Wellington, FL – February 6, 2021 – HOPE: one word, four letters and so much more. For 46 Palm Beach County Charities, the feeling of hope shifted into a reality on Saturday, February 6, at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center (PBIEC). What is usually the biggest night of the 12-week Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF), the Great Charity Challenge presented by Fidelity Investments® (GCC) pivoted to a blend of in-person competition for riders and virtual celebration for charities and supporters. Those supporters cheered as equestrians and their mounts, representing local non-profit organizations, competed for a share of more than $1 million in prize money.
Held at PBIEC in Wellington, Palm Beach County, Florida the past 12 years, the GCC has become a highlight of the winter season and has distributed a stunning $15,928,227.66 to 276 local non-profit organizations.
Determined to show the power of united communities, the GCC is an exciting show jumping event that combines equestrian sports and philanthropy, bringing hope to Palm Beach County charities every year. Three riders made up the top team of the night out of 23 pro-am combinations, which are paired with randomly selected Palm Beach County charities. Each team was made up of junior and amateur riders competing side-by-side with top professionals, including Olympians.
In addition to the 23 charities that were part of the GCC competition, an additional 24 non-profits received funding through grants that were awarded leading up to the event. For a full list of benefiting non-profit organizations, we invite you to visit: www.GreatCharityChallenge.com.
“Seeing the level of need in our community and knowing how difficult the past year has been, we quickly realized that we couldn’t turn our backs on our most vulnerable neighbors,” said GCC co-founder Mark Bellissimo. “We are truly grateful to see that the community was able to adapt to this format while stepping up to provide crucial funding to local organizations.”
A moment of silence at the beginning of the event paid recognition to all of the friends of GCC we lost and those who we lost to the pandemic in the past year.
Following a year of uncertainties and challenges, the GCC featured riders dressed up in costumes and horses adorned to match them, paying recognition to the #Heroes who stepped up during the pandemic as well as those who have inspired us to push beyond our own limits and driven us to “dream bigger.”
The winning team of riders – Lindsey Tomeu riding Bonapart, Ashley Vogel on Lucy in the Sky, and Shane Sweetnam aboard Heart on Fire – sponsored by team sponsor Spy Coast and Preston and corporate sponsor Diamante Dressage, came in the ring representing the United States Army as their heroes and finished with a time of 91.664 seconds. Their strategy and teamwork paid off for their assigned charity YWCA of Palm Beach County, a local non-profit organization that is dedicated to eliminating racism, empowering women, and promoting peace, justice, freedom, and dignity for all, earning them the top prize of $100,000. The sliding scale for the balance of the proceeds, down to 22nd place winning a minimum of $15,000, ensured that everyone was a winner.
Devon, Pa. – May 28, 2018 – For the second consecutive year, Lindsey Tomeu of Wellington, Florida rode to championship honors in the Adult Amateur Jumpers at the Devon Horse Show and Country Fair. After earning the reserve championship in 2016 and championship in 2017 with Bonapart, Tomeu went one step further in 2018 to claim both the championship with Gold Lux, owned by AM Free, Inc., and reserve championship with Bonapart, owned by DBHC, Inc. The 24-year-old athlete rode to a one-two finish in the $7,500 NAL/WIHS Adult Amateur Jumper Classic to secure the division’s top prizes with her two mounts on Monday.
Tori Colvin and Private Practice Start Strong in Green 3’9″ Hunter Division
The famous Devon Horse Show brought the best juniors together for Junior Weekend, but on Monday it was the professional athletes’ chance to have the spotlight in the Dixon Oval as Senior Week got underway. Tori Colvin and Brad Wolf’s Private Practice had back-to-back wins over fences in the Green 3’9″ Hunter division as a packed crowd looked on.
Steve Wilson and Nichole Jansen Take Top Prizes in Horse Pairs and Single/Pair Pony Driving Championship
Spectators gathered around the Dixon Oval on Memorial Day to witness the presentation of the tricolors for the Horse Pairs and the Single/Pair Pony Driving championship. Steve Wilson and his two grey Dutch Warmbloods received top honors in the Horse Pairs championship after accumulating the most points throughout Sunday’s competition. Later, it was Nichole Jansen and Littletree Limited Edition who took home the tricolor in the Single/Pair Pony Driving championship.
Hailey Berger and Shannondale Gino. Photo by Jump Media.
The race continues as horses and riders from around the nation compete for points to qualify for the 2017 Washington International Horse Show (WIHS) Equitation and Children’s and Adult Hunter and Jumper Championships. The best of the best will earn the opportunity to show at the nation’s top indoor final, which takes place October 24-29, 2017, at Verizon Center in Washington, D.C.
As of June 2, 2017, Shannondale Gino and Hailey Berger of Parkland, Fla. maintain their lead in the Children’s Jumper Division, coming into June with 2,714 points. Cassandra Dreams and Mia Albelo of Coconut Grove, Fla. moved into second place with 2,676 points. Top Price and Charlotte Novy of Wilmette, Ill. stand third with 2,511 points.
Bonapart and Lindsey Tomeu of Wellington, Fla. also continue to hold their lead in the Adult Jumper division, currently holding 4,410 points. Speedy Chicolina and Megan Winkhaus of Greenwich, Conn. moved up to second in the standings with 3,042 points. Camera Ready and Mattie Worsham of Cumming, Ga. sit third with 2,987 points.
Qualifying events for the WIHS championships are held at more than 650 horse shows in North America. Riders who earn the most points throughout the year are eligible to compete in the WIHS Championship Finals, which include the $10,000 WIHS Children’s Hunter Championship, $10,000 WIHS Children’s Jumper Championship, $10,000 WIHS Adult Hunter Championship, $10,000 WIHS Adult Jumper Championship, WIHS Equitation Finals, and WIHS Pony Equitation Finals.
“The WIHS Equitation Finals and Hunter and Jumper Championships give riders from around the country excellent goals to set for themselves each season,” said WIHS President Vicki Lowell. “The dedication and determination it takes to achieve those goals is wonderful to see. I wish all of the riders the best of luck as they continue to earn points throughout the remainder of the qualifying period, and we look forward to another great event in October!”
Don’t miss the chance to compete at the nation’s most unique and time-honored metropolitan event. The qualifying period runs from shows starting on or after Sept. 1, 2016, through shows starting on or before Aug. 31, 2017.
WIHS looks forward to hosting the best horses and riders from around the country in 2017 and encourages all riders to continue their drive to qualify. Riders must be active WIHS members in order for points to count towards the Finals.
As the season continues, WIHS congratulates all of the top competitors in the WIHS standings as of June 2, 2017:
WIHS Children’s and Adult Hunter Championships
In the Children’s Hunter Championship, Ufonia P and Cassie Warmkessel of Phoenix, Md. are the leaders with 1,242 points. Rocksino and Anna Tokich of Chardon, Ohio jumped to second place with 1,200 points. Escalido and Annie La Russa of Mountain Brook, Ala. sit third with 926 points.
Uptown and Victoria Clarke of Chevy Chase, Md. hold a steady lead in the Adult Hunter Championship standings with 1,976 points. Glyndon and Patricia Schindler of Reisterstown, Md. also maintain the second position with 1,710 points. XOXO and Jef Lauwers of Magnolia, Texas moved up to third place this month with 1,370 points.
WIHS Equitation and WIHS Pony Equitation
Emma Kurtz of Hudson, Ohio has taken over the lead in the WIHS Equitation East Coast standings with 4,672 points. Taylor St. Jacques of Glen Allen, Va. is second with 4,000 points, and Coco Fath of Fairfield, Conn. stands third with 3,000 points.
The top rider in the West Coast standings remains Grady Lyman of Rancho Santa Fe, Calif. with 2,236 points. Brooke Morin of Calabasas, Calif. moved into second place with 1,994 points, and Katherine Dash of Yarrow Point, Wash. sits third with 1,762 points. In the WIHS Pony Equitation standings, Hannah Hoch of Whitefish Bay, Wis. leads with 968 points. Tessa Downey from Houston, Texas sits in second with 744 points. Libbie Gordon of Stateville, N.C. stands third with 664 points.
For the equitation, invitations will be extended to the top 40 junior riders who are eligible to compete based on their points earned during the qualifying period in the East Coast and West Coast Leagues as follows: 30 riders will be invited from the East Coast League and 10 riders will be invited from the West Coast League. Letters of invitation will be mailed in September. For the pony equitation, invitations will be extended to the top 25 junior riders who are eligible to compete based on their points earned during the qualifying period. Letters of invitation will be mailed in September. For the championships, 29 horse/rider combinations will be accepted in each division.
Lexington, KY – May 19, 2017 – Alma Bjorklund and her own S.I.E.C. Contessina sped past the competition in Friday’s High Junior/Amateur-Owner speed class during the Kentucky Spring Classic. Out of 33 total entries, Alma was one of only four riders able to navigate the speed course without accruing any faults. Her clear time of 61.477 seconds scored the blue ribbon for the day.
Lacey Gilbertson, who won this same class a week ago during the Kentucky Spring Horse Show, showed Bizonder to the second place position with a time of 64.900 seconds. Nicole Bellissimo and VDL Bellefleur rounded out the top three spots with a clear round and time of 65.130 seconds.
Bjorklund, who hails from Sweden, has been competing with her brother Viggo at the Kentucky Horse Show, LLC events over the past two weeks under the watchful eye of Irish rider and trainer Eddie Macken. In much the same way as Macken has helped Mexico’s Eugenio Garza, the winner of the $35,000 Hagyard Lexington Grand Prix CSI3*, develop his string of competitive horses, he has also guided the Bjorklund siblings to top placings. Bjorklund specifically appreciates Macken’s quiet support and humble demeanor.
The 23-year-old University of Miami student will enter the Rolex Stadium Saturday in the High Junior/Amateur-Owner Classic on another of her talented horses. After the Kentucky Spring Classic wraps up, she will move on to the first event of the 2017 Split Rock Jumping Tour, also held in Kentucky.
FEI jumper competition continues with the $130,000 Mary Rena Murphy Grand Prix, which will be held after the Preakness viewing Saturday evening in Rolex Stadium. Saturday will also feature “A Day in the Park” to honor Ellen Veitch, a beloved member of the Kentucky Horse Show, LLC family who unexpectedly passed away on February 9, 2017. Exhibitors are encouraged to braid with blue yarn and wear a blue ribbon in loving memory of Ellen. All material is available in the show office for competitors to participate including braiding yarn, ribbons, and pins. Running from noon until 2pm, there will be a Kids Korner children’s party that will be held at the end of vendor row adjacent to Murphy Ring. The entire family is invited for the afternoon featuring horseless show jumping, face painting, and an ice cream social. The $50,000 Bluegrass Grand Prix will finish out competition in this year’s edition of the Kentucky Horse Shows, LLC spring series on Sunday afternoon.
Lindsey Tomeu Captures Ariat National Adult Medal aboard Red Drum
Lindsey Tomeu returned to the Claiborne Ring prepared to win the Ariat National Adult Medal Friday morning of the Kentucky Spring Classic. During last week’s Kentucky Spring Horse Show, Tomeu of Wellington, Florida and Elm Creek Holdings, LLC’s sale horse Red Drum competed together for the first time in the same class, scoring third place honors. In the first round exhibitors were asked to show over an eight fence course designed by Danny Moore. The top four combinations scoring an 80 or above to advance for additional testing.
Tomeu executed a smooth first round, receiving a high score of 83, which put her into second position behind Lizzie Van Der Walde who scored an 85 aboard Sarah Turner’s Holsteiner gelding Cacadu just before the test. In reverse order, riders were instructed to step forward from the line and canter to fence eight, trot fence two, canter fence six, counter canter fence seven, and return to the line in sitting trot.
Tomeu was impressed with the ease in which the Hanoverian gelding Red Drum completed the lead change and the pair made an impression on judge Bobbie Reber, resulting in a favorable adjustment in the standings. With the impressive performance Red Drum and Tomeu claimed the blue ribbon while Van Der Walde placed second. Lyriss Jaeger of Georgetown, Kentucky piloting her own Catanova rounded out the top three.
Tomeu has competed in equitation for four years, and is an accomplished jumper athlete, training with Shane and Ali Sweetnam at Sweet Oak Farm in Wellington, Florida. She can be seen at world-class venues across the country including the Winter Equestrian Festival, the Longines Global Champions Tour, the Devon Horse Show and the American Gold Cup.
Wellington, FL – February 4, 2017 – The team of riders Shane Sweetnam, Lindsey Tomeu, and Sedona Chamblee, team sponsors Spy Coast & Preston, and corporate sponsor Equine Tack & Nutritionals earned the top prize of $150,000 for their charity, Urban Youth Impact, on Saturday night in the 8th annual Great Charity Challenge, presented by Fidelity Investments®, at the 2017 Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF).
Also competing at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center (PBIEC) in Wellington, FL on Saturday, Olympic silver medalist Kent Farrington won the $35,000 Suncast® 1.50m Championship Jumper Classic riding Sherkan d’Amaury.
The 2017 GCC donated a record $1.5 million to 35 local Palm Beach County charities, bringing the eight-year total up to $10.7 million distributed through the event to date. The winning charity received the top prize of $150,000, with a sliding scale for the balance of the proceeds down to 35th place, which wins $15,000.
The competition is held as a pro-am team relay with each team made up of junior and amateur riders competing side by side with top professionals. The event also featured a fun theme, as riders (and their horses) dressed up as characters from their favorite animated movies.
Representing Urban Youth Impact, Sweetnam, Tomeu, and Chamblee rode for team sponsor Spy Coast & Preston, and corporate sponsor Equine Tack and Nutritionals dressed as characters from The Flintstones. All three riders cleared the course without fault and clocked the fastest combined time of 85.27 seconds for the win. Sweetnam and Tomeu were also part of the winning team in 2016, while Chamblee was competing in the event for the first time.
“It is a fantastic cause, not just for our team, but for a lot of different foundations in the area,” said Sweetnam, who anchored the team as professional rider. “I do not know if there is anything else like it in the country or anywhere really. Every year we try to do our best for whatever cause we are given. Obviously the girls did a great job, and I just finished it off. They were really motoring, so it was great.”
Tomeu (23), who has been competing in the event for the past four years, stated, “Every year we really try hard to win. We put together a good team, and last year we had a great team. We really wanted to step it up and do it again, and we did, which is amazing. We were even faster this year than we were last year, which I did not think was possible. Sedona was fantastic with her switch-off. It was really amazing.”
Chamblee (15) added, “This was my first year doing the Great Charity Challenge, and it was really fun. It was a great experience, and you get to ride for an amazing charity, which is really cool. Like Lindsey said, it was just amazing.”
Representing team sponsor Spy Coast Farm, Lisa Lourie commented on her team’s win for the second year in a row.
“I think it is a great way to involve the community here with our sport, as well as for us to give back to the community,” Lourie stated. “It is a win-win for both the community and for us. When we get to be involved with either educational or urban youth organizations, we are especially happy. We are very happy to be involved with Urban Youth Impact.”
Team sponsor Monica Preston added, “I am so proud to be a part of this group, and it is really wonderful that a small charity can benefit so greatly. I am so proud of the riders, and thank you to Lisa for getting me involved in this event.”
Charity winner Urban Youth Impact’s mission is to love, equip, and empower inner-city youth and their parents to fulfill their God-given purpose. Representing the organization, volunteer Sarah Armada detailed, “It is an organization that provides a safe place for kids to go after school. They get reading support; they get the arts. There is African drumming and ballet. There are things that these children would not be otherwise exposed to. They do so much for the community, and I think this is a great way to get their name out there and just provide them with all of the resources that those kids so desperately need. This is going to make a huge difference.”
Armada continued, “It is all about building their capacity and letting the kids feel empowered and equipped so that they can go out and be successful in their community.”
Adopt a Family was the second wildcard draw of the night, and ended up in second place overall, with riders Sydney Shulman, Lilli Hymowitz, and Hannah Patten representing the charity. Team sponsor the Patten family and corporate sponsor H5 Stables supported the riders, dressed as characters from Lilo & Stitch, with a combined time of 94.02 seconds.
Representing the charity Hepzibah House, Canadian Olympian Tiffany Foster, and amateur riders Alexandra Crown and Alexandra Welles, placed third. Dressed as My Little Ponies and riding for team sponsor the Crown family and corporate sponsor Stone Hill Farm, all three ladies jumped their courses without fault and clocked a combined time of 97.47 seconds.
GCC co-founder Paige Bellissimo was thrilled with the success of the eighth annual event and praised everyone involved on a fantastic evening of sport and charitable giving.
“It is really special year after year to have so many great riders participating in the event,” Bellissimo stated. “It is amazing that people donate their time to give back. The executive directors of all of the charity organizations are the lifeblood of these communities, and it is just really amazing that we can all come together to support the community and see it grow. I want to thank the riders and the sponsors. Thank you Lisa and Monica for supporting year after year. It is so cool to see the charities and everyone’s unique way of helping. Urban Youth Impact is empowering our youth, and the youth are our future, so thanks go to them for everything they do.”
Farrington Tops Suncast® 1.50m
2016 U.S. Olympic team silver medalist Kent Farrington was the winner of week four’s $35,000 Suncast® 1.50m Championship Jumper Classic on Saturday at the Winter Equestrian Festival riding Sherkan d’Amaury. Jumping a track set by course designer Steve Stephens (USA), Farrington topped a class of 29 entries and an eight-horse jump-off.
Sherkan d’Amaury, an 11-year-old Selle Francais gelding (Kannan x Quick Star) owned by Farrington, Haity McNerney, and Daniel Crown, carried his rider to victory in a time of 39.54 seconds over the short course. Shane Sweetnam (IRL) took second and third place honors, riding the Blue Buckle Group’s Cobolt through the timers in 39.92 seconds, and stopping the clock in 40.56 seconds aboard Sweet Oak Farm and Seabrook LLC’s Main Road. Canada’s Beth Underhill finished fourth, riding Sandy Lupton’s Count Me In to a clear round over the jump-off track in 40.59 seconds.
Remarking on his winning round with Sherkan d’Amaury, Farrington stated, “For him, I just did what I thought his strengths were. I think what won the class today was the leave-out to the last fence. He has a very big stride and big scope, and he is so careful that he is actually better if I am catching every jump accelerating, or out of rhythm. I think that is where we got it today.
“I think a lot of this horse,” Farrington continued. “I had him last year, and then he had a terrible colic surgery, and he just started showing this winter two weeks ago. The first class in the week he was third, and then yesterday he was second, and today he won, so he is really on the mend and I’m happy to have him back.”
Sherkan d’Amaury has a fast pace and a unique way of going that suits Farrington’s strengths as a rider.
“He is my style. He is super careful, which I try to find in all of the horses I buy,” Farrington stated. “I try to get extreme quality, and sometimes that works against me, but in the end I think that is the way you get the best horses. They tend to be a little bit the weirdos. They are spooky and not always the easiest to ride, but that often goes hand-in-hand with an extreme horse that has that kind of blood and that kind of carefulness. It is a double-edged sword, but that is what I like to ride.”
Sherkan d’Amaury is just getting back in top form and Farrington will continue developing him throughout the winter circuit.
“I think he can jump anything,” the rider noted. “It is just a matter of building him the right way, and seeing where his confidence is, and what his body is ready for. He came off of a long gap there not doing anything all last year, so we’ll see where he goes. It is a long winter and we have lots of time to build him up, so I am looking forward to it.”
Also competing in the International Arena on Saturday, Sarah Bagworth and Goldfinder vd Hengstenpoel won the $15,000 SJHOF High Amateur-Owner Classic, presented by Engel & Völkers.
Staszak Captures Beval Palm Beach Adult Medal Victory
The Beval Palm Beach Adult Medal concluded Saturday morning with Catie Staszak of Boynton Beach, FL emerging as the winner. Staszak shows in the Adult Amateur Medals while also focusing on her career as a multimedia sports journalist. All 11 competitors participated in a jumping and a flat phase.
“Flatwork has typically been my weakness,” Staszak detailed. “The jumping phase felt phenomenal. Everything worked out well and was smooth, which is key. It wasn’t the most technical course, so it was really about position and keeping on a nice rhythm.”
Staszak was aboard Agnes Augusta, a 12-year-old Swedish Warmblood mare owned by East Wind Farm, LLC. The pair has been partnered together for about four years.
“We just click,” Staszak explained. “She’s really sensitive, and I’m a very soft rider so we get along well. She’s come so far, especially in the past year. I couldn’t be prouder of her. She’s really special, and I love her to death.”
Staszak rode in the equitation classes as a junior, but took a break from showing to get her degree in broadcast journalism at the University of Miami. She does grand prix commentary for live streaming events, which combines for a career of two of her passions – horses and journalism.
Rounding out the top three competitors were Sara Ballinger taking second place and Elissa Davis being awarded third place.
The fourth week of WEF concludes on Sunday with the $216,000 Ariat® Grand Prix CSI 4* on the grass derby field at Equestrian Village. The Bruno DelGrange Large Junior Hunter 16-17 division will award championship and reserve honors in the Rost Arena. For full results, please visit www.PBIEC.com.
Gaston and Because Conclude Kentucky Summer Classic with Amateur-Owner Hunter Championship
Lexington, KY – Aug. 7, 2016 – On Sunday, 22-year-old Lindsey Tomeu added a sixth consecutive win to her summer streak of success with a victory in the Adult Jumper Classic aboard DBHC, Inc.’s Bonapart. In the Children’s Jumper Classic, it was Madeline Derose and Aberdeen Ventures LLC’s Jorno who bested the field of 32 to take home the win.
Tomeu and Bonapart were the last combination to attempt the course, and turned in a clear round to advance to the jump-off. Contesting Michelle Newman and the UK Equestrian Team’s Royal Blue lead, Tomeu and Bonapart shaved a full two seconds off the leading time to take over the lead in 31.103 seconds, leaving Newman and Royal Blue in second.
“It feels amazing to have won this class; we’ve had an incredible summer so far,” Tomeu said. “Bonapart is so special; he’s almost unstoppable. Today we originally planned to take a tighter inside turn to fence 10 in the jump-off, but he’s quick enough on his own, so we went wide instead. I’m happy we did, because it was a dicey turn. He’s always looking where he’s going, so once you do the first turn he has an idea. You have to think a little faster than him.”
Tomeu said she has had Bonapart, who is now 15, for two years, and considers him to be her horse of a lifetime. The duo recently earned reserve champion in the Adult Jumpers at the Devon Horse Show, and also had wins at Country Heir and the Great Lakes Equestrian Festival.
“This is my third summer with him, and we’ve formed an incredible bond,” Tomeu said. “He really is my horse of a lifetime, and I don’t think we’ll ever be able to replace him. He’s been there, done that. He’s won NAL Finals two years in a row; he’s just amazing. Today is our sixth Classic win in a row, which marks a record for me now. I couldn’t be happier with him.”
Tomeu is based in Lexington, Kentucky for the summer, and trains with Shane Sweetnam and Ali Oakley Sweetnam at Sweet Oak Farm.
“We love Kentucky,” Tomeu said. “It just doesn’t get any better than this.”
Earlier in the day, the Children’s Jumper Classic took the stage in the Rolex Arena. Madeline Derose and Jorno were one of seven horse-and-rider combinations to go clear in the first round and advance to the jump-off, which they completed faultless in a time of 33.097 seconds. Second place went to Sophia Zuckett and Stephanie Novas’ Aretina M with a time of 35.281 seconds.
“In the jump-off, we took two inside turns that helped us save time,” Derose said. “It feels great to win with him. I’ve won one other class on him at a smaller show, so it feels really good.”
Derose said her trainer, Aaron Vale, found Jorno during HITS Ocala in February.
“Jorno is so awesome for a 7-year-old,” Derose said. “I’ve only had him for a little while, but he’s been going really well. When we saw him going around at HITS, Aaron said, ‘I think that’s the one for you.’ He’s great; he’s super scopey, so that’s nice. He has a big stride, but he’s really collectable.
“I love showing here,” Derose concluded. “The facility is amazing. It’s really cool to go in the Rolex Arena, and it’s nice to be able to go around in a bigger ring like that.”
Gaston and Because Conclude Kentucky Summer Classic with Amateur-Owner Hunter Championship
Jane Gaston of The Plains, Virginia and her 9-year-old imported Dutch Warmblood gelding impressed the judges in the Amateur-Owner Hunter division and the pair earned the division championship on the final day of the Kentucky Summer Classic Horse Show.
“I am pretty happy with him,” Gaston said. “He is a really consistent horse. He is a good sport, so whatever they put out there I know that I have a good shot with him. He is such a good horse!
“Because has a big slow step, I never have to hurry. He has a huge range so your options are endless. He doesn’t mind getting deep or long, and he is kind about either spot. He is very adjustable.”
Prior to Gaston purchasing the talented gelding in February from Daniel Geitner, Because was originally a jumper in Europe.
“When Daniel [Geitner] started riding him he thought he would excel in the hunter ring,” Gaston explained. “He went right into the hunter ring like he had been practicing all his life!”
The pair competed throughout the Winter Equestrian Festival in Wellington, Florida and they were champion or reserve champion during most weeks in the Amateur-Owner division.
Though they had a stellar winter season, their competition schedule has not gone as smoothly as they had originally planned. Gaston’s goal was to qualify for Devon, which they accomplished, but an unfortunate fall from another horse left Gaston with a broken collarbone that required surgery.
Though Gaston had a two month setback, she geared up better than ever at the beginning of summer and has been consistent winning tricolor ribbons. Her first show back in the saddle was at Lamplight Equestrian Center where she earned her division championship.
“I could not have had a better start back horse because he is so kind and gentle,” Gaston explained. “When I was a little iffy coming back, he was the perfect horse.”
On Sunday, Gaston won the under saddle class and the handy round, so with the addition of her wins form the previous day she clinched the Amateur-Owner Hunter Championship.
“In the handy I thought he was really good,” Gaston said. “There was one inside turn I decided not to do because I knew that a few riders had a rub there. I thought if I had a rub up to that point I could add the inside turn, but my round was going well and I wanted to be smooth through to the end.”
Gaston trains with Larry Glefke and Kelley Farmer, who are based in Lexington, Kentucky in the summer and Wellington, Florida in the winter months. Farmer competed Because in the first week of the Kentucky Horse Show LLC’s summer series and won the Green Hunter Championship.
“They were not here today because Kelley just won the $100,000 International Derby at Saugerties!” Gaston laughed. “Vanessa Brown, who works for Larry, and Debbie Buchanan helped me today. We had our instructions, we followed them and it all was good.”
Gaston and Because continue to add more tricolor ribbons to their collection, but her main goal is to stay healthy the rest of the summer season so they can compete in the indoor circuit.
“Thank you to my whole team who kept him going and helped him be prepared while I was off for two months,” Gaston explained. “It was hard to get going, then have a break from my injury, and then to get him going again full speed. They prepared him beautifully!
“I love showing at Kentucky,” Gaston concluded. “It is one of the most consistent rings and everything is high quality; the stabling, the footing, the courses. It’s a place I always look forward to coming to.”
In the Amateur-Owner Hunter 3’3″ division, the top quality of the field made the judges opt for a California split. In Section A, Kristen Schnelle and Calena were crowned champions and Didi Mackenzie earned the reserve champion ribbon on MTM Do Right.
In Section B of the Amateur-Owner Hunter 3’3 division, Brittan Bailey and Jackman earned the tricolor ribbon and Lisa Butzer on Boca’s In Pursuit earned the reserve championship.
Bailey splits her time between West Palm Beach, Florida and Dallas, Texas, and she has owned the 10-year-old gelding for two years. They earned two blue ribbons, one in the handy and the other in the second hunter round, to clinch the section championship.
“My rounds were really great,” Bailey said. “I’m really excited for our consistency and I’m so pleased with him. We have come a long way since I’ve had him. It’s been a great partnership to bring him along. Win or lose he is so fun to show, but winning the division makes it even better!
“His favorite thing is to come to a show,” Bailey continued. “He loves his job. I know when I go out there I can always count on him.”
This is the first championship ribbon the pair has earned in an amateur division during Kentucky Horse Show LLC’s series. She enjoyed the handy course because it allowed her to show off Jackman’s handiness while maintaining a smooth round.
“I have a demanding professional job as CFO of Transworld Business Advisors, so it makes it even more exciting that I can put it all together for a show and balance everything,” Bailey concluded. “It’s a challenge of being an amateur, but it’s exciting when you can succeed!”
The Kentucky Summer Classic will wrap up on Sunday to make way for the 2016 United States Pony Finals. The Kentucky Summer Horse Show Series will resume on August 16 with the start of the Bluegrass Festival Horse Show, which will feature both the USHJA International Hunter Derby Championship and the USHJA Pre-Green Incentive Championship. Other highlight events include the $5,000 Hallway Feeds USHJA National Hunter Derby, the $25,000 Hagyard Lexington Classic and the $40,000 Bluegrass Festival Grand Prix, sponsored by Audi of Lexington.