Not long ago, Cavaletto Loma Z was jumping the FEI divisions with international show jumper Ashlee Bond. Fast forward to 2024, he’s winning international hunter derby action with top hunter rider Nick Haness. On Friday of Desert Circuit 9, presented by Kubota, Haness and Cavaletto Loma Z, owned by West Coast Equine Partners LLC, took the win in the $49,900 USHJA International Hunter Derby, sponsored by Kubota.

In a field of 49 entries, the competition was fierce, and Haness sat a few spots down after round one came to a close. With the spectacular 10-year-old gelding, Haness put it all on the line in the handy round, acing Skip Bailey’s course and bringing home sky-high scores, which put him at the top of the leaderboard and kept him there.

Nick Haness and Cavaletto Loma Z. Photo by High Desert Sport Photo

“Cavaletto Loma Z is a really special horse owned by Gail Ellis of West Coast partners, actually a horse that had a great career prior to Us with the famous Ashley Bond,” Haness, of Temecula, CA, shared. “I was in Wellington about a year ago and I went and tried him, and I thought, ‘Let’s give this horse a go.’ I think it could be a great derby horse, and that he is.”

Haness is no stranger to top hunter talent, riding and producing incredible hunter horses and winning the most prestigious hunter events nationwide. He knows when he sees something special, and Cavaletto Loma Z was just that.

“He’s very brilliant,” he continued. “I can just describe him as a brilliant horse. He’s got a great expression, he is intelligent, and the horse can jump. He’s really athletic. He can make turns as tight as possible, probably from his past jumper experiences. He’s also a horse that has a great heart and a great brain to be able to do that on command, and especially in the hunter style.”

Bailey’s course was very challenging, and Haness took the challenge as an opportunity to rise, which he did.

Nick Haness and Cavaletto Loma Z in their winning presentation. Photo by High Desert Sport Photo

“Today’s course out here was amazing but the pressure was on,” he said. “Everyone was riding brilliantly today. The judges were very much rewarding tight inside turns, so that put a bit of pressure on us as riders to go in and lay down rounds. If you didn’t go inside you were going to get a lower score, and that’s how it should be. It’s a handy round and it’s competitive. All these horses and riders were exceptional today. It’s a very talented group of people and horses here showing this week.”

With the caliber of horse and rider in the class putting in such strong rounds, Haness felt even more confident when he brought home the win.

“People brought their A-game and their A-horses to this class today so winning it was really awesome,” he shared. “For me as a rider I really had to really rise to my A-level today. I really had to focus on trying to win and I was really happy.”

Part of the challenge of the first-round course was starting with a triple-bar oxer, something commonly seen in show jumping but rarely in hunters.

“That was definitely an eye-opener for the horses,” Haness said of fence one. “He’s a very careful horse so he was ready for that. I know he started off today with a test right away so that was fun to start with. From there the horses could really jump. The team at the desert horse park here did a great job setting this course and the course designers themselves really set a fun course.”

Haness used the first fence as a way to set his pace, which was something he kept around both courses, and amped up to an even higher speed with the hand-gallop to the final fence of the handy round.

“Hunters should be done with pace, and I am a strong believer in pace and brilliance,” he explained of his strategy of riding with pace. “You have to go in the ring and make an impression to show the judges that you want to win the class. Take chances and pick up that gallop. I think galloping up to the front of [the first fence] produced a better jump for the horses, and I think added a little bit of pace and made them clear every jump very nicely.”

While 2023 was an incredible year for Cavaletto Loma Z, with Haness piloting him at USHJA International Hunter Derby Championships to a top-seven placing, they believe 2024 will be even bigger.

“Cavaletto is a really really easy horse in the sense that he doesn’t need a lot of training,” Haness said. “I try to make him feel physically well for these classes, but he only shows with me and then he gets a rest. The last time I did a big class with him was out in the grass when we had the International Hunter Derby a few weeks back on the grass field where he finished with a top ribbon there.”

Week 10 of Desert Circuit features the $100,000 WCHR West Coast Hunter Spectacular, an event that Haness and most other hunter riders at the venue are very much looking forward to.

Simon Schroeder Secures National Derby Win with Corillo Of Greenhill Z

Simon Schroeder is becoming a true master of hunter derby action at Desert International Horse Park, claiming yet another victory to add to his list of accolades, this time in Friday’s $10,000 USHJA National Hunt & Go Derby – Open, sponsored by Seahorse Riding Club. His mount was Corillo Of Greenhill Z, an entry owned by O’Neill Show Jumping LLC.

In the classic phase of the round, Schroeder scored an 88.75, then followed it up with a 93 in the handy phase which Schroeder commonly refers to as the “jump-off”, producing a 181.75 total for the win.

Simon Schroeder and Corillo Of Greenhill Z. Photo by High Desert Sport Photo

“The horse was imported a month ago, and he was a bit sensitive,” Schroeder said of the 7-year-old gelding. “When you get on he’s a little playful and makes some bucks and then we are good and he’s in the groove. He’s an unbelievable jumper. I got the ride from Uma O’Neill, who’s now in Europe. I get along well with him. He got a 92 in the handy in his last derby and I think he was second. He’s going in the right direction.”

Schroeder has taken on more mounts in the most recent weeks, since his wife, Karli, is pregnant with their second child – a son – and has stepped into the management position on the sidelines.

“She’s the manager and I am the doer,” he joked. “You know me, I’m a bit crazy. My wife is totally my manager, my head of everything. She keeps me in line. I try to keep her horses fit for her because I know what an amazing rider she is. I can never catch up to her and what she’s doing. I get to ride her horses at the moment and I’m really happy and amused about that. She’s staying on the side and helping me any way she can.”

Simon Schroeder and Corillo Of Greenhill Z in their winning presentation. Photo by High Desert Sport Photo

Schroeder grew up in Germany, where he specialized in jumpers, but has taken a liking to hunters, believing the two disciplines really share a common base.

“It’s actually not a big difference,” he said of developing hunters versus jumpers. “I came here six years ago and learned to include the hunter riding in my jumper riding, and it helped me in the jumper riding because it’s give and take. Every time it’s a question and an answer. I ask the question and I give the horse a chance to answer me.

“I can’t read a book but I can read a horse,” he continued. “And I love to read horses. Difficult horses in the beginning are maybe not so easy but they come along and get easier. I love to do that. It’s my thing.”

Jan Humphrey and Callabo were second with a score of 180.5, while Nina Alario and While Away, owned by Middlepath Farm, LLC, claimed third with a score of 177.6.

Mariah Barisoff and Morgan Garnett Top Sections of $10,000 USHJA National Hunt & Go Derby – Jr/Am

Mariah Barisoff started her day out with a bang. Aboard her longtime partner Quincy, she rode to incredible scores in the $10,000 USHJA National Hunt & Go Derby – Jr/Am, sponsored by Devoucoux, taking the top position in Section A.

“I got him when he was five and he’s 14 now,” Barisoff said of her irreplaceable partnership. “I got him really green; he had no brakes and didn’t know much of anything. My trainer, Eliza Hunt, and I put him together. We got him to do the big eq and he completed all my goals and dreams and now I’m an amateur and I really wanted to start doing hunter derbies. He’s really allowed me to expand my horizons. It’s just a cherry on top because he did everything I wanted to do as a junior still continuing my dreams”

Mariah Barisoff and Quincy. Photo by High Desert Sport Photo

Barisoff didn’t have high expectations for the day because the warm-up ring provided some challenges, but she was able to leave the past in the past and lay down a foot-perfect classic and handy round in Main Hunter.

“I loved how supple he was throughout the whole round,” she explained of the feeling she got from Quincy. “He felt really rideable. I could turn the corner and just pick and choose where I want to put him. He felt like his head was in the game. I had a bit of a bumpy warm-up, so it was funny going in and having a really nice round. maybe I got all my mistakes out in the warm-up.”

While they’ve been partners for quite some time, they’re still nowhere near the end of the road with their relationship.

Mariah Barisoff and Quincy in their winning presentation. Photo by High Desert Sport Photo

“He is my baby, and he’s never going to get sold,” Barisoff, who hails from British Columbia, continued. “He’s always very honest and he’s always been a really good teacher. He keeps humble though because he doesn’t come out the same every day. He can be a little crazy and eccentric but at the end of the day, he’s the best partner. He’s extremely athletic, he’s really good at his job, and has a lot of heart.”

Beyond making Barisoff’s dreams come true, her mother also takes lessons, proving the horse has become an excellent teacher.

Escaping the cold winter back home in Canada, Barisoff is thrilled to be back in the desert for a second consecutive year. “I love the facility. It’s beautiful,” she reflected. “Last year was my first year here. I was looking forward to coming all year. There are so many options for classes. In Canada, we don’t have adult equitation so there’s so much more variety to do here and it’s really exciting.”

In second in Section A was Lanie Walkenbach and Decisive, owned by Walkenbach Equestrian LLC, while Chloe Mache and St. Martin’s Lane took third.

Morgan Garnett and Hugo De Lui. Photo by High Desert Sport Photo

Morgan Garnett also scored a win in the following event, Section B of the $10,000 USHJA National Hunt & Go Derby – Jr/Am, sponsored by Devoucoux, snagging the top spot close to the end of the order aboard Hugo de Lui.

The pair is another relatively long-term partnership and Garnett has put in very valuable time with her horse at home, without access to the same level of training that Californians typically have.

“I imported bim in 2019 as a 6-year-old from the United Kingdom on my own,” she said of acquiring Hugo de Lui. “My dad went with me to find him; I found him off a video. I’ve had him with Elvenstar with Jim Hagman for a few years. I live in Colorado and I train by myself out there with him and meet Elvenstar at the shows.”

It’s a lot of hard work for Garnett, and it’s a bit unconventional of a training program, but she has made it work very well for herself and her horses. “I’ve been riding for about 25 years and in Colorado I’m in an isolated area without the same kind of program as California,” she shared of her home situation. “I board at a barn owned by an amateur and ride by myself five days a week and I get help from a dressage trainer and that’s pretty much it. I’m very lucky my horses do well in that program. They’re very amateur friendly.”

Morgan Garnett and Hugo De Lui in their winning presentation. Photo by High Desert Sport Photo

Originally meant to be a jumper, Hugo de Lui had more of the pace and mindset for the hunter ring, proving to take to the hunters right away once they made the switch.

“I had a friend sit on him when I first imported him,” she explained. “I bought him to do the jumpers and they said he was going to be too slow. I put him in the hunters and he really enjoys it. I think having your horse enjoy what they’re doing is always going to make it more successful. He doesn’t go to that many shows, but when he does he makes it count.”

Garnett loves the horse park for the level of competition, but mostly for how her horses experience the park.

“The experience for the horses for me is what’s most important,” she said. “Between the footing, the size of the arenas, and everything, it’s a horse park that’s very kind to the horses. They have a good experience and I think they enjoy being there, so that’s what draws me to compete here. I think it’s as close to the home environment you can get in terms of what’s natural for them and what keeps them comfortable and happy.”

Tonya Johnston and Galactic were second in Section B, while Lanie Walkenbach and Charisto, owned by Walkenbach Equestrian LLC, claimed third.

Kaitlin Campbell and Tashmir Z Take on First FEI Win

Kaitlin Campbell and Tashmir Z. Photo by High Desert Sport Photo

On the grass field, the day was Kaitlin Campbell’s (USA). She topped the $5,000 Whittier Trust CSI3* 1.45m Speed aboard Tashmir Z, an entry owned by Alexandra Biederman. Together the duo took the fastest time in a competitive field of international jumpers.

“He’s 12 this year and owned by my friend Alex Beiderman who usually shows him,” Campbell shared. “I have shown him once before but this is the first time I’ve jumped him FEI. I’m competing him until he finds his next rider.”

Campbell doesn’t need extra confidence, but she’ll take the confidence she gets from Tashmir Z. “He’s super experienced,” she said of the Zangersheide gelding (Toulon x Kashmir Van Schuttershof). “He’s jumped Nations Cups in Europe so he’s super brave. I know he’s always going to the other side, now that I’ve gotten to know him better today was the first time I’ve really asked him to go fast. He really responded and was jumping great out there.”

Kaitlin Campbell and Tashmir Z in their winning presentation. Photo by High Desert Sport Photo

Jumping on the grass is a welcome change for FEI riders, who have had several opportunities this season to do so.

“It gives them a nice change of scenery,” Campbell remarked. “For a horse like this who is super brave it’s really impressive when you walk out there so it makes them look when you jump out there.”

Also on the podium were Cassio Rivetti (BRA) in second aboard Billy Dorito, owned by Monarch Farms, LLC, and Ali Ramsay (CAN) with Godfather B Belesbat, owned by Britt Scheifele, in third.

Show jumping resumes Saturday with the $117,000 Kubota CSI3* Grand Prix and the $40,000 Prestige Italia National Grand Prix.