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World champ contenders highlight show's final night

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By Ryan Conley

Though many competitors starred at the Shelby County Fair’s horse show, some shined more brightly than others.

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This annual event, which completed its 4-day run at the Shelby County Fairgrounds on Saturday night, yielded blue ribbons in 73 classes and qualifications for some to the August world championships in Louisville.

Saturday’s closing session featured 17 classes, many of which offered higher purses and an enhanced quality of competition than the three previous nights.

Among the riders with multiple victories during the show was Dakota Reiser, who captured blue ribbons in all four classes he entered, including one Saturday on the Ed Rhoads-owned Memories of Us in the Junior Exhibitor 3-Gaited Show Pleasure Championship.

Reiser, 15, was a grand champion at the 2009 world championships and has his eye on a return to Louisville, said his father, local trainer Chris Reiser of Reiser Stables in Simpsonville.

“This year he has got a couple more horses he is showing,” said Chris Reiser, who earned six training victories in the show, including all four of his son’s victories. “He’s just getting the opportunity to ride in a few more disciplines and getting better every time he hits the show ring.”

Chris Reiser’s six training victories, a total which was also equaled by local trainer Jeff McClean, was second only to Neil Visser’s seven training triumphs, including three in which he rode himself.

McClean, who is part of the Golden Creek Farm operation in Simpsonville, said the fair’s show provides a good opportunity for different calibers of horses to display their talents.

Horses owned by Golden Creek Farm won eight classes, clearly taking leading-owner honors.

“It’s a good time to get some young stuff shown, and get some kinks out of some old ponies, and for class development for the big shows,” McClean said. “It’s been a good show for us; we’ve been doing a lot of qualifying.”

Speaking of Golden Creek Farm, local legend Mary Gaylord McClean added to her considerable show lore with three victories on horses respectively trained by her husband, Jeff McClean, Melissa Moore and Rob Byers.

“Mary won her harness classes and her gaited class, and that’s a big thrill for her,” Jeff McClean said.

Byers, who along with his wife, Sarah, operates Premier Stables in Simpsonville, finished with five training victories, including one Saturday in the 5-Gaited Show Pleasure Stake with client Martha Keck and her horse, Full Spectrum.

Byers said Full Spectrum was shipped to Kentucky from the state of Washington a few weeks ago to take advantage of the available shows here leading up to the world championships.

“This is the first show she has done in Kentucky, and the first show she has won in Kentucky,” Byers said of Keck, one of about a dozen clients for whom he trained horses at the fair’s show. “She had done everything on the West Coast, and it’s really hard to ship a horse back here for one or two horse shows, so she wanted to ship him for most of the whole summer.”

About 40 percent of the horses in the show were entered by out-of-state owners, according to www.horseshowsonline.com.

Like many trainers, Byers used the fair show to work several horses he is prepping for other riders. “I have a lot of what they call ‘green’ horses, inexperienced ones that I get ready for the amateur riders,” he said. “So I kind of teach them, and when they are taught, I will put the riders on them.”

Mike Spencer won the show’s final event, the 5-Gaited Open Stake, on the Minna Hankin-owned YippeeKiyoKiyey. Spencer and his wife, Nancy, own Gold Leaf Farm in Simpsonville.

Others with significant win totals included: Rob Tanner, who had five training victories and three riding victories; Tom Lowry, who had three riding; and Melissa Moore, who had four training. Horses owned by Ed Rhoads produced three victories.

Next up for some horses is the Lexington Junior League Horse Show, which is scheduled for July 5-10.

Others will return to the Shelby County Fairgrounds for the Shelbyville Horse Show, which is scheduled for Aug. 4-7. The World Championship Horse Show at the Kentucky State Fair in Louisville is scheduled for Aug. 22-28.