equestrian

One of the many tailgates.

Virginia Fall Races

Photos by Joanne Maisano

The National Steeplechase Association’s 64th running year of the Virginia Fall Races on Saturday, Oct. 13, 2018 at Glenwood park in Middleburg.

Le Chevalier owned by Mike and Wendy Smith won the $40,000 NSLM timber stakes ridden by Jack Doyle.

Le Chevalier owned by Mike and Wendy Smith won the $40,000 NSLM timber stakes ridden by Jack Doyle.

Undisclosed owned by Sharon Sheppard and ridden by Barry Foley won the Theodora A. Randolph Cup.

Undisclosed owned by Sharon Sheppard and ridden by Barry Foley won the Theodora A. Randolph Cup.

Stormy Alex won the Bon Nouvel hurdle race ridden by Graham Watters owned by Irvin Naylor 1st race.

Stormy Alex won the Bon Nouvel hurdle race ridden by Graham Watters owned by Irvin Naylor 1st race.

The finish line.

The finish line.

One of the many tailgates.

One of the many tailgates.

 

These photos first appeared in the November 2018 issue of Middleburg Life. 

David Matisz, winner of the first Alex Korompis Sportsmanship Award on Mary B. Schwab's Last Dance.

Eight Great years of Twilight Jumpers

This year’s Twilight Jumpers finale on August 31 at Great Meadow brought in one of the largest turnouts in the show’s eight-year history, and spectators were treated to a jam-packed field of top riders competing for the prize money. The series, which was conceived in 2011 as a way to give green horses and riders inexpensive experience in front of a lively local crowd, still serves that original purpose.

Matt Hollberg won three out of four $5,000 1.30M Mini Prix classes this season. Here he is jumping to the win on Mystic Blue.

Matt Hollberg won three out of four $5,000 1.30M Mini Prix classes this season. Here he is jumping to the win on Mystic Blue.

This season’s exhibitors ranged in experience; grand prix riders piloted new mounts under stadium lights for the first time, and seasoned show horses proved their worth to young riders, who benefited from the mental challenge of riding in front of hundreds of spectators. Many familiar faces toured the course over the four summer nights of the 2018 season; Twilight Jumpers regular Matt Hollberg won three out of the four 1.30 meter $5,000 Mini Prix classes, including the finale. But this year welcomed some new talent to the arena as well. Devon Zebrovious had been a spectator for years, but decided to jump into the ring this year and enter the Child/Adult Classic on her mount Morningstar. Zebrovious went on to decisively win both the June and July shows.

David Matisz, winner of the first Alex Korompis Sportsmanship Award on Mary B. Schwab's Last Dance.

David Matisz, winner of the first Alex Korompis Sportsmanship Award on Mary B. Schwab’s Last Dance.

“Having a large local crowd right on the rail as you are jumping is both an impetus to succeed, as well as a distraction,” she says, referring to the eye-level spectators lined up on the arena edge, often just feet away from a jump. “However, doing a victory gallop in front of that same crowd while wearing the winner’s cooler and sash is an unbelievable feeling!” Every detail of the show series has been designed by experienced jumper riders to cater to developing horses and riders. “It was very nice that the course designer built up the courses in terms of technicality and speed over the course of the season,” says Zebrovious, “…and you really saw improvement in those pairs that did the entire series.” Zebrovious had her share of blips this season as well, pulling her first rail in her first show and closing the series with an unexpected dismount in what had been a great round to that point. But the riders’ support from the crowd is the same, she says appreciatively, whether they won or had some bobbles.”

Devon Zebrovious on Cherry Blossom Farm's Morningstar winning the June 2018 “Candide” Memorial $500 Child/Adult Classic.

Devon Zebrovious on Cherry Blossom Farm’s Morningstar winning the June 2018 “Candide” Memorial $500 Child/Adult Classic.

The supportive atmosphere on the spectators’ lawn is mirrored in the riding community. The first class of the evening is dedicated to a horse that was a regular in the Twilight Jumpers program with rider Alison Wichman through 2016. For the last two seasons, riders have competed to win the “Candide” Memorial $500 Child/Adult Classic in honor of the chestnut horse who had become such a fan favorite. This year saw the loss of another member of the Twilight Jumpers community in Alex Korompis. Show manager Elizabeth Billings said the Dutch horse breeding genius and all-around friend to all was always at Twilight Jumpers if he was in town. “He knew and was known to all the riders—a friendly smiling face who knew the breeding of the horses often better than the riders and owners themselves.”

The inaugural Alex Korompis Sportsmanship Award was awarded to a dear friend of Korompis, Hungarian rider David Matisz. “David has grown to be a competitive Grand prix rider, but more importantly a very kind and well liked, helpful face at the horse shows,” says Billings. “Alex would be proud to know he was the 2018 recipient.” Korompis’ friends at Windsor Farm sponsored the award that was given in his memory at the 2018 series finale.

Young spectators take part in the new tradition of Pony Club stick pony races during the course change.

Young spectators take part in the new tradition of Pony Club stick pony races during the course change.

To continue to foster the level of horsemanship displayed by Korompis, Matisz, and the other exhibitors, Billings exchanged the traditional tug of war with the new Pony Club stick pony races during the course change. “Pony Club has been dwindling in the USA, and we are big believers in its value…of building interest in horses and all around strong horsemanship,” says Billings, speaking on behalf of the High Performance Equestrian Foundation, the beneficiary organization behind Twilight Jumpers. The show’s organizers continue to find ways to improve footing, lighting, and prize money as they look toward 2019. But with eight great years of community building in the books, the Friday night spectators know that the spring will bring back familiar faces (both furry and helmeted), family fun and high-quality competition.  “It literally takes a village,” says Billings. “That’s what makes living in the Piedmont so fantastic!”

 

Twilight Jumpers benefits the High Performance Equestrian Foundation, a 501(c)3 nonprofit aimed at leveling the playing field for the “capable, under-funded rider.” For more information, visit www.equestrianfoundation.com.

 

Story and photos by Callie Broaddus.

This article first appeared in the October 2018 issue. 

 

Marian Cunningham

Marian Cunningham, Dressage Judge

In a change of lead, Marian Cunningham went from the hectic life of international dressage competition, including representing her home country Peru in the 1984 Olympics, to traveling the globe as a 4-star FEI (International Equestrian Federation) Judge.

Marian Cunningham

Marian Cunningham

These days instead of performing passage and piaffe aboard her beloved El Dorado, Marian sits comfortably in the judges’ box evaluating the performances of the world’s top dressage riders. Just this year Marion has judged in Australia, Peru, France, Guatemala, Canada, Colombia, Mexico, Costa Rica and up and down the East and West coasts of the United States. She figures she spends half her time traveling and working in this year-round sport. And loves it. “I’ve made good friends with my colleagues, competitors, owners and organizers,” she says.

Upon returning to Middleburg, the renown equestrian enjoys relaxing, riding her horse Rio, giving dressage lessons and walking her Jack Russels, Maude and Marnye around the neighborhood.
Rio is Marian’s third-generation homebred Warmblood that she boards on a nearby farm she recently relocated to. Some days she rides dressage in the ring and other days she goes out on a hack or rides on the farm’s track.

With her days of competition in the past, Rio is her pleasure horse, living a horse’s life. “He’s turned out all night and liking his new place,” says the former Olympian. “He’s not wrapped up in cotton wool.”
Born in Peru to an American father and a Canadian mother, young Marian first wanted to jump horses, but her pragmatic mother told her she must first learn dressage so she can best control a horse. In between attending boarding school in Massachusetts, attending Commercial School in Switzerland, and graduating from Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service, Marian perfected her sport.
Upon completing her studies, Marian decided to get serious about competition and bought El Dorado. “He was supposed to be trained already, but it took me four years to know what buttons to push to get to L.A. (1984 Olympics).”

Marian is a dual citizen of Peru and the United States and is devoted to both her first and current homes. In competing in the ’84 Olympics, the local rider became the first person to represent Peru in Equestrian Sports. In her international travel she finds occasions to speak the four languages she is fluent in: Spanish, English, French and Italian. “And Barn German,” she adds. “I can swear at my horse in German.”

This Olympian has hopes of becoming a 5-star judge, the highest status in the FEI, which would allow her to return as a judge in the 2020 Olympics. She’s also hoping to judge in the Pan American Games which will be held next year in Peru. “By both competing in and judging in the Pan Ams and the Olympics, I will have come full circle,” declares Marian.

 

Story and photo by Kerry Phelps Dale.

This article first appeared in the October 2018 issue. 

Dressing Up for a Cause

The Black Horse Inn in Warrenton turned into a Roaring 20s speakeasy for a night.

Mary Page and other beautifully coiffed volunteers helped check in the guests as they arrived for the RideFauquier Roaring 20s Gala at Black Horse Inn on Aug. 25.

Mary Page and other beautifully coiffed volunteers helped check in the guests as they arrived for the RideFauquier Roaring 20s Gala at Black Horse Inn on Aug. 25.

Peter Pavone, the Las Vegas 2014 Male Tribute Artist of the Year, wooed guests at the RideFauquier Roaring 20s Gala and Auction on Aug. 25. Straight from Las Vegas, Pavone acted as emcee and guest auctioneer for the night.

Linda Malmgren understood that having fun with fashion was the name of the game at the Roaring 20s Gala. Raising money for a great sport was the goal.

Linda Malmgren understood that having fun with fashion was the name of the game at the Roaring 20s Gala. Raising money for a great sport was the goal.

“The party exceeded our expectations,” said Jinx Fox who is the vice president of the group. The men came out dressed in black and the women came in sequins and pearls. “Our effort has been a decade in the making, working with Fauquier County to identify an appropriate parcel, obtaining funds and engineering designs for the ring and access/parking,” Fox said.

Gina Colto could have walked the runway in her beautiful gown.

Gina Colto could have walked the runway in her beautiful gown.

Last fall RideFauquier opened several miles of public horse and hiking trails on the Fauquier County Meetze Station parcel. The group of dedicated volunteers are currently fundraising for the trailhead access, parking and, then, a public ring.

Jean Roberts, Lynn Pirozzoli and Peter Pavone of the Black Horse Inn, Marion Maggiolo joined in the fun. Pavone entertained, acted as emcee and auctioned off items and still found time time to talk to these lovely ladies.

Jean Roberts, Lynn Pirozzoli and Peter Pavone of the Black Horse Inn, Marion Maggiolo joined in the fun. Pavone entertained, acted as emcee and auctioned off items and still found time time to talk to these lovely ladies.

Most adjacent counties have public equestrian facilities, including Fairfax, Loudoun and Prince William. RideFauquier members are working hard to make sure riders there can enjoy the same amenities. Funds are urgently needed to complete trailer parking area for trails access and a future arena.

The trio of Katie Fletcher, Natalie Ortberg, Anita Jaramillo represented three generations on their family tree.

The trio of Katie Fletcher, Natalie Ortberg, Anita Jaramillo represented three generations on their family tree.

RideFauquier (formerly Fauquier Equestrian Forum) is a non-profit 501(c) 3 member organization dedicated to protecting and expanding Fauquier’s equestrian resources.

Board meetings are the third Monday of every month at 6.30 p.m. in the Bistro on the Hill at Fauquier Hospital.

 

This article first appeared in the September 2018 Issue. 

84 Year Old Harness Driver Sam Miller Wins First Race In 9 Years Sunday At Shenandoah Downs

Chuck Perry connected for a natural driving hat trick for the third straight race day and track record holder John’s Dream was dominant in the feature once again, but the highlight of the second weekend of racing action at Shenandoah Downs was when 84 year old driver Sam Miller directed Hay George to a come from behind win in Sunday’s $3500 tenth race.

Not only did Miller capably guide his five-year-old gelding trotter past Explosive Bubbles and Fins Up in the stretch, he was sent off as the 3-2 betting choice in the six horse field. Hay George was third throughout and crossed three-quarters of a length the best in 2:08.0 over a sloppy track. It was his first win in six lifetime starts.

“Damn, I can still do this at my age”, said Miller of Sunday’s win. “It was a rush. Hay George is just an amazing horse. He is so well behaved, he doesn’t pull and he listens to me. I just sit there and go for a ride.”

When asked if he remembered his last driving win, Miller said, “Wow, I’ll have to think about that one.” The victory actually came nine years ago in Virginia, at Colonial Downs, on September 16, 2009. Interestingly, the then 75-year-old driver swept both ends of a daily double that day with Mac Atack Mac and Second Hand News. Miller drove the latter one to victory four times over a two year period including that final time in New Kent. During the same meet, he teamed with driver Jim Larente in what he believes is the oldest exacta — from a human perspective —  in harness racing history. Larente, then 78, won a race with The Doctor while Miller was runner-up with Mac Atack Mac.

MiIler’s path to Shenandoah Downs in Woodstock came as a result of rejection elsewhere. “They wouldn’t let me drive in Delaware any more because of my age so I called Craig Andow (Race Secretary) at Ocean Downs about racing there this summer,” said Miller. “He said Sam, just retire”. After filling out the paperwork needed, Miller and his trotter were able to get one start at the Ocean City, Maryland oval and took a respectable fifth, finishing less than two lengths behind the winner. “I wasn’t able to get into a race again at Ocean, so decided to come to Woodstock.”

Miller is based in Dover, Delaware and has been in harness racing for 46 years. Previously, he was a tractor trailer driver while his wife always tended to the horses. He plans to keep on competing with Hay George for the rest of the meet at Shenandoah Downs. “I told my wife I’ll retire when I can’t win a race any more. I need something to do or else I’ll end up in a recliner getting old and fat.”

Shenandoah Downs will continue racing every Saturday and Sunday thru October 14th with first post at 2 PM. The season’s highlight will take place this Saturday September 29th when Foiled Again, harness racing’s top money earning horse ever, will compete in a $10,000 Aged Invitational Pace, then appear for a Meet & Greet session with fans.  The 14 year old pacer has bankrolled over $7.5 million in his spectacular career. He recently won his 103rd race and  will be retiring at the end of 2018. Racing action from the Shenandoah Valley is streamed live at www.shenandoahdowns.com.

Driver Chuck Perry Wins Eight Races During Opening Weekend At Shenandoah Downs

Driver Chuck Perry scored a natural hat trick on back to back days this weekend at Shenandoah Downs as the Woodstock, Virginia track ushered in its third pari-mutuel harness racing season.

The 53 year old Suffolk, Virginia resident had five wins on Saturday’s opening day card and another three on Sunday. The first hat trick included wins with 14-year-old B Blissful, track record holder John’s Dream and Yeahboyyeah, all in consecutive races. His second one featured victories aboard Fall Toy, former Virginia Breeder’s 2 year old colt/gelding champ Royal Red, and Blissful Artist. In all, Perry made eight weekend trips to the winners circle. His other triumphs were aboard undefeated Lemonaideshine, who is now 9-for-9, and Shez In Orbit. Half of those eight represented horses trained by Jimmy Viars while another two were Perry trainees. The others were conditioned by Henry Lewis and Renfrow Hauser.

Trainer Arlene Cameron had three wins on opening weekend including a dead heat where her pair finished together at the wire. Crystals Pistol and Craziville, driven respectively by Dr. Scott Woogen and Corey Braden, crossed together in 2:05.0 in a race named for Delegate Kathy Tran. The former won for the fourth time in eight races while the latter shattered a two year winless streak. Cameron’s other win came Saturday in the co-featured $7000 Open Handicap trot with Southwind Ferrari. The 4 year old, who is owned and driven by Woogen, won for the fourth time in his last five starts.

Trainers Amanda Jackson and Chris Shaw each had a pair of weekend triumphs. Jackson’s pair came in bookend fashion Sunday.  Hillbillyheartache kicked off the card with a win and B A Rocket connected in the afternoon’s finale. Shaw had one each day, and he was in the sulky for both. His Sunny Day won for the third straight time Sunday and the best named horse of the weekend — Cinco De Drinko — won for the first time in 29 career starts Saturday.

“Historically, entries for the first week of Virginia racing are light and this week was no exception,” said Shenandoah Downs Director of Racing Dee Lineweaver.  “We are awaiting the arrival of horsemen from the Red Mile, Tioga Downs and Running Aces. Everything for opening weekend though fell into place. The support of the horsemen was great. They filled the entry box and moved horses around to help us kick off the season. The racing was very competitive,”

Shenandoah Downs will continue racing every Saturday and Sunday thru October 14th with first post at 2 PM. A special non-netting card featuring Virginia Breeder’s prep races will be held on Monday October 8th, and an “After-Work” program with wagering will be held Friday October 12th at 3 PM. Fans can bet the action on track and at the four Virginia Bets OTBs in Richmond, Henrico, Chesapeake and Martinsville. Races are streamed live at www.shenandoahdowns.com.

 

Tolito Ocampo with Beverly Polo.

4th Piper Cup

Banbury Cross Polo Club held the 4th Annual Piper Cup 12-goal USPA sanctioned polo match on Aug. 19.

Margaret Luck, Mackenzie Canard, Jourdain Le Master, Virginia Canard, Mary Looney Alex Carr and Nick Hallmark of Doublewood Farm

Margaret Luck, Mackenzie Canard, Jourdain Le Master, Virginia Canard, Mary Looney Alex Carr and Nick Hallmark of Doublewood Farm

The Piper Cup was a huge success according to the host.
The Beverly Equestrian team won the 4th Annual Piper Cup. Riders for Beverly included Bill Ballhaus, Wyatt Harlow, Tolito Ocampo, and Martin Ravina.

The Color Guard.

The Color Guard.

Team Dragonfly competed against Beverly Equestrian for the title and trophy. The event trophy is designed in the likeness of a bull terrier which is the mascot of Banbury Cross Polo Club.

 Tolito Ocampo with Beverly Polo.

Tolito Ocampo with Beverly Polo.

Riders Andy Hernecky, Juan Ghirlanda, Martin Estrada and Tano Vial made up the Dragonfly team.

Sydney Pemberton keeping an eye on Captain Morgan one of their rescues.

equest Sydney Pemberton keeping an eye on Captain Morgan one of their rescues.

Polo at Banbury Cross continues for several more weeks to make up matches canceled due to weather.
Watch the website for updates.

Mary Munster and Bobby Dryer with their four-in-hand representing the Piedmont Driving Club.

Mary Munster and Bobby Dryer with their four-in-hand representing the Piedmont Driving Club.

 

Photos by Joanne Maisano

This article first appeared in the September 2018 Issue. 

Laura Graves took time to sign autographs and pose for photos with riders who came out to the Ohana Equestrian Preserve for the clinic.

Olympian Laura Graves conducted four clinics at Ohana Equestrian Preserve located just east of the town of Middleburg on Tuesday, Aug. 14.

Olympic bronze medalist Laura Graves.

Olympic bronze medalist Laura Graves.

Graves who represented the United States at the 2016 Summer Olympics won a bronze medal in the team dressage competition. She worked with riders of all levels and later shared her experience with them in a Q&A session followed by an autograph signing session.

Even grand prix show jumpers can learn a lot from dressage! Show jumping competitor Kama Godek of the clinic winning group, Kama Godek LLC, learns from Laura Graves aboard HHR vd Elsakker at the Ohana Equestrian Preserve.

Even grand prix show jumpers can learn a lot from dressage! Show jumping competitor Kama Godek of the clinic winning group, Kama Godek LLC, learns from Laura Graves aboard HHR vd Elsakker at the Ohana Equestrian Preserve.

Ohana owners, Melissa and Jim Pankas, recently completed a new facility which includes a 100′ x 200′ indoor riding arena with Attwood TerraNova footing, 20 horse stalls, office/viewing space, restrooms, laundry and multiple tack, feed, grooming and wash stall areas.

Laura Graves took time to sign autographs and pose for photos with riders who came out to the Ohana Equestrian Preserve for the clinic.

Laura Graves took time to sign autographs and pose for photos with riders who came out to the Ohana Equestrian Preserve for the clinic.

The state-of-the-art training facility in Aldie includes an outdoor regulation 20×60 meter dressage arena, gazebo for viewing, stone dust pathways and paddocks with hydrants and electricity.

 

Photos by Jump Media

This article first appeared in the September 2018 Issue.

 

Team CAN Team GBR Team USA.

Great Meadow International Brook Ledge 2018 Nation’s Cup

Photos by Joanne Maisano

For the third year in a row, the Great Meadow International CICO3 in The Plains, Virginia, hosted the only leg of the FEI Eventing Nations Cup that takes place on North American soil. Australia, Canada, Great Britain, Switzerland, and the United States were all represented within the 46 horse-and-rider field. This is the third year that Great Meadow International has been an official FEI Eventing Nations Cup. ML

 

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On the Hunt… the Equestrian Marries the Gypsy

By Summer Stanley

The Equestrian Marries the Gypsy… That’s the tagline for the new fashion brand, sigAshop, which just made its debut this year. Juxtaposing country girl style with indie-rock and beach bohemian, co-founders/designers and Virginia hunt country natives, Jennifer Gray Calcagno and Brittany Hartz are bringing an edge to tradition right in our backyards – and we’re enchanted.

Earlier this summer, sigAshop celebrated the launch of their clothing label with a shopping event at Three Fox Vineyards in Delaplane on June 11. On this fiercely hot afternoon, they showcased their new collection, appropriately named “Never Ending Summer.” Customers sipped, browsed and tried on the line consisting of brightly colored, light and breezy dresses. The pieces are flowing, loose-fitted, some risky with low backs and plunging necklines, yet all with a signature image uniquely repeated in each of the patterns: horses.

“Travel inspiration is big for the brand,” Calcagno said. The name sigAshop comes from the Spanish word “siga” meaning “follow,” and both Jennifer and Brittany use this word to express a feeling of joy while following their dreams. They believe that wherever you travel, you bring a piece of that place back with you – you look back on it in a new light, and others see you differently as well. Certainly many of us can relate to wanderlust driven life experiences shaping who we are, and shaping our style.

So who’s wearing the designs? “She is a well-traveled woman in body and spirit, and ready to adorn her inner wild child. She’s looking for that standout dress she can wear to special events, like the races,” Calcagno explained.

Also true to resort-wear style, they’re versatile enough to be worn year-round. A gypsetter moves through life with an exotic, sophisticated and down-to- earth ease. This approach to wardrobe, exquisitely captured on the distant beaches of Bali, where the line is produced, translates just as carefree back home on the farm.

“The Never Ending Summer collection brings the perfect balance of our bohemian style mixed with our love of horses. It was a dream come true for us to bring these two separate worlds together into one,” Hartz said. 

In addition to the dresses are varieties of printed tunics, fringe tanks, head wraps, and other free-spirited accessories. Festival-ready jewelry and purses, handmade in Bali, are embellished with beads, feathers and tribal turquoise. Natural and beautiful, an effortless statement is created with each wear. Keep your eyes open for an expansion into home decor. Think dream catchers.

Currently, the clothing is available for purchase online, though be sure to look for sigAshop pop-up shops as they plan for select events here in Virginia’s horse country, as well as in Florida during the winter months. Visit shopsigashop.com for more boho chic redefined.

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