The 2014 American Saddlebred horse-show season kicked off March 1 in Brunswick at the second annual Golden Isles Riding Academy Spring Charity Horse Show. Liberty County riders representing Bluff Creek Stables on Colonels Island, Dixie Stables in Allenhurst and Gravel Hill Farms in Hinesville made their presence known at the season’s inaugural show, bringing home blue ribbons in 24 out of 37 classes and placing in the top five in 31 classes.
ASHAG President Chan Sutton of Brunswick, who judged this year’s show, said “2014 is looking to be a very competitive year as more kids are riding and riding programs are growing.”
Growth within the industry was apparent at the show in both the academy and performance classes, where six barns contended for blue ribbons.
Mary Anne Jones, owner of Bluff Creek Stables, had 11 riders participate in the show, and three of them won class championships. Lori Harden, riding Spurwings Time after Time, won the saddle seat equitation championship. Jennifer Jefferies, riding Scout, won the hunt seat
championship in a deep field. Sara Kate Garrett, riding Wild Lolita, won the ASB pleasure championship.
“We are looking forward to our returning teams for this 2014 season in both academy and performance. Our riders did an outstanding job in 2013,” Jones said.
Five Bluff Creek Stables riders were honored at the 2013 ASHAG annual banquet — Ellen Edgy, Teyha Bly, Sarah Kate Garrett, Sydney Prindeville and Katie Maier. Bluff Creek trainer Deanna Edgy put together new team combinations of horse and rider that competed in both saddle-seat and hunt-seat classes and brought the first championships of 2014 to Bluff Creek Stables.
“Lynn and I were very pleased with the first show of the season. Our 2014 show team had a fantastic start with seven blue-ribbon rides and three championship wins,” Edgy said.
Dixie Stables owner Lynn Pace and trainer Caitlin Jarriel have put together winning combinations the past few years. This year started off just as last year ended — with big wins. Dixie Stables brought home three class championships from the spring show. Riding Santa Cruz, Sarah Tirpak won the academy equitation/showmanship WTC championship. Kay Henderson, riding Reason for NV, won the open pleasure championship. Riding Silk’s Midnight Lily, 11-year-old Lily Darsey won the academy walk trot equitation/showmanship championship — one of the show’s most competitive classes. Darsey has been riding less than a year.
Darsey said many things contribute to her success, such as “the grace of God, fantastic trainers, hard work, dedication and supportive friends and family. My goals are simple, but they have meaning to them. My first one is to stay calm and not worry about my competition. My second goal is to make each ride better than my last. My last goal is always have fun in every ride,” she said.
Gravel Hill Farms brought a young show team consisting of nine riders and eight horses, all of whom exceeded the expectations of trainer Charles Durrence and Gravel Hill Farms owner Alicia Floyd. Lead by veteran riders Bobbi McDonald, who won the prospect/novice horse WTC (trot or pleasure gait), Samantha Hocking, who placed second in open pleasure championship and open English pleasure, and Evanne Floyd, riding hunt seat classes, the team’s mostly first-time show riders stepped up to the challenge and now are looking forward to the next show in two weeks.
“We have a fantastic group of kids and parents. Everyone is having fun and gelling as a show team. The success of our program has a lot to do with our trainer, Charles Durrence. He has done a great job getting our horses and riders show-ready. We are very excited about the 2014 show season and look forward to encouraging and supporting our young riders to allow them to gain the confidence to go to these shows and compete successfully and safely. It is a very optimistic time here at Gravel Hill Farms,” Floyd said.
With the first 2014 show under their saddles, the Liberty County barns are preparing for the next show, slated for 10 a.m. Saturday, March at Dixie Stables Farms in Allenhurst and the April 2-6 PRO AM in Perry.
“Dixie Stables is now busy preparing for our 36th annual Spring Horse Show to be held on Saturday, March 22, 2014. Visitors are welcome and admission is free. Dixie Stables invites local residents to come join the fun,” Jarriel said.