Megan McDermott has only been in the desert for two days, and she’s already winning. The Ridgefield, CT, native came out west with an impressive string of horses and landed a one-two finish in Thursday’s $10,000 FarmVet 1.45m Open Classic, making her trip already worth it.

Amidst a competitive field, McDermott piloted Toscane de Chavannes, owned by Counter Balance LLC, around Ken Krome’s course first, setting a new time to beat of 58.618 seconds. While other pairs tried to catch her, only her second horse came within shouting distance of the time she set, claiming second with Nintendo, also owned by Counter Balance LLC, in a time of 60.608 seconds. Kyle King gave his best shot with Diamond, owned by Strasburg Morin Inc., with a clear effort in 61.523 seconds.

Megan McDermott and Toscane de Chavannes. Photo by High Desert Sport Photo

“‘Tasha’ is one of my favorite horses,” McDermott said of Toscane de Chavannes, a 10-year-old Warmblood mare. “I love her so much. I’ve had her for a year. Before that she was my very good friend’s horse, and [my friend] got pregnant and now she’s mine. She has the best heart and doesn’t ever lay a foot wrong. She’s very competitive and very careful. I’ve had a fun time developing her to a higher level. She’s just always there for you.”

The schedule at DIHP throughout the circuit is perfect for developing a horse like Toscane de Chavannes, so McDermott plans to continue to let her shine in classes of this level before seeing what else the mare wants to do.

Megan McDermott and Toscane de Chavannes, pictured with Camryn Schatzlein and Ellie Schell of FarmVet. Photo by High Desert Sport Photo

“The plan for her in the winter is to jump 1.40-1.45m and try to win,” she explained. “She jumped clear yesterday in the 1.35m which was her first class in two months, and then she won today in the 1.45m, so she’ll at least stay at this level, but maybe move up a little too.”

Here for the long haul, McDermott is thrilled with the way the horse show has welcomed her, as well as how the results have played out so far.

“It’s only my second day here and I already love it,” she explained. “The show grounds are beautiful, the management is incredible, they’re so accommodating, they’re really trying to make it the best show for the horses and for the riders. We’re here for the full 10 weeks and really looking forward to it. I can’t imagine getting sick of it here. This really feels like home.”

Megan McDermott and Toscane de Chavannes. Photo by High Desert Sport Photo

Having spent the past 12 seasons in Wellington, McDermott is thrilled for a change of scenery, and she feels the horses she brought will really enjoy having some space to relax and a few more opportunities to jump the height they excel at.

“The thing that made me want to come out here most is the horses I have,” she shared. “I have amazing horses who are winners and they’re really competitive and great. My horses deserve to be on a stage where they can show off in the best possible way. We think the footing here is the best in the country, and the level of competition is hard but there are so many classes, with the national classes, 1.35-1.50m with big prize money every week, and FEI show jumping. This is just the best opportunity for them to do it and to succeed.”

McDermott will gear up for jumping Saturday evening’s $25,000 U.S. Bank Grand Prix with a day off for her top horses on Friday.

Dustin Goodwin and Copyright Clinch 3’6” Green Hunter Championship

Dustin Goodwin continues to be amazed by his new mount Copyright. In December the horse won the $20,000 DIHP Young Hunter Championship, and during the first week of Desert Circuit, the horse stepped up to the 3’6” for the first time and took the championship.

“This week was his first time doing the 3’6”,” Goodwin expressed. “He showed for the first time 10 months ago so he’s just really come along quickly and he’s not even 6 yet. He’s a phenomenal young horse that is so professional every time.”

Dustin Goodwin and Copyright. Photo by High Desert Sport Photo

Goodwin acquired the horse from Emil Spidone last year and it was love at first sight, and the love has only grown as he’s pushed Copyright harder and he’s taken all of it in stride. He’s now owned by Elizabeth Aul, and Goodwin hopes to keep the ride for the foreseeable future.

“I think he has a beautiful jump and beautiful expression,” Goodwin said of what sets Copyright apart in the hunter ring, winning three of the over fences classes. “Those are the two best qualities about him. He’s always pleasant and just a beautiful jump.”

Goodwin is in Thermal for the long haul, so he knows it will be important to plan Copyright’s schedule tactically. “For him it’ll be crucial to pick and choose the right weeks to show because he walked right in the first week so sharp, so good, so confident, and I don’t want to take that sparkle away,” he explained. “I’ll be cherry-picking the best weeks for him to go and trying my best not to overdo it, even though it’s so fun to do it over and over again.”

Dustin Goodwin and Copyright. Photo by High Desert Sport Photo

For Goodwin and other professionals, DIHP is a fabulous place to bring up a young horse and build confidence, especially with a circuit of 10 weeks in the winter.

“It’s so nice to be in one place and have that consistent environment and schedule for the horses to fall into the groove of being show horses,” he remarked. “The arenas are great, there’s a huge amount of schooling space, and they can go in the paddock after he shows, so you can really let your horse be comfortable here. There’s so much space and so much available to them.”

Hunters continue Friday morning with two editions of the $5,000 USHJA National Hunter Derby: the Open section, sponsored by Vogel, and the Junior/Amateur section, sponsored by Brown Advisory.