Hunter Competition Concludes Desert Circuit VII with a Derby and Division Championships

by | Mar 14, 2021 | Hunters, Press Release | 0 comments

Isabella Knapp and Matterhorn emerge victorious in the 2’6-2’9 Child/Adult Hunt & Go Derby

For Immediate Release: 

THERMAL, Calif. – March 14, 2021 – On the final day of competition during Desert Circuit VII, hunter riders had another opportunity to compete in a derby. The 2’6”-2’9” Child/Adult Hunt & Go Derby, sponsored by Struck Apparel, highlighted fifty-four participants in the breathtaking Hunter 4 arena. Taking home the blue ribbon and a pair of riding breeches from Struck Apparel was Isabella Knapp (Bellevue, WA) aboard her own Matterhorn. The duo topped the class with a total score of 171 points. 

Conducted as a Hunt & Go format, riders competed in the first half of the course judged as a classic round. They continued directly onto round two, judged as a handy. Course designer Gerry Briggs (East Bridgewater, MA), posed a creative track for riders to navigate. With eleven fences, Briggs had riders flowing down long lines and balancing up for roll-backs. The trot fence acted as an option where riders could choose which direction they wanted to jump it before either bending or rolling back to a single oxer. 

“The most challenging part was remembering my turns and keeping his balance up and steady. Also keeping a pace strong enough to get good distances and good options. The hardest part was the last jump, it was kind of a blind turn,” mentioned Knapp. 

Isabella Knapp and Matterhorn earn scores of an 86 and 85 for the win.

Trained by Morgan and Nora Thomas of Parkside Stables, Knapp expressed how she has been working towards being consistent and strengthening her foundation skills. Her horse, Matterhorn, also known as Nestle around the barn, is a new mount. She got the ten-year-old Swiss Warmblood at the end of last year and this is the duo’s very first show together. 

“This is our first show together and my first derby on him and I am just super happy. I started out in the 2’6 and have moved up to the 2’9. I have been competing in the 2’9 Child Hunters and equitation,” continued Knapp. 

After being here since Desert Circuit V, Knapp has enjoyed every minute of the Desert International Horse Park, “It has been fantastic, I love it down here. My favorite part has been hanging out with my friends. I think the atmosphere here has just been fantastic.” 

Leigh-Ann Kazolas and her own Soul Mate claimed second place in the derby with scores of 82 and 83.

Leigh-Ann Kazolas (Newport Beach, CA) and her own Soul Mate claimed second place in the derby with scores of 82 and 83. Kazolas is trained by Molly Brock, head trainer and owner of Inverness Ridge Stables in Costa Mesa, California. Rounding out the top three was Roger That, ridden by Elizabeth Gallucci (San Francisco, CA) with scores of an 80 and 84. Gallucci rode to the win under the guidance of trainer Kara Mia Love, head trainer and owner of KMC Farm. 

Third place finisher, Elizabeth Gallucci aboard Roger That


Amateur-Owner Hunter Divisions

Hunter 1 saw the conclusion of the Amateur-Owner hunter divisions and riders completed the second and final round of their respective classics. 

In the $1,000 3’3” Amateur-Owner Classic, sponsored by Amberway Equine, Michelle Decker-Rumanes of Topanga, CA, rode Goodnight Moon to the victory. In addition, the pair placed first and had multiple third place finishes to take home the reserve champion honors in the older division. 

Michelle Decker-Rumanes of Topanga, CA, rode Goodnight Moon to the victory in the 3’3″ A/O Hunter Classic.

Trained by Chad Mahaffey of Chad Mahaffey Stables, Decker-Rumanes is thrilled to be competing in the amateur-owner division again. In 2020, her mount Goodnight Moon was horse of the year in the 3’ amateur division and this year, they have chosen to move up into the amateur-owner division. 

This is Decker-Rumanes’ first time back to the horse park since her hiatus and is extremely impressed with the improvements, “In addition to the customer service, I love all the improvements and the walkways are better, the footing is nice, the jumps are beautiful.”

Kim Hall (Rancho Palos Verdes, CA) and Lost Emerald claimed the championship title after winning one round and two second place finishes. This is their first time competing in the 3’3 Amateur-Owner division. 

Kim Hall and Lost Emerald are champions in the 3’3 A/O Hunters

The younger 3’3” Amateur-Owner Hunter division champion was awarded to Josephine Cassens (Santa Monica, CA) and her own Shadowfox. Taking home the reserve champion honors was Milestone and Alyssa Marchington of West Linn, Oregon. 

The 3’6” Amateur-Owner Hunter Classic was won by Grand Cru and Hilary Sosne (Portland, OR) who also claimed the younger division’s reserve championship after winning the undersaddle. After winning two of the four jumping rounds, Annika Singh aboard Virginia Z was awarded the championship.

The division champion of the Amateur-Owner 3’6” 36 & Over was Uno Mas and Parris Cozart Collins (Ojai, CA). The duo clinched the championship after winning four of the five classes. After her win in the $5,000 USHJA National Hunter Derby, Jamie Krupnick (Westlake Village, CA) and Conux claimed the reserve championship in the division. 

During the final week of competition at the Desert International Horse Park, both the pony riders and amateur-owners have the opportunity to compete in the World Championship Hunter Rider (WCHR) week. Saturday of Week VIII will feature the $100,000 WCHR West Coast Hunter Spectacular under the lights in the Grand Prix Stadium. 



About the Desert International Horse Park

With nearly 1.3 million square feet of competition and riding space, the Desert International Horse Park is one of the largest equestrian facilities in North America. Offering multiple weeks of world-class equestrian competition from October through March, the facility is a destination location for thousands of equestrians, their horses, family and friends for several months annually. Competitors from all over the world travel to Thermal, CA to not only compete but to enjoy everything the desert has to offer.