Maryland will miss…Lynne Vyner Shpak

Lynne and Chevy Low Res

Lynne Shpak with her beloved Chief of State (a.k.a. Chevy) and sporting one of her custom designed pieces of jewelry.

On Sunday, October 19, 2014, the Maryland equestrian community lost beloved Morgan sport horse breeder and jewelry designer Lynne Shpak, who was killed in a freak accident while unloading an injured horse. She was 74.

The incident occurred near Utica, New York, where Lynne had traveled with a horse and a cart to help celebrate the wedding of a client and a friend. Lynne would want us to note that it was not one of her Morgans involved in the accident.

Born in 1940, Lynne climbed into the saddle at 4 and never left. She rode hunters and jumpers and broke yearlings at the track. In her early twenties, she discovered to dressage, carriage driving, long distance riding and the Morgan horse. In 1969, she established her Morgan breeding and training farm in Woodstock, naming it in honor of her foundation stallion The Statesman. With The Statesman, Lynne paved the way for the modern sport Morgan. Together they foxhunted, showed successfully through 4th level dressage, and drove in carriage events in the days before combined driving, competing in pleasure and obstacle classes, carriage, and marathon classes. The Statesman was undefeated in this early combined events. Through The Statesman’s bloodlines, Lynne has helped to define the modern Morgan sport horse.

In addition to the horses, Lynne was a well-respected fine jewelry designer, and a regular presence at regional trade shows as well as several Baltimore locations.

Formal services will be held
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Jennie Brannigan Wins 2014 Dutta Corp Fair Hill International CCI***


2014 Dutta Corp Fair Hill International CCI*** winners Jennie Brannigan and Cambalda


The 2014 Dutta Corp Fair Hill International concluded this afternoon with the show jumping phase for the CCI** and CCI*** national and international competitions. Jennie Brannigan (West Grove, PA) and Cambalda (owned by Nina Gardner) were sitting in second place going into show jumping and jumped clean, putting the pressure on over night leader Boyd Martin and Master Frisky. Martin and Master Frisky dropped one rail and added two time faults to their score moving Brannigan into the winning spot to earn both the Fair Hill Bronze (overall winner) and Gladstone Trophy (Highest placing U.S. rider).

Colleen Rutledge (Frederick) and Covert Rights at the final horse inspection

Colleen Rutledge (Frederick) and Covert Rights at the final horse inspection

Colleen Rutledge of Frederick was the only Maryland entry in the three-star this year and she had a stellar finish to the competition with her homebred Covert Rights. The pair jumped clean and added only one time fault to its score to finish in 14th place overall. Fifty-three combinations started the three-star last Wednesday with the first horse inspection. At the end of the competition, 37 completed.
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Eighttofasttocatch & Forest Boyce capture the Maryland Million!

Eighttofasttocatch101814-MMClassicIt was a banner day for Maryland, as Maryland-bred, Maryland trained and Maryland riden Eighttofasttocatch was the popular winner of this year’s Jim McKay Maryland Million Day, defending his title in the $150,000 Classic in wire to wire fashion at Laurel Park.

The Maryland Million is the one of the most important racing days at Laurel Park with 11 events for runners sired by Maryland-based stallions for combined purses totaling $1 million. The 29th annual event drew a crowd of 18,870 on a picture-perfect Saturday afternoon in central Maryland.

Sent to post as the 3-5 favorite, the Sylvia E. Heft gelding carried Forest Boyce (who grew up pony racing in Maryland) to a driving, 4-1/2 length victory in 1:50.54 for the 1-1/8 mile distance. Concealed Identity beat the rest to finish second, while Turbin was third.
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Maryland-bred Champion Cigar Dies

It was officially announced yesterday morning that the great Cigar, bred right here in Maryland at Country Life Farm, died the evening of October 7 at Rood and Riddle Equine Hospital due to complications following a surgery. Social media throughout the country has been sharing stories and photographs of this great horse. Many of which can be found on The Equiery’s Facebook page. If you have your own photos and stories you would like to share, please email

Below is the official press release from the Kentucky Horse Park, where Cigar lived out his retirement years.

photo provided by the Kentucky Horse Park and James Shambhu

photo provided by the Kentucky Horse Park and James Shambhu

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Oct. 8, 2014) – Thoroughbred champion Cigar died last evening, Wednesday, Oct. 7, at Rood and Riddle Equine Hospital from complications following surgery for severe osteoarthritis in his neck. Foaled April 18, 1990, the Hall of Fame horse and longtime visitor favorite at the Kentucky Horse Park’s Hall of Champions was 24.

At retirement, Cigar’s career had a total of 19 wins out of 33 starts with earnings of $9,999,815, which was a record at that time. He was voted Champion Older Male and Horse of the Year in both 1995 and in 1996.
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Pimlico, OTTBs and Maryland Take Center Stage Through RRP’s Most Wanted Thoroughbred Contest

Phillip Dutton and Icabad Crane. Photo by Megan Stapley Photography

Phillip Dutton and America’s Most Wanted Thoroughbred Icabad Crane. Photo by Megan Stapley Photography

With over 10,000 people voting online, countless videos being viewed, blog reads, social media sharing and more, this year’s Retired Racehorse Project’s Thoroughbred Makeover was one for the record books, bringing Pimlico and Maryland to the center of the country’s attention and helping to push off-the-track Thoroughbreds to the top of many people’s horse wish list.

The America’s Most Wanted Thoroughbred contest paired ten top trainers with ten Thoroughbred ex-racehorses, showing their progress throughout the summer on RRP’s website. The trainers represented a variety of equestrian disciplines, which showcased the versatility of the breed. The disciplines showed were Polo, Show Hunter, Eventing, Ranch Work, Steeplechase, Fox Hunter, Show Jumper, Barrel Racing, Dressage and Pony Club.

The horses were brought to Pimlico on October 5 for a final demonstration of their skills before hundreds of people in the stands, a panel of guest celebrity judges and via live streaming online with more than 5,000 viewers. In the end, it was Icabad Crane, owned by Graham Motion (Fair Hill), and trained by Eventing Olympian Phillip Dutton (PA), who took home the win. The nine-year-old gelding ran third in the 2008 Preakness Stakes and his team of trainers from Dutton Eventing pulled out all the stops for the win including allowing Dutton’s 13-year-old daughter Olivia hack him around the track after Dutton jumped a five-stride line in four, five, six, seven, and even eight strides, showing just have responsive Icabad has become. “He is very adjustable and such a sensible horse,” Dutton said. “The last time he was at Pimlico was when he ran in the Preakness Stakes in 2008, so to give it a go in front of the grandstands says a hell of a lot about the horse.”
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OC Police Horse Benson assaulted twice on Saturday

During the last weekend in September, Ocean City Police Horse Benson was assaulted in two different incidents. According to Delmarva Now, two men, in separate incidents, punched Benson and attempted to grab his saddlebag. Each man was arrested. Benson was not seriously harmed – and we can probably all agree that those men are just lucky Benson didn’t punch back. Surely Benson will receive Police Horse of the Month!



Remembering the Inspirational Elizabeth Solter

Elizabeth Solter aboard the great Rox Dene in the Regular Conformation Hunter class at the 1996 Washington International Horse Show

Elizabeth Solter aboard the great Rox Dene (owned by Elaine Boylen) in the Regular Conformation Hunter class at the 1996 Washington International Horse Show ©

by Jennifer Webster, first printed in the October 2014 Equiery

On September 12, beloved hunter trainer and rider Elizabeth Solter lost her battle with breast cancer. She was 47. People and horses loved Elizabeth Solter.  She was able to inspire both to go places and accomplish things–to do things they weren’t even sure they could do. “You never lost your confidence, because she always believed in you. She made you believe,” recalled Hunter (Boggs) Messineo, a Davidsonville native who began riding with Solter in 2005. The two remained close friends even after Messineo sold her horse and stopped showing.

Another client and friend, Cindy Allner (Reisterstown), remembers “an exceptional horsewoman who–beyond her riding ability–loved and respected her mounts. They would do things for her that no one else could get them to do.” Allner also noted that Solter had an “extraordinary ability to teach (to others) what was innate to her.”
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Maryland-breds top the Fasig-Tipton Sale

From the Maryland Horse Breeders Association

Hurray for Maryland! Seven of the top 10 prices at the Fasig-Tipton Midlantic Fall Yearlings sale, held Monday, Sept. 29 at the sales pavilion in Timonium, were Maryland-breds. Six sold for six-figures, including the two most expensive of the sale. efy14 029c flatter americanvictory 092914 100A copy

Ellen Charles’ Hillwood Stable spent $260,000 for the sales topper, a colt by Flatter bred by Richard Golden’s Sycamore Hall Thoroughbreds. The colt is the second foal out of Golden’s homebred stakes winner American Victory (by Victory Gallop); second dam is multiple graded winner Who Did It and Run (by Polish Numbers). At the Keeneland sale less than three weeks earlier, a Giant’s Causeway colt out of Who Did It and Run bred by Golden sold for $200,000.

Hillwood Stable was also the top bidder for the second-highest price, and top-priced filly, when securing a daughter of Pure Prize out of Maryland-bred champion He Loves Me (by Not For Love) for $200,000. From the consignment of breeder Dark Hollow Farm, the filly is the granddaughter of graded stakes winner Palliser Bay. Her dam He Loves Me is a graded stakes winner

of $355,698 and a full sister to stakes winner For Kisses.

Other Maryland-breds selling for $100,000 or more are:

The overall sales average was $21,905, as 275 yearlings brought $6,023,900. A total of 89 Maryland-breds (32 percent of the sale total) sold for $2,622,600, 44 percent of the gross sales, for an average of $29,467.

Leading Maryland sires

Friesan Fire, a son of A.P. Indy standing at Country Life Farm in Bel Air, was the top first-year sire by gross sales and the second-leading sire overall. Fourteen of his 15 yearlings sold for a combined $327,000 (average $23,357). He was the only regional sire with a six-figure sales horse, when his Pennsylvania-bred son out of the Citidancer mare Mrs. Vanderbilt was sold by breeder Cut N Run Farm out of the Bill Reightler consignment for $130,000. Steven W. Young, agent, made the purchase.

Not For Love was the sale’s third-leading sire with nine yearlings sold for $325,000 (average $36,111).

Assateague Pony struck in Hit-and-Run

According Delmarva Now and to the National Park Service, on Monday, September 15 a sports car hit a horse while driving on the causeway leading from the mainland to the Maryland side of the barrier island. This is the third such collision this year.

The car left the scene, but a witness called 911 after seeing the horse fall down.

The horse got up and walked away before authorities arrived. But based on the witness’ description, Park Service officials think the horse was N2BHS-CK, nicknamed Johnny’s Star. But a search that day could find no horses that appeared injured, including Johnny’s Star.

None of the three horses involved in vehicle incidents this year have died. But the park has recorded 29 vehicle-related horse deaths since 1982.

Park officials are urging all visitors to heed the posted speed limits – and to drive slower than the posted speed limits when approaching horses on or near the road.


MHC joins MORE, TROT and others in PEPCO/Exelon Merger Petition

The Maryland Horse Council has joined Mid-Atlantic Off-Road Enthusiasts, Inc., Trail Riders of Today, Inc., Potomac Bridle and Hiking Trail Association, Inc., Equestrian Partners in Conservation, Inc.; Potomac Appalachian Trail Club, Inc., Montgomery County Road Runners Association, Inc., The American Hiking Society and the International Mountain Bicycling Association, Inc. in a Petition to Intervene in the PEPCO/Exelon merger proceeding currently before the Maryland Public Service Commission (PSC case # 9361). The purpose of the intervention by these outdoor user groups to seek to have Exelon, should the merger be approved, grant more public access to its rights of way for recreational use.