and shown by Seek. Heading into day two in third with 506.2 points is R Cinderella Man, owned and shown by Abigail Fox.

So Enchanted and Caroline Passarelli Sweep the Small Green Pony Hunter Model and Under Saddle

Fourteen-year-old Caroline Passarelli rounded out the first day of U.S. Pony Finals with back-to-back blues in the Small Green Pony Hunter division with her mount, So Enchanted.

“Lex,” as the mare is called in the barn, is owned by Jessica Zandri, and Passarelli recently got the ride aboard the 8-year-old chestnut mare in the beginning of June. Despite this new partnership, Passarelli took the top prize in the model before heading back into the ring for the under saddle phase, where she triumphed yet again.

Passarelli was calm and collected going into this year’s U.S. Pony Finals as it is her fifth consecutive year. The Pony Finals veteran trains with the team at Heritage Farm based in Katonah, New York. She only had positive things to say about her mount.

“This pony, she’s really a special one,” Passarelli beamed. “You don’t come across ponies like this many times. She has a great mind; she really wants to win and she knows that she can be the winner.”

“You really have to ride kind of like you’re asking her to do stuff, not telling her,” Passarelli continued. “She really wants you to ride her like she’s the driver. She’s truly amazing – she’s one that you don’t find many times. And for her to have the whole package, it is really special to be able to ride her.”

Passarelli, of High Falls, New York, knew what her game plan was going into the under saddle phase — Lex prefers her pilot to be simple and let her do her job.

“She’s a great mover, so it’s just letting her go forward and kind of do her own thing. She doesn’t like when you fuss with her too much, so you just set her up and leave her there and she likes to hold her own.”

In terms of the model, Passarelli noted, “You can just leave her alone and she’ll look pretty.”

The young rider had a mature and realistic attitude going into Wednesday’s over-fences portion.

“Well, they’re green ponies so anything can happen no matter how great they are the rest of the time, so I’m just planning on giving her a really strong, confident ride and having her be her best. Hopefully, it will all turn out well.”

So Enchanted and Passarelli are heading into the second day of U.S. Pony Finals in the lead in the Small Green Pony Hunters with a total score of 518.46, while Lauren Reed and Starstone are currently sitting in second place with a total of 497.67. Casey Oliver and her mount, Picturesque Bow Tie, are in third with 489.98.

Competition at the 2016 U.S. Pony Finals will resume Wednesday morning in the Walnut Arena starting with the Regular Small Pony Model followed by the under saddle.

For more information about the 2016 U.S. Pony Finals, please visit

Media Contact: Rebecca Walton
Phelps Media Group, Inc. International
phone 561.753.3389 fax 561.753.3386

Brett Burlington Bests the Field in $10,000 Under 25 Grand Prix at Kentucky Summer Horse Show

Brett Burlington and Bluf.

Molly Sewell and El Raymond Win $5,000 Hallway Feeds USHJA Hunter Derby

Lexington, KY – July 31, 2016 – On Sunday, Brett Burlington continued her success at the Kentucky Summer Horse Show, winning the $10,000 Under 25 Grand Prix aboard Bluf.

Burlington was one of four riders to turn in a clear first-round effort over Alan Wade’s course and advance to the jump-off.

“The first round felt really good,” Burlington said. “I almost had a time fault, so I was just a little bit casual in the first part of the course, but then I realized I needed to pick up my pace. It was a really smooth round; he jumped great.”

Last in the order, Burlington returned for her jump-off ready to stick to her plan without seeing her fellow competitors’ rounds. Her plan paid off, as Burlington completed the course in 42.51 seconds, blazing past Spencer Brittan’s leading time.

“Bluf is really fast and really good at turning, so he’s great for the jump-offs,” Burlington said. “He’s really good at listening, so if you tell him to turn one way, he’s responsive and will just go. He doesn’t try to argue. I just went in and did my original plan and clearly it worked out today. When I go fast, all the distances show up, and if not, he’s easy to adjust so I don’t have to worry about if I’m going too fast.”

Burlington also won the U25 Grand Prix last year during the 2015 Kentucky Summer Horse Show, repeating history with Sunday’s win.

“It was the same grand prix,” Burlington added. “I went last in the jump-off in that one, too.”

Burlington said her family purchased Bluf after she clicked with the 10-year-old gelding after riding him last summer. Burlington and Bluf had success during the Winter Equestrian Festival in the High Junior Jumper division and the Under 25 division.

“I bought him a couple of weeks after the first time I showed him,” Burlington explained. “I originally started showing him so other people could see him and he could be sold, but we ended up being a really good match, so I ended up getting him.”

Earning second place was 18-year-old Brittan, who rode Paradise Farms’ Unico to the second clear round of the day, following up with a clear jump-off round and time of 43.702 seconds, ending on a good note for his first appearance in the U25 division.

“I’m feeling good, and Unico jumped really well,” Brittan said. “He’s 16, but he still has a lot of pace, and he’s also really adjustable. I think he has a couple of more good years in him. I thought I made it down the course quick enough, but Brett came in and just rode it so fast. She did really well.”

Keely McIntosh was the next to attempt the short course, again going clear aboard Jenny Booth’s So Live Helau. Her time of 44.511 seconds would be enough to secure the duo third place.

Mavis Spencer and Neil Jones Equestrian Inc.’s Disco Lady finished fourth after being the first to jump off and setting the pace to beat at 44.845 seconds. Spencer, coming off a win in the $5,000 Open Jumpers 1.40m with Disco Lady, said she loves the U25 division and is enjoying her last year showing in it.

The fifth place ribbon was awarded to Adrienne Sternlicht and Starlight Farms 1 LLC’s Helios, who turned in a clear round, but did not advance to the jump-off due to an unfortunate time fault. In addition to her fourth place ribbon, Spencer also took home sixth place with Neil Jones Equestrian Inc.’s Irea Van De Eilandhoeve, who had an unlucky rail at the last fence in round one.

To conclude, Brittan added, “The U25 division is so competitive, honestly. All the riders always lay it down, and there are really good horses in this class. I like it. It’s always a good jump-off. Plus, I love the Rolex Stadium. Kentucky is probably my favorite show, and my horse loves it here, too.”

The action on Sunday wrapped up week one of competition during the Kentucky Summer Horse Show series, but the top-quality horse show will resume on Tuesday to mark the start of the Kentucky Summer Classic.

Molly Sewell and El Raymond Conclude Kentucky Summer Horse Show with Win in $5,000 Hallway Feeds USHJA Hunter Derby

The Kentucky Summer Horse Show wrapped up with Molly Sewell clinching the $5,000 Hallway Feeds USHJA National Hunter Derby. Sewell was aboard Leslie and Stuart Campbell’s El Raymond and pair earned an impressive score of 186.00 to best a field of 36.

“I thought my rounds went really nicely today,” Sewell said. “The first round was quite smooth. Raymond was wonderful and the handy is usually his best round where he really shines. He always delivers in the handy.”

Molly Sewell and El Raymond
Molly Sewell and El Raymond

This year marks the third year that Sewell, who is a professional based in Orlando, Florida, has won the Kentucky Summer Derby on El Raymond. Last year Sewell captured the $10,000 Hallway Feeds Leading Professional Rider Award for the 2015 USHJA National Hunter Derby Series. She returned to the Kentucky Summer Horse Show to defend her derby domination on the 18-year-old Warmblood gelding.

“You would know never know he was 18! I swear he has found the fountain of youth and I want to drink whatever water he is drinking,” Sewell laughed. “He is the best horse and you can count on him for anything, especially when the pressure is on, he always rises to the occasion.”

“I really liked the course today; it flowed nicely and the handy had a lot of different options,” she explained. “Raymond is a seasoned, been there, done that horse and if there is an inside turn, he can do it.

The duo delivered a fluid first round and led the pack with a score of 90 from earning an 86 plus an additional 4 points for taking the high options. In the handy, they received a score of 96, which gave them a total score of 186.00.

“Raymond is amazing, but his real job is actually as an Adult Hunter for his owner, Leslie Campbell,” Sewell said. “He is very special and she has owned him around five years. Leslie is the most generous person. If it means sacrificing showing in her classes in order for me to compete, she would rather have me ride, and there are not many people who would do that. I feel so lucky to have her support me as a professional.”

Throughout August Sewell plans on competing El Raymond in the derbies of Kentucky Horse Show LLC. Sewell placed third in the derby on her other mount, Acado, with a total score of 179.00. Acado is owned by Sidney Porter.

“Kentucky Summer is 100% my favorite show of the entire year,” Sewell explained. “I love the facility, especially that you can ride out in the fields. It is so great for the horses, the footing is immaculate, and they do a great job running the show. I love it here!”

Taylor Kain came in second on Daryl Ziegler Henning’s Rio’s Figaro. Based in Wellington, Florida for the winter and Lexington, Kentucky for the summer, Kain has been riding the 12-year-old Hanoverian gelding for nine months. Kain started off the first round with a score of 88 and returned in the handy to score a total of 94 with four high option points. The pair’s total score was 182.00.

“This was our first derby together,” Kain said. “Rio’s Figaro felt great! I wanted to practice galloping, setting the pace and not doubting myself in the turns. He jumped incredibly! He is brave and scopey. He is fun like a rocking horse and has a big stride.”

“I was not expecting the 90,” she continued. “That was shocking, but he was unbelievable and he is always really game.”

She plans on doing more derbies with him in the future, while his owner competes him in the Adult Amateur Hunter 50 and Over division.

“I’d like to thank his owner, Daryl,” Kain concluded. “She has been the most amazing person that has come into my life. She is fully supportive and I would not be here without her.”

The $5,000 Hallway Feeds USHJA National Hunter Derby is part of the $40,0000 Hallway Feeds USHJA National Hunter Derby series which is returning for the fifth year in a row at the Kentucky Horse Park. The five-part series a $15,000 Hallway Feeds Leading Rider Bonus presented at the conclusion of the series.

To learn more about the Kentucky Summer Horse Show, please visit

Media Contact: Rebecca Walton
Phelps Media Group, Inc. International
phone 561.753.3389 fax 561.753.3386