It was double the victory, twice over, for the girls' teams at the Nokesville Horse Society, with Kelli Park and her mare Limited Square claiming the overall high-point hunter championship for the recently concluded 2012 show season, and Maggie Lanham and her mare Palacios Hickory taking the overall high-point western championship.
Those and more winners were recognized at the local club's annual meeting and awards party Saturday night in Midland, with about 100 attending the event held at the Fauquier Airport.
“My favorite part about the Nokesville Horse Society is that it offers something for everyone,” said new club President Kelli Gatewood of Warrenton.
“We're holding steady at 650 members, which is huge, especially in this economy. We're mostly from Fauquier and Prince William counties, but there's plenty of members from Stafford and Loudoun, even as far as Luray.
“There's just no other local group that offers this much,” Gatewood said, noting that the NHS membership was pretty evenly divided between western riders and English, with small but enthusiastic contingents supporting the gymkhana games shows, gaited horse shows and driving events. “It's a totally unique model.”
Overall western champion Maggie Lanham, 18, lives in Culpeper. Her winning mare, Palacios Hickory, is a 7-year-old sorrel Quarter Horse.
“We mostly do reining and western pleasure, but she also excels in competitive trail and horsemanship,” Lanham said. “At the Virginia 4-H State show this year, together we won reserve champion in the reining division and also won the horsemanship classic.
“It's been a very accomplished year, and I hope to do even better next year,” Lanham said.
In addition to tracking the busy 2013 NHS western show schedule – six slated so far, April through October – Lanham plans to show in the club's hunter series, as well as open Quarter Horse shows, reining and complete her final year of 4-H.
“The Nokesville Horse Society has given me so many opportunities and made me a much better equestrian,” she said. “I have been a member for [more than] eight years and hope to continue for many more. It is such a friendly environment, and the shows are wonderful and so much fun. I am very proud to have won the high-point. It's my first time.”
English show champ Kelli Park rode her 10-year-old Trakehner mare Limited Square to take the NHS hunter show series title, also a first overall championship for the winner.
“We were also grand champion this season in pleasure, adult hunter and adult equitation,” said Park, a freshman biology major at James Madison University.
“I brought my mare to a barn down here in Harrisonburg so I could continue to ride. I love my horse more than words can say. She is the perfect study break.”
The Nokesville Horse Society was started in 2001, said longtime club member and show announcer Gary Hubbard. The group has held strong – even grown – over the years, he said, for several reasons.
“It's a chance for local horse people to get together, but it's more than that. At the shows – and there's lots of those – you get to show over good courses, in good arenas, with good judges. It's a real show, at schooling show prices,” he explained. “It makes it affordable to enjoy your horse.”
President Gatewood said that the club's show series renews for 2013 with a gymkhana games event March 23 at the Nokesville Park.
Both English and western horses are invited to take part, she said. More information is available online: www.NHSInc.Tripod.com