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Dudley B. Smith Equitation Championship is Heartwarming Tribute to Community Philanthropist

Ava Stearns and Acer K earned the top spot in the Dudley B. Smith Equitation Championship presented by Northern Pines at the Great Lakes Equestrian Festival. Barbara Smith, left, presented the award to the Missy Clark's North Run Team with Melissa Hirt, right, of Northern Pines Farm.

Ava Stearns Rides to the Win

Traverse City, MI – July 27, 2019 – Equitation riders took to the grand prix ring at the Great Lakes Equestrian Festival for the inaugural Dudley B. Smith Equitation Championship presented by Northern Pines Farm. The class honored the late Dudley B. Smith, a philanthropic community member, who along with his wife, Barbara, supported several area institutions including Northwestern Michigan College, the Munson Medical Center, and the Cherryland Humane Society.  The Barbara and Dudley Smith Exhibition Wing for Inuit Art in the Dennos Museum Center, is an example of how Smith put his heart into his donations to support northern Michigan’s history, the community, and his love for Inuit art.

Cherryland Humane Society, one of Dudley B. Smith's beneficiaries, attended the event.

Smith used the fruits of his success to make the community a better place. Northern Pines Farm and trainer Melissa Hirt presented this Equitation Championship in memory of the beloved Dudley B. Smith.

Barbara Smith

“[The class] was wonderful, it was some of our best, best riders and it was wonderful to watch them,” said Barbara Smith. “I can’t thank Melissa [Hirt] enough for this. Dudley was so happy, involved and so eager to help Paige [Matthies] move on. It really is a tribute to both of them because he encouraged her so much.  Dudley’s was looking down from above today. ”

“By doing this class we’re celebrating his life, what he contributed, and what he meant to me and my farm and to Paige,” said Hirt.  “Without him I don’t think we would have had the success we had. I’m hoping everyone can walk down that ramp to the ring, think of Dudley for a minute, appreciate what he’s done for the community and have a great time.”

Twenty five qualified riders, which included two wild card entries, competed over the beautifully designed derby track in a two round competition judged by Linda Andrisani and Alan Lohman.  The course had a unique no stride, log and brush jumps and long bending lines that allowed riders to gallop in the large grand prix ring. The top 12 returned for the second round. 

Ava Stearns and Acer K lead the class after round one.

Results of Round One

1-Ava Stearns

2-Tanner Korotkin

3-Paige Matthies

4-Sophia Pilla

5-Luke Jensen

6-Erin Floyd

7-Austin Krawitt

8-Ava Ellis

9-Aristea Santoro

10-Savannah Hemby

11-Layla Kurbanov

12-Belle Zachary

Riders rode the second round like a handy round with rollbacks and long bending lines. After the second round, the top four were called back to test, which included a counter canter and a trot jump. Returning for the test in reverse order was 

Ava Stearns

Erin Floyd

Tanner Korotkin

Paige Matthies

The judges’ decision left Ava Stearns the winner. 

“It’s so special to get to win this class it’s a new class and its named after such an amazing man and a great family donated it. I was super excited to get to do it and to win it,” said Stearns.

Stearns and Matthies will be heading to Auburn University together in the fall. They are friends as well as competitors.

“Everyone knew how much it meant to Paige [Matthies] and we all wanted her to have a good round. She rode beautifully and it was super special to get to share this with her [Matthies],” added Stearns.

Stearns received aquality leather bridle and girth courtesy of Northern Pines Farm, a commemorative coolerette and a shirt from Equestrian Chic Pro. Trainer Missy Clark earned a $4,000 trainer bonus as well.

Erin Floyd and Any Given Sunday moved up to each round to finish in second. 

Erin Floyd took second with Hunter Holloway’s equitation mount, Any Given Sunday. Floyd moved up from 6thplace in the first round to third after round two and moved up one more place after the work off. She received a pair of leather hind boots courtesy of Marketing4Equestrians and The Tack Hack along with a shirt from Equestrian Chic Pro. Trainer Don Stewart received a $3,000 trainer bonus, which he intends to spend at the casino in Traverse City!

Barbara Smith's granddaughter, Paige Matthies, rode to a third place finish with Blurred Lines and trainer Melissa Hirt.

Third place went to Matthies and Blurred Lines. She received a quality sun shirt from Equestrian Chic Pro while trainer Melissa Hirt earned the $2,000 trainer bonus.

Tanner Korotkin and Aribo finished in third, adding to Missy Clark's trainer bonus.

Tanner Korotkin and Aribo earned fourth place and received a commemorative saddle pad courtesy of Marketing4Equestrians and The Tack Hack. Missy Clark added another $1,000 to her take for the day for training Korotkin. She will be buying everyone dinner!

Fifth through tenth place winners.

Fifth through tenth places also received saddle pads donated by Marketing4Equestrians and The Tack Hack.

Melissa Hirt welcomed guests to the Friday night draw party sponsored by Northern Pines Farm and Horseworks Insurance.

Northern Pines Farm and Horseworks Insurance hosted an exhibitor’s party to draw for the order on Friday evening. Riders received a swap bag filled with items from Finish Line, Wholesome Goodness, Riceworks, Lucky Braids, The Bay Lavender Trading Company, Northern Pines Farm and Horseworks Insurance.

Thank You

Northern Pines Farm would like to extend a very special thanks to the Morrissey Management Group and all of the generous companies who made this memorial to Dudley B. Smith a fantastic event. 


About Northern Pines Farm Melissa Hirt is a native of suburban Chicago and moved to Leelanau County in 1995, completing construction of

her Northern Pines equine dream in 2000. Today, Melissa's students are winning numerous top honors at the zone, regional, and national levels through her experienced training and remarkable skill of matching riders and horses to create impressive teams. Northern Pines Farm boasts 32 stalls with spacious heated viewing room, large indoor and outdoor arenas and 15 paddocks set in the beautiful countryside of Maple City, Michigan. Amenities include Theraplate and treadmill along with a roomy wash stall with heat lamp. The farm has a location next to the Great Lakes Equestrian Festival show facility in Traverse City. For more information on Northern Pines Farm please visit or "Like" them on Facebook. #LoveWhereYouRide

Northern Pines Farm 7347 S. Stachnik Road Maple City, MI 49664 Northern Pines Farm (South) 14903 Paddock Dr. Wellington, Florida 231-228-5550 231-228-5551 Photos may only be used in relation to this release.   For more news subscribe to and "like" us on Facebook.


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