The winner of Saturday's leadline class, 4-year-old Bella Cauthen who rides with J.F. Gagne's Gagne International Stables, summed it up best when she said she liked riding and it was fun.
The Aiken Horse Show in the Woods has a bright future thanks to the contagious and palpable enthusiasm from young horsemen like Bella, and Saturday was the day for the children and junior riders to showcase their talents.
It was a day to remember for Aiken's Hallie Anderson and her Selle Francais Mariatchy de Cluis as the rider/horse combination proved to be a formidable force in capturing the blue and tri-color ribbons. Anderson and the son of Qredo DL Paulstra were recognized as the Best Child Rider on a Horse.
But, it's Anderson's bond with Pippin, or Mariatchy de Cluis as he's known around the barn, that makes for an enduring relationship.
“He's a special horse,” said Anderson. “We have a great connection. He has such a positive attitude and is very willing. He goes around like he's done this his entire life.”
However, Friday's performance by Anderson and Pippin seemed to be a harbinger of what was yet to come as they earned reserve champion honors in the open hunter division.
The Aiken Horse Show in the Woods' 2010 and 2011 open hunter division winners, Anderson and Pippin seem to be at their best when competing in the heart of Aiken.
“I actually placed second in the under saddle division and there were over 40 entries in that class,” said Anderson, who seems on a quest to retire the Foxfield Trophy. “It helped me to move up.”
Anderson carried the momentum from Friday into the following day, and enjoyed a nearly flawless afternoon. The horseman's competitive spirit, coupled with the absence of professionals in the classes, compelled her to greater heights.
“I come out every year,” said Anderson, who won the Aiken Horse Show Junior Hunter Stakes. “I'm not expecting anything, but it's such a fun, special show being once a year, and having the support of the entire community.”
Friday featured a number of competitive classes, but local connections weren't deterred by the number of class entries. Bridelwood Farm's John Abbott and Jenna Wiener's Ferragamo's Feature won the Aiken Hounds Welcome Stake in impressive fashion.
“I think the courses were good, challenging enough, and had a variety of obstacles,” said Abbott. “It was a nice derby/fox hunter kind of course.”
The Aiken Horse Show in the Woods generates a tremendous amount of exposure for one of the community's treasures, said Abbott. The show also served as a way to get horses fit and ready as they prepare to exhibit at a number of venues this spring.
“Ferragamo's Feature will definitely show there (the Aiken Spring Classic Horse Shows) in two weeks,” said Abbott. “And, several of the other horses that I brought to the horse show will go as well. The Aiken Horse Show in the Woods is actually more challenging than a regular horse show because of the terrain changes, different types of jumps and the different setting. I think it's good. It challenges the young horses.”