As the riders prepared for the $40,000 Stephen Silver Grand Prix, the celebration of 17 year old Peterbilt and his retirement from competitive life took center stage. Guy Thomas spoke fondly about his World Equestrian Games partner. “I haven’t ridden Peterbilt in 18 months, I was prepared for him to be wild and fresh, but he was like the perfect gentleman. He walked out into the ring, trotted around and cantered around, like he’d been working for the last two years.
I have been incredibly fortunate throughout my career, my mom and dad (Butch and Lu Thomas) have always had me on the best horses that they could. Peterbilt is special because he is one that we bred and raised, I have ridden both his parents, Liocalyon and Jeribos, and he’s got the best of them both and more. I knew this was coming but tonight finalizes it and it is going to be hard. I know it is the right thing and it is time for him. The biggest thing is that he had colic surgery last fall, and instead of making a comeback again, we said this is it time let him go and make Peterbilt babies. Hopefully in 8 or 10 years they will be winning Grand Prix, just like their dad. He will go to my parents Willow Tree Farm to stand at stud. We also have a two year old at home from him already so hopefully he will get some of his fathers’ qualities.
Menlo is our home show, what better place to retire him. Peterbilt won the Grand Prix here 3 times and 2 of which were back to back. It is a special place.”
2017 marks the first year that Stephen Silver is the sponsor of the $40,000 Grand Prix bearing his name. “Growing up in the area, as a family we attended the Menlo Charity Horse Show since its founding,” says Stephen Silver, Chairman and CEO of Stephen Silver, the leading Silicon Valley jewelry and watch retailer in the Rosewood Sand Hill Hotel. “The show is part of the fabric of the community, and like our business, is committed to philanthropy in the area. We have been a sponsor for seven years now, and are delighted to have the opportunity this year to sponsor the Grand Prix, which has always been my favorite event.”
Scott Starnes set a beautiful course on the grass jumper field. The challenging course questioned both horse and rider and only seven of the initial 25 starters posted clear rounds advancing them to the jump off to the delight of the standing room only crowd.
Out of only 4 clear rounds in the jump off, Kristin Hardin and Nicole Teague’s, Firestone S, took the lead over second place finisher, Jill Prieto-Gaffney aboard Carlton Café, ultimately winning by a full second. “I knew I could be really fast to jumps1, 2 and 3 and the combination. The faster you go, the more careful he gets and the higher he jumps. Kristin explained. “I put a lot of faith in him because I was pretty fast into the combination
and I just kept kicking. He jumped better there than he ever has. He is a fantastic horse with a heart of gold. He tries so hard for me. I have been second a few times and always wanted to win this class.”
Don DeFranco has been on the MCHS committee since 2007 and began sponsoring the Leadline Class in memory of his father, V. James DeFranco a pediatrician and family practitioner, who passed in May 2013. “Dad was a very charitable man and he used to take care of a boys orphanage in Cincinnati, Ohio.” Don explained, “he always tried to give back he would have loved the Leadline Class, he loved children and was really good with kids. He started out as a pediatrician and became a general practitioner because the kids would not leave, he used to say I am a GP by default.”
Don’s parents were not horse people at all, but Don was born with the horse crazy gene, and his parents did not know what to do with him. “When I wore my parents down, as any good horse kid does, they finally relented. 4H Club was big. The saddle horse division was popular in my community and my 4H advisor helped me get involved until finally got my first horse. That led to showing and I went up through the ranks, the Ohio State Fairs Championships and all of that stuff. I then went to college and as one of 5 kids they couldn’t support my horse habit anymore, so I got out of horses for a time. I finally ended up in New York City in a career where I could afford it again and I got back into it again after a 20-year break. I always really encourage people with kids that are horse crazy to; make them muck stalls, do all the hard work in caring for a horse and then offer to buy them any car they want because in the long run it might be cheaper.” Don joked. “I was really a shy child, but there is nothing that builds confidence and brings children out like horses do. If a little child can lead around a 1,000 lb. horse and work to partner with them, its pretty amazing for a kid, you really see them transform.”
Don certainly enjoys brightening the summer for these young children as they begin their equestrian life; he even helps to select the prizes with Betsy Glikbarg, Founder of Menlo Charity Horse Show.
Leadline at Menlo is a very competitive class and the judges have a difficult time deciding on a winner. So the decision was made to award all in the class a blue ribbon. The competitors all had something to share about their exciting day prior to the class….
Alexandra Ahumada and Nickel In My Pocket, “I hope I can win.”
Savannah Agnello Rodriguez and Up Till Dawn, “Willy my pony.”
Raven Wu and Stylish, “Pony’s are cute and soft too! Maybe we will all get ribbons.”
Maron Leslie and Sweetie Belle, “I like that they are soft and huggable.”
Josselyn Conneally and Scirocco, “This is fun.”
Lily Sheperdson and Harry Winston, “Pony’s are nice cuddly and fast.”
Bailey Basso and Spirit, “I want to get a ribbon.”
Leam Sheperdson and Pocket, “My pony jumps really high, I will get a ribbon.”