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Perfect weather, cheering spectators and a bevy of horses got the Shelby County Fair Horse show off to a rousing start Wednesday night.
Show Manager R.H. Bennett said he was very pleased with the large number of entries in some of the classes, such as the 3-Gaited Park Open with 16 and the Adult 3-Gaited Show Pleasure with 11.
“The third class of the show [3-Gaited Open Park] was a huge class and the quality of those horses was excellent,” he said. “Those top three or four horses in that class easily could win the world’s championship for that division.”
The show, which runs throughout Saturday, starting at 7 p.m. each night, has about 20 classes each evening, and Bennett said he expected the 110 entries that started Wednesday’s show could still increase.
“I feel pretty good about the show,” he said.
The show even featured a rider with a celebrity connection – Mallory Lewis of California. Lewis is the daughter of Sherry Lewis, of ‘Lambchop’ fame, and she has taken over her mother’s famous puppet show and is touring the country, said Lionel Ferreira, co-owner of Monnington Farm along with his wife, Georgia. Ferreira said that Lewis is a friend of one of his clients who rode her friend’s horse, which he trains, in the show.
“She’s a friend of the owner [Susan Swope]; Mallory said she’d love to try, and last night was the first time she’s ever shown a Saddlebred, and it’s probably the first time in her life she’s ever ridden one,” he said.
He chuckled, recalling Lewis’ debut.
“This mare is so broke, she’s so good, she actually just took this woman around the ring last night; it was really nice – it was good fun.”
Lewis rode Tango Till Dawn in the Adult 3-Gaited Show Pleasure Class; she did not place.
Those that won in the more prestigious 5-gaited classes were Theresa Vonderschmitt, riding her horse, Ridgefield’s Dancing Soldier in the 5-Gaited Amateur; Kent Tunstall riding Silver Brooks Stable’s Diamond Designer; and Mike Tunstall riding Colleen Brown-Crone’s Markova in the 5-Gaited 3-year old Class.
Despite a couple of glitches, like a horse throwing a shoe and a rider falling off her horse – with no injuries – the show went off without a hitch, Bennett said.
Katie McLaughlin fell off Sunset Celebration when the horse reared as the riders were lining up at the conclusion of the Adult Country Pleasure Class. However, she was able to calm the horse and remount, to participate in the final line up for the competition; she did not place.
During the midpoint of the show, the competition came to a halt when Fast Track, driven by Holli Hayes of Simpsonville, threw a shoe just after the start of the Roadster to Bike Open Class, and a farrier scurried out to the grassy area in the middle of the ring where the horse waited, to fix things up.
Bennett said that the incident doesn’t count against horse or rider – Fast Track took 3rd place – unless it were to happen twice in the same competition.
“The horse threw a shoe, and you’ve got five minutes to get the shoe replaced to continue to compete,” he said. “But if you were to fix it and then throw it again, then you’d have to finish the class with it off or be excused from competition.”
Although most classes had numerous entries, there were a few that had only one entry. Bennett said those classes are examined after the show to determine if it’s a class that needs to be ‘tweaked.’
“Once the show is over, we evaluate those classes, and sometimes we take them away from the schedule, and sometimes we modify the qualifications for those classes,” he said. “It’s an ever evolving thing; you constantly have to tweak what competition you have.”
Bennett said the show could be viewed at richfieldvideo.com.