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Stonehill Horse Trials Popular As Ever
Orangeville, ON, Canada

Over two hundred and seventy riders of all ages and all levels vied for the win at the Stonehill Horse Trials on a beautiful August 5th and 6th long weekend. Countless friends, supporters and spectators also flocked to Orangeville; with $5,000 in prize money, the stakes were high and the pressure was on.

Stonehill Horse Trials founders Peter Gray, former coach of the Canadian National Eventing Team, and Paul Delbrook, eventer and accomplished show jumper, celebrated their 19th year of hosting these horse trials. The competition was held for the second time on the grounds of Connewirrico Farm and Sheldon Creek Farm, with the newly completed lavish barn as the center of the activities.

On the upper hill, competitors smoothly performed dressage tests in front of judges Jo Young of Wits End Horse Trials, Kellie Towers, Jennifer Klemm, and Paul Delbrook, while in the valley, an inviting stadium course was set up for the second phase of the competition. Cross-country, the highlight of the day for most riders, ran full speed ahead over the hills and dales of the combined properties of 200 acres. Course Designers Peter Gray and Jay Hambly (also doubling as course builder) presented a series of obstacles that differed from those used last year but that were equally formidable. The well-groomed galloping lanes extended over flat ground and steep hills, through a multi-faceted water complex and the attractive Arthur's Alley, sponsored by Seabreeze Electric.

Gray used every angle of the property and challenged competitors with an appealing course that presented questions demanding the best of both horse and rider. Spectators and competitors alike were not disappointed, as horses and riders delighted Gray when his expectations were achieved.

"It was our best event ever! I loved the flow of the cross country courses going in a reverse direction this year. The track was more challenging this year but the competitors rose to the occasion and tackled the new jumps fantastically!"

The water complex was a big attraction for spectators as they watched three levels attempt the numerous jumps. The Intermediate riders bounded over the large cabin that was sponsored and hand-painted by Jenny Whittal, down a bank and finally over the Ridgetop Farm triple bar into the water with a splash. The Preliminary course required riders to fly over the Prelim coffin and then over a corner jump. After bouncing down the ABYDOS bank, they jumped into the water over a large coop and then over a log in the middle of the water. For the Training level riders, however, the water was a more sympathetic question as they completed their coffin combination, jumped a coop, galloped through the water and out over an imposing cabin.

For all divisions, all three horse trial phases were completed with personal bests and lessons learned. Last year, a spectacular CIC* Division was won by local Leahona Rowland and 'R'Kameo. This team repeated their winning performance by earning top place with a score of 51.40 in this year's Intermediate division and winning her share of the $2000 purse, generously sponsored by Ken and Rita Dann. Rowland led with a score of 50 after dressage and picked up only one time penalty in stadium and 0.40 in time penalties in cross-country. Taking second place was newlywed Wendy Southam and Ruba Z, and third was another local, Penny Rowland with Windswept.

Michele Mueller won the Frank Tucker Open Preliminary division with her horse Amistad and a spectacularly low score of 42.14. Ten points behind came Penny Rowland and Last Call in second place, while Selena O'Hanlon took 3rd and 4th with Elaine Davies' Columbo and Wonderwoman, respectively.

The Preliminary Regular division was won by Nicole Robertson riding her own Unexpected Time. Her lead after dressage was threatened by 9.00 stadium penalties and 5.60 cross-country penalties but she persevered and held on to the win over Kelly Poland and Digby in second place and Donna Pledge and Airborne in third.

The Training division, sponsored by Steven Smelt, was so popular that it was divided into two segments, with one held on Saturday and the other on Sunday. The Saturday Open Training division was won by Jean Rablat and Risque Romance who handily finished on their dressage score to win. Erin Branigan riding Bryn Gwilym took second place while Danielle Bechard was third with Estelle. Sunday Open Training saw a different set of riders competing, with Nicole Parkin and Lexus finishing in the lead. Following closely behind were Vanessa Fenwick and Toula in second and Jessica Phoenix and Exponential in third.

Celeste Rattray and Kimana Kid finished on their dressage score to win the Training Regular division on Saturday. Just 4.40 cross-country time penalties prevented Camille Adams and Tell Me a Secret from taking the win, causing them to slip to second place. Rachel Vear with Jagger enjoyed clear rounds in stadium and cross-country to finish third.

The Training Regular division on Sunday was won by Ashlynne Bugg and Task Master who hung on to the win with a narrow 0.27 point lead over David Levison and Glendening Portia. Margaret Hyslop and Nevermore rode clear rounds to finish on their dressage score and take third place.

After the end of competition on Saturday, a grand thank-you dinner was held in honour of both the sponsors and volunteers, the heroes of the event. The newly completed barn was converted into a palatial banquet hall in which a sit-down dinner was catered for a hundred people. The party lasted long into the night, even though most of the attendees were competing or assisting the next morning.

Stonehill Farms would like to thank all the sponsors of the event this year, especially Title Sponsor Alan and Nicole Shinton of Greenbrier Farms, whose generosity allows these always-anticipated horse trials to continue year after year, and Mr. and Mrs. Jorge Bernhard and Mr. and Mrs. Roger McSweeny, who graciously donated their properties once again. Additional jump sponsors included Monique Van de Merwe, Acuity, Parker Collier and Horse Creek, Jim Phillips, Maplehill Farm, and Shoeman Road Family Farm.

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