Walnut Hill

Jill’s final report (for Sunday) from this year’s Walnut Hill competition:

It was too good to last! We got rain on Sunday, from early on until around 2:30 p.m. In the morning was the pleasure drive and, despite the weather, most elected to go and not disappoint the hundreds of people who had lined the streets to see the turnouts go by.

The afternoon featured a variety of classes and ended with the Parade of Champions, where every champion came into the ring for a final review.

And the dates for the show in 2011 were announced: August 10-14.

“The show must go on!”

Jill’s report from Saturday, the final day of the Walnut Hill competition:

A perfect day! Not always sunny, but a cool breeze helped the day. The crowds came out today for the show, and they were treated to some spectacular sights.

One of the favorites was the Afternoon Wicker Phaeton class, which included the set-up and eating of picnic lunches. The entries were first judged in the ring, then excused to a grassy holding area where tables were set up. Each entry unhitched and took the horses back to their stalls, then they set about setting up a variety of picnics, ranging from traditional to a lobster lunch! The crowd flocked to watch as the judges went from picnic to picnic and then conferred at the end. In the end, Mary Mulligan of Canada won the class.

The coaches came out again today for a Performance class and an Obstacle class. The Four-in-Hand / Unicorn class was also held today, to the crowd’s delight.

The show ended today at 5:30 p.m. The crew scurried around, tidying the chairs and making sure all was set for the dinner this evening at 7 p.m. in the large tent on the grounds.

Several championships were awarded today, and we get to see every champion come in the ring tomorrow afternoon for the Parade of Champions.

Here is Jill’s report on today’s events at Walnut Hill (it’s just barely still Friday as I type this):

Today was beautiful: picture perfect, sunny with a cool breeze. Although it did get a little hotter in the afternoon, everyone was in a gread mood, enjoying the stunning turnouts, class after class.

The Juniors Division was held today, with sixteen young people in various types of turnouts, all vying for a good ribbon.

The Coaching Performance and Obstacle classes were this afternoon. There were five coaches in all: three horse teams and three pony teams, so they were split into two sections. After the Performance class (won by Harvey Waller of Massachusetts), the Cones class was held, and as the coaches each completed the cones course, they were sent out on a drive down the road to Toddy Hunter’s nearby farm.

The evening performance then began with the return of the coaches into the arena and the presentation of the Tom Ryder Trophy (Best Road Team) by Elizabeth Ryder Ashbridge, visiting from England, to Toddy Hunter. The Jack Pemberton Trophy (Best Park Team) was presented (by Elizabeth again) to John White of New Jersey.

The always-popular evening performance (the only one of the entire show) then continued, with an emotional tribute to Bill Remley, after which Peter Doubleday announced, “In the words of Bill himself, the show must go on!”

Next into the ring was the Carriage Dog class, followed by the always-entertaining Costume class, the Trade class, and the Evening Bonneted Phaeton class.

Jill’s report on Thursday’s activities at Walnut Hill:

Thursday had an early start, with the first class beginning right on time at 7:30 a.m.! The weather then was overcast, and by 8:30 a.m. it was raining. But (luckily) it rained on and off for several hours … a light rain, though, and not a heavy rain. It was certainly cooler than Wednesday, which was nice for the horses.

There are three judges here this year sharing the judging duties: Debbie Banfield of Kentucky, Martha Nicoll of Virginia, and Minta Winn of England. I spoke to Minta (on her first trip to the U.S.) and asked her what she thought of the show. She said, “I love it! Everyone is so friendly, and the show runs like clockwork.”

Eight pony pairs competed in the Turnout class this morning, which was eventually won by Anne Bliss of Massachusetts, with her new pair of German Riding Ponies.

For those of you who are not familiar with the program here, the divisions each offer a Turnout, Reinsmanship, Cross Country Obstacles, and Cones class. Points are accumulated and championships awarded in each division. On Sunday morning, there is a pleasure drive from the showgrounds to the local park. As this is the 39th year of the show, all the locals are well aware that, on Sunday morning, many carriage turnouts will be passing by their front doors. People hold parties and line the street to watch the procession and appreciate all the turnouts. In order for an entry to be eligible for a championship, the turnout must participate in this drive.

Each day at the show features a different division (obviously, more than one per day), and so the schedule is worked out well so the drivers have time between classes. The show committee prides itself on running on time, and the fantastic crew works really hard to ensure everything is already in place and ready.

Walnut Hill has always been a progressive show, offering classes not available elsewhere. For example, they “invented” the individual test in the reinsmanship class. In this class, each entry comes into the ring on their own, executes a given test, and then leaves. Once all have been seen by the judge, all the entries come back in the ring for a final work-off. This type of class is more popular with the audience — who can see exactly what the judge is looking at — than a lot of turnouts simply going round and round the ring.

Another Walnut Hill favorite is the Cross Country Obstacles. In this class, each turnout must trot past or through a series of colorful “obstacles” (such as a tiny village, a water crossing, a carousel, etc.) on a cross-country course. Each driver must take the same carriage from the division he or she is showing in

We get to watch all these classes every day, with a different division vying for the hotly contested ribbons each day.


Jill sent the following report from day one (that’s yesterday … Wednesday) at Walnut Hill:

The first day of the show started bright and early at 8 a.m.! All the longtime volunteers were there early, and management was all in place as Peter Doubleday (the longtime show announcer) welcomed everyone to the start of the 39th Walnut Hill Show.

The first class was Gentlemen to Drive / Single Horse / Meadowbrook or Road Cart — Progressive Obstacles. Unfortunately for Jim Leo, who was driving his big Friesian, the early start did not bode well, when his vehicle turned over, throwing him out, and his horse took off around the arena with the vehicle on its side. Horse and driver were OK (the carriage was a bit banged up!), and they walked out of the ring to the applause of the audience. Things were quickly running back on time and there were no more incidents all day.

I was not able to confirm whether the 220 entries this year is the largest number ever, but I can confirm that the 280 stalls are, in fact, the most that Walnut Hill has ever put up. It seems that many people are here to honor Bill Remley. The Small and Large Pony Divisions each have thirty entries, so both have been split. The Park Division / Ladies Wicker has a record entry of twelve. It’s fantastic to see.

John White of New Jersey is here driving in his first show, having brought a coaching and a four-in-hand entry. He won his first class: Unicorn / Four-in-Hand Horses — Cross Country Obstacle, with a clear round. Well done! Also, Mark Schofield is here with a new young Hackney team, and he got a pleasing second in the Unicorn / Four-in-Hand Horses — Reinsmanship class, which was won by Marilyn Macfarlane of Kentucky and her elegant unicorn. Congratulations to all for a nice showing.

The weather was hot and humid, and the sun was shining, but there was no rain. As soon as the show ended, a cool breeze came up, and it was a fantastic evening for all to enjoy the barbecue.

the newly created Bill Remley Memorial Garden (photo by Jill Ryder)

the popular Patrons' Tent on the hill overlooking the ring (photo by Jill Rdyer)

Marilyn Macfarlane, with her unicorn of Friesian horses as she departs on the Cross Country Obstacles course (photo by Jill Ryder)

the final lineup in the large Park Division / Ladies Wicker Phaeton / Afternoon Turnout class ... Wende Bush was the lucky winner today (photo by Jill Ryder)

You can check the show’s results each day at http://www.drivingnews.us/results/results2010/WalnutHill/.



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