Category Archives: Phelps Media Group

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Dressage at Lexington Acquired by Virginia Dressage Association

Photo courtesy of Pics of You.

Lexington, VA – Jan. 20, 2017 – Dressage at Lexington, held at the Virginia Horse Center in Lexington, Virginia, is a premier dressage show. During its 27- year tenure, it has grown to be one of the largest dressage shows on the East Coast. With special classes like the Prix St. Georges Challenge, a competitive FEI class, and the very popular Sporting Horse Amateur Challenge, Dressage at Lexington has become a destination event for amateurs and professionals alike. Sponsors and riders from the Mid-Atlantic region appreciate the friendly atmosphere, top facility, and opportunity for a victory gallop.

After 27 years of developing and managing Dressage at Lexington, show manager Debbie Rodriguez is handing over the reins to the Virginia Dressage Association (VADA). “It has been a great experience,” said Rodriguez. “The best part is the people in our sport that I have gotten to know. Watching riders and horses develop and come up the levels has been a treat and knowing that volunteers and sponsors are willing to pitch in and help has made my job easy. I look forward to the experience that VADA brings to the table, and anticipate a bright future for VADA and Dressage at Lexington.”

VADA is an active and experienced United States Dressage Federation Group Member Organization, with a long history of managing Championship shows. The organization will start hosting Dressage at Lexington beginning in 2017.

VADA President Alison Head notes, “We are thrilled to have the opportunity to continue this important Dressage Show! We hope to continue the great work that Debbie has done, and add some special ‘VADA’ touches as well. We look forward to welcoming everyone in July of next year.”

To learn more about the Virginia Dressage Association and the 2017 Dressage at Lexington competition, please click here.

To learn more about the Virginia Horse Center and their entire line up of exciting events, please click here.

Stonewall Country Horse Shows Kick Off at the Virginia Horse Center This Weekend

Photo Courtesy of David Bell.

Lexington, Va. – Jan. 17, 2017 – Each winter, the Virginia equestrian community looks forward to the Stonewall Country Horse Shows at the Virginia Horse Center. Celebrating their 25th anniversary, these events, which benefit the Virginia Horse Center Foundation, offer two hunter/jumper shows at the facility from Jan. 19-22 and Feb. 3-5. This year, the Stonewall Country series will also feature USHJA Outreach classes for exhibitors interested in bringing along their young horses to school before the summer show season begins.

The Stonewall Country Horse Show series offers Virginia and Mid-Atlantic residents an opportunity to compete in a National rated horse show environment with two indoor rings and many indoor schooling options. A complete schedule and list of classes is available here.

Virginia Beach based trainer and USEF “R” judge Chris Wynne is enthusiastic about the opportunities that these shows provide for those who are not able to travel to Florida for the winter.

“We enjoy these shows because it’s such a friendly hometown atmosphere,” Wynne said. “The exhibitors and trainers all contribute to this; everyone really enjoys each other at these shows. The management does a great job putting on really nice shows with great courses and jumps and an indoor environment that prepares us well for later in the season.”

The National rated Stonewall Series will feature professional and amateur divisions for both hunters and jumpers. Competitors who are trying to earn valuable equitation qualifying points will also have the opportunity to do so in the WIHS, ARIAT, and THIS National Children’s Medal classes. Many of these same classes are also qualifiers for the Amy Ylvisaker Reistrup Equitation Challenge, which is held annually at the Lexington National Horse Show in August.

With the addition of USHJA Outreach classes this year, horses and riders who are not as experienced in the show ring will also be able to compete in classes that are offered at a discount in both class fees and stabling fees.

To learn more about the Virginia Horse Center and their entire line up of exciting events, please click here.

Contact: Rebecca Walton
phone 561.753.3389 fax 561.753.3386

M. Michael Meller Presents Style Award to Charlie Jacobs at CP National Horse Show CSI4*-W

Lexington, Ky. – Nov. 8, 2016 – Each year, the CP National Horse Show brings together show jumping’s top athletes to showcase their skills during the world-class competition. Katherine Gallagher, M. Michael Meller and Dan Walsh of E2 Show Jumpers are proud to support the exciting World Cup event. This year, in addition to his sponsorship of the competition, Meller presented the M. Michael Meller Style Award, donated in memory of Pat Van Dyke Fischer, to Charlie Jacobs of Boston, Massachusetts.

During the opening ceremonies of Saturday’s $250,000 Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping Lexington CSI4*-W in the Alltech Arena at the CP National Horse Show, Meller and Fischer’s daughter Sandy Van Dyke presented Jacobs with the award after a unanimous decision of the committee.

Fischer was a life-long equestrian with an amazing passion for the sport. The M. Michael Meller Style Award is presented each year to the international equestrian who exemplifies the best style of riding along with maintaining a sportsmanlike composure. Previous winners at events in 2015 and 2016 include Andres Rodriguez, Chloe Reid, Alison Robitaille and Conor Swail.

“Receiving this award is very flattering,” said Jacobs. “I was a lifelong friend to Pat and I knew her quite well. She spent some time at my family’s Deeridge Farm. It is an honor to be presented this award by Michael in her legacy.”

“Charlie is a gifted athlete and very deserving of this year’s award,” expressed Meller. “He is one of very few equestrian athletes that balance success at the top level of the sport with a fulltime career and a family. It’s been wonderful to watch his continued success over the years.”

Meller continued, “At E2 Show Jumpers we believe in supporting world-class competitions that showcase the best the sport has to offer. The CP National Horse Show and the organizers have created an amazing event in Lexington and we are excited to be a part of it.”

As the season continues, Meller and E2 Show Jumpers continue to support the industry by sponsoring awards at the Las Vegas National Horse Show. Founded by Gallagher, Meller and Walsh, the mission of E2 Show Jumpers is to find and produce some of the world’s top young show jumping mounts.

For more information about E2 Showjumpers, please visit

Contact: Rebecca Walton
phone 561.753.3389 fax 561.753.3386

Wyndmont, Inc. Students Earn Outstanding Results at Florida Fall State Show

Nicole Loochtan and Memory Lane. Photo Courtesy: Liz Crawley Photography.

Loxahatchee, Fla. – September 29, 2016 – Wyndmont, Inc. students, Nicole Loochtan and Laurie Sharma, put their long hours of practice with trainers Ronnie Beard and Michael Dorman of Wyndmont, Inc. to work over the weekend resulting in top placings at the Florida Fall State Horse Show held at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center.

With the famed Winter Equestrian Festival season just around the corner, Loochtan and Sharma took the opportunity to show their horses in preparation for the more intense winter competition at the Wellington Equestrian Festival in Wellington, Florida. The Fall State Horse Show, located within an easy commute from Wyndmont’s farm in Loxahatchee, provided the perfect opportunity to begin following the specific plan each rider has for their respective horses.

After taking a two month break following a successful summer show season at the Tryon International Equestrian Center, Loochtan and Memory Lane, a 14-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding, were champions in the 1.30m division and second in the Junior/Amateur-Owner Classic. Her newest partner, 13-year-old Quarterman, finished fifth in the $7,000 Tack and Rider Open Stakes 1.40m.

“When we first got Quarterman, we had some challenges to work through,” said Loochtan. “Being at home and able to school with Michael and Ronnie helped to solidify our partnership. Practice really made perfect for us.”

Beard and Dorman enjoy a reputation for helping students achieve their goals and earn top results in the show ring. The pair has developed a solid formula for success over the years: Beard helps the rider gain confidence and perspective in their training and Dorman uses his classical equitation approach to pinpoint exactly what the horse needs to perform at their best. By combining their collective attention to detail with realistic goals for each horse and rider, Beard and Dorman consistently create a recipe for success.

Loochtan plans to focus the early months of 2017 competing in the Under 25 grand prix events as well as selected international level grand prix events to gain experience. “Everything we do and the plans that we make contribute to advancing my goal of becoming a professional in this sport,” explained Loochtan. “Every few weeks we sit down to review what we are doing and why we are doing it in relation to that goal. It is really exciting to get a step closer every week.”

Adult amateur Laurie Sharma and her horse Equine Couture’s Carnavall have only been with the Wyndmont team for a short time, yet they are already benefitting from the planning and structure of Wyndmont’s world-class program. “I have been riding for 20 years and I have never experienced trainers like Ronnie and Michael!” smiled Sharma.

During her first few weeks of training, Sharma experienced a profound difference in the way she approaches the sport. “Their philosophy is, ‘Do you want to be a rider or a passenger?'” she said. “They have already given me these amazing tools and I am learning how to be a true rider, which is something I have been trying to do all of my life.”

Sharma and Equine Couture’s Carnavall won a Low Schooling Jumper class and also placed third in a Children/Adult Jumper class.

As a former star college soccer player for the University of Rhode Island, Sharma knows what good coaching is and believes that she has found a special partnership with her new trainers.

“Ronnie has a very kind way of telling you to move past your mistakes and move forward, while Michael knows exactly what my horses need and how they should be trained,” explained Sharma. “They set very attainable and achievable goals for me. I believe I have finally found my forever trainers!”

Wyndmont, Inc. offers coaching and training for professional and amateur athletes. Wyndmont also produce top quality jumper and hunter horses, many of which are for sale. Throughout the year, Beard and Dorman travel with their talented string of horses and clients to compete at many of the nations’ most prestigious horse shows.

To learn more about Beard, Dorman and top show horses offered for sale by Wyndmont, Inc., please visit their website

Contact: Rebecca Walton
phone 561.753.3389 fax 561.753.3386

USHJA Horse of the Year Jumper Championship Wins for Traband and Rudershausen

Elizabeth Traband and Ladonna.

Devon, Pa. – Sept. 17, 2016 – Elizabeth Traband and Melissa Rudershausen wrapped up the Devon Fall Classic on Sunday with victories during the United States Hunter Jumper Association Zone 2 Horse of the Year Jumper Championships. Traband and Rudershausen were among seven athletes to secure a spot in the winner’s circle in their respective divisions.

“This is actually my first show with Ladonna, and she just went in and marched around like a champion,” Traband said. “This is my favorite horse show. Just to be able to come here is great. It is such an incredible facility. There is so much history. It definitely makes this win more special.”

Traband rode Ladonna to victory in the $5,000 Low Junior Jumper Classic, besting the field of four riders who qualified for the speed round. Each competitor laid down a double-clear effort and only four-tenths of a second separated the top two athletes. Traband and her 11-year-old Warmblood triumphed with a time of 33.055 seconds, forcing Ashley Hartman and Clear Lady to settle for second place with a time of 33.490 seconds.

The unique rider shared her background, explaining, “I have a really crazy story. I became a fan of a guy named Tommie Turvey. At the time, I had this rotten pony that liked to buck me off and was horrible in the show ring. I rode him bridle-less everywhere, and one day, Tommie said, ‘Why don’t you come on the road with us?'”

Traband was born without an arm, but never allowed herself to be held back. At age 7, she was given the opportunity to travel all over the country with Turvey, performing in night shows and clinics.

“In 2010, we were performing at the World Equestrian Games,” the Penn State student continued. “Louise Serio was there with the international hunter derby riders. They got together and got me a grant to go to Wellington for two weeks – I was hooked.”

She added, “I hope I am an inspiration. I hope that I continue to push myself, and get outside of my comfort zone. It is amazing what you can achieve and what you can do when you put your nose to the grindstone.”

Lauren Lindner and Nazario 2 led the jump-off of the Low Junior Jumper class and set the initial time to beat, tripping the timers at 35.710 seconds. Her effort earned her the third-place finish, ahead of Chloe White and Miss Understood II, who finished in a time of 36.121 seconds for a fourth-place ribbon.

Rudershausen and Alicante Manciaise won the final class of the day in the $5,000 Low Amateur-Owner Jumper Classic. The duo was first to tackle the Paul Jewell-designed course and laid down a faultless effort to claim their spot in the short course. Three other horse-and-rider combinations followed their lead, narrowing down the chance at the tricolor ribbon to four athletes.

“Going first in the jump-off, my plan was to not go crazy,” Rudershausen explained. “I wanted to be tight and tidy in the turns, save room in the turns and really let it go to the last fence. My plan went really well. When I landed from the last fence, I thought I had a pretty good chance of winning it.”

Rudershausen and her Selle Francais mare sped through the track effortlessly in a time of 33.852 seconds, setting a time to beat that was too difficult for the other contenders to catch.

“There is no feeling in the world like walking under the sign to the Dixon Oval,” Rudershausen said. “It is a special feeling, and one we always try to achieve. I have been showing here every year since the Fall Classic started. It is really nice that it is only one ring, only jumpers. It is just run beautifully. They do a great job, and I love it.”

The duo had one of the two double-clear rounds in the afternoon. Caroline Annarella earned the second-place honors aboard Maxima 103 with an errorless round and time of 36.970 seconds.

Taylor Willever incurred four faults and clocked in a time of 35.883 seconds for third place with Adeline, while Heather Irons and Quiesel 4 settled for fourth place with an unfortunate elimination.

Earlier in the day, Kimberly Nevitt and Pardoned earned the first rosette of the championship day, finishing first in the $1,500 Low Adult Amateur Classic, while Wendy Chapot Nunn and Finella settled for the red ribbon in the class.

Alexis C. Di Pasqua and Reba Dean led the victory gallop in the second and fourth class of the day.  The dynamic duo bested five horse-and-rider combinations in the jump off of the $1,500 Low Children’s Jumper Classic and $3,000 High Children’s Jumper Classic to earn the victories. Christina Barnas and Demantur rode away with the second-place finish in the Low Children’s Jumper, while Robert Matz and Vamor secured the second place honors in the High Children’s Jumper.

The $3,000 High Adult Amateur Jumper Classic had a tough field of 22 competitors vying for the prize money and embroidered cooler. Sheila Ann Sadighi and Ulano bested the field of contenders and came out on top, while Joy Slater and Oilean Uno earned second place.

The ponies took over the Dixon Oval for the $1,500 Pony Jumper Classic, and Luke Sassi stole the show aboard Sky Miles as he sped through the course. Along the victory, Sassi earned the Pony Jumper Style of Riding Award. Catherine Wilson and EZ to Spot came up just short of the title, settling for the class’s red ribbon.

Traband’s and Rudershausen’s wins in Sunday’s Low Junior and Low Amateur-Owner classes marked the conclusion of the Devon Fall Classic. For more information on Devon Horse Shows, visit:

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Virginia Hunter Championships Looks Forward to Next Year after Successful 2016 Horse Show

Chris Wynne and Silver Lining, winners of the Pre-Green Hunter Classic. Photo By: Teresa Ramsay.

Lexington, Va. – Sept. 2, 2016 – The Virginia Horse Center hosted the second inaugural Virginia Hunter Championships on Tuesday, August 9. The program designed to foster, promote, reward and encourage hunter competition at independent horse shows throughout Virginia was once again a huge success and the planning for next year has already begun.

“You don’t qualify through winning,” Chris Wynne, founder of the Virginia Hunter Championships, said. “You qualify through participation. To be eligible you have to participate in a certain amount of shows in Virginia.”

Wynne continued, “You nominate your horse at the beginning of the year, and that’s your only cost. The horse show doesn’t cost anything. There’s no entry fee or anything. We’ve been fortunate to collect enough donations to put this show together. All of the prize money ($65,000) has been donated.”

The 2016 turnout was exciting to witness for Wynne, Leslie Brown, Claiborne Bishop and others who founded and created the cost-effective show. Thanks to donors like Markel Insurance, Southern States, Lynne Rice, the Fauntlaroy family, Keevil family and Wheeler family the 2017 circuit is already in the works.

“We have a special community and hunter niche in Virginia,” Wynne added. “We wanted to give them an event they could be excited about and proud of without costing them a fortune. We grew exponentially from the first year to the second, and look forward to the third.”

One of the well-known locals, Jason Berry, took home the blue-ribbon victory in the Professional Hunter Classic aboard Wistful. The two have been working together for two years and have earned a fair-share of victories in that time.

“He’s a great jumper and super brave,” Berry said. “He’s really scopey. He can jump a mountain. The course was built great and rode great, and the venue is so nice. It was a good two-class format.”

Sharing sentiments of the well-designed courses provided at the Virginia Hunter Championships was Haley Redifer. The 16-year-old earned two big wins in the Junior/Amateur Hunter Classic and Pony Hunter Classic.

“The courses were fantastic,” Redifer said. “The jumps were nice and big. There were a lot of bending lines that really challenged the riders. I really liked it.”

Redifer earned the Junior Amateur/Owner victory aboard Linus, a horse she has only ridden for four months.

“He’s a new ride for me and different than my other horses, because he’s a little bit greener,” Redifer shared. “Going into the championship class, I wasn’t sure how he’d be. I’ve only showed him in an indoor arena one time. I was nervous going in, but he walked in and went around like he’d been in there 100 times before. I couldn’t have asked him to be any more perfect.”

Aboard Champlain Sovereign, a catch-ride for Redifer, she took home the top honors in the Pony Hunter Classic. The two have been a dominating pair in the pony hunter division for two years.

“I started riding him last summer,” the junior rider said. “He is one of the easiest ponies I’ve ridden in my entire life. He is a perfect pony. His rhythm is a horse rhythm. The distances just come up and you just have to sit there. It’s fantastic.”

Wynne also joined in on the victories, taking home the blue aboard Silver Lining in the Pre-Green Hunter Classic.

“He’s a fearless horse,” Wynne said proudly. “We imported him a couple years ago. He’s an extremely quiet horse. He’s not scared of anything. He’s the type of horse that would walk right into anything and ride like he’s been there his whole life.”

Wynne continued, “He’s brave and doesn’t look at things on the side of ring. He doesn’t look at the jumps. He’s never going to let you down with being spooky or anything. He’s a careful jumper. He likes to jump higher than he needs to and puts a little more effort into his job.”

With the wrap up of the 2016 show, Wynne and the board advisors have put the planning and organizing for 2017 into motion and look forward to the growth of this show circuit.

For more information about the Virginia Hunter Championships, please visit, and for more information about 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)

Hesslink Takes Home Series Win in Hallway Feeds USHJA National Hunter Derby Program

Geoffrey Hesslink and Esco.

Lexington, KY – Sept. 1, 2016 – After five weeks of premier hunter derby competition in the Hallway Feeds USHJA National Hunter Derby Series, it was young professional Goeffrey Hesslink who topped the leaderboard to take home the 2016 series win and the $10,000 Hallway Feeds Leading Professional Rider Award.

The Hallway Feeds Series consists of five national hunter derby events held throughout the 2016 show series at the Kentucky Horse Park. After winning the final event at the Bluegrass Festival Horse Show, Hesslink earned enough points to claim the $10,000 Hallway Feeds Leading Professional Rider Award, which went to the professional rider who accumulated the most points in the series.

Aaron Vale finished the series in second place, while Molly Sewell ended up in third. The leading amateur rider, who took home the $2,500 Leading Amateur Rider Award, was Leyland Gleeson, who sat in sixth in the overall standings. Earning the $2,500 Leading Junior Rider Award was Hunter Holloway, who sat in seventh place at the series finale.

Hesslink said he enjoys participating in the Hallway Feeds National Derby Series so much that he has not missed a single 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.”

“I think the Hallway Feeds National Hunter Derby Series is amazing,” Hesslink said. “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.”

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

For more information about the Kentucky Horse Shows, please visit

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

E2 Show Jumpers Announces Sponsorship of National Horse Show

Peter Lutz and Gallagher/Meller’s Robin De Ponthual.

Lexington, KY – Aug. 29, 2016 – E2 Show Jumpers proudly announces their support as a corporate sponsor for the 2016 CP National Horse Show, which will take place this fall at the Kentucky Horse Park from November 1-6.

Founded by Katherine Gallagher, Michael Meller and Dan Walsh, the mission of E2 Show Jumpers is to find and produce the world’s top, young show jumping sporthorses. Their large group of talented horses is based in Europe, with recent top placings at the Dublin International Horse Show.

“At E2 Show Jumpers, one of our core beliefs is giving back to the sport of show jumping and supporting outstanding events in our industry,” said Meller. “It is so important to us to support top-quality events around the world, with the National Horse Show being one of them. It is so important to support FEI events in the United States.”

Gallagher/Meller Sporthorses

In addition to their ownership of E2 Show Jumpers, Katherine Gallagher and Michael Meller founded Gallagher/Meller Sporthorses to support Peter Lutz and his top horses in North America. Robin De Ponthual scored the winning honors during the $100,000 Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping Las Vegas. In 2016, after a top 20 finish at the FEI Show Jumping World Cup Finals in Gothenburg, Sweden, Lutz and Robin de Ponthual continued their success with their biggest win to date: the $375,000 CP Grand Prix at Spruce Meadows.

M. Michael Meller Style Award

In addition to his corporate sponsorship with E2 Show Jumpers, Meller will present the M. Michael Meller Style Award to the international equestrian who exemplifies the best style of riding along with maintaining a sportsmanlike composure. Previous winners at events in 2015 and 2016 include Andres Rodriguez, Michael Pender, Chloe Reid and Conor Swail.

Meller added, “The tradition of presenting the M. Michael Meller Style Award at elite events is a special way of recognizing the wonderfully talented riders that we have in our sport. It is very important to support those riders as they try and achieve success at the highest levels of show jumping.”

Highlight events during the 2016 CP National Horse Show include the 2016 ASPCA Maclay National Championship, the USEF Under 25 Championship and the $250,000 Longines FEI World Cup Jumping™ Lexington CSI-W4*.

For more information about E2 Showjumpers, please visit

For more information about the National Horse Show, please visit

Contact: Rebecca Walton
phone 561.753.3389 fax 561.753.3386

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