Devon, Pa. – April 20, 2016 – If you spend more than just a few minutes at the famed Dixon Oval at the 2016 Devon Horse Show and Country Fair, there is a chance you will be stepping into a giant time machine. As you grip your seats tightly for all of the thrills of show jumping, your heart will be going a mile a minute as riders race for big money over fences more than five feet high. Just as you have settled down from that amazing experience, you go back in time as the beautiful classes from the extensive Coaching Division make their way into the show ring.
Watching the stylish coaches is like a step into the elegant past – perfectly appointed carriages showcase the pageantry of the era. The traditional sport of coaching is a reminder of what life must have been like before automobiles.
Horses and ponies compete in coaching in only a select number of events in the United States. The Devon Horse Show and Country Fair is a rare opportunity to see competitors from across the country. Coaching and Driving runs from Sunday, May 29 through Friday, June 3. This year’s judge for coaching and the carriage classes is Steve Holm from Southern Pines, North Carolina. Craig Kellogg, also of Southern Pines, North Carolina, will judge the pony section.
“The Coaching starts the first Sunday at Devon with the Coaching Marathon,” explained Wayne Grafton, the Chairman of the Board of the Devon Horse Show and Country Fair. “The marathon makes its way through the streets of Devon and eventually winds up in the Dixon Oval for judging. It’s great fun for the folks that live along the route, they bring their families together and picnic on the lawn and watch all of the varieties of vehicles go right by their front door.”
Grafton points out the marathon is just that: a full day affair that starts at 11 a.m. in the morning and can go until 4 p.m. in the Dixon Oval. The marathon can be as large as 35 participants, with some in tiny two wheel vehicle driven by small ponies and others in the four-in-hand coaches. And there are still others in the commercial section, which features old milk delivery wagons, ice wagons and even an old vis-a-vis from Central Park.
The Coaching divisions in the Dixon Oval feature many types of classes for competitors to showcase the sport. Grafton explained, “We have the singles (two and four wheel); we have the four wheeled pairs; we have the unicorn and the four in hands,” he said. “Some are judged on speed and agility; others are judged on their beauty, the perfection of the harness and appointments. It can take hours and hours to get everything ready for an appointments class.”
Grafton, who spent many years competing with his wife, has since retired but still appreciates the dedication and hard work that goes into showing in the Coaching Division. “We used to spend a week just to get ready for Devon,” he detailed. “Preparation requires very careful attention to detail, cleaning and preparing the harnesses as well as the vehicle and the horses for perfect turnout.”
“The Devon Coaching truly is elegant and one of many favorites by exhibitors and spectators,” said Devon President Richard O’ Donnell.
Show Co-Manager Peter Doubleday, the voice of the Coaching Division for decades, agrees with O’Donnell’s assessment, noting, “Second in popularity only to the Open Jumpers, the Coaching Section is highlighted each of the five nights and is truly a ‘Devon Tradition’ like no other.”
“I know as a competitor, I set my goals for the top. I don’t always have to be a winner, but I want to be turned out properly. I want to appear that I am doing what is right and the most important thing is that my horses are prepared, well turned out, well groomed, polished and ready to compete with the best of the best,” said O’Donnell. “Obviously Devon is where ‘Champions Meet,’ so we have to shoot for the stars.”
Spectators will get a chance to see the coaches judged on both driver’s skill and turnout. For the skills portion, cones are set in the Dixon Oval and it is the object of the driver to negotiate the course of cones with the fewest knockdowns. They are judged on time and faults over a course in the ring. The horses are required to work as one unit to keep a clean line through the course. “Getting through those cones, at the same time chasing the clock, is no easy feat,” said Grafton. “That takes real skill on the part of the whip.”
During the turnout classes, there are so many items the judges will be looking for. Grafton pointed out a few. “These are the subjective classes, the judge’s opinion. He’s looking for the quality of the turnout, the quality of the horses, the matching of the harness to the horses, the groom’s livery, the lanterns on the carriage, the boots, the safety equipment and so many items. It’s a long checklist,” he laughed.
At Devon, four-in-hand entries are driven to a road coach or park drag. A road coach is a 12-seat vehicle for public transport on a scheduled route. Generally they were heavier than private coaches and would be drawn with horses chosen for their suitability for the work rather than for color or style. The park drag carriage was a lighter, more elegant version of the road coach.
Some coaching classes are judged on performance, manners, presentation, and appointments. The whip and passengers are attired in a manner appropriate to the season and type of show. Devon is a premiere show for coaching, featuring the country’s top competitors.
Whether it is Working Hunters, Open Jumpers, of the Coaching classes, the Tradition Continues at the Devon Horse Show and Country Fair.
For information on the Devon Horse Show, visit the website at: http://www.devonhorseshow.net/.
For tickets to this year’s show: http://www.devonhorseshow.net/tickets/dhs-tickets/.
And for exhibitor information, visit: http://www.devonhorseshow.net/exhibitors/.
Devon Horse Show and Country Fair Fast Facts
The Devon Horse Show and Country Fair is the longest running and largest outdoor multi-breed competition in the United States. With the grandeur of Philadelphia’s prestigious Main Line setting the stage, the event features a world-class field that annually ranks among the most prominent internationally. The event also includes the Country Fair that office world class shopping, rides and games for kids, multiple dining options and special entertainment events.
May 26th through June 5th, 2016
Devon Horse Show Grounds
23 Dorset Road
Prize List and Exhibitor Information:
New This Year – FEI CSI4* Designation
*$50,000 Devon Welcome Stake (Time first jump-off) on Tuesday night, May 31.
*$40,000 Devon International Speed Stake (Time first round) on Wednesday night, June 1.
*$225,000 Sapphire Grand Prix on Thursday night, June 2nd
*Plus National Jumper classes
Approximately 900 permanent stalls Many barns renovated within the last 5 years
Restroom facilities with showers
Limited parking is available for spectators at the Main Lot on Dorset Road across from the Main Entrance.
From Philadelphia International Airport
Follow signs to I-95 South and follow I-95 South approximately 5 miles. Merge onto I-476 North via exit 7 toward Plymouth Meeting. Follow I-476 North for approximately 13 miles to exit 13, US-30. Turn left onto US-30 West. Follow US-30 West for approximately 3 miles and the Devon Horse Show will be on your left.
From the Northeast
Follow I-95 South. Look for I-476 approximately 5 miles South of the Philadelphia
International Airport. Merge onto I-476 North via exit 7 toward Plymouth Meeting.
Follow I-476 North for approximately 13 miles to exit 13, US-30. Turn left onto US-30 West. Follow US-30 West for approximately 3 miles and the Devon Horse Show will be on your left.
From the South
Follow I-95 North toward Philadelphia. Once you’ve crossed into Delaware, keep right and take I-495 North via exit 5D toward Port of Wilmington / Philadelphia. Follow for I-495 North and merge onto I-95 North (Crossing into Pennsylvania). Follow I-95 North to I-476 North. Take I-476 N via exit 7 toward Plymouth Meeting. Follow I-476 North for approximately 13 miles to exit 13, US-30. Turn left onto US-30 West. Follow US-30 West for approximately 3 miles and the Devon Horse Show will be on your left.
From the East
Follow the Schuylkill Expressway / I-76 West to I-476 South. Merge onto I-476 South via exit 331A on the left toward Chester. Follow I-476 South for approximately 2 miles to exit 13, US-30. Turn left onto US-30 West. Follow US-30 West for approximately 3 miles and the Devon Horse Show will be on your left.
From the West
Follow the Pennsylvania Turnpike / I-76 E toward Philadelphia. Take exit 326 toward Valley Forge. Stay in right lane after the tolls. Merge onto US-202 South via exit 328A toward West Chester. Follow US-202 South for approximately 2 miles. Take the PA-252 North exit toward Devon. Make a left onto Valley Forge Road / PA-252. Continue to follow Valley Forge Road for approximately .5 miles and make a slight right turn onto Devon State Road. Follow Devon State road for approximately 1 mile until you reach a dead end. Make a left onto Old Lancaster Road and then an immediate right onto Waterloo Road. Turn left on to Lancaster Avenue / US-30 East and the Devon Horse Show will be on your right within .2 miles.
Devon Horse Show Office
PO Box 865, Devon, PA 19333
Devon Horse Show Office
(GPS and UPS & FedEx Deliveries, not for US Postal Service) 23 Dorset Road, Devon, PA 19333
Devon Horse Show Entries
PO Box 158, Devon, PA 19333
Devon Country Fair Office
PO Box 925, Southeastern, PA 19399
Box Seating & Ticket Office
PO Box 742, Devon, PA 19333
Advertising – (610) 964-0550 x 222
Box Holders – (610) 688-2554
Devon Country Fair – (610) 525-2533
Devon Fall Classic – (610) 964-0550
Entries – (610) 964-2723
Fax – (610) 964-1608
Feed Orders – (610) 964-8407
Facility Rental – (610) 964-0550
Horse Show Office – (610) 964-0550
Lost & Found – (610) 688-1312 (during show only)
Sponsorship – (610) 964-0550 x 211
Stable Office – (610) 688-2665
Tickets and Tables – (610) 688-2554
Horse Show – (610) 964-0550 x 222
Country Fair – (610) 525-2533
To date, volunteers have raised over $14,000,000 for Bryn Mawr Hospital
Ring dimensions and footing:
Dixon Oval: 325′ x 150′
Gold Ring: 300′ x 130′
The Dixon Oval, Gold Ring, and the Schooling Area all have state of the art all weather footing by Equestrian Services International.
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