Thermal, Calif. – Feb. 4, 2022 – Hunter derby athletes took to Hunter 1 Friday morning to partake in the $10,000 Valencia Saddlery USHJA National Hunter Derby – Open and $10,000 Domino High Voltage USHJA National Hunter Derby – Junior/Amateur and earn the top spot and lion’s share of the generous prize money. Over a track set by Kevin Holowack, 39 entries came forward in the Open section, and 46 entries vied for the win in the Junior/Amateur section. Topping the $10,000 Valencia Saddlery USHJA National Hunter Derby – Open was Chelsea Brittner and Kaylin Faidi’s Berry De Maillet with a score of 183.25. Skylar Wireman and the MZ Farms LLC entry Bonne Starlight took the win in the Junior/Amateur section after riding to a total score of 182.
Holowack presented several tests on course for the horse-and-rider combinations to allow the best pairs to rise to the top over a classic hunter round and a handy round to test the top 12 in each section. Round 1 featured a two-stride, four high options, as well as long bending lines and single oxers set on long runs. Riders could show off their mounts’ flashy scope and open strides around the first course, which consisted of 12 elements. Brittner set the score to beat as 25th in the order on her second mount in the class, the 11-year-old Selle Francais gelding Berry De Maillet. She thoroughly impressed the judges with the horse’s flashy jump and impressive scope over all four high options, earning a total first round score of 93. Sitting close behind in the second position at the conclusion of the first round was Nina Alario and Spoken For with their score of 92, while Mavis Spencer and Gerardus sat hot on their heels with a score of 91 in the third place position.
Returning for the handy, 12 combinations in each section faced a shortened course featuring eight obstacles, four of which presented high options for one bonus point each, and a trot jump on the far end of the arena. Returning in reverse order, the leaderboard saw shifts throughout the second round and it was clear the win could be anyone’s for the taking. In pole position with the highest first round score, Brittner, of Sacramento, CA, returned last for the handy round, knowing what she had to do to emerge on top. She handily navigated Berry De Maillet around the course taking inside turns and letting him carry the pace, meeting each jump with the power needed to wow the judges and earn a top score of 90.25 for an overall total score of 183.25 and ultimately clinch the win. Spencer and Gerardus, owned by Georgy Maskrey-Segesman, moved up the leaderboard to claim second place with a second round score of 90.5 and a total score of 181.5 Rounding out the top three just narrowly behind Spencer was Alario and Middlepath Farm, LLC’s Spoken For after earning a second round score of 89 to finish on a two-round total of 181.
Immediately following, 45 junior and amateur competitors took to Hunter 1 to contest for ribbons in the $10,000 Domino High Voltage USHJA National Hunter Derby – Junior/Amateur. Contesting the same track as the Open competitors, Wireman emerged at the top of the leaderboard at the conclusion of the first round with a score of 94. Returning last, the young rider piloted Bonne Starlight to a flowing and strategic handy round, meeting each jump with grace and showing off the 10-year-old Hanoverian gelding’s scope and flashy jumping style. The pair was awarded with a handy round score of 88 and the win. Second place honors went to Shannon Kelly and Can Do This VA, and Wireman took the third place position as well with Captivated, owned by Shayne Wireman.
A fan favorite class was brought back to DIHP to conclude Friday afternoon as groups gathered at Hunter 1 for the Family Class. A total of seven families of all ages and skill level participated in the under saddle class in groups of two or three, with the judge asking riders to demonstrate skills like extended trot, turn on the haunches, turn on the forehand and halt. The class is judged on each family’s ability to go around the arena as in-sync as possible. Ashley and Violet Rheingold emerged victorious, earning the champion honors aboard Bedford Falls and De Koningin, respectively.
Hunter competition at Desert Circuit III will continue Saturday, February 5, at DIHP, featuring junior and amateur athletes vying for their respective championships throughout the weekend.
FROM THE WINNERS CIRCLE
Chelsea Brittner – 10,000 Valencia Saddlery USHJA National Hunter Derby – Open winner
On the handy round:
“I knew a lot of people had some really nice rounds, so coming in last, I just wanted to be as bold and as forward as I could be and take some risks because that was the only way I was going to seal the deal. I started out with a nice forward canter, tried to turn as tightly as I could to jump two, and I tried to shave a little to jump three in the corner. I let him flow a little to the two-stride, and I tried to make as efficient a turn as possible to the trot jump but still let him see it at the last minute. I didn’t want to surprise him too much there. The last three jumps, without losing too much control, I tried to pick up a nice forward gallop – he loves that; he was a jumper in a previous life so he’s very familiar and very comfortable with that. I knew I could just loosen up and let him flow and that would be his best part. It all worked in my favor. He was excellent, he was super focused and on the money, and I’m super happy with him.”
On Berry De Maillet:
“We affectionately call him ‘Berry Potter’ because he has a little scar on his forehead. He came to us late August of last summer, so he’s relatively new to the hunter game. We’ve been playing around. We started in the 3’, and he’s done a couple derbies now and he really shines in those classes. I think that’s a little bit of a comfort zone for him because in the handys he can show off and utilize his jumper skills a little bit. He’s been awesome so far; he’s really taken to his new job and has been perfect for his owner. We’re thrilled with him. We can’t ask for Berry to have stepped up to the plate any better than he has. I work in partnership with Beverly Jovais, of Chestnut Hill LLC, so I do a lot of her riding and showing for her. I do a little bit of coaching if she needs help with ring conflicts. I’ve been working with Kaylin and Berry a little bit and it’s been fun to watch them grow together.”
On Berry De Maillet’s character:
“He’s kind of funny. He’s a really chill dude in the stall. He’s very quiet and sleeps nonstop. When you go to get him in the crossties he’s sound asleep, eyes closed, but as soon as you go to work he’s a workaholic. He loves his job, he’s got plenty of energy in a nice way, and he’s all business when it comes to the ring. He’s a big puppy dog back at the stall but out here he’s all business. He can be a little mischievous sometimes. His first time in the hunter ring he didn’t like the plants beside the jumps. He didn’t understand why there were so many decorations and what all the fuss was about. He’s very suspicious of all of that which caused some consternation at the beginning but he’s really gotten used to it and has become quite comfortable in the hunter ring.”
“This is kind of a second home for me. My husband, Skyler, works on the management side so I try to spend as much time here to be with my husband. It’s been really fun to watch the change and the growth and they’re just doing an amazing job. The energy that they’re putting into this place, the feel of it, the atmosphere, it’s just unbelievable and it’s so exciting to see something like this on the west coast.”
$10,000 Valencia Saddlery USHJA National Hunter Derby – Open
Place / Horse / Rider / Owner / R1 Score / R2 Score | Total Score
- Berry De Maillet / Chelsea Brittner / Kaylin Faidi / 93 / 90.25 | 183.25
- Gerardus / Mavis Spencer / Georgy Maskrey-Segesman / 91 / 90.5 | 181.5
- Spoken For / Nina Alario / Middlepath Farm, LLC / 92 / 89 | 181
- Lykke Li-Terma Z / Michelle Morris / Ava Park / 89 / 91 | 180
- Theodore Flash / Katie Taylor / Mare Eyfee LLC / 87.5 / 90 | 177.5
- All The Talk / Joey Pedroni / Dana Le / 86.75 / 88 | 174.75
- Swagger / Alicia Saxton / Grace Miller / 87.25 / 77 | 164.25
- Reese’s / Julia Rossow / West Coast Equine Partners, LLC / 88 / 64 | 152
- Summer Soiree / Chelsea Brittner / Emily Anne Pasha / 90 / 51 / 141
- Tangled Up In Blue / Lisa Wall / 3P Equine Partners, LLC / 87.75 / 50 | 137.75
- Bluejacket / Alysia Lynch-Sherard 87 / 49 | 136
- Baas / Halie Robinson / Talia Jones Roston / 89.5 / 44 | 133.5
$10,000 Domino High Voltage USHJA National Hunter Derby – Junior/Amateur
Place / Horse / Rider / Owner / R1 Score / R2 Score | Total Score
- Bonne Starlight / Skylar Wireman / MZ Farms LLC / 94 / 88 | 182
- Can Do This VA / Shannon Kelly / Hermosa Sport Horses / 86 / 87 | 173
- Captivated / Skylar Wireman / Shayne Wireman / 82.75 / 89 | 171.75
- Soon To Be / Christina Smith / Christina Smith / 89 / 82.5 | 171.5
- Andover / Cathy Morris-Schmitt / Cathy Morris-Schmitt / 87 / 83 | 170
- MTM Do Right / Didi Mackenzie / Didi Mackenzie / 88 / 81 | 169
- I Am Aurante DD / Natalie Gerst / Redfield Farm / 84.5 | 168.5
- Clearing / Emme Tangen / Haylee Hall / 84 / 82 | 166
- Delegate / Nicole Stern / Nicole Stern / 83 / 80 | 163
- Lighthouse / Avery Rose Glynn / Rebecca Fahrendorf / 92 / 54 | 146
- Conux / Jaime Krupnick / Jaime Krupnick / 86.5 / 49 | 135.5
- Jumping Jack Flash Z / Jenny Graham / Jenny Graham / 85 / 44 | 129