Weather may not have been the nicest of friends so far this summer in accommodating all the outdoor activities at the Horse Park, but that minor detail hasn’t put a damper on the fun! August rolls out several much-anticipated events that should be on every dog and horse lover’s calendar.
The look of the Horse Park will also be transforming, with black fencing making its debut. While the white fences have been an iconic feature since the Horse Park’s opening in 1978, the maintenance and upkeep is definitely more intensive. Almost 30 miles of fencing will be making the transition.
Ready, Set, Pony Finals!
Set to take over the Horse Park August 4–9th will be 600 ponies and their junior jockeys competing at the Pony Finals.
By way of a history lesson, the beginnings of what is now the Pony Finals began in the 1950s when the British National Pony Society and the British Show Pony Society challenged American pony riders to an international Pony Hunter Competition. The Pony Finals was created in 1967 by the American Horse Shows Association to be a national event open to any member that met the qualifications set forth. By 1984, the highly regarded Pony Medal Championship became a part of the Finals, and the Green Hunter Pony Championship was included on the roster in 1999.
Fast forward to today where the US Pony Finals is a highly regarded competition in the United States. The Green Hunter Pony Finals and the Regular Hunter Pony are competitions that judge the pony’s conformation, jumping ability, and way of moving while the Marshall & Sterling/US Pony Medal Final judges young riders’ competence over a technical and demanding course of fences. Riders must qualify to compete in this prestigious event with riders receiving invitations in May. Junior riders would rise through the ranks via the US Pony Jumper Championship hoping to segue into the Grand Prix.
The Road to Pony Finals
The road that leads to Pony Finals isn’t always a straight or easy path for many pony kids and their families. But, it’s a chance for dedication, commitment, and a little bit of luck to shine through. Hours of work are behind every round of competition at the show. But, ribbon or no ribbon, the takeaway lessons are always something that every child rider will always remember. The friendships, both old and new, always seem to be one of the biggest highlights of the shows. Riders can be spotted hanging out along the fencerow, huddled around their ponies and grabbing quick snacks between their classes. Have a favorite pony rider competing, or just want to check it out? Be there August 4-9th!
Bluegrass Classic Dog Shows
The 2015 Bluegrass Classic Dog Shows will be held at Kentucky Horse Park’s Alltech Arena from Wednesday, August 26th through Sunday, August 30th. This 5-day extravaganza, sponsored by the Lexington Kennel Club, Northern Kentucky Kennel Club, and Mid Kentucky Kennel Club, will feature competitions, special attractions, and specialty vendors for our canine friends.
There are 180 breeds of dogs now recognized by the American Kennel Club, and more than 150 of those breeds will be on display in all their glory at this year’s Bluegrass Classic. Various competitions will be held, and the following list is just a sampling of what will be on tap.
The Conformation (A.K.A. breed show) evaluates the overall appearance and physical structure of the dog in conformance to the breed’s ideal standard (a prime indicator of the ability to produce high quality purebred puppies). Best of Show is a competition among winners of various breeds to determine highest-rated overall dog. Obedience demonstrates the dog’s good behavior whether at home, in public, or in the presence of other dogs from training and conditioning. Rally is a companion sport to obedience that showcases the dog’s mastery of a course of various exercises.
The AKC National Owner-Handled Series will be held during this time frame as well. More than 80% of show dogs are handled by their owners, and this AKC Series honors these handler-owners by providing the opportunity to compete against other handler-owners in the conformation ring.
The Canine Good Citizen Testing promotes responsible dog ownership by administering a short behavioral evaluation to determine if a dog is well mannered. The goal is good citizenship for all dogs.
As a special bonus, Meet the Breeds will be featured in the show rings during lunch intermissions in the judging schedule. This is a great opportunity to meet and talk with some of the owners of the different dog breeds to learn about the breed’s unique characteristics and features.
With all the hustle and bustle of the competitions, don’t forget to set aside some time to check out the vast array of doggie goodies and supplies that aren’t found just everywhere. Whether you are interested in the fun canine accessories, nutritional food/supplements, digital paintings of dog breeds, or animal communication, this is the place to find what you’re looking for… or maybe find something you didn’t know you needed.
2015 USHJA International Hunter Derby Championship
Want to see style, grace and fancy hunter horses? Then head to the Hunter Derby Championship August 15. Opening ceremonies begin at 6 pm and there is no admission fee to attend. Bred to jump stylishly and guided by expert riders around obstacles that would resemble jumps you would find riding the countryside, the Hunter Derby makes for a great evening of equestrian flair!
The Kentucky Classique Horse Trials
The Kentucky Classique Horse Trials, proudly authorized by the United States Eventing Association (USEA), will be held beginning at 8 AM Friday, August 28th, and culminating at the Hunter Jumper Complex at 5 pm on Sunday, August 30th.
This 3-day eventing competition is composed of Dressage, Cross Country, and Show Jumping (aptly titled “the equestrian triathlon“ on occasion) and demonstrates the horse and rider’s level of accomplishment on the flat and over fences.
Dressage (which means “training” in French) opens up the Trials, and this phase of the competition is designed to demonstrate the horse’s ability to perform complex movements in an enclosed area with flexibility and balance in obedience to the body signals of the rider. Each movement is scored for the degree of precision and smoothness, as is the level of effective communication between horse and rider. The controlled strength and suppleness of the horse in the Dressage will be essential to the remainder of the eventing phases.
The second day is the Cross Country phase of the competition, which is designed to test the speed, endurance and agility of the horse and rider duo. A Cross Country course is ridden at a gallop over diverse terrain and obstacles with speed requirements dependent on the level of competition. The course may range from 2.75 to 4 miles with 24-36 fixed obstacles to be cleared. Penalties are given for jumping errors such as refusals, run outs and falls as well as exceeding time limits.
The final phase of the Trials held on the third day is Show Jumping, and this portion of the Trials is to evaluate the horse and rider’s degree of recovery and stamina from the rigorous Cross Country challenges completed just the day before. The Show Jumping course is composed of multicolored, lightweight rails arranged in a variety of configurations of fences of varying heights and widths. The rider must navigate his horse over the fences while constantly assessing the correct distances and turns which necessitates a continual changing of strides, either shortening or lengthening. The horse and rider must be in sync both mentally and physically to successfully complete the course. Any knocked down rail is penalized.
Starting times for the Trials will be posted at www.kyevents.net by August 22nd. This competition is certain to be thrilling as horses and riders take on the demanding challenges of the Kentucky Classique Horse Trials.