Thermal, Calif. – Jan. 28, 2022 – Friday afternoon welcomed athletes back into Hunter 1 to try their hand over a beautifully set course for the $5,000 USHJA National Hunter Derby – Open and Jr.Am, sponsored by Perfect Products. The Hunt & Go format derby featured 33 horse-and-rider combinations for the Open section and 20 pairs for the Jr/Am section. Impressing the judges and winning the $5,000 USHJA National Hunter Derby – Open section was Julia Rossow and the West Coast Equine Partners, LLC, entry Crowd Pleaser with a score of 178. Topping the $5,000 USHJA National Hunter Derby – Jr/Am was Ashley Weiman and Summer Romance with a score of 173.
The course, designed by Ken Krome, featured four high options set at 3’5″, plus a solid wall, a bounce, a trot jump, and several long gallops to show off the scope and handiness of the horses that came forward. Riders would jump the first eight fences as their first round in a classic hunter style before advancing into the handy immediately over fences nine through 15. Nick Haness was the first to set the bar high as he stepped in the ring with Jennifer Berman’s Stiletto and captured the leading overall score of 174. That score would hold until Rossow took to the ring on the former ride of Haness, Crowd Pleaser, the 15-year-old Selle Francais gelding, and laid down a near flawless round, meeting each fence with grace and style and impressing the judges. Rossow switched into a different gear for the handy round, taking an inside turn to the bounce and opening up the gelding’s stride to ride forward to the wall and to the final oxer, taking all four high options on the road to completing their course.
The only rider whose rounds came close to matching the score set by Rossow was Haness as he returned on two more mounts before the class ended. Stepping in the ring on Boss, owned by Laura Wasserman, Haness earned a score of 175, then returned as the final combination of the class with Reese’s, owned by the West Coast Equine Partners, LLC, and came as close as he could to overtaking the lead, scoring a 177, just a point shy of Rossow’s score but good enough for second overall. His other two mounts, Boss and Stiletto, would place second and third, respectively.
Juniors and amateurs took to Hunter 1 next to have their turn over the same course. Leslie Biederman and Coer De Leon set the early score to beat as the first combination in the ring, but seven rounds later, Avery Winston and Kinship overtook the lead. Her lead would hold until Kyra Russel and Get Rowdy, owned by Teton Farms, LLC, would lay down an impressive round for a score of 165, which would ultimately place her third.
Weiman, from Ramona, California, stepped in the ring in the 16th spot in the order aboard Summer Romance, owned by Romance Sport Horses, and impressed the judges with their stunning performance and rhythmic grace throughout the ring. Stepping into handy mode, the pair aced the trot jump and bounce before galloping across the final few fences and szailing home and to a score of 173. The only pair that would come close to that score were the second to last on course, Avery Rose Glynn and Lighthouse, owned by Rebecca Farendorf.
FROM THE WINNERS CIRCLE
Julia Rossow – $5,000 USHJA National Hunter Derby – Open winner
On Crowd Pleaser:
“He’s fondly known as Taxi at home. He’s a ride tha’ts a little new to me. He’s probably recognizable to people with Nick Haness on him. He’s kind of a derby veteran. He’s definitely been in the spotlight a lot. [His owners] have been very generous to give him the reins on him. It’s been really fun. He’s wonderful, he is super brave, he never bats an eye, really easy to get to the ring, fun to ride, fun to jump, and likes to go out on the trail and do a little bit of everything. He’s just a really special, wonderful, easy fella. He’s just an all around super guy. He’s so fun in the derbies because he’s so brave and so game and really nonchalant about it all. You can be really tricky and handy and all the things.
“I got the ride last November. My first time on him was the Las Vegas derby. He was great; we were third. and I’ve been able to continue to develop the partnership which has been really special.”
On the Hunt & Go format:
“The Hunt & Go was really cool. I’ve never done one before and it was a whole different planning strategy for me. I didn’t have the anticipation of watching the classic round and knowing where I sat. In this you have to think on your feet a lot more and you had to have a couple different plans depending on how your classic round went. I loved that it started with the trot fence, rolling back to the bounce and that you have both options: inside or around. I thought that was a good test and a good challenge. He slipped right inside and was able to cut across the bounce at an angle to go straight to the oxer. I liked the flow of the entire course. I thought both the classsic and handy part showcased all the horses’ strengths. It had the the long flowing lines, some nice, stout oxers to let the horses show off their jumps, and the really handy elements to show off the rideability. I thought it was really fun.”
“I think it’s beautiful and it’s more and more beautiful and exhibitor-friendly every single time you come out. Everyone’s putting their best foot forward to create this wonderful exhibitor experience. It’s built with the horses in mind. Everything that’s been developed has been to not only make us as riders and trainers and spectators comfortable but the horses as well. Everything looks beautiful, I think the horses are really comfortable and happy, there’s space to go out and do something different like going out on the trail. That’s actually how I prepared Crowd Pleaser; we went out and hacked around on the trails in the back. It’s good for them to take a breath and feel like horses and to give them something different to look at. It gets better and better.”
$5,000 USHJA National Hunter Derby – Open
Place / Horse / Rider / Owner / Score
1. Crowd Pleaser / Julia Rossow / West Coast Equine Partners, LLC / 178
2. Reese’s / Nick Haness / West Coast Equine Partners, LLC / 177
3. Boss / Nick Haness / Laura Wasserman / 175
4. Stiletto / Nick Haness / Jennifer Berman / 174
5. Jafanola / Missy Froley Sereni / Julie Heider / 173.5
6. Cloud 9 / Katie Taylor-Davidson / Kristine Floyd / 173
7. Picnic / Katrina Karazissis / Lisa Hankin / 170.5
8. Lift Off / Daphne Foran / Mandy Hosford / 166.5
9. Edacious / Gretchen Lof / Suzanne Hofman / 166
10. SWS Checkini / Gabriela Pattinson / Madison Hirshberg / 159
11. No Reservations / Chad Mahaffey / Curtis Holdings Inc. / 153
12. Wellington / Wendy Brownlee / Christine McCormack / 151.5
$5,000 USHJA National Hunter Derby – Jr/Am
Place / Horse / Rider / Owner / Score
1. Summer Romance / Ashley Weiman / Romance Sport Horses / 173
2. Lighthouse / Avery Rose Glynn / Rebecca Fahrendorf / 171
3. Get Rowdy / Kyra Russell / Teton Farms LLC / 165
4. Decklin / Gable Gehring / Gable Gehring / 163.5
5. Captivated / Lillian Muzzy / Shayne Wireman / 161
6. Kinship / Avery Winston / Avery Winston / 158
7. Won Love / Emma Post / Emma Post / 152
8. Coer De Leon / Leslie Biederman / Leslie Biederman /149
9. Fleur Delacour / Georgia Yewell / Georgia Yewell / 147
10. Baldeur / Lillian Muzzy / Lillian Muzzy / 143
11. Elvenstar Hans / Isabel Baker / Elvenstar Farm / 134
12. Fabulous / Teresa Mann / Teresa Mann / 130