The CIC* Stonehill Horse Trials, Presented by Greenbrier Farm, enjoyed its 15th year of competition on Saturday, July 23, in Orangeville, ON. " /> The CIC* Stonehill Horse Trials, Presented by Greenbrier Farm, enjoyed its 15th year of competition on Saturday, July 23, in Orangeville, ON. " /> The CIC* Stonehill Horse Trials, Presented by Greenbrier Farm, enjoyed its 15th year of competition on Saturday, July 23, in Orangeville, ON. ">
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The CIC* Stonehill Horse Trials Huge Success

The CIC* Stonehill Horse Trials, Presented by Greenbrier Farm, enjoyed its 15th year of competition on Saturday, July 23, in Orangeville, ON.

Taking place at a new location, combining the properties of Connewirrico Farms and Sheldon Creek Farms for a total of 200 acres in the picturesque Hockley Hills, the Stonehill Horse Trials attracted a total of 200 entries competing for $7,500 in prize money. A new cross-country course, constructed over hilly terrain, added a new dimension of difficulty to the event.

The CIC* Division, sponsored by Ken and Rita Dann and sanctioned for the second year by the International Equestrian Federation (FEI), saw 28 of the 35 entries completing the course with local favourite Leahona Rowland of Orangeville, ON, emerging victorious. Riding ‘R’ Kameo, Rowland opened with a dressage score of 47.90 penalty points and went on to enjoy penalty-free cross-country and show jumping performances to add nothing to her score. The day brought a double victory for Rowland who was also the winner of the Open Preliminary Division, sponsored by Steven Smelt and FundEx Investments, riding Jeremiah, a nine-year-old Canadian-bred gelding owned by Patricia Jamieson.

Leahona Rowland and ‘R’ Kameo claimed victory in CIC* Division of the Stonehill Horse Trials, Presented by Greenbrier Farm. Photo © Andrew Bailini

A native of Kelowna, BC, Rowland, 22, came east to Ontario where she was a working student for Stonehill Horse Trials competition organizer, Peter Gray. Now based out of West Winds Farms in Orangeville, ON, she has been partnered with ‘R’ Kameo, an eight-year-old bay Hannoverian mare by Rio Grande owned by breeders Don and Lois Brown, for two years.

“She was amazing, she has so much confidence on cross-country and she is always trying to please me and give me her best,” said Rowland of the Canadian-bred mare. “The course was great, it was big and bold, and ‘R’ Cameo really responded to that. I am very thankful to the owners, Don and Lois Brown and Jeremiah’s owner, Pat Jamieson, for giving me the opportunity to ride these horses. They have been very supportive.”

Second place in the CIC* division went to Kendal Lehari of Uxbridge, ON, and Understudy, an eight-year-old Canadian thoroughbred gelding, who also enjoyed clear jumping performances to finish on their dressage score of 50 penalty points. Stephanie St. Pierre of Millgrove, ON, was the leader following dressage but four time penalties for exceeding the time allowed during the cross-country phase placed her third riding Santo Domingo, her seven-year-old Canadian thoroughbred gelding.

Last year’s Open Preliminary Champions, Jordan McDonald of Richmond, BC, and Top Drawer, a nine-year-old Canadian thoroughbred gelding owned by Frank Tucker, were fourth with a score 55 penalty points. Canadian Olympian Ian Roberts of Port Perry, ON, rounded out the top five riding Tang, a six-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding.

Robin Walker, who competes for Great Britain but lives and trains in Michigan, crossed the border with five horses, plus two belonging to clients, to compete at the Stonehill Horse Trials. Riding Loughnatousa Spot, Walker placed sixth and also placed two other horses in the top 20.

“It is nice when you go to a horse trial and you have someone as experienced as Peter and his team organizing the event, and someone as experienced as Jay building the courses,” noted Walker who last made the trip to the Stonehill Horse Trials in 1999. “I had students with me that also competed, and they loved it. It is wonderful that they offer the one-star CIC, and the venue can easily host an even higher standard of competition if they wish to further develop the event.”

In the Preliminary Division, sponsored by Steven Smelt and FundEx Investments, Jackie Bellamy rode Fire and Ice to the win while the Preliminary Masters Title, sponsored by Frank Tucker and given to the top-placed amateur competitor aged 45 and over, went to Joel Carmichael and Chloe.

Olympic and World Championship veteran Edie Tarves rode Arwen to victory in the Open Training Division while the Training Division saw Philippa Bate and Desparado emerge victorious with a low score of 38.30 penalty points. Abernant Veterinary Services sponsored both the Training and Open Training Divisions. Linda Plank and Touch The Crowd topped the Frank Tucker-sponsored Training Masters Division.

Peter Gray and Jay Hambly partnered to design the cross-country courses with Hambly taking on the additional role of builder.

“What Jay built for our event was amazing,” raved Gray. “Like all of us, we have to train with the best in order to improve our skills and Jay went to England to work with the best in the business, Olympic course designer Michael Etherington-Smith. The course Jay built here was truly spectacular. Every single fence was brand new, and the hilly terrain added an extra challenge. The property itself is breathtaking and there are several vantage points were you can see up to ten fences at once.”

Hambly is also the course builder at two top American events, Galway Downs in California and Richland Park in Michigan, and was one of the original builders of the course at Rebecca Farm in Montana.

“We wanted a course that the horses could really gallop over, one that wasn’t too twisty, and I think that all of the horses came off the course more confident,” noted Hambly of Ferguson, ON, who constructed the entire course in only 27 days. “The event itself had strong entries, and I think it provided the riders with a good stepping stone to becoming internationally competitive.”

Held for the benefit of the Headwaters Hospital of Orangeville, ON, the CIC* Stonehill Horse Trials expects to make a donation of approximately $4,000 this year. Organizers Gray and Paul Delbrook, both advanced level eventing competitors, operate their training business from Connewirrico Farm. Gray, the former coach of the Canadian National Eventing Team as well as the first alternate for the 2004 Athens Olympic Games, is a renowned trainer, offering coaching for all levels of competition as well as sales of horses suited for various equestrian disciplines.

“It is an awful lot of work, but a part of me wants our event to get better every year,” noted Gray. “I have been strongly influenced by Ian Roberts who is of the opinion that we have to challenge our riders with suitable courses here in Canada so that they have a chance to compete successfully when they go to the United States. I think we have achieved that with this year’s event.”

Stonehill Horse Trials wishes to acknowledge the generous support of its sponsors including Title Sponsor Alan and Nicole Shinton of Greenbrier Farms; Ken and Rita Dann, sponsors of the CIC* Division; Steven Smelt and FundEx Investments, sponsor of the Preliminary Division; Abernant Veterinary Services, sponsors of the Training Division; and Frank Tucker, who sponsored all of the Masters Divisions offered for amateur competitors aged 45 and over. It also wishes to thank Mr. and Mrs. Jorge Bernhard and Mr. and Mrs. Roger McSweeney for the generous use of their property.

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