A round of applause

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Beautiful weather, large crowds, top talent show horse show's appeal

By Ashley Sutter

With top competitors from around the world and nearly perfect weather each day, it was a beautiful week at the Shelbyville Horse Show this year.

ShelbyKY Tourism and Visitors Bureau Director Katie Fussenegger was in attendance at the show all four nights and said the event this year was wonderful.  “The horse show has been one of the most remarkably nice weathered weeks we’ve had, ever, in its existence,” she said with a laugh. “Although the crowd seemed to be a little down earlier in the week, we’ve seen positive growth on Friday and Saturday night.

Fussenegger said they came out each night to entertain guests from around the globe to expose Shelby County to the world.

“I think everyone didn’t really know what to expect,” she said of those out of town guests. “They are so pleasantly surprised and can say nothing but positive things when they leave.”

The event offered an opportunity not only to mingle with friends but also enjoy the tough competition the famous show brings to Shelby County.

Jordan Skeen, who competed on Wednesday and Friday in the Three Gaited Country Pleasure classes, said the competition was fierce.

“The first night we got sixth and last night [Friday] we were third, she said, noting she was happy with the improved results. “It’s a tough show.”

She said with so many world champions and people traveling from around the world to compete in Shelby County, competitors face some of the toughest competition in the industry at the Shelbyville Horse Show.

“They are coming in to prepare for the Worlds Championship in Louisville,” she said, noting many come up for the entire summer to show through the county fair circuit.

She said despite the challenges it brings, the show is a great experience.

“It’s a whole lot of fun. I love the Shelbyville Horse Show,” she said. “It’s really special to my heart. It really brings the community out and it’s so nice to see everybody out supporting the Saddlebred breed.”

And the support was clear.  The stands were filled, the Horseman’s Tent was packed and the crowd was in top fashion.

Those wearing hats or fascinators to throughout the week had an opportunity to toss their names into a drawing for the Ms. Shelbyville Horse Show, organized by Dori Eversole Lewis of the Polkadotted Pineapple.

The prize package included more than $1,000 worth of gift certificates and prizes from local vendors including Bell House, Bourbon Kitchen at 524, Sixth and Main St. Coffeehouse, Pathelen Flower and Gift Shop, Inc, The Polkadotted Pineapple, Tracy’s Home Furnishings and 828 Boutique, among others.

Finalists were called to the arena and joined Amerifest’s Mrs. U.S. 2018 Jennifer Bailey and Modern Miss U.S. 2018 Emily Campanell for the announcement of the winner.  Ultimately, Wendy Graney was named Ms. Shelbyville Horse Show 2018 and bestowed with a wealth of goodies from local vendors, as well as a sash and a handful of roses.

Following the announcement, the grand finale show, the Five Gaited Stake began.  Though the class was small on competitors, at only four, it wasn’t short on competition.  Among those in the arena for the class was Derrick Westbrook on I’m Ziggy Stardust, Dehart Wyatt on High Noon Charm and TJ Santaferra on Just a Blast.  Santaferra took the blue rosette in the Five Gaited Stake at the Shelby County Fair Horse Show.

But it would be Merrill Murray on Lakeview’s Anticipation who would take top honors.  Murray was all smiles as the crowd cheered and the winning ribbon was placed on the pair.

As the show wrapped up Saturday evening, legendary trainer Don Harris took a ride around the arena as the crowd took to their feet in applause.  Several fans approached the fence to reach for a handshake or snap a photo. It was a celebrity’s welcome, said Edward ‘Hoppy’ Bennett at the wheel of the Mule UTV.

“I think it was another wonderful show–29 years this year. We topped it off with Merrill Murray, a great horseman, winning the gaited stake and another great horseman, a hall of famer, making a victory pass,” Bennett said.

“I wasn’t expecting this big of a production,” Harris said of the ride around the arena. “I enjoyed it. It seemed like they did too.”

Harris said it was a wonderful week at the Shelbyville Horse Show.

“It was a great show,” he said.  “These Bennett boys know how to put on a show.”