Jamie Taylor was lucky enough to get the ride on a student’s horse for Desert Circuit 1 and she made the week count, riding to the win in Friday’s $5,000 USHJA National Hunter Derby – Open, sponsored by Vogel. Aboard Balko D’Elle, owned by Carolyn Becker and leased by Taylor’s student Allyn Marie Creel, she rode to two high scores, moving up on the leaderboard and taking victory.

After round one, Taylor’s score of 89 put her in third, and Dustin Goodwin had the pole position with Repuration, owned by Kalli Heffner Gay. The two were separated by Sarah Moberg and Caramba, owned by Alice Li. But after the handy round, the results were shaken up. Though they all stayed in the top three, Taylor propelled to the top with a handy round score of 94. Goodwin claimed second, while Moberg was third.

Jamie Taylor and Balko D’Elle. Photo by High Desert Sport Photo

“In the handy, I was the only one to do a bit of an awkward jump to the trot jump, and I did it with both horses,” Taylor explained of what her strategy was to set herself apart. “But with [Balko], he nails it every time, so I was able to take a risk there and it seemed to pay off. He’s a blast and a half to ride and I’m so thankful that I got the opportunity this week.”

Taylor isn’t the usual rider for Balko, a 13-year-old Selle Francais gelding by Diamant de Semilly. “Balko D’Elle is a horse I have with a client,” Taylor, of Las Vegas, NV, explained. “A good friend of mine owns him and my client leases him. He does primarily the equitation but he has been very successful in the past in the derbies so we let him have fun sometimes. This week Allyn Marie tweaked her knee and let me borrow Balko, and we had a great time winning today.”

Jamie Taylor and Balko D’Elle in their winning presentation, pictured with Ecole Lathrop on behalf of Vogel. Photo by High Desert Sport Photo

The horse has plenty of qualities that make him the ultimate hunter, and Taylor recognizes he’s one of the most special horses at the show.

“Balko is really fun to ride. He’s intuitive and he sort of reads your mind,” she shared. “He’s best with his kid, he reads her the most, but he tolerates me just fine. He’s super scopey and a beautiful type. His rhythm never changes, his jump is always the same, and you can’t help but love watching him.”

Later Friday, it was time for the juniors and amateurs to have their turn in the derby ring, and it was Lauren Kolbe who took top call in the $5,000 USHJA National Hunter Derby – Jr/Am, sponsored by Brown Advisory, aboard Jetstream, owned by Karina Winkler. Despite their seamless bond in the ring, their partnership is still brand new, and Kolbe was navigating new territory bringing Jetstream into the ring.

Lauren Kolbe and Jetstream. Photo by High Desert Sport Photo

“This is my first time showing him today,” she said of the 8-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding by For Pleasure. “His owner Karina Winkler was so generous to let me ride him; he’s the best. I rode him for the first time last year. I have gotten to ride him once in a while, maybe less than 10 times this past year. He’s just a joy to ride. He has such a good attitude and always has his ears forward. He’s like a Golden Retriever.”

The duo jumped their way to the second position after round one, so Kolbe had to be bold to try to go after the win and unseat leader Michelle Berry with Caprio 33, owned by Professional Maintenance Systems. Kolbe’s handy round score of 92 was just enough to take the win, and Berry took second. Jaime Krupnick took third with Conux.

Lauren Kolbe and Jetstream. Photo by High Desert Sport Photo

“My strategy was to look as effortless as possible while trying to do all the inside turns, maintaining a good forward rhythm and he was perfect,” Kolbe continued of her round with Jetstream. “He just stepped around and didn’t care about anything. He gave me so much confidence. I haven’t been in the show ring in a little while so that was helpful.”

Though Kolbe is a regular in all rings at DIHP, this Desert Circuit will look slightly different for her, as she is halfway through her first year as a freshman at UC Davis, where she rides for the team and plans to pursue Political Science and Film majors.

“I’ve been super lucky to do most weeks in the past few years but this year with school this might be my only week here,” Kolbe explained. “Hopefully I can come watch for a few weeks. I love it out here so it will be hard to stay away.”

She made her short time in the ring count, hoping she can return to the desert as the circuit continues.

Savannah Jenkins Speeds to Win in $5,000 Interactive Mortgage 10 & Under Futurity Series

Savannah Jenkins has a new pocket rocket in her string, and she’s already winning despite just acquiring the horse in December. Aboard Forastero 2, she topped the $5,000 Interactive Mortgage 10 & Under Futurity Series 1.35m, proving the up-and-coming horse is going to be a top one.
“He’s new this is our first week showing him,” she said of the 9-year-old Holsteiner gelding (Stakkato x Nabab de Reve). “He’s owned by E2 Show Stables and I got him right after Desert Holiday so we took him on as a sale horse. Wednesday was our first class together. He’s super unbelievably careful. But for how careful he is, he has heart times two. He has the biggest heart and best personality. He’s so small but he thinks he’s the biggest guy out there.”

The horse is only about 15.1 hands high, but makes up for his small size in heart.

Savannah Jenkins and Forastero 2 in their winning presentation. Photo by High Desert Sport Photo

“When I’m cantering up to the verticals were pretty much eye level with the 1.35m verticals,” she joked. “But he’s got a good amount of blood and I have another 9-year-old mare who’s the same way and she’s 15 hands, so they complement each other pretty well.”

In a group of talented young horses, Jenkins was the fastest of six double-clears, but the race at the top was very close, with most of them only within a second of one another’s jump-off times. She has high hopes for the horse but also remains realistic.

“You never know with the young ones,” Jenkins remarked of what she expects from Forastero 2. “We’ll keep building him up and seeing when he either tells us this is where I’m at or keep going. It’s only my second class but the idea is for him to find his next home. The last two classes and his photos are showing some pretty big potential so we’ll see.”

Savannah Jenkins and Forastero 2. Photo by High Desert Sport Photo

Jenkins has built up a business that is thriving at DIHP, and she’s put in more permanent roots to spend most of her winter at the facility.

“We actually just bought a house out here so we’re really loving being out here,” she shared. “I have a lot of sale horses and a few clients so I’ll be here the next 10 weeks. I’m aiming toward the FEI classes with my older horses, and I love these young horse classes and the 1.40m classes on Sunday. I have a lot of horses between 5 years old and 16 years old, so there’s a money class for all my young ones coming up. I’m hoping for a lot of sales, a lot of wins, and a great time.”

Kyle King was second with Fazenda Semilly, owned by Roaring Fork Farms, and Megan McDermott was third with Bruce Z, owned by Counter Balance LLC.

Show jumping continues Saturday of Desert Circuit 1 with the $25,000 U.S. Bank Grand Prix.