We have returned home from our annual trip to Louisville, Kentucky to watch the World Championship Horse Show at the Kentucky State Fair. I have, with great pain, finally accepted that I will never have the opportunity to ride on the green shavings. But I congratulate (and envy) all those who do.
My personal favorite was Andrea Athanasuleas for her outstanding ladies amateur championship ride on Honey Badger. The big dark gelding charged into the ring with his magnificent trot, reared back, a picture of power under control. His slow gait and rack were equally brilliant. The crowd cheered when the judges called for a three horse workout. Honey Badger never faltered and Andrea had him in the right spot, thinking ahead, making her move, every step of the way, in a field of very nice horses. Her ringmanship and his performance were an incredible testament to the heart of this horse, the ability of this rider and the training of Matt Shiflet.
In her last year as a juvenile, Carver Semans lit up the ring on Undulata’s Pressure. Carver was dedicating her ride to her mother, who is recovering from a serious stroke. I remember putting Carver on Buttons, the saintly pony, at her fifth? and sixth? birthday parties. Her horse is trained by West Wind Stables. Her mother and her instructor, Jeanine Lovell, proudly watched her performance from Winston-Salem. Saddlebred people are a relatively small bunch and the crowd took up her cause as she earned a well-deserved reserve championship.
I didn’t get to see Suzy Shiflet’s wins on I Am What I Am, but the expression on her face said it all. A small barn with a hardworking trainer can make it to the winner’s circle. We also missed Krista Dent and her nice fine harness horse, another hardworking lady.
Stephanie Saunders had a great ride on My Dreamboat Annie despite the lack of a ribbon. I might be a bit biased since I love pinto horses and I know Stephanie and her family, but they looked good to me.
Congratulations to Daniel Lockhart for his Five-Gaited World’s Championship on The Daily Lottery. Daniel is the first British rider to win at Louisville. He and his sister, Kelly, came to America to work after competing for Great Britain in the 2004 Saddle Seat World Cup in Lexington, Kentucky. Our daughter, Wynn, was living in England and also a member of the team. Daniel works for Kalarama Farm and Kelly works for Carriage Lane Farm. Daniel recently married Kelly Self who also rides for Kalarama, so two Kelly Lockharts were competing at the show.
We say many friends, including close friends from our former home town who drove two hours up and back, just to take us to dinner and catch up—true friends indeed. And, we always stay with my husband’s cousin, a wonderful woman (and poet) who inspires us.