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Shelbyville Horse Show opens without a hitch

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Great weather, good horses made quality show, organizers say

By Lisa King

Everything went smoothly for the opening night of the Shelbyville Horse Show on Wednesday that organizers called “a quality show.”

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“We are very, very pleased,” said Edward “Hoppy” Bennett, the man who created the show 24 years ago. “We were down a bit on numbers [of entries], but it was quality, real quality. The world champion quality really made us proud.”

Horse show secretary Beth Snider said she did not have an attendance total, but that there were 54 entries, down just a bit from last year, when 68 entries showed up for opening night.

Bennett said that limiting the number of classes on opening night – there were 11 – has been a tradition with the horse show since its establishment.

“That’s one of the reasons it’s been awarded one of the best horse shows in the state and the country,” Bennett said. “Other shows last until almost midnight and everybody’s exhausted and worn out. So we try to hold it to about two hours. It’s just like a motion picture; it’s a timeframe the public likes and what they want.”

Even though many classes were light on the number of entries – one class had two entries and one had only one – the largest class, pleasure driving, had 11, and the fine harness class had eight. A horse owned by George Knight of Texas, Riding High, won the latter class, and Bennett said he is proud that a horse from his farm, Undulata – Undulata’s Quiz Show – came in third.

“He’s a top-notch colt. The only thing is,” he said with a grin, “he thought he won. But you’ll have to overlook him, It’s the first time he’s ever been off the farm.”

Another newcomer to the arena surprised everyone, winning the coveted 5-gaited 3-year-old class.

Elisabeth Goth of Lebanon, owner of Here Comes the Boom, which beat out five other horses in the 5-gaited finale, smiled broadly as she and rider/trainer Neil Visser fussed over the horse after the show.
“This is only the first time he’s ever shown,” Visser said.

Goth said that she was especially pleased with Here Comes the Boom because she wasn’t sure he was even ready to show.

“He did just great,” Goth said. “We are just thrilled with this horse. He has all the qualities that make me love the American Saddlebred.”

Visser was also the trainer of the second-place winner of the 5-gaited adult amateur class, Undulata’s Sweet Sister, owned by Leatherwood Stud in Paris. The winner of that class was Janet Kellett, owner and rider of Limebank King of Clubs from Atlanta.

Several familiar faces from around the county who were not novices to the show also did well, including Kathy Capsuto Walker of Shelbyville, who took first place in the hackney pony pleasure driving competition, which also yielded a horse owned and trained by Marilyn MacFarlane, and ridden by Natalie Hickman, coming in second.

The 3-gaited show pleasure class, ridden by junior exhibitors, which boasted six entries, also had several horses with Shelbyville ties, including trainers Rob Byers, John and Renee Biggins, and Mike Felty and owners Jeff and Katie Bennett of Simpsonville.

R.H. Bennett, Edward Bennett’s brother, who is also a horse show organizer, expressed satisfaction with the turnout for the show.

“It’s just great he said. “There are a lot of people here, having a good time and enjoying the show.”