Helene Asmis Clifford of Dedication Farm in Sykesville took three horses to the American Andalusian Horse Association national show in Pendleton, S.C., recently and returned with the horses, a bad case of sniffles and bundles of trophies and ribbons.
The three horses, allLusitanos (the Portuguese version of the Spanish Andalusian) competed in halter and performance classes.
"We had the only Lusitanos there," Clifford says. "The judge (Mercedes Gonzalez-Cort) was from Spain, so I didn't know what to expect going up against the Andalusians, but my horses did great."
Valdae, a 12-year-old bay stallion, won his halter class; Burgues, an 8-year-old gray stallion, was third in his; and Xaneca, an 11-year-old gray mare, won her halter class and was reserve champion mare.
Burgues took second in the Suitable For Dressage class, ridden by Dedication's working student, Jill Huslinger of Lineboro. Clifford rode Burgues to a win in the Over The Hill Pleasure class (for riders over 35).
"The Over The Hill class wasn't just walk, trot and canter," explains Clifford. "The judge made us really work to prove our horses. We had to do simple canter changes, canter from the trot and lengthen the stride."
Huslinger and Xaneca teamed up for wins in the SuitableFor Dressage and Dressage Equitation classes. Valdae strutted his stuff with Clifford aboard for two important wins: in the Exhibition Freestyle class and the Heritage class.
All of this activity was packed into the show's first day. Clifford and crew were scheduled to show the second day as well, but unexpected bad weather in the Carolinas brought on illnesses and forced cancellation of the second day's activities for the Dedication contingent.
"There was so much mud there that I thought we would never be able to leave," Clifford says. "We had to slip and slide the truck around to get it hitched to the trailer. It took an hour to clean mud off the tires with a power hose."
When returning to Sykesville, it was back to business at Dedication Farm, which Clifford opened in 1971 with her husband, Cort.
Joined now by daughter Lynn, Clifford sees Dedication's mission as "helping people interested in horses by setting an example. We want to showa calm, quiet, trusting partnership between horse and rider.
"Thehorse and the rider must each enjoy what they are doing. When I lookat a horse and rider, I like to see not just concentration and learning, but I like to see pleasure."
Dedication Farm offers lessons, boarding and training. Both Clifford and assistant trainer George Michael teach and train.
Clifford says, with a smile, that her next big challenge will be "to survive the cold winter." To make winter a little more enjoyable, she is offering some special programs during December and January.
There are film nights scheduled for Dec. 7 andJan. 5, and a seminar is set for Jan. 25 from 10 a.m. to noon.
All are invited, and there is no charge, but please call (410) 795-4000in advance to say you are coming.
"It's our way of saying 'thank you' and paying back the horse community," says Clifford.
Where were you during Sunday's blah and rainy gray day? Curled up besidethe fireplace with marshmallows and a good book? Hmphh!
The fireplace had to wait for many Carroll County horses and riders. Forty-oneteams, each with at least two horses and riders, braved the elementsto tackle the challenging courses at Ship's Quarters in seven divisions of the Carrollton Hounds Hunter Pace.
The Low Hunter division was won by Karen and Steve Fulton; Charlie Conaway III and Casey Hinsdale, a fellow pony racer and house guest from Virginia, won the FastTime Over Fences division.
Charlie Conaway III teamed up with hisfather, Charlie Jr.to scoop the Fast Time on the Flat division, and his sister Kelly joined with Casey to win the Junior Flat class on their ponies.
The Gladys Wimert Trophy was awarded to Bob Shirley and Sharon Dawson for their win in the Optimum Time Over Fences division, while the Huntsman's Cup went to a team of three: Kathy Clevenger,Katy Walters and Barbara Haak.
Bob Shirley and his daughter Sallyhad all the moves down smoothly to win the Optimum Time on the Flat class.
"A lot of people didn't show up because of the weather," said organizer Barb Conaway. "But the course rode great. Colonel (D. W.) Thackeray did a great job on it."
A new horse-riding lessonfacility called Meadowwood has opened at 6800 Dorsey Lane in Woodbine. Kay Tabb of Meadowwood says their philosophy is to help riders become complete horsemen.
Meadowwood held an Open House Sunday and will have another this Sunday from 1 to 5 p.m. Meadowwood is located north of Interstate 70 off Hood's Mill Road between routes 97 and 94.
Information: (410) 549-7227.
If you haven't signed up for this year's Maryland Pleasure Horse Seminar, call Bev Abbott at 848-4611 to register immediately. Roberta Weber of the Cooperative Extension Service says registration is open until Friday, space permitting.
The daylong seminar offers speakers on topics of interest to horsemen. The charge is $15 per person, including lunch and materials.