VHC Newsletter • June 2024

LEXINGTON, VA—The Virginia Horse Center has been action-packed and has already welcomed thousands to the pride of the Commonwealth!

World-Class Competitions

The first two installments of the Virginia Festival of Champions, the Lexington Spring Premiere and the Lexington Spring Encore, had top hunter/jumper competition. The popular, weekly Triple Crown Derby Day in the Sandy Gerald Arena, showcased top hunters and featured the $5,000 National Hunter Derby, presented by the Heisley Family Foundation, as well as all levels of derbies.  

The Dee Dee Arena offered a multitude of jumper competitions and featured a weekly $25,000 Grand Prix, complete with hospitality in the Stave Mill Pavilion.

The Bonnie Blue UPH National Show welcomed the best in Saddlebred competition to the VHC May 8-11th. 

Mid-Atlantic Dressage Festival and Lexington CDI3* [MADFest], sponsored by Täkt Saddlery

The Mid-Atlantic Dressage Festival and Lexington CDI3* [MADFest], sponsored by Täkt Saddlery, Hand-Crafted, Bespoke Saddles for Dressage, Show Jumping, and Eventing, took place May 16-19 and welcomed top dressage competition. VHC Board Member Gardy Bloemers tirelessly leads this event each year. We all wish Alice Tarjan’s horse Jane, competitor at MADFest, the best of luck when Marcus Orlob rides her mare in the 2024 Olympics.

VHC Eventing, presented by Capital Square

VHC Eventing, presented by Capital Square, had a fantastic turnout! VHCF Board President, Roxanne Booth is the lead on this world-class event. Olympian Will Coleman was onsite for this year’s event and was recently selected to represent the US on the Olympic Eventing Team! Another teammate, Elisabeth Halliday, competed at the 2023 VHC Eventing, presented by Capital Square and will also be joining Will on the US team in Paris. Congratulations to Will and Elisabeth. We wish you both the best of luck! We hope you will join us again in November for VHC Eventing, presented by Capital Square!

Upcoming Virginia Horse Center-owned Summer Events

The summer calendar is packed again this year with Virginia Horse Center-owned events, all produced to benefit the Virginia Horse Center.

On deck is the final installment of the Virginia Festival of Champions’ Lexington National Horse Show, August 7-11.

Don’t miss the Virginia Young Horse Festival August 23-25 which also includes the 2024 Sallie B. Wheeler USEF/USHJA National Hunter Breeding Championship.

We encourage all of you to attend and support these events. 

View the Event Calendar

Facility Updates

All of the 700 stalls have been resurfaced and new stall mats installed! The aisles have also been resurfaced.

The Jacqueline and George Ohrstrom, Jr. Barn

On May 9th, the Virginia Horse Center Foundation cut the ribbon on the newly dedicated Jacqueline and George Ohrstrom, Jr. Barn, honoring Mrs. Jaqueline Ohrstrom and the late George Ohrstrom, Jr. 

Virginia Horse Center CEO Stephen Shank commented, “Naturally, none of the dreams that are the Virginia Horse Center come true without the significant support and investment of our dearest, closest friends. On behalf of all those served by the Horse Center, we extend our immense gratitude to Mrs. Jacqueline Ohrstrom and her late husband, George, for their loyalty and friendship.” 

In addition to several competitors at the Bonnie Blue UPHA Saddlebred show and VHC staff, attending the ceremony was Mrs. Jaqueline Ohrstrom, Ms. Angela Carroll, City of Lexington Mayor Frank Friedman, Mrs. Roxanne Booth, President of the Virginia Horse Center Foundation Board of Directors, Mr. Stephen Shank, VHC CEO, Mr. Will Phipps of B&D Builders, and Cinda Ayers, Chief Development & External Relations Officer.

B&D Builders is currently reviewing plans to renovate the interior of the Jaqueline and George Ohrstrom, Jr. Barn. 


Longtime VHC Board Member Ernest [Ernie] Oare, owner of EMO Stables, retired effective June 3, 2024, after a long tenure with the Virginia Horse Center Foundation Board of Directors. 

Mr. Oare commented, “I was on the first government-appointed Board thirty-eight years ago and was on the committee with Sally Wheeler who hired Bob Reel, the first CEO, when the VHC first opened. My involvement with the Horse Center has been a labor of love. It is great how the community supports the VHC and while I’ve seen its ups and downs, it truly is at the top of its game now.”

He continued, “It was just time for me to move on, but we plan to continue showing at the VHC!”

Longtime VHC Board Member, Ernest [Ernie] Oare, owner of EMO Stables, retired from his position effective June 3, 2024, after a long tenure with the Virginia Horse Center Foundation Board of Directors. 

Mr. Oare commented, “I was on the first government-appointed Board thirty-eight years ago and was on the committee with Sally Wheeler, who hired Bob Reel, the first CEO, when the VHC first opened. My involvement with the Horse Center has been a labor of love. It is great how the community supports the VHC and while I’ve seen its ups and downs, it truly is at the top of its game now.”

He continued, “It was just time for me to move on, but we plan to continue showing at the VHC!”

The VHCF is forever grateful for Mr. Oare’s contributions to the Virginia Horse Center Foundation and looks forward to seeing him, his wife Betty and the horses from EMO Stables at our events.

Board of Directors Appoints New Members

On June 3, 2024, the Virginia Horse Center Foundation Board of Directors voted unanimously to appoint Mr. Alan Lohman and Ms. Rebecca Polan to the VHCF Board for each to serve a three-year term.

Foundation Board President Roxanne Booth commented, “As we look to the Horse Center’s 40th anniversary, we enthusiastically welcome the addition of Rebecca and Alan to the Board and are grateful for their willingness to share their expertise in their respective disciplines with us. Their dedication to and love of the horse, coupled with high business acumen, is exactly what is needed to position us for the future as the landscape around horse sport continually evolves. We intentionally ensure that diversity of discipline is part of our Board composition, and Rebecca and Alan most certainly fit the bill.”

Ms. Polan and Mr. Lohman are joined on the Board by President Roxanne Booth (Charlottesville), Vice President Kenneth Wheeler, Jr. (Keswick), Secretary Elizabeth Horsley (Richmond), and Immediate Past President Gardy Bloemers (Esmont). Directors Judith Bishop (Washington, DC), Brooks Cushman (Middlebrook), William Heizer (Staunton), Col. David Lands (Gloucester), Dudley Macfarlane (Charlottesville), Judy U. Miller (Hampton), Dr. Christina Russillo (Purcellville), Brian Ross (Fairfield), George Williams (Scottsville), Owen Weaver (Greensboro, NC), and Chris Wynne (Chesapeake) comprise the remainder of the 17-member Board.

Alan Lohman

A lifetime horseman, Alan Lohman started Lohman Stables Inc. in 2004 in Poolesville, MD, a hunter/jumper barn designed to help riders and horses of all ages excel in the show ring. 

Alan has his R-judging card in Hunters and Equitation. He also course designs frequently throughout the country at shows such as Pin Oak Charity Horse Show (TX), Devon Horse Show & Country Fair (PA), Pennsylvania National Horse Show (PA), USEF Medal Finals (PA), ASPCA Maclay Finals (KY) and the USHJA International Hunter Derby Finals (KY). In 2016, Alan received the USHJA Course Designer of the Year Award.  

Alan has served in various elected positions and on multiple USEF and Maryland Horse Show Association committees. As a trainer and rider, he has qualified horses and students for all major medal finals, Devon and indoors. 

Alan is the show manager for the Keswick Hunt Horse Show and the Maryland Horse & Pony Show and resides in Poolesville with his wife, Jessi.

Rebecca Polan

Ms. Rebecca Polan is a lifetime horsewoman, an accomplished Executive and Director with over 20 years of experience. She has been a board member for multiple state Chambers of Commerce and international member organization YPO. She is the Chairperson of the Board and CEO of REO Processing and REO Logistics, her 114-year-old family businesses, whereas in her chairman capacity, she manages relationships between more than 25 family member owners. Rebecca is a Board Director for the West Virginia Chamber of Commerce.

A graduate of Smith College, Rebecca received her Master of Public Administration from American University and her Master of Business Administration from the College of William and Mary. She also received multiple certifications from the YPO Harvard President’s Program at Harvard University, MIT, and UVA.

In addition to her stellar resume, Rebecca is a horse owner, competitive rider and currently competes in dressage, where she has earned her silver medal. Throughout her journey in the equestrian world, she has been a rider, competitor, owner, groom, working student, show organizer, show volunteer, clinic organizer and business manager for upper-level competitors. She has played an active role in some capacity at Olympic selection trials, the World Equestrian Games, Pan Am Games, and local, regional, and international competitions. Through these experiences, she has developed a profound appreciation and understanding of the complexities and nuances of equestrian sport and what is required to deliver a truly unique, safe and world-class experience for all participants and gained unique and valuable insights into the challenges and opportunities faced by equestrian facilities. She is particularly passionate about the mission of the Virginia Horse Center Foundation because it is in her backyard. 

VHC in the News

The Virginia Horse Shows Association announced its 2024 Inductees into the VHSA Hall of Fame, and winners included VHC Board Member Chris Wynne and longtime VHC supporter Gordon Reistrup, head riding coach at Washington & Lee and regular competitor at the VHC.

Henry the Hawk, owned by Board Member Kenneth Wheeler and Ms. Jane Gaston, will also be inducted into the VHSA Hall of Fame in December 2024.

Congratulations to all! 

VHC Facility Sponsorship News

Blue Ridge Trailer Sales has signed on as the Exclusive Trailer Company for the VHC! 

Blue Ridge Trailer Sales offers a wide variety of horse trailers, both new and used for sale, as well as all trailers, including cargo, utility, dump, and equipment hauliers. They also have a complete line of accessories for all trailers and offer detailing and trailer services. Contact them for more information if you want to consign or rent a trailer.

We are also excited to announce that BARC and Lexington Contracting have signed on as VHC facility sponsors.

BARC is the leading provider of broadband internet services to the Virginia communities of Bacova, Brattons Run, Bustleburg, Cornwall, Effinger, Estaline, Fairfield, Falling Springs, Glasgow, Hot Springs, Lexington, and Warm Springs. BARC Connects provides fast and reliable fiber-to-the-premise service, including high-speed Internet and phone.

Lexington Contracting, based in Buena Vista, Virginia, has been building with integrity and professionalism for more than nine years and services Staunton, Harrisonburg, Natural Bridge, Clifton Forge, Waynesboro, Lexington, Fishersville, Charlottesville, Buena Vista, and Glasgow.

Lexington Contracting’s goal is to make your construction project as smooth and enjoyable as possible. From new construction to renovations, they promise reliability, transparency, and quality craftsmanship. Call today to discuss your project: (540) 319-3330.

Welcome Back Facility Sponsors

For more information on how your business can support the Virginia Horse Center,
please reach out to lengel@horsecenter.org.

Collegiate Partners

Collegiate Sponsor

We are pleased to announce that Hollins University has returned as a Collegiate Partner of the Virginia Horse Center and joins Sweet Briar College, as well as Emory and Henry College. We wish all of their riders the best of luck at this year’s Virginia Horse Center events.

Do you want your school represented on the hill this year? Please reach out to lengel@horsecenter.com for your customized agreement!  

Jumping into Sponsorship

Louis Rogers truly takes the reins in business and as the presenting sponsor and competitor at VHC Eventing.

Louis Rogers is the founder and co-CEO of Capital Square, a vertically integrated real estate firm specializing in tax-advantaged real estate investments, real estate development, and property management. He is also an avid amateur equestrian.

Competing in eventing can be daunting! And in the past year, the real estate industry has had its own struggles. Skyrocketing insurance premiums, inflation and high interest rates created economic headwinds even experienced real estate professionals found daunting. With forethought, Rogers’ firm focused its resources into bolstering the company and controlling the controllable. By seizing intentional opportunities in a challenging interest rate environment, Capital Square expanded the ways it could create its own exceptional product, including qualified opportunity zone (OZ) funds for investors seeking to defer/exclude capital gains from the sale of any asset, Delaware statutory trusts (DSTs) for owners seeking to defer gains on sale of real estate under Section 1031 and Capital Square’s growing real estate investment trust (REIT) for investors seeking stable returns and appreciation.

“We just get back up and keep riding, like Phillip Dutton at the Kentucky Three Day,” Rogers (no stranger to hitting the ground) continues. “One fall means nothing. That’s not the end of the story.”

Rogers is confident that the real estate industry will soon be back on track, too. He quickly points out that Capital Square’s 28th DST offering recently went full cycle when it was sold, resulting in an average 170.24% total return for investors. He often slides into the conversation that Capital Square’s tax-advantaged OZ investments elevated their sales in 2023, despite an industry decline.

Rogers is proud to support the Virginia Horse Center and VHC Eventing. “To have the Virginia Horse Center and all that it offers to Virginia equestrians of every level is truly priceless. As a community, we need to support the Virginia Horse Center and VHC Eventing—we need to own our HOME COURT.”

Leaving Your Legacy: Planned Giving at the VHCF

Whether in the form of a cash bequest or by designating the VHC as a beneficiary of your retirement plan or life insurance policy, your thoughtful contribution will help ensure our presence for future generations. We welcome your inquiries and look forward to working closely and confidentially with you and your advisors to create a Planned Gift suited to your desires and circumstances. You may find additional information on our website HERE or by contacting our Development Department at giving@horsecenter.org We look forward to assisting you!

We Invite You To Join Our Circle of Friends!

Did you know the VHC is funded primarily through rental income, charitable donations, sponsorships, and grants? We are a privately owned 501(c)(3) corporation neither owned nor operated by the Commonwealth of Virginia.

By making a gift to our Virginia Horse Center Foundation Annual Fund, you become a driving force in our success! Gifts made to the Annual Fund make an impact every day in every area. How do they do that? Because they are used to bridge the financial gap for annual operating and program expenses as well as facility improvements.

Please consider making a gift to the VHCF to help keep the Virginia Horse Center strong for all equestrians. Click the DONATE NOW button above the image. You may also contact our Development Department.

Follow us on Linkedin

Click HERE to view our new LinkedIn Profile. We look forward to sharing staff and Board updates, relevant industry updates, facility improvements, available positions, and more! Follow us, share us, and connect with us. We’ll see you on LinkedIn!