East Dorset, Vermont — For the second year in a row, Angela Covert-Lawrence claimed the Regular Working Hunter Circuit Championship at the Vermont Summer Festival Horse Show. The largest ‘AA’ rated hunter-jumper horse show held in New England, the Vermont Summer Festival is a six-week competition taking place from July 11 to August 19, 2007, in East Dorset, VT.
For the past ten years, Covert-Lawrence has been competing at the Vermont Summer Festival. Each year, she and her husband, well-known equine dentist Mike Lawrence, make the five-hour drive from their home in St. Lazare, Quebec, to Manchester with several horses and clients in tow.
Covert-Lawrence successfully competes in both the hunter and jumper divisions. Highlights of her previous trips to the Vermont Summer Festival include winning the $35,000 Otter Creek Grand Prix riding Tomboy Major in 2004 and, last year, being named the Canadian Jumper Circuit Champion and the Canadian Hunter Circuit Reserve Champion for a cash bonus of $5,000.
This year, Covert-Lawrence is once again poised to win bonus money in the Canadian Circuit Championship series that sees a total of $10,000 awarded to the top Canadian competitors over the course of the six-week equestrian tournament. In addition, she was a strong challenger in the newly introduced $10,000 Ariat Green and Working Hunter High Score Award standings.
"I don’t know of any other circuits that offer these types of championship rewards," said Covert-Lawrence, 31. "It is a great added incentive, not just for myself but for my clients and owners as well. When you are putting together your show schedule for the year, it is motivating to come to Vermont for more than just one week since you are rewarded for staying longer."
Covert-Lawrence’s success in the Regular Working Hunter division, the most challenging of all the hunter classes with fences set at four feet in height, is a result of her partnership with Oxford, an 11-year-old Dutch Warmblood owned by Quo Vadis Stable. The popular breeding stallion, a son of Burggraaf, formerly competed in the show jumping arena, but has recently found his niche in the hunter ring.
"He has so much natural ability, to jump the four foot hunters is easy for him. He does it without any effort, and he is very consistent," said Covert-Lawrence whose training and sales business name is Eastwood Equine Inc. "He knows when he wins, he knows if he is at the front of the jog! He has so much presence, and he actually has a fan club – people come to the ring just to watch him, especially people who have bred to him."
Her partnership with Oxford extends far beyond the show ring.
"He is a part of our family," she smiled. "His groom, Tyler Ross, is even learning how to ride on him. That is what is so great about Oxford – he can walk into the ring and claim the circuit championship; he can go to the breeding shed; and he can give lessons to Tyler. His character and temperament are second to none."
In addition to winning her second consecutive circuit championship title with Oxford, Covert-Lawrence also excelled in the jumper ring with her two grey mares, Unica and Assini, who showed successfully in the Seven and Eight-Year-Old Division. Riding Unica in her first grand prix, the 10-year-old Belgian Warmblood mare jumped double clear to place fourth in the $30,000 Mt. Equinox Grand Prix during week four.
On the anniversary of her 10th year competing at the Vermont Summer Festival, Covert-Lawrence explained what keeps her coming back to Manchester year after year.
"Coming to Vermont is refreshing," said Covert-Lawrence whose farm, Pepiniere Stables, plays host to a two-week horse show each May. "It is a great area with great restaurants. The horse show is organized by true horseman who put the best interests of the horses and the riders first in everything that they do. The footing is a good example – it stands up to six weeks of competition, and is just as good during the last week as it was when they started. I think that John and Dotty Ammerman do an incredible job of making the exhibitors feel welcome, and that is what brings us back to Vermont every summer."
Now in its 14th year at Harold Beebe Farm in East Dorset, Vermont, the Vermont Summer Festival offers a total of $750,000 in prize money throughout the six weeks of competition, making it the richest sporting event in the state. Each week features a $10,000 Friday Open Welcome Stake, sponsored by Manchester Designer Outlets, and a $30,000 Sunday Grand Prix. The grand finale of the six-week Vermont Summer Festival is the $50,000 Vermont Summer Celebration Grand Prix on Sunday, August 19 at 2 p.m. Visit the Vermont Summer Festival website for more information.