East Dorset, Vermont – The future stars of show jumping are out in full force at the 2012 Vermont Summer Festival horse show running July 4 through August 12 at Harold Beebe Farm in East Dorset, VT.
The six-week festival is hosting a Platinum Performance/USEF Show Jumping Talent Search competition each Friday. Open to riders under the age of 21 and consisting of both an over fences phase and a flat phase, the Talent Search program sees the nation’s top young riders going head-to-head in competition. The program helps prepare young athletes for future participation in high level events, and ultimately creates a pipeline for future show jumping talents.
Former participants of the program include U.S. Olympic team gold medalists, Beezie Madden and McLain Ward. One young rider hoping to one day make a name for herself among the list of elite athletes is Katie Tyler of North Kingstown, RI.
“I started riding when I was three,” said Tyler, 19. “My dad owned a therapeutic riding school in our town and he would take me with him when he went to meetings there. He would always just plop me on a horse, and I’ve been hooked ever since.”
Tyler jumped to victory in the Talent Search class at the Vermont Summer Festival during week one. She was one of four riders to put in a clear performance in the jumping phase, which included a difficult water obstacle and tight time allowed. Returning for the flat phase, Tyler and her mount Galliard, a 14-year-old Swedish Warmblood gelding, proved unbeatable as they perfectly performed at the gaits requested by the judge. During the second week of competition at the Vermont Summer Festival, the pair finished in the runner-up position behind Charlotte Jacobs of East Aurora, NY, and Freedom, owned by Greer Hindle.
“I bought him around Christmas time in 2010,” explained Tyler of her Talent Search mount. “I actually sold him last year to another girl at our barn, but she was nice enough to let me continue to ride him in the Talent Search.”
It was the first win for Tyler in the Talent Search this season, having placed second at the Windcrest Farm Horse Show in Hebron, CT, in May and third at the Saratoga Classic I in Saratoga Springs, NY, in June.
Galliard’s owner, Thea Chafee, is also competing with the gelding at the Vermont Summer Festival, and won The T.H.I.S. National Children’s Medal on Saturday, July 7. Both riders train with Shachine Belle of Belle Equestrian LLC. Tyler has been riding with Belle for the past two years and relies on her experience and expertise to help her prepare for competition.
“To get ready for the Talent Search I always have a lesson with my trainer before hand,” explained Tyler. “It’s usually the morning of the class, which means it can be as early as 6 a.m., but it’s worth it.”
Riders can continue to take part in the Talent Search Program until they reach 21, and Tyler plans to do just that.
“I got started in the Talent Search in the first place because I didn’t want my equitation years to be over,” she said. “I plan to continue for as long as I can and will continue to take part in the classes offered here in Vermont.”
The Vermont Summer Festival offers more than $750,000 in prize money, making it the richest sporting event based on purse in the state. The largest “AA” rated hunter/jumper horse show in New England, the festival attracts the best athletes, including Olympic medalists, from across the country and around the globe.
New for 2012, the first five Saturdays of the Vermont Summer Festival will feature a $30,000 Grand Prix. During week six, the $50,000 Vermont Summer Celebration Grand Prix will be held on Saturday, August 11. The weekly $10,000 Open Welcome Stake, Presented by Manchester Designer Outlets, will now be held each Thursday.
The hugely popular $5,000 3’3″ Hunter Derby will also be held each Thursday for the first five weeks. Based on the tremendous success of the hunter derbies during their inaugural year in 2011, Vermont Summer Festival show organizers have added a $15,000 Hunter Derby for week six, sponsored by Vermont-based equestrian luggage manufacturer, Oughton Limited.
Competition begins at 8 a.m. daily, Wednesday through Sunday. Admission is $5 for adults, $3 for children on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. On Saturday and Sunday, admission is $7 for adults, $5 for children. All of the gate receipts benefit the a number of Manchester area non-profit organizations, including the Mark Skinner Library, Friends Foundation for MEMS, Community Food Cupboard, and Second Chance Animal Center.
For over 20 years, the Vermont Summer Festival has attracted exhibitors and their families to the Manchester region in southern Vermont. The Vermont Summer Festival is a proud member event of the Show Jumping Hall Of Fame, the Marshall & Sterling League, and the North American League (NAL).