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Zaluski�s championship unique reward
Zaluski’s championship unique reward
By TONY LANGE
Trainers, riders, owners, groomers — everyone seemed to have his or her role at the Chagrin Valley Hunter Jumper Classic in Moreland Hills.
The renowned horse show, which took place from July 6 to 21 at the Cleveland Metroparks Polo Field, featured top children and adult riders from the local area and from as far away as Florida and California.
There were many winners in many divisions, but rider Rachel Zaluski’s triple-blue-ribbon championship in the children’s pony hunter division was a little bit different.
“Rachel is a little bit unique, because she is one of the few kids who actually earns all of her own lessons and showings,” said Rande Kaminski, who trains and employs Zaluski at Fox Den Farm in Bainbridge. “She’s been grooming for me since she was about 10 years old. Her parents don’t contribute anything to her riding except for paying the show bills. So she’s pretty unusual. She does all the work.”
Busy with school, sports and friends, most young aspiring riders show up for a lesson or a show but don’t have the motivation or dedication to groom and work at a stable, Kaminski said.
Zaluski, a 16-year-old upcoming junior at Chagrin Falls High School, said taking care of horses and preparing them for shows is quite time-consuming.
“The time commitment is a lot, because I’ll go to school, have to try to get a lot of my homework done and then try to go to soccer practice, and I won’t end up getting to the barn until like 5 or 6 p.m.,” Zaluski said. “And on the weekends, if I don’t have a game, I’ll wake up at 4, 4:30 in the morning to get to the horse shows and start doing my daily jobs for the show.”
From washing to grooming to braiding, being involved in every aspect of the show, not just the riding, made Zaluski’s championship at the Chagrin Valley Hunter Jumper Classic all the more rewarding, she said.
“It’s a lot more rewarding, because you can actually say that you did all of the work. You didn’t have someone else helping you out, and you did the riding, you got there at 4 in the morning to get the pony ready, you did everything,” Zaluski said. “This show is a big highlight for me, because it’s the only away show that I go to all year. All of our other shows are at our home barn.”
The Fox Den Farm is a business Kaminski runs, specializing in pony hunters and young riders, at the Chagrin Valley Farms on East Washington Street.
“There is a huge indoor show facility there, and they have about 37 area shows a year,” she said. “So we’re able to not only train inside there, but we also have some pretty good size horse shows almost every weekend to attract people from all the surrounding states.”
While Zaluski started riding more than a decade ago and started competing at age 10, she’s only been with her current pony, Remember When, for about two months now, she said.
“Remy, she’s a Welsh Cross. The pony I had before her became injured, and so we were looking for a new one, and we came across her, brought her in, and it just worked out really well,” Zaluski said. “I used to do the jumper ring, but the pony, she fits more of the hunter style. So I’m in the hunter ring right now.”
Jumper divisions are more geared toward speed and time, while hunter divisions are more subjective and scored by judges.
“For the children’s hunter division, it’s for a pony that either isn’t able to compete in the rated divisions or is learning,” Zaluski said.
Kaminski has been in the horse business for 40 years and teaches only about 20 highly individualized lessons a week, she said.
“Ponies are sort of my thing,” she said. “Because of Rachel’s situation of having to earn everything by herself, she took this pony, because it was an opportunity that came along, and she’s willing to do whatever just so she can show. So this pony came along, and it was something that she could do, so she decided to switch over and do the ponies for a while,” Kaminski said.
“Rachel works for me, but she is also interested in showing, which is quite unusual in itself.”
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