Callia Bergad Hunts the Victory in the $1,500 Bit O’Straw Hunter Classic, Sponsored by the Walker Family
GLADSTONE, N.J. — April 28, 2019 — The second day of competition at the 2019 Garden State Horse Show kicked off on Sunday, April 28 with a full lineup of competition the USET Main Ring at Hamilton Farm. Equitation riders were the focus on Sunday morning as competition began with several pre-children's equitation classes followed by the first medal events of the week. The day concluded with the $1,500 Bit O’Straw Hunter Classic, sponsored by the Walker family, which was a victory for 14-year-old Callia Bergad.
Bergad purchased the 13-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding approximately six months ago as her first competition horse following several years of pony competitions.
“We tried him several months before we ended up buying him,” she explained. “Then, we went and tried some more horses after (trying) him, but he was by far our favorite. He’s got a great attitude and expression around the course which I think he really makes him stand out to the judges.”
The Bit O’Straw Classic was sponsored by the Walker Family. John Y.G. Walker III is a proud member of the Junior Essex Troop. His father, John Y.G. Walker Jr. and his brother-in-law, James L Griesenbeck, were managers of the Garden State Horse Show. Tragically, Griesenbeck and his wife, Caryl Walker Griesenbeck, were killed in a fire in 1980.
“We sponsor Garden State Horse Show each year in honor of their memory,” said Walker, who with his wife Kim Beckwith Walker, are actively involved in the show.
While Bergad does not plan to show the rest of the week, she is looking forward to cheering on her fellow barn-mates and friends at Hamilton Farm. Fellow 14-year-old athlete Isabella Catto picked up the reserve title with her own Parroco Z.
“I’ve never been to this show, but I have visited this facility before and it’s incredible to do so well here,” Catto said. “We really had to work hard on maintaining an even, forward pace for today’s round, but we have been practicing at home and it seems to have paid off.”
Catto comes from a family well-familiar with horses. Both her older brother and sister are also experienced riders, but owning the 14-year-old Zangersheide gelding she calls Z, was a complete surprise to her.
“Having a partner like Z has been a dream because he has really changed the whole trajectory of my riding and excelled me forward so quickly,” she said. “I wasn’t aware (that) my parents were considering buying me a horse, so after I finished my lease on him, I assumed he would go back to his owners. My parents sat me down and very casually told me they had bought a horse that day!”
Maison Mcintyre’s Style Pays off in Marshall & Sterling/ NJPHA Children’s Medal 2’6”
Earlier in the day, the Marshall & Sterling / NJPHA Children’s Medal 2’6” wrapped up junior-specific equitation competition with Maison Mcintyre earning the winning title. The 21-year-old Belgian Warmblood gelding, owned by Gabrielle Arlotta, was a first time partner for Mcintyre who has only previously ridden the gelding at their home environment with trainer, Michael Desiderio.
“I’ve really only ridden this horse maybe once a week here and there at our home farm,” Mcintyre said. “But knowing we would be doing the medal, we’ve really been focusing on finding correct distances out of a good pace.”
“The course asked a lot in terms of rollbacks and getting lead changes on time, so I’m really thrilled with the fact that we were able to do so well and it feels great,” she said.
Mcintyre’s success also earned her the day’s Style of Riding award, presented by Le Fash owner Arianna Vastino. The award included a $150 gift certificate towards a purchase at the Le Fash booth or online.
Kaitlyn Belanus was awarded the Lineage Equine Sportsmanship award for the day after gracefully persevering through a difficult moment with her pony, China Doll in the Pre-Children’s Pony Equitation division.
Riders will return to the Hamilton Farm Main Ring at 9 a.m. on Monday, April 29 with classes ranging from the Hopeful Hunter division to the High Performance Hunters.
The Garden State Horse Show thanks sponsor Cenentary University for their continued support of the show. Centenary University not only entered 11 horses and riders to compete, but they also provided volunteers to help with daily operations.
Located in Hackettstown, New Jersey, Centenary University is a private liberal arts college offering online, undergraduate and graduate studies. Centenary University is known for its world-class equine science program and its competitive hunter seat equestrian program. It is consistently ranked at the top of intercollegiate ranks.
"We have a comprehensive program and we work with students to develop all aspects of their horsemanship in a supportive team environment," said Michael Dowling, assistant professor of equine science and co-captain of the Centenary ANRC and IHSA team.
College-bound equestrians exploring equine science and career-focused liberal arts colleges and universities will have an opportunity to experience Centenary University firsthand. Centenary University will partner with College Preparatory Invitational (CPI) to host a CPI Spotlight event May 10-12 at its campus in Hackettstown. Click herefor more information about the event. For more information about Centenary University go to centenaryuniversity.edu.