USHJA International Hunter Derby
There is a new and exciting class that is being introduced into our show circuit this year called the International Hunter Derby. This class will be held at different venues throughout the country. Elite Show Stables was first introduced to this class when it was still in its initial stages since one of the choosen venues will be Wrenwood Farms in Naples, FL.
The concept of the class is very new and exciting, even though the whole idea is to get back to the original roots of the hunter horse. There will be prize money involved in these classes along with the promise of a much more exciting hunter class for the spectators to watch as well. There will be many qualifying classes all over the country this year most with at least $10,000 in prize money. A horse can qualify for the finals by accumualting $1,000 in prize money. The finals which will be held in early 2009 will offer prize money of $100,000.
Here is is the specs of the class as described by USHJA.....
The class will consist of two rounds with the first round being a classic hunter round and the second round will be a handy hunter round. Fences will be set at 3'6" to 3'9" with four 4' option fences. Obstacles must simulate those reminiscent of the hunt field and the course should offer a variety of jumps with different appearances such as: natural post and rail, stone wall, white board fence or gate, coop, aiken, hedge, oxer, brush, logs, natural foliage. Natural obstacles such as banks and ditches are encouraged.
The greatest difference between the hunter classes you would see at a regular hunter competition and the classes that are involved in this program will be the courses and specifically the construction of the fences and the track the course will follow. The courses will be built to encourage and reward brilliance and daring from the rider and true athletic ability from the horses.
Here are pictures from the incredible hunter derby held at Wrenwood Farms in Naples, FL.
Below the pictures I have a synopsis about this great event. Please read and educate yourself on this new and exciting class.
The $20,000 Wrenwood Farms International Hunter Derby
This past weekend (April 5 - 6, 2008) I flew down to Naples, FL to take part in a class that I believe will influence the hunter sport to possibly go back to what it was originally intended to be. The class that I am referring to is the $20,000 Wrenwood Farms ASG Software Solutions USHJA International Hunter Derby.
I arrived on Sat to the Wrenwood Farms facility where as a junior I was fortunate enough to work, ride, and train. I have many fond memories at the farm and now I truely realize how lucky I was to be able to ride there. The field out in front of the barn is filled with absolutely beautiful and spectacular jumps.....and this was just the schooling ring! I walk around the big spectator tent to find the field where the show will be held.....it's breathtaking! Big stone walls, iron gates, ivy covered walls, hedge jumps, beautifully constructed coops. Everyone that sees it for the first time has the same reaction - "Doesn't it just make you want to go out there and ride?"
Sunday morning comes and I have to be there early for the productions meeting. Hundreds of things are discussed to make sure tht everything runs smoothly. My task for the day is to be in charge and assist the team 1 of judges which is comprised of George Morris and Jim Clapperton. Team 2 of judges is made up of Jack Towell and Chrystine Tauber.
The class starts promptly at noon and the first couple rounds most certainly set the bar high. The horses are fabulous jumpers while they carry a bold forward canter around the course. I am so moved watching these beautiful animals handle this very challenging course with such ease. Most of the rides were absolutely brilliant. Most of the scores are in the 80's and some are in the 90's. About 5 horses pulled rails and only a couple had refusals. Overall I was very impressed with the quality and boldness of both horse and rider. By the end of round one, three horses were tied for first with a score of 179. The tie breaker was the score from the judges of team 1.
There was a short intermission and a course change and then round 2, the handy hunter round, began. The course began with horse and rider having to open a gate to enter the ring, and included roll backs, more options, and a trot fence. Some went for just a smooth and classic hunter round. Others took chances by taking harder options, tighter turns, and galloping boldly around the course. Some lost the gamble that they took.....but for those that were successful, they were rewarded handsomely wtih bonus points. In the end, Rockstar and Jennifer Alfano very clearly pulled off the win with a brilliant and flawless gallop on course. Concerto and Louise Serio followed closely behind in second.
I felt so blessed and honored to have been able to take part in this event. The class, the horses, and the riders were inspiring....they were the essence of grace, athletisism, and beauty. I learned so much by being around these legendary equestrians. It was fun to watch the judges get excited over a beautiful round or a quality horse.
I truely encourage all of you to go watch a derby class,, support it, and spread the word. It is bringing the excitement, the sport, and the roots back to the hunter ring.
Here are pictures from the Hunter Derby held in Febuary in Thermal. Very different looking from the one in Naples! 27 entries took part in this $10,000 derby.