Meet the riders in this year’s Foxhunter’s Cup

Published 1:35 pm Friday, April 17, 2009

Rules: Here are the basics. Both races are for riders who have never ridden in a sanctioned race and who are at least 18 years old (but younger than 59). The riders are required to wear ASTM approved headgear, body protector, boots, and polo shirt of choice. All of the horses are over four years old and have not competed in a sanctioned race since January 1 of 2008, they can be of any breed and are subject to the same veterinary and drug inspection regulations as those in the sanctioned races. The races are to be run under the NSA Rules of Racing. Whips are NOT allowed and a rider&squo;s use of alcohol or drugs eliminates him/her from racing.

The Prize: $2,000 total purse. 1st: $1,200. 2nd: $600. 3rd: $200.

Who are they?

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Amanda Bilharze: 21 years old. Amanda has been riding western her whole life and just recently jumped into an English saddle to prepare for the race.

&dquo;Riding English was an easy switch for me. I rode bareback as a child and it&squo;s almost the same!&dquo;

Amanda is riding Larry Gardener&squo;s 4 year-old, 15 h. Registered APHA Quarter horse mare, &dquo;Thirsty Lil&squo; Abby.&dquo;

&dquo;Abby is born to run. I broke her and trained her to race; she&squo;s going to give this her heart!&dquo;

Randi Hogan: 27 years old. Randi will be riding in both amateur races this year. She is a professional trainer at Green River Farms and currently focuses her discipline on reining and has a lifetime experience in cross-country eventing, jumping and is currently training for the Extreme Cowboy Race in Columbus, Ohio.

She will be riding &dquo;Seven,&dquo; the eight-year-old Thoroughbred (retired racehorse) mare, and &dquo;A.J.,&dquo; a five-year-old quarter horse gelding.

Erin Gambrell: Over 21 years old. Erin, who operates and trains cross-country, foxhunting and jumping from Harmony Training Center in Landrum, S.C., is also riding in both amateur races this year.

Erin is originally from California where she rode show hunters under the guidance of renowned trainer, Victor Hugo-Vidal. This will be her second year running the track at FENCE on her two horses: &dquo;Deadly Liaison,&dquo; 14 year old, 16.3 h. Tb gelding who is an accomplished training level event horse, and &dquo;Rock Around the Block,&dquo; her son&squo;s outgrown 13.2 h. chestnut pony who spent his youth as a devilish barrel racer.

Libby Arnold: 47 years old. Libby is going to try to hold on to her title and win the non-thoroughbred race once again.

While she earns her money as a hairstylist at Reflections hair salon in Spartanburg, she and her husband spend their free time preparing to win the cup or barrel racing. Libby will be riding &dquo;Betsy&squo;s Special Lace,&dquo; her six-year-old 15 h. sorrel quarter horse mare, who is a money winning barrel racer with the National Barrel Horse Association.

&dquo;I really want to encourage more people to get involved with this race. Thanks to Kelly Murphy, TR&HC and the Foxhunt Cup Sponsors, local riders have the opportunity to truly take part in the Block House Steeplechase Races.&dquo;

Robert Arnold: 50 years old. Robert raced last year and finished right behind his wife for the silver. This year he is riding &uot;Joel&39;s Easy Gent,&uot; a new horse who happens to be a half brother to Libby&squo;s mare. Joel&squo;s Easy Gent is a ten-year-old sorrel QH gelding. Keep your eyes on Robert&ellip; he might turn the tables on the field!

Kate Manno: Over 21 years old. Kate will be racing her foxhunter &uot;Lark,&uot; a 13-year-old bay appendix quarter horse she has owned for the past 11 years. A retired registered nurse, Kate moved to the area five years ago with her husband. They both enjoy foxhunting, showing and trail riding. Kate also rides motorcycles. Last year Kate rode Lark in the amateur race and she is hoping to claim the title this year!

Jordan Hicks: The last rider we had a chance to interview was Jordan Hicks, a local foxhunter and show jumper. Hicks is the new parent of a beautiful bouncy baby girl, Mackensie, and winning this cup would be a bounty of diapers for the family! Running under Hicks will be Erin Gambrell&squo;s 14-year-old Thorougbred gelding &dquo;TigerLion,&dquo; an ex-race horse who spent his prime as a huntsman&squo;s horse.