September 2, 2014

Medina
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Judges from Denmark to evaluate rare horses in Hinckley at public show

HINCKLEY TWP. — They didn’t compete in the World Equestrian Games that wrapped up in Kentucky last week, but these horses are bring­ing a spot of international attention to Hinckley. The Hinckley Equestrian Center, 1575 Ledge Road, will host an event Sunday to evaluate the progress of four of its Knabstrupper horses, a Danish breed known for its spotted coloring.

There are only 70 Knabstruppers in the United States. Four of them live in Hinckley, and the facility has been designated the official U.S. headquarters for the breed, said Equestrian Center owner Renea Willham.

Renea Willham, owner of the Hinckley Equestrian Center on Ledge Road in Hinckley Township, tries to keep a Knabstrupper horse named Affair from eating her cell phone. (GAZETTE PHOTO BY JENNIFER PIGNOLET)

Renea Willham, owner of the Hinckley Equestrian Center on Ledge Road in Hinckley Township, tries to keep a Knabstrupper horse named Affair from eating her cell phone. (GAZETTE PHOTO BY JENNIFER PIGNOLET)

She said four judges and a translator will fly in from Denmark to see the horses perform, and the public is invited to attend.

“I think it’s so cute we’re having an interna­tional experience here, in our little town,” Will­ham said.

At 9 a.m., the four Hinckley Knabstruppers and a few others coming from across the state for the event will show off their confirmation and athleticism from walking to jumping.

“They’re very intelligent animals,” Willham said. “They’re very flashy with their movement and their coloring.”

She said that along with their coloring, which is less prevalent in some horses, the Knabstrup­pers are known for their strength and graceful move­ment. On average, they are a larger breed, she said, measur­ing about 64 inches — or 16 hands — as they are measured in the equestrian world— from the top of their shoulders to the ground.

They can cost anywhere from $8,500 to $40,000, Willham said. The Hinckley Knabstruppers are owned by breeder Donna Current in southern Ohio and have been working with the Hinckley trainers for about a year, Willham said.

“She was looking for a facility for training and after some research chose us,” Willham said. “We’re honored and flat­tered.”

The center offers stabling for horses and also gives lessons to anyone age 7 or older, from beginners to advanced riders in several English disciplines.

When she’s not teaching dur­ing the week, instructor Kate Coleman is the primary trainer for the Knabstruppers.

“They’re very curious,” Cole­man said. “They learn tremen­dously quickly. It just clicks for them.”

Coleman said some of the horses had barely been ridden when they arrived in Hinckley, and now one of them, named Jamaica, is making more than 3-foot jumps.

“It’s been fun to watch them progress,” she said. “I hope they stick around so we can show them a bit.”

Coleman said she thinks Sun­day’s event will be interesting even for people who don’t know much about horses.

“It’s a different kind of event than people are used to here in the States,” she said.

For the casual watcher, she said, the Knabstruppers’ color­ful appearance is usually the draw.

“I think people are just attracted to their spots,” Cole­man said. “They’re definitely eye-catching.”

For information about the event, call (330) 239-6878 or go to www.hinckley equestrian.com.

Contact Jennifer Pignolet at (330) 721-4063 or jpignolet@medina-gazette.com.