For Immediate Release: May 6, 2023

Virginia Horse Center Foundation

Media Contact: Lisa Davis Engel



Off to the Races for Rolling Acres' ZaZa Z and Marylisa Leffler

Win $35,000 George L. Ohrstrom Jr Grand Prix

Rolling Acres’ ZaZa Z and Marylisa Leffler did it again and won the Lexington Spring Encore’s $35,000 George L. Ohrstrom Grand Prix today out of a field of sixteen horse and rider teams.

Only four qualified for the jump off round with a time allowed of 48 seconds.

First to go in the order was Brooke Kemper and CM Sporthorses, LLC’s Seaview Demonstration. The pair flew through the course fault free and set the new time to beat at 37.199 seconds.

Ashley Foster and Rolling Acres’ Diadarco Van Evendael Z followed in the order and despite a clear round, their time of 39.328 seconds would keep Kemper in the lead.

David Matisz followed Foster aboard his own Nero Uno. Four jump faults in 40.209 seconds would see the pair finish in fifth place.

Kemper returned to the Dee Dee Arena, this time in the irons of Bayra, LLC’s Bayra. Four jump faults in a time of 41.721 seconds earned them sixth place overall.

Leffler and ZaZa Z were up next. The pair zoomed and turned in a fault free jump off round in a time 35.908 seconds taking lead and moving Kemper and Seaview Demonstration into second place. 

Addison Reed and Reed Training & Sales, LLC’s Doc Di Villigana sat in the enviable last to go position. A clear jump off round in a time of 38.245 seconds secured them third place which moved Foster and Diadarco Van Evendael Z into fourth.

Leffler commented, “The course was good and a bit bigger than last week, but the time allowed was very lenient. I thought the bending lines would get a lot of people, and they did. I thought it was great and a really nice way to wrap up a successful two weeks here,” she said.

Grace Long and G&T Equestrian’s Happiness VD Hazel Hof finished in seventh place as the fastest four fault first round 75.772 seconds. Tiffany Cambria and Sabrina Hellman’s Independence earned an eighth-place ribbon for their four fault first round in 77.799 seconds. Grace Long rode Nita Crowley’s Oaks Cossack Dancer to a ninth place with their four fault first round in 81.138 seconds and Laura Gaither aboard Savannah Welch’s Carnlea Premier earned a tenth place.

Eleventh place was awarded to Kama Godek and her own Chelsy 25 and Gene Frank aboard his own Isaak VDL wrapped up the class with a twelfth place.

Leffler said, “We’ve had an amazing two weeks here. Ashley [Foster] won the Derby, all my students have been in the top three in the jumper classes every time and everyone has had a consistent day every day.”

“This is one of my favorite shows of the year. It’s so nice to see our Maryland and Virginia people that we haven’t seen during the winter and the hospitality here can’t be beat.”

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Marylisa Leffler and ZaZa Z in the winner's circle.

Marylisa Leffler was awarded the Leading Jumper Rider.

Courage Wins the $500 Adult Amateur Hunter Classic

Courage, owned and ridden by Rachel Demuro won today’s $500 Adult Amateur Hunter Classic, besting a field of twenty-one horse and rider teams in the Anderson Arena.

Demuro calls Courage, who is just coming six years old, ‘Baby C’. 

This is the first rated show back for Baby C Demuro said, “He was coming back from an injury, and I had him at a barn in Middlebury getting rehabbed. The rehab barn had a fire, and he was the last horse out, thanks to the barn’s staff. Since then, he has really earned his name. After the fire, I moved him to Orchard Manor Show Stables where we continued his rehab process and started him back into the show world."

“This was his first rated show back to kick off his 2023 show season. We were here last week but just warming him up and reacclimating him to the show scene. This weekend we really had him doing a lot of divisions and getting him used to being back in the show ring. He exceeded all expectations,” commented Demuro.

Demuro continued, “The adult divisions are very competitive. It is always fun to see some of these newer younger horses in there that are now competing against the veteran horses in this division.”

Demuro also owns and shows Gameboy. “I’m getting to the point where I might need to tone it down with Gameboy and now it will be Baby C’s [Courage] turn to show us what he’s got."

Demuro works in a technical field for the government and tries to ride every day. “I have a lot of support from my family and fiancé and working remotely has helped immensely,” she said.

Holly Longest rode Diaro, owned by Doug Longest to a second placing and Kardinal, owned and ridden by Ashley Crouse placed third.

Matador, owned and ridden by Sandra Bravo-Greenberg earned a fourth place and Christy Abbruzzese piloted her own Delamango to a fifth placing.

Lumineer, owned and ridden by Grace Blum finished in sixth place and Final Four, owned by Caroline Booker and ridden by Brooke Cole took home a seventh.

Heather Bamford piloted her own Wyatt to an eighth placing and Modelo, owned and ridden by Neysa Bryant finished in ninth.

Lestienne GPH, owned and ridden by Jennifer Mehalko earned a tenth placing and Coldplay, owned by Mary Catherine Burnette and ridden by Adriane Myers finished in eleventh place.

Caitlin Weibel’s Lancelot Z, ridden by Ashley Crouse wrapped up the class with a twelfth place.

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Got my Mojo Wins $500 Childrens Hunter Classic

Cameron Franck rode his own Got my Mojo to the winner’s circle in the Sandy Gerald Arena today after securing the blue ribbon in the $500 Children’s Hunter Classic, besting a field of sixteen horse and rider teams.

According to Franck, Mojo just turned seven on Monday. Franck bought Mojo as a four-and-a-half-year-old from Chris Wynne. “Chris bought him and then sold him to me. Instead of spending a lot of money on a made horse I bought a younger horse and with Chris’ help, we’ve brought him along.” Franck is a hands-on owner and works at the barn four days a week. 

This show marks the third anniversary of Franck’s first show with Mojo.

Franck’s goals are to do the 3’3” s by the end of the year and then whatever comes after that.

Offshore, owned and ridden by Kailyn Duman placed second and Daisy Ballantine rode her own Quax to a third place finish. Ava Hogan and her own Montecristo SCF placed fourth.

Peyson Parker rode her own Dubai to a fifth placing and Debonair, owned and ridden by Emilie Beasley earned a sixth place.

Ava Schwartzbauer piloted her own Carlot to a seventh place finish and Caroline Del Corso rode her own Orion to an eighth placing.

Historical Tablet, owned and ridden by McKenzie Burch placed ninth and Ali O’Brien rode her own Colbolt to a tenth placing. Quentin, owned by Chris Wynne and ridden by Blake Watkins finished in eleventh place and Watch Hill, LLC’s Fortitude, ridden by Rylan Vancourt, wrapped up the class with a twelfth place.

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Big Day for Snow Day!

Catch Ride turned Purchase

Carleigh Carter aboard her own Snow Day won the $500 Pony Hunter Classic today in the Northern Arena.

Carleigh met Pixie [aka Snow Day] when she was a catch rider for Peg Seals in February 2022. Carleigh immediately fell in love with the 14.3 large pony. “She has such a personality,” said Carleigh. “When I talk to her, she’ll always have a response. She’ll throw her head, nudge me in the stall and its like she’s talking to me in her ‘pony kind of way’.”

Carleigh’s mother Mederise is a trainer and had Carleigh on a pony by the time she ‘could sit up by herself’. Carleigh was trotting along and riding when she was just three. 

A couple of months after Carleigh started riding Pixie for Seals, her grandmother Laurie Lake, another horsewoman, passed away. Mederise decided that her mother would want Carleigh to have Pixie and unbeknownst to Carleigh, arranged to purchase Pixie during Pony Finals.

“I knew my mom would want Carleigh to have Pixie. My mom also wanted to go to watch them at Pony Finals but passed away before then. The craziest thing was when we were in Kentucky, I kept seeing the number 17 which was my mom’s favorite number. From stall numbers to hotel room numbers, they just kept appearing. I knew in my heart that my mom was telling me she approved of my decision to purchase Pixie for Carleigh.”

When Pony Finals had ended, mom and daughter made the long trek back to Virginia with Pixie. It was late so Mederise told Carleigh that they should put her in their barn that night and bring her back to Peg’s in the morning. “Of course, her stall was decorated when we brought Pixie in the barn and it was clear that Pixie was now Carleigh’s pony and she was in fact home," said Mederise. 

Carleigh added, “And guess what time it was? 3:17 am.”

Next on Pixie and Carleigh’s list is the Devon horse show. “When I saw that we qualified for Devon, I ran out to the field yelling, ‘Pixie! We qualified for Devon! She swung her head around as if to say, ‘of course we did.’”

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The Future Looks Bright!

Lucy Matzke was awarded the Beginner Equitation Championship in the Wheeler Arena today during the Lexington Spring Encore.

Matzke rides Solaris [aka Sully] and trains with Ashley Holsinger out of Memory Hill Stable in Waynesboro, Virginia where she has been riding for about two years.

“It’s been an amazing experience riding with Ashley and Tara Deckel. It’s a lot of fun. It’s all about improving and learning. It’s so enjoyable that I leave the barn happy and can’t wait to do it again the next day,” said Matzke.

“My main goal with my riding is to improve and have fun, but it’s also important to be around people who also want to get better,” said Matzke. This formula for success must be working for her. The Lexington Spring Premiere awarded her Long Stirrup Reserve Champion, as well as some ribbons in Beginner Equitation, and she capped off her two weeks at the Festival of Champions with a Championship in Beginner Equitation. Congratulations!

Congratulations to Avery Grace Speckhart, Beginner Equitation Reserve Champion.

Speckhart trains with Sulu Rose-Reed of Reed Training & Sales, LLC.

Mark your calendar for the final installment of the Festival of Champions, the Lexington National August 9-13.

The Festival of Champions benefits the Virginia Horse Center Foundation, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. Sponsorship opportunities and vendor applications are available

Thank you to our Festival of Champions Sponsors

About the Virginia Horse Center Foundation

The Virginia Horse Center Foundation, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, provides a world-class facility hosting regional, national, and international equestrian events. The Virginia Horse Center Foundation envisions a unique, bucolic landmark to honor and celebrate the timeless, special bond between mankind and the horse through safe, fair and spirited equestrian competition.

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