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Opening night of the Shelbyville Horse Show Wednesday night saw a few extra special touches to mark the show’s 25th year.
The pavilion was packed with people enjoying great food at tables decorated with the show’s logo and an anniversary emblem.
While there were some vacant tables in the Horsemen’s Tent, organizers say they were pleased with both the quality of the show as well as the turnout.
“It was wonderful. It was one of our most enjoyable first nights ever,” said R.H. Bennett, manager and co-founder of the show.
With all the rain that has fallen this year – including a severe storm just a few days ago – organizers had been worried about inclement weather, but Bennett said he was relieved that has not happened, at least, not yet.
“The weather was beautiful,” he said. “We had a lot of good quality horses, and a lot of people for the first night, in comparison to some years.”
Numerous classes had several entries, with many of the same horses, trainers and owners back from years past, as well as some new people.
Kalarama Stables from Springfield did very well, with Pamela Slater’s Cheerful Memories, ridden by Kenna Slater, taking first place in the amateur five-gaited competition.
Another popular class, the amateur three-gaited, featured horses trained by several prominent stable owners. The class was won by Bennett Farm with The Rhumba, but also included Biggins Stables with Work It, coming in third; Premiere Stables, with Like a Boss coming in fourth; and Kalarama Stables with Battlefield, coming in fifth.
Biggins also won a blue ribbon in the Adult Country Pleasure class, with Pure Royalty, ridden by Ashley Biggins, daughter of John and Renee Biggins.
“We are very pleased,” said John Biggins. “She [Ashley] won the country pleasure championship at Rock Creek about six weeks ago. Before, he [Pure Royalty] was just adult pleasure, in that they wear pads and a heavier shoe, country pleasure, you can’t wear pads. That’s the difference between pleasure and country pleasure. So we took him to Indianapolis and he was fourth or fifth in the regular pleasure. So we came home and the next show we went to was Rock Creek, and we made him into a country pleasure horse and took the pads off. He’s happier, and he’s doing a great job doing what he’s doing.”
In addition to the action in the show ring, the Shelby County Fairgrounds was bustling with people browsing through booths set up with horse-related articles for sale, as well as people cooking, and of course, eating.
The social side of the show is nearly as big as the horse show itself, and and many of the spectators were socializing while they alternated between cheering on the riders and picking their way through the mulch in the seating area wearing high heels.
Said Bennett: “Things went extremely smooth. You know, we’re kind of like a duck; you float around on top and paddle underneath. We had a few wrinkles, but nothing nobody would notice. We always do. We have a fix-it list for in the morning.”
The show continues throughout Saturday, beginning at 7 p.m. each evening.