By Tracey Clark BerryThe American Quarter Horse JournalJuly 3, 2012
But for all the glitz and glam of the Kentucky Horse Park, there’s only one AQHA show that claims the park as home, and that would be the Mid-East Kentucky Quarter Horse Association’s Bluegrass Classic. (Photo by Tracey Clark Berry)
The Kentucky Horse Park, home of the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games, is a fabled site in equestrian lore. With crisp pastures and fountains, picturesque paddocks and the landmark Rolex Stadium, the Lexington facility is a mecca for horse fans. But for all the glitz and glam of the Horse Park, there’s only one AQHA show that claims the park as home, and that would be the Mid-East Kentucky Quarter Horse Association’s Bluegrass Classic.
On June 21-24, a dedicated group of horsemen and their families came together to volunteer and put on arguably one of the state’s more enjoyable shows. While the Mid-East Kentucky Quarter Horse Association and its tireless members may not be big in numbers, they sure are big in effort, and this past Bluegrass Classic is the perfect example of what teamwork and dedication can accomplish.
AQHA Professional Horseman Missy Jo Hollingsworth heads up the association as president, and the five-time Kentucky state trainer of the year is grateful for the can-do attitude of those in Kentucky.
“I am very proud to be involved with a show that has become so supported by trainers and exhibitors,” the Melbourne, Kentucky, trainer shared. “I’m even prouder to be part of a group of horsemen who donate so much of their time to raise money in support of our AQHA youth.”
The four-day event offered 132 classes and six sets of points, said show secretary Cathy Oyster. From areas as far east as Maryland and as far west as Washington State, 223 horses made their way to the Kentucky Horse Park, and for good reason. Thirty-four circuit awards were presented, plus all-around high-point championships to the following:
The secrets to success behind the Bluegrass Classic are certainly the competition, camaraderie and ease of the venue, with the latter being a smashing piece of the puzzle.
Exhibitors at the Bluegrass Classic were surrounded by 1,224 acres of impeccably manicured grounds, endless riding trails, exhibits and museums, as well as the convenience of a fully-equipped campground with an inviting pool to cool off. The long story short is clear: The Bluegrass Classic is an ideal combination of work and fun.
Bennie Sargent, the 2006 AQHA Professional Horseman of the Year, and his wife, Cheryllee, live less than 10 minutes away in Georgetown, but the couple chooses to stay at the campground. The campground provides the perfect playground for their daughter, Sydney, plus convenience and amenities, along with the good company of the Sargents’ horse show family and friends.
Maybe it’s the show grounds, the people their showing with, or a combo of the two, but the Bluegrass Classic provides an environment that most competitors really dig.
Rachel Rogers of Sarasota, Florida, won the green trail high-point award aboard Hard Assets owned by Libby Neily, also of Sarasota, Florida. Even though Rachel had her eye on the prize, she said, “This is such a great and stress-free show – (it’s) a fun place to come to. My students and I are already looking forward to next year.”
Amber Bankemper of Covington, Kentucky, echoed that sentiment.
“The Horse Park is simply a beautiful place to be; there is so much to do here,” shared the long-time competitor and volunteer. “People bring their kids here and make a vacation of it.”
And making a vacation of the show is something that Amber sees on the horizon; it might not be too long before her young sons are in tow at the Bluegrass Classic and part of this 30-year family tradition.
For more information about the Mid-East Kentucky Quarter Horse Association and next year’s Bluegrass Classic, visit www.kyqha.com.
The Bluegrass Classic was held in conjunction with a Huntfield AQHA Derby Series event. Be sure to read the Journal recap of the Huntfield Derby.
Tracey Clark Berry is a freelance photographer and writer in Northern Kentucky who has been invoved in the equine industry around the country for many years. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit her website at equinelightphotography.com.
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