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2017 Germantown Charity Horse Show


By Nancy Brannon, Ph.D.

The 69th annual Germantown Charity Horse Show (GCHS), June 6-10, 2017, had a lot to offer in terms of tradition and innovation. The United States Equestrian Federation has designated the show as a Heritage Competition, for shows that have been established for a long time and make a substantial contribution to equestrian sport and the broader community. But the show also offers a variety of exciting and fun classes to keep everyone entertained. Plus, there are hospitality events each evening; a vendors market offering a variety of goods, food, and services; and elaborately decorated box seat areas with picnics and plenty of social gatherings.

An annual favorite is the Rachael Smith Memorial Costume Class, on Tuesday night. This year, the Mid-South Horse Review was proud and delighted to be depicted by the Ashley Fant Show Stables entry: “Trot Off The Press,” with “Your Mane Headline.” We love these young equestrian reporters! This entry received the Most Original award.

Another favorite is the Lead Line class, on Wednesday night, of the cutest young riders dressed in their best, and assisted by capable young adults. It’s such a difficult class to judge that everyone receives a blue ribbon – as all are winners! There are stick horse races for those children who have not old enough to “graduate” to a real pony.

The $5,000 GCHS Hunter/Jumper Versatility Challenge, with the Keepsake Perpetual Trophy, requires horses to excel in both a classic hunter style round and a jumper speed round. Michael Tokaruk and his amazing horse Hit Me Van’t Zorgvlie began their week’s winning streak with this class, as the pair showed to perfection the goals of the class and Keepsake’s legacy. As Frank Chapot, Bert de Nemethy, and George Morris have all taught, and jumper rider Dennis Murphy often demonstrated at the GCHS, horses that have all the elements of correct balance, softness, responsiveness, and athletic ability can and do excel in both the hunter and jumper worlds.

Tokaruk and Hit Me Van’t Zorgvlie went on to win a triple legacy this week: they also won the $15,000 Welcome Stake Open Jumper class on Wednesday evening and finished the week winning the $25,000 Grand Prix of Germantown on Saturday. After winning the Versatility Challenge, Tokaruk commented to us, “I’ve only been riding him a week.” Tokaruk really likes the horse, who is so personable. After his classes, Tokaruk rode the horse over to the arena fence so that his fans could come pet him. What a star!

While hunter classes, and some jumper classes, dominated the daytime activities at the GCHS, the show is renowned for multi-breed, multi discipline classes. There were Gypsy Vanner, Feathered Horse, classes, from halter to performance to driving. Paso Finos made their fine mark across the sounding board with rapid hoof motion and the smoothest ride.

Sidesaddle classes brought back historic female riding traditions. Tennessee Walking Horses showed their versatility and the beauty of their natural stride unencumbered by torture devices. American Saddlebreds strutted their stuff under both English and Western tack, showing their finesse and versatility as well. And the popular Single-footing horses and racking horses give the audience thrills as they “rack on” at speed around the arena! Some horses can reach and exceed exhilarating speeds of 20 mph!

New this year was the $5,000 Marilyn Lubin Memorial Walking Horse Team Riding Challenge, sponsored by Nathan Lubin. One set of riders rode the horses the first way around the arena, then riders switched and the other team riders rode the horses on the reverse.

The Media Class brought out local radio and TV celebrities to try their hand at riding around the arena. The Pyramid Vodka Smooth Ride Challenge required riders to carry a near-overflowing cup of liquid as they rode around the arena trying to spill as little as possible. You’ll see a variety of smooth-riding horses in this class! On Saturday evening, the Old West Special Trails Grand Entry Team provided the opening ceremony with their precise drill team, patterned riding.

And, finally, the weather is a tradition at the GCHS – some time during the show it’s going to rain. This year’s rain came early and got it over with, leaving mild, sunny weather for the rest of the week. Unfortunately, the rain storm came in just as the Versatility class was starting, and many had to ride in the rain. But the skies soon cleared for the rest of the evening’s classes – and the rest of the week.

Next year’s 70th annual Germantown Charity Horse Show will be June 5-6, 2018. Come see what 700 horse power looks like!

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