Carson Kressley makes a victory pass after winning the Amateur Three-Gaited Park Championship on Annika Bruggeworth’s Famous Kiss. Photo credit: Devaney Iglesias/Phelps Media Group.
The 120th Annual Devon Horse Show and Country Fair, held May 26-June 5 in Devon, PA, is the longest running and largest outdoor multi-breed competition in the United States. With the grandeur of Philadelphia's prestigious Main Line setting the stage, the event features a world-class field that annually ranks among the most prominent internationally. The event also includes the Country Fair that offers world-class shopping, rides and games for kids, multiple dining options and special entertainment events. To date, Devon volunteers have raised more than $14,000,000 for the Bryn Mawr Hospital.
Devon President Richard O’Donnell said there were almost 3,000 entries, and the gate count on Thursday evening for the $225,000 Sapphire Grand Prix of Devon was 14,728 (and that doesn’t count the international viewers on the live feed provided by USEF).
Competition for the 11-day event was held in the Dixon Oval and the Gold Ring. In addition to the competition, there were also carriage racing exhibitions and appearances by the Mummers.
Pennsylvanians did themselves proud in most divisions, against international competition. Rookies and seasoned veterans alike say they feel grateful just to be showing at such a seasoned event and are thrilled when their horse or pony gets a top prize from one of the judges. The exhibitors also say there is no other venue like Devon in which to show their horses and ponies.
Highlights of some of our state winners follow.
Friesians, Hackneys, Morgans and Saddlebreds
When he wasn’t judging the annual Ladies Hat Contest in the Devon Country Fair area, Carson Kressley was busy doing what he thoroughly enjoys, showing an American Saddlebred. He won both the qualifier and championship in the Amateur Three-Gaited Park division, riding Famous Kiss, who is owned by Annika Bruggeworth.
At this 120th annual event, an Open English Pleasure division was held for the very first time, bringing top quality Friesians, Morgans and Saddlebreds into the Dixon Oval. The top three winners in the division championship were Morgans showing under the Broadmoor stable banner from Kutztown, PA.
The champion was CBMF Restless and owner/rider Allyson Nord Wandtke. The reserve champion was CN Timeless Masterpiece, who is owned by Allyson’s mother, Cindy Nord. Allyson rode this mare in the Ladies Open English Pleasure class and was the highest placing Morgan in this class. In the championship, Broadmoor’s assistant trainer, Stacey Myers, rode the dark chestnut mare. Pinning third was MIZ Saturn Star and owner/rider Kim Germ-Cramer.
Allyson also won the open qualifier on Restless. Finishing second was another CBMF-bred Morgan, CBMF Random Hearts GCH. Alicia Owens of Scottfield Stable in Montrose, PA, rode the mare for owner Kristina Lee.
In the Ladies Open English Pleasure class, two Saddlebred entries from Wentz Stables in Orefield, PA, were first and second. Tara Wentz won the class riding For The Win. Caroline Davis owns the five-year-old gelding. Second in the class was Miss Lady, a black mare owned by Jeanna Billger, and ridden by Wentz Stable assistant trainer, Kirby Tapper.
For the second year in a row, CH Winsdown Edgecliff and owner/rider Lynn Finelli won the qualifying class and Country Western Pleasure Championship. Lynn shows under the direction of Tara Wentz.
Barbara Matthews was another very happy exhibitor, especially when she captured the Open Roadster to Bike Championship. She shows under the direction of Kerry and Tim Holahan of Waterford Farm in Lebanon, PA. After tying third in the qualifying class, Barbara had her sights set to win the illusive title at Devon with her Standardbred gelding, Speedy Jesse.
“This win was very special for me as an amateur, as I had been reserve champion once, but never won the class,” Barbara said. “It was also special because my husband was there and so was all of the Holahan family.
“Showing at Devon is fun because of the atmosphere and because you get to compete in front of so many spectators,” Barbara said.
With her amateur owned and trained Saddlebred gelding, Barbara also won the Local Country Pleasure class.
Ally Ehle of Orefield was pleased with her Devon performances. Showing under the direction of Smith Lilly of Mercer Springs Farm, she was reserve in both the qualifying class and championship in the Amateur Three-Gaited Show Pleasure division. She was riding her family’s Drosselmeyer. Riding Kenny and Ceil Wheeler’s Gimcracker, Ally won the Limit Three-Gaited Show Pleasure class. With Sally Mason Wheeler aboard, Gimcracker also won the Jr. Exhibitor Three-Gaited Show Pleasure class.
Emily Belin, owner/trainer/handler/rider at Magic Hill Farm LLC in Douglassville, PA, was the Leading Handler at Devon, a title she also won in 2013. On the last day of the 11-day event, she handled the Best Pennsylvania Bred Horse, Port Royal; the winning Yearling Other than Thoroughbred – Filly, Reflection; and the winning Four-Year-Old or Older Mare, Solo Performance.
“We had a really good day,” Emily said. “We had 13 young horses that we had here showing that we had to prep for clients. They’re all happy, everyone did well and everyone got ribbons. That’s the name of the game. The clients are happy, the horses went well and that’s what it’s all about.”
After winning the Leading Handler Award, Emily said, “I think more than the award itself, it means that my horses did really well for their people to earn that. I’m very grateful and thankful for the opportunity to hold them, and to work with these young horses and develop them. Their success is my success. I’m so appreciative. I have so many good owners who back us and support us and let us find horses for them and give us some of their young horses that they’ve bred, and place their trust in our program at Magic Hill.”
Alex Matz of Coatesville, PA, led the victory lap in the $20,000 Show Jumping Hall of fame Classic with Quinta. That win secured the Amateur-Owner Jumper Championship and boosted Alex to the Leading Amateur-Owner Jumper Rider title.
"This is our fifth year with Quinta,” dad, Olympic show jumper turned racehorse trainer, Michael said. “She's been great, she's been loyal, and that's all you could ask for in a horse.”
Alex trains with his parents at home and gets help from Mario Deslauriers, who guided Michael as a junior rider.
"This is a special place because it's so close to home," said Alex, who just finished his freshman year at Vanderbilt University. "It means so much. I love this place and it was a goal. Young Riders is a big goal, but this is very special."
Carriage Driving and Coaching
For the second year in a row, Rachel Shoemaker of Willisbrook Farm in Malvern, PA, won the Single Horse Championship with her seven-year-old Saddlebred mare hitched to the Willisbrook Farm’s Rally Cart.
In addition to the Overall Championship, Rachel won the Single Harness Two-Wheel Vehicle of the Horse division in the Devon Carriage Pleasure Drive.
The Reserve Single Horse Champion was a Friesian driven by Tara Miliziano-Crowley of Zionsville, PA. Tara also won the Single Horse Pleasure Driving class, driving a Studebaker Phaeton. In addition to a Devon blue, she won the Witteveen Friesian Perpetual Trophy.
The well-known Devon Carriage Pleasure Drive is held the Sunday before Memorial Day. Families, friends and locals line the streets and the Devon Horse Show grounds to watch and admire the beauty and grace of the horses, carriages and presentation of the whips and passengers. It usually takes the entries about 40-minutes to complete the drive.
"I can't give enough thanks to the folks along the route of the pleasure drive today,” said Devon Horse Show President Richard O' Donnell. “We came upon people who were giving water out to everybody. That's community support. I think the community really does welcome this competition."
Richard has been involved with the horse show for 45 years, and made his 42nd appearance in the Carriage Pleasure Drive with his wife, Enid, by his side in the Double-Harness Pairs-Tandems class.
The two, along with their groom, enjoyed the 40-minute route in their Spider Phaeton carriage, which was built by Lane and Sonson in Philadelphia in 1880.
The classic vehicle was pulled by "Teddy" and "Billy," who are Hackney/Clydesdale crosses Rich has had for eight years.
Overall O’Donnell’s pair of horses won their division in the Carriage Pleasure Drive, the Horse Pair Turnout class, and were second in the Horse Pair Scurry class. They finished the show winning the Overall Horse Pair Championship.
Spectators anticipated the arrival of Roberta O'Dell of West Chester, PA, who is known for her clever and witty carriage appearances each year. The 92-year-old whip was dressed as a jailer and rode in a Police Wagon that was being pulled by four white mules in the Light Commercial and Farmer's class.
Jody Vesty Hess of Bryn Taran Farm in Spring City, PA, showed CRMF Hanoui, a six-year-old Morgan gelding, in the Single Horse Carriage Driving Pleasure division. He was reserve in the Cones competition and fifth in the Pleasure class. Owned by Linda Weinberg, ‘Lenny’ was hitched to a Bird In Hand Flyer.
When hitched with a chestnut gelding of Saddlebred and Belgian bloodlines, Lenny and his partner were reserve in the Pair Horse division of the Devon Carriage Pleasure Drive. They won the Horse Pair Cones class and were reserve in the Horse Pair Pleasure class. Overall, this pair was Reserve Champion in their division.
Jody’s mother also won the Tailgate Competition of the Carriage Pleasure Drive. Her theme was an English Tea, in honor of the 90th birthday celebration of Queen Elizabeth II.
Betsy Demarino, VMD, of West Chester, PA, won the Horse Single Harness, Four Wheel Vehicle division, driving a Standardbred.
Nicole Cable won the Pony Single Harness Two-Wheel Vehicle division driving a pony hitched to a Gig that was owned by Lisa Koehler of Telford, PA. For the fourth time, Lisa went on to win the Pony Driving Championship.
In the Four-Wheel division, Katie Kashner drove a runabout pulled by a pony owned by Audrey Bostwick of Perkasie, PA.
Paul Martin of South Ridge Farm in New Holland, PA had a very successful show with this crossbred Welsh Cob and German Sport ponies. He won the Pony Pleasure Turnout class, was second in the Four-In-Hand Appointments class, and won the Best Tailgate Picnic Trophy.
For the fourth time, Matt Stout of Exeter, PA won the Amateur Coach Horn Competition. Matt sits on the coach of his friends, John and Penny Hunt. He played his Kantsul 52” B flat Coach Horn. For the competition, he played a call that he co-wrote with his daughter, Jessica. They named it Eden Valley Farms in honor of the Hunts’ farm.