East Dorset, Vermont — The Vermont Summer Festival Horse Show debuted its new hunter ring for the second of six weeks of competition in East Dorset, VT.
Canada’s Christi McQuaker enjoyed the first day of competition in the new hunter ring on Wednesday, July 8, by winning three classes, the Hi-Low as well as two Regular Working Hunter classes. McQuaker was riding Allura, a nine-year-old Belgian Warmblood mare owned by Lily Russell.
“The new ring is very nice, and the footing was very good, especially after all of the rain that we had yesterday on the off-day,” said McQuaker. The trainer, who operates Gryphon Farms in Schomberg, ON, with her husband and fellow competitor, Mac McQuaker, has been riding Allura for the past three years and noted, “She can be a temperamental mare at times, but when she is good, she is great.”
The McQuaker’s have become regular competitors at the Vermont Summer Festival and have brought seven clients and eight horses that will compete in the hunter and jumper divisions at this year’s horse show.
“It is a fun town, a fun horse show, the scenery is beautiful, and the people here are super nice,” said Christi McQuaker. The couple’s two children, Kieley, 6, and Addison, 2, have made the trip to Vermont with their parents.
“The horse show has a resort feel, and it is a great place to bring the family,” added Mac McQuaker. He also appreciates the hospitality extended by the show organizers and staff, noting that, “the women in the office are very friendly and helpful.”
The McQuaker’s are hoping to duplicate last year’s success in the $10,000 Canadian Circuit Awards, sponsored by Ariat International, Inc. Designed to recognize the numerous Canadian competitors that make the journey to Vermont, cash awards are presented to the top-ranked Canadian jumper and hunter competitors throughout the six-week Vermont Summer Festival. Last year, Christi McQuaker was the Reserve Hunter Champion while Mac McQuaker was the Reserve Jumper Champion.
Also looking to take home her share of prizes is Lainie Wimberly of Ridgefield, CT. Like the McQuaker’s, Wimberly has also brought eight horses to the Vermont Summer Festival from her Brigadoon Show Stables in North Salem, NY, that will compete in the hunter, jumper and equitation divisions. Wimberly also had the opportunity to ride in the new hunter ring.
“I think it is a great addition to the horse show,” said Wimberly, who has been competing at the Vermont Summer Festival for as long as she can remember. “The ring is very intimate and allows us to showcase the horses. It also allows us to rotate so that the horses don’t get bored. It is good for the young horses – it helps to teach them to focus because it is such an intimate setting. In making the new ring, they obviously put a lot of thought into the footing as it is very good footing. The other thing that I noticed is that the jumps have a lot of fill, there are newly planted trees, and the judge’s boxes are very nice. It is very pretty to look at.”
William Glass, Technical Coordinator of the Vermont Summer Festival, said, “It is nice to have the flexibility of the additional competition ring, and it provides variety for the competitors. Every year, when the exhibitors arrive at the horse show, they tell me that something is better. Some years the changes are major, and some years they are subtle changes. For example, this year we have new ‘high and dry’ judge’s booths which allow for more comfortable officiating. We have also expanded the schooling area for hunter three, which is my favorite addition to the horse show.”
Running through to August 9, 2009, the Vermont Summer Festival is the largest “AA” rated hunter/jumper horse show in New England, as well as the richest sporting event based on purse in the state of Vermont offering more than $750,000 in prize money.
The Vermont Summer Festival operates daily from Wednesday through Sunday, beginning at 8 a.m. and running until approximately 4 p.m. every day. Admission is $5 for adults and $3 for children, Wednesday through Saturday, and $7 for adults and $5 for children on Grand Prix Sunday. All gate receipts are donated to the Friends Foundation for MEMS, benefiting programs in the local Elementary & Middle School.