East Dorset, Vermont — The ‘Manchester Summer Festival’ continued Thursday with action in five rings. The professional hunter divisions were a top draw, and in the First Year Green Working Hunters, Shachine Belle of Farmington, CT, won the championship on Kudos! owned by Amber Henter. The Vermont Summer Festival, a six-week hunter/jumper competition that runs until August 19, features the world’s top equestrian athletes competing amid the picturesque Green Mountains.
Classes in the First Year Green Working Hunters began on Wednesday with Belle and Kudos! winning all three classes, including two jumping classes and a class under saddle. On Thursday, Kudos! won another over fences class and finished fifth in the final class to take the championship title. The reserve champion in the division was Lazy Sunday ridden by Samantha Schaefer for owner Keli Colby.
In the hunter divisions, judges look for the performance and soundness of horses. Those in the ‘First Year’ division must be in their first year of showing at regular competitions and must not jump over 3’6” in height.
Belle has ridden Kudos! for owner Henter and trainer Bob Braswell for a little over a month since regular professional rider Kate Conover had knee surgery. Belle has shown Kudos! at four shows, and they have been crowned the champions every time. Kudos! is currently leading the Farnam USEF Horse of the Year standings in his division.
“He’s a winner. He really tries hard, and he’s such a good jumper. He doesn’t like to touch the jumps,” Belle said of Kudos!. “At first, he was like, ‘Who are you?’ Now he’s gotten really relaxed with me. I’ve spoiled him rotten.”
Belle will compete at the Vermont Summer Festival for another two weeks and plans to show Kudos! again. He will also compete in the junior hunters with his owner.
The champion in the Second Year Green Working Hunters was Sirius Black, ridden by Patricia Peckham and owned by Christina Gellos. The nine-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding won three classes and was second in the remaining two classes. The reserve champion was Castle Rock, ridden by Holly Orlando for Danielle Giorgio.
Peckham noted that her horse enjoys showing in Vermont, as does she. “The management tries to make it exhibitor friendly," she said. "The in-gate people try to work with you and the town is great.”
For their wins this week, Peckham and Belle earn points toward the $10,000 Green and Regular Working Hunter High Score Award, sponsored by Ariat International Inc. Following the first week of competition at the Vermont Summer Festival, the top five riders in the standings are:
- Russell Frey – 82
- Shachine Belle – 75
- Rachel Kennedy – 62
- Shaine Brooks – 26
- Julie Welles – 22
Points are accumulated throughout the six weeks of the Vermont Summer Festival and the leading hunter rider at the end of the competition wins $5,000. The second place rider will take home $3,000 while $2,000 will go to the third place rider, thanks to the generous sponsorship by Ariat International Inc.
The ‘Manchester Summer Festival’ week of the Vermont Summer Festival continues on Friday with the $10,000 Escada Open Jumper Welcome Stake, presented by Manchester Designer Outlets.
For the first time, the Vermont Summer Festival is pleased to offer live video streaming of all five competition rings for those who cannot attend the horse show in person. Visit www.livebroadcast.tv or www.vt-summerfestival.com for more information.
New England’s largest “AA” rated hunter/jumper horse show, the Vermont Summer Festival offers over $750,000 in prize money, making it the richest sporting event in the state of Vermont. For more information on the 2007 Vermont Summer Festival including complete results, please visit www.vt-summerfestival.com.