Louisville, Ky. – Celebrating its 117th year, the World’s Championship Horse Show was held at the Kentucky State Fair’s famed Freedom Hall from August 17-24. With premiums totaling over $1 million, the World’s Championship Horse Show is the crown jewel of competition for the American Saddlebred and Hackney breeds, as well as the roadster and saddle seat equitation disciplines. More than 2,000 horses and ponies competed for the coveted trip down Freedom Hall’s victory lane, and exhibitors from seven to 80 years old enjoyed every moment with their equine partners.
The American Saddlebred Horse Association (ASHA) hosted a multitude of special events, particularly for youth and first-time competitors, including a judging clinic hosted by Betsy Young Boone and Christy Parker and a college night featuring speakers Dr. Tom Riddle, Amy Parker, Dr. Martin Krarup Nielsen, Fred Sarver of Cornerstone Farm, and Alex Gravett of Kismet Farm LLC.
ASHA also awarded five $5,000 scholarships to up-and-coming young American Saddlebred enthusiasts. Learn more about the scholarships awarded at the WCHS.
The American Hackney Horse Society (AHHS), in conjunction with the United Professional Horsemen’s Association, provided an information booth in AgLand in the South Wing of Freedom Hall, where newcomers to the Hackney could learn all about the breed through educational brochures, promotional items, and an AHHS representative. The AHHS also hosted a variety of special activities throughout the week, including a meet-and-greet with Sanctuary, a Hackney roadster pony; a reception for new Hall of Fame inductees; and a youth photo contest.
One of the Hackney breed’s greatest victories at the 2019 World’s Championship comes from U.S. veteran Richard Cicero. Cicero (Weeki Wachee, Fla.) never thought he would be able to drive a pony again after sustaining severe injuries during his tour in Afghanistan, resulting in the loss of his right arm and right leg. He made an inspirational and thrilling return to Freedom Hall with CH High Steppers Simply Awesome, his 15-year-old Hackney gelding.
The show’s exhilarating finale, Finals Night, did not disappoint the enthusiastic crowd that filled Freedom Hall. Seven combinations were named 2019 World’s Grand Champion in the Harness Pony, Roadster to Bike, Fine Harness, Roadster Pony, Hackney Pony, and the highly anticipated Three-Gaited and Five-Gaited World’s Grand Championships.
The best of the Hackney breed was on display all week long, but Finals Night brought out even more competitive spirit. Heartland Bejeweled, Grace Arnold, LLC’s 10-year-old Hackney gelding, took the first World’s Grand Champion title of the night with driver Maureen Campbell (Shelbyville, Ky.) in the Harness Pony World’s Grand Championship class. Craycroft Matador, Helen Rich’s 17-year-old Hackney stallion, and Ali De Gray (Odessa, Fla.) secured the Hackney Pony World’s Grand Championship.
For the second consecutive year, Madeira’s Code Red, High Spirits Farm’s seven-year-old American Saddlebred gelding, won the white roses in the Fine Harness World’s Grand Championship with trainer James Lowry (Ashland, Mo.) at the reins. The evening wrapped up with Daniel Lockhart (Springfield, Ky.) riding CHThe Daily Lottery, Hillcroft Farm and Misdee Wrigley Miller’s 15-year-old American Saddlebred gelding, to their third win in the highly coveted Five-Gaited World’s Grand Championship. This grand horse has earned a long list of accolades over the course of his career, starting with earning the World Champion Five-Gaired Junior Horse title as a four-year-old. He has also won the World Champion Amateur Five-Gaited title three times and the Junior Exhibitor World Five-Gaited Championship twice.
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Photos by Howard Schatzberg