Avery Glynn and Zeren. Photo by High Desert Sport Photo

Avery Glynn wanted to end her Desert Circuit with a bang, and that she did. Saturday evening of Desert Circuit IX, she commanded the R.W. Mutch Equitation Championship, sponsored by Hayutin.

Glynn, 18, sees this accomplishment right up there with some of her greatest successes as a junior rider thus far. “I would definitely put it up there with the Ronnie Mutch trophy at Devon and winning the Hampton Classic Equitation Championship last year,” she remarked. “I have a special appreciation for this class though because the last time I did it I was a lot younger and a lot greener. This class was my enemy, so my last junior year I was pulling out all the stops. I’m really excited it went so well.”

In round one, Glynn laid it down over Joey Rycroft’s course with scores of 91 and 89 from the two panels of judges, taking an early lead. She and Zeren, owned by Mackenzie Greer, returned last in round two, a jumper-style course, and went above and beyond, earning scores of 96 and 92 for a two-round total of 369, leading the way by 15 points. Glynn captured the win with no additional testing.

Avery Glynn and Zeren in their winning presentation, pictured with Priscilla Hobday, Hope Glynn, Brandon Mutch, Halie Robinson, Mackenzie Greer, and Maya Varga and Mathew Hayutin of Hayutin. Photo by High Desert Sport Photo

Second-place honors went to Zoe Wolf and Catoon, who shot up the leaderboard with a score of 354 overall, while third place was awarded to Audrey Carmody and Colany 9 with a 346.5 final score.

“I felt like this was a course where I could go in and be bold,” she said of the round-two track. “I thought I could do the leave-outs in places and everything would flow nicely. They set a triple-bar as fence one which I like because you can really push up to the base of it. I picked up a gallop and kept it through the entire course. Everything just flowed nicely off of that.”

Zoe Wolf and Catoon. Photo by High Desert Sport Photo

The R.W. Mutch Equitation Championship stands out among the equitation finals because riders may not consult their trainers or any professional for the duration of the class. Without their phones or any outside assistance, riders are on their own – still able to chat amongst themselves – to walk the course, warm up, and perform.

“I think it gives me time to focus and I can think to myself,” Glynn said of the independence the championship format offers. “I’m used to figuring out things for myself and I think it’s a great practice for everyone. It’s great for anyone who wants to be a professional rider. My parents are trainers so I think they’ve done a good job setting me up for classes like this.”

Zeren is a relatively new ride for Glynn, but he’s not a stranger to her, with experience on both coasts and at the championship leve.

Audrey Carmody and Colany 9. Photo by High Desert Sport Photo

“I’ve learned I can really trust him,” she said of her budding relationship with Zeren. “He’s been to indoors previously so I know he’s got all the tricks in the bag. I went out and knew I could show off a little on him. I knew he was always going to be there for me. Even though I haven’t been riding the horse for long, I’ve always known he was a consistent partner.”

If there is one thing Glynn has been this circuit, it’s consistent. With countless rides in all three rings, the accomplished young rider has acquired countless perspectives and learned a little something from every fence jumped and every minute spent in the saddle.

“I have done a lot of rounds this circuit. From six am to six pm I have been busy but I have gotten so much from every ride and every person that’s trained me. I’ve learned so much, and that’s why I felt so confident going into this,” she reflected.

Glynn is not slowing down anytime soon. With plans to attend Auburn University in the fall and ride for their equestrian team, she’s taking advantage of all the time she gets to compete in all three rings, now taking to the higher levels of show jumping as well.

“I know people say the equitation sets you up for the jumpers, but I’ve felt that more this circuit than I ever have before,” she shared. “Two weeks ago I won the High [Junior Jumper] Classic. It was a tricky course with 25 in it, and I was the only double-clean. It was an equitation course but it was 1.45m. As soon as I started thinking about jumpers like it was anequitation course, I was so much better off. It got a million times easier.”

Glynn’s grandparents, Craig and Priscilla Hobday, spent their 51st wedding anniversary watching their granddaughter take on the prestigious class. With her mother, Hope Glynn, watching on the sidelines, three generations were present to celebrate the big victory to close out Desert Circuit.

Final Results: R.W. Mutch Equitation Championship

1. Zeren / Avery Glynn / Mackenzie Greer / 181 / 188 = 369
2. Catoon / Zoe Wolf / Zoe Wolf / 173.5 + 180.5 = 354
3. Colany 9 / Audrey Carmody / Audrey Carmody / 179 + 167.5 = 346.5
4. Edesa’s Revel / Londyn Samlaska / Londyn Samlaska / 172 + 171.5 = 343.5
5. Gusti CK / Anna Kotler / Anna Kotler / 171.5 + 171.5 = 343
6. Joske Van De Knuffel / Jasmine Yannatta / Terrapin Hill Farm, LLC / 176.5 + 161 = 337.5
7. Clearing / Emme Tangen / Emme Tangen / 165 + 166 = 331
8. Caresina / Elizabeth Gray / Hannah Gansert / 166.5 + 125 = 291.5
9. Son House / Greenley Achuck / Greenley Achuck / 176.5
10. Janus Union / Kate Parker / Kate Parker / 165.5

Karrie Rufer Seals Desert Circuit with a Win in $50,000 Kubota Grand Prix

Karrie Rufer and Stern Dei Folletti. Photo by High Desert Sport Photo

Karrie Rufer wasn’t about to go home without a win.

Saturday of Desert Circuit IX, she got that final win and can now call it a circuit. Aboard Stern Dei Folletti, she topped the $50,000 Kubota National Grand Prix in an impressive fashion as the sole double-clear effort.

“I always say my goal is consistency and that horse is so consistent,” she said of the 12-year-old Holsteiner gelding (Toulon x Berlin). “Overall he’s been super and has kept the same attitude the whole way. He always sets me up for success because I know he’s always going to go in and try as hard as he can. He was super today.”

Karrie Rufer and Stern Dei Folletti in their winning presentation, pictured with Emma Werner of The Surrey. Photo by High Desert Sport Photo

Over Peter Grant’s track, Rufer was one of only four pairs to jump clean in the first round and advance to the jump-off. Against some quick competitors, she had the benefit of watching the two before her each pull a rail, so clear was her primary mission.

“I knew Kyle [King] was going to be really fast and hard to catch, and when he had the rail down I had to make a choice to go faster and risk the rail as well, or just be more conservative while still being quick enough that if someone were to go clear after you you still might have a shot,” she explained of her strategy in the jump-off. “I chose option ‘B’ and decided to be efficient but not crazy quick, like I know he can be. I wanted him to finish on a solid double-clear round before we go home for a vacation. I definitely had the advantage to go a little bit later.”

Kyle King and SIG Chiari. Photo by High Desert Sport Photo

King ended up second with SIG Chiari, owned by SIG International on the quickest 4-fault effort, with Matias Fernandez in third aboard Emotion Des Truffiers, owned by L & L Equine Investments LLC. Delaney Batter took the EquiFit U25 Classic win with Vulcana.

“The course was great,” Rufer shared. “Peter Grant did a beautiful job this week. The course was tough enough and long enough, andenough of a scope test at the end of the course. It started out really nice and inviting and then it got tougher and more technical. I love courses that build because you’re building confidence as you go.”

Delaney Batter and Vulcana. Photo by High Desert Sport Photo

Throughout Desert Circuit, Rufer has trained under various big names, among them Gregory Wathelet and Conor Swail, learning quite a bit about what she can improve upon with her own riding to take her to the next level.

“My program works to have these amazing riders step in and fine tune but they don’t have to rework the wheel,” she explained. “Gregory has been absolutely amazing. He’s so calm and so knowledgeable and such a horseman. He’s easy to work with but also competitive. I’ve had the opportunity to work with amazing people – Enrique Gonzalez, Charlie Jayne, and Conor Swail, Cameron Hanley, and Gregory – it’s awesome to have those personalities around you who are so supportive and they want you to do well.”

Delaney Batter and Vulcana. Photo by High Desert Sport Photo

As Desert Circuit 2023 draws to a close, Rufer recognizes the benefit the circuit and the property bring to her as a rider and her horses, who continue to improve no matter the level they jumped all season long.

“It’s been an incredible journey,” Rufer said of her experience during the 2022/2023 season at DIHP. “The horses love it here. It gives you a great opportunity to take horses in different rings. On the grass, under the lights – there’s so much flexibility. It’s great for the younger horses to be exposed to more. They can go and develop and learn. You can challenge them and then bring their confidence back. For me, the fact that the horses have spent the last three months growing and getting better is a testament to how well the circuit is organized and how well the showgrounds are run. They do a really good job of making it exciting and different each week.”

Conor Swail Strikes a Balance in $38,700 Pomponio Ranch CSI4* 1.45m Classic

Conor Swail (IRL) and Theo 160. Photo by High Desert Sport Photo

Conor Swail (IRL) made his way back to the top of the podium in Saturday’s $38,700 Pomponio Ranch CSI4* 1.45m Classic. Of his two mounts in the starting order, it was Theo 160, owned by Team Philippaerts, who galloped to the win.

“The first round he jumped was one of his best rounds of the whole season, which is a big statement,” Swail commented on how the 11-year old Holsteiner gelding (Christian 25 x Calando IV) performed. “He was fantastic in the first round and then continued in the second round. He loves this grass field. Every time he’s in here he jumps fantastic.”

Four pairs navigated Peter Grant’s (CAN) first round track penalty free. Vanessa Mannix (CAN) was first to jump off with Kingston clocking in at 47.33 seconds and ultimately took third place. Her fellow Canadian Ali Ramsay took the second-place spot right between them aboard Conrado 12 with a time of 46.81 seconds.

It’s no secret Theo has quick foot speed from jump to jump, but as much of an advantage as that quality can be, Swail is focusing on developing the horse’s balance and focus in the ring. “I’ve been trying to slow him down,” he explained. “I basically do laps and try to get him to relax. I let him canter around at his speed and then try to slow him down. Just to keep getting it in his head. He can run but he has to balance.”

Conor Swail (IRL) and Theo 160 in their winning presentation. Photo by High Desert Sport Photo

While Theo is typically in the middle of Swail’s talented string of horses, he has stepped up and proved himself week after week throughout Desert Circuit with numerous wins and podium finishes.

“He has been my best horse at the show,” Swail remarked. “Theo is supposed to be my fifth best horse and he’s number one at the minute. It’s nice that I’m able to have him while I’m trying to build up the other guys. You have to try to be consistent and competitive with other horses while you’re getting the other ones back up.”

Throughout his travels this winter between both coasts, Swail has maintained a strong presence in the desert and is already making plans to return in the fall.

“Personally it’s been great,” he said of his experience at DIHP this season. “I’ve gained a lot of ranking points and I have a nice group of horses here that have gained good experience. This field is one of the nicest fields anywhere in the world to compete in. [There’s] great prize money, and the owners and everyone involved look after it really well. I’m definitely coming back next year; I’m looking forward to it.”

Show jumping on the grass field concludes for the season on Sunday with the $30,000 Marshall & Sterling 1.40m Classic and the final class, the $226,000 Marshall & Sterling CSI4* Grand Prix.

Final Results: $50,000 Kubota National Grand Prix

1. Stern Dei Folletti / Karrie Rufer / Morning Star Sporthorses LLC / 0/0/44.040
2. SIG Chiari / Kyle King / SIG International Inc. / 0/4/41.883
3. Vulcana / Delaney Batter / Delaney Batter / 0/4/45.183
4. Emotion Des Truffiers / Matias Fernandez / L & L Equine Investments LLC / 0/4/45.350
5. Unchained 2 / Sophia Siegel / Sophia Siegel / 1/88.688
6. Tinkerbell / Elisa Broz / Elisa Broz / 4/80.119
7. Chardonnay / Robert Blanchette / RTS Holdings LLC / 4/81.202
8. NKH Cento Blue / Shawn Casady / October Hill Sales Limited / 4/81.857
9. Casturano / Conor Swail / Conor Swail / 4/84.402
10. Carnlea Premier Balou / Robert Blanchette / RTS Holdings LLC / 4/85.398
11. Fender P.S. / Michael Williamson / Michael Williamson / 4/85.728
12. King-Boy / Katie Kehring / Kehring Family / 6/89.407

Final Results: $38,700 Pomponio Ranch CSI4* 1.45m Classic

1. THEO 160: 2012 HOLST gelding by Christian 25 x Calando IV
CONOR SWAIL (IRL), Team Philippaerts: 0/0/43.48

2. CONRADO 12: 2013 ZANG gelding by Cardento x Diarado
ALI RAMSAY (CAN), Ramsay Equestrian Inc.: 0/0/46.81

3. KINGSTON: 2013 AES gelding by Ustinov x Insider
VANESSA MANNIX (USA), Vanessa Mannix: 0/0/47.33

4. ZIBALOUBET Z: 2014 ZANG gelding by Zirocco Blue x Baloubet Du Rouet
MATT ARCHER (USA), Rhys Farms, LLC: 0/0/47.34

5. ODYSSEUS: 2011 AHHA gelding by Osilvis x Riverman
KYLE KING (USA), Patricia Vasey: 4/69.82

6. CASIANO: 2014 Anglo European gelding by Casino Berlin x Iroko
CHANDLER MEADOWS (USA), Chandler Meadows: 4/71.25

7. VITAL CHANCE DE LA ROQUE: 2009 SF gelding by Diamant de Semilly x Rivage du Poncel
CONOR SWAIL (IRL), Conor Swail: 4/71.33

8. CADEAU Z: 2013 ZANG gelding by Carmena Z x Quattro B
MANDY PORTER (USA), Risen EQ Holdings LLC: 4/71.78

9. CRAZY: 2012 HANN mare by Cornet Obolensky x Compliment
PAIGE JARDINE (AUS, Paige Jardine): 4/72.16

10. CERA CARUSO: 2008 AWHA gelding by Casall x Capone
KATIE LAURIE (AUS), Carissa McCall: 4/73.03

11. VALENTINO D’ELTE: 2009 SF gelding by Castronom Z De Hus x Windsor
VANESSA MANNIX (CAN), Vanessa Mannix: 4/73.92

12. JEFFREY JARDEN: 2014 KWPN gelding by Bustique x Warrant
TALI DEJONG (USA), Tali DeJong: 4/74.76