The Pennsylvania National Horse Show held at Harrisburg last week was the biggest ever, with some 800 horses and ponies on hand, and its biggest sensation was the jumping class in which Max Bonham rode Carl Miller Jr.'s Windsor Castle over a spectacular 6-foot 9-inch fence for a new show record.
In fact, Max and Windsor Castle were the hottest combination at the Farm Show Arena. Not content with resting on one achievement, the pair then went out and won the spread-fence class, an event offering obstacles over seven feet in width and over five feet high. Then, well limbered up, they proceeded to win the Professional Horsemen's Association class, the famous Big Jump Sweepstakes worth a tidy $3,167.50 and finally the jumper stake and championship.
In all these classes Bonham faced a secondary challenge, for Windsor Castle is a horse that can go, or he can stop—and when he stops, he stops dirty. When that happens, Max usually keeps going, a human projectile catapulted from an equine sling. The big bay gelding can make a rider look like a hero or a bum. "I still just can't help liking him," said Max after the horse had put him off during the open-jumper class at Harrisburg. "Anyone has to like a horse that can jump like that—but he sure does keep me awake!"
Max was obviously already wide awake when he went out to look the horse over in Canada last fall. "I was showing at Toronto, so I decided to go look at him as long as I was there. It's a look I've never regretted." The horse was rough-coated and somewhat of a rogue, but Bonham decided to take a chance. He bought him thinking he would make a good working jumper if nothing else.
When the horse proved to have such a big leap Bonham put him in jumper classes. Windsor Castle promptly won five out of the six classes he was in at his first show. Since then Max has sold the horse for a very sizable profit and has spent the season alternately collecting championships and dusting himself off.
Sensations of another sort were served up during the saddle-horse classes, a division that was bigger and better than ever before. In the amateur walk-trot stake, for example, which was finally won by Patsy Kelley on her mother's Sweetheart of Devon, there were 22 horses in the ring and none of them bad ones. But the big five-gaited stake and championship was clearly a contest between two horses: Earl Teater on Dodge Stables' Primrose Path and Frank Bradshaw on Jolie Richardson's Garrymore. Both worked well and the judges called the horses out for a second look, then made their decision: elegant Garrymore was champion for the fourth year in a row.
The individual championship in the international jumping, which seems never to run out of surprises, ended in another one: Germany's Hans Guenther Winkler, by a combination of last-minute maneuvers, backed into the title.
Hugh Wiley was leading in points right up to the last individual class, and the only way he could lose the title would be if he got nothing and Germany's Winkler won first. And that is precisely what happened. Wiley, who because of two individual firsts aboard Nautical had been wearing the gold arm band of the leading rider, had two knockdowns with Master William. Winkler and America's Bill Steinkraus tied for first; they had jumped off to break the tie, with time to be the deciding factor if there was an equality of faults. Not only did they both go clean, but they both did it in exactly the same amount of time, even to the split second. Winkler then demanded that the class be called a tie, and the judge agreed, so the West German aspirin salesman was also, by virtue of this decision, the show's leading rider. The German team also won the low-score competition and the show's team prize; the U.S. was second; the Canadians, with a much improved team this year, were third, Mexico fourth and the Cubans last.
The Mexicans, however, did earn one big and exciting first when little Vicky Mariles, riding last in a fault-and-out class on Chihuahua II, beat Winkler on time. "You can't kid me," remarked a spectator watching the fast performance. "That's General Mariles with a wig on."
WARILY EYING each other, Windsor Castle, who doesn't like to stand still, and Trainer-Rider Max Bonham, who knows it, pose in ring with championship rosette.