Professional Hunter Division Championships Awarded for Week VII of the Desert International Horse Park Circuit
THERMAL, Calif. – March 11, 2021– The Desert International Horse Park (DIHP) hosted professional hunter classes today for Week VII competition in the property’s newly landscaped hunter rings. This week’s hunter competition includes the $50,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby, the $5,000 USHJA National Hunter Derby, the $1,500 USHJA Pony Hunter Derby and a special 2’6’-2’9”Children’s Adult Hunt and Go Derby. Hunter riders are also gearing up for World Championship Hunter Rider (WCHR) week, which takes place during week VIII and features the prestigious $100,000 WCHR West Coast Hunter Spectacular.
Green Conformation Hunters
Action in the main hunter ring included the Green Confomation Hunters 3’6”, where rider Leslie Steele of Calabasas, CA, rode her way to the both the championship and reserve championship in the division. Steele, the trainer at Acres West, rode the seven-year-old D’Avant, owned by October Hill Farm, TX, and Christian Heineking, to the division championship. The pair won four of the six classes including the model, the handy, and the under saddle to clinch the tricolor.
“He is just lovely,” said Steele of D’Avant. “John Bragg and I have been helping the Davis’s and October Hill since the beginning of the circuit. [D’Avant] is sweet and easy and it’s really nice to be able to ride quality horses like this one.”
Steele said she can’t list just one great improvement at the DIHP because there have been so many wonderful changes made.
“The management is so open to suggestions and it’s so wonderful when management, staff and owners can work together. They are about the aesthetics and the footing and the staff, it’s a really nice environment.”
Steele also rode Balmoral Farm’s Record Year to the reserve championship in the Green Conformation 3’6” for Traci and Carlton Brooks. The combination consistently placed right behind D’Avant, earning three second place finishes and two thirds to secure the reserve slot. The ten-year-old warmblood was also champion in the division weeks IV and V with Steele in the irons.
Lindsay Maxwell’s HH Elmo, who is new to the hunter ring, was champion in the 3’6” Green Hunter, sponsored by Platinum Performance, with Nick Hanness aboard. The horse also won a USHJA National Derby earlier in the circuit and shows in the Amateur Owner division with Maxwell.
“[HH Elmo] was formerly a jumper but appears to be a great hunter,” said trainer Archie Cox. “He’s big, beautiful, elegant and light across the ground, huge scope and the desire to do it correctly.”
Cox is impressed with improvements at the DIHP saying “The hunter rings are beautiful, there’s more space to ride and school, there’s a bridle trail that goes around a portion of the property and it’s groomed, watered and maintained, it’s very nice.”
Cox’s group is looking forward to the WCHR week and the Hunter Spectacular as well and is hoping to have multiple entries adding, “We love WCHR week and for $100,000 we are all going to show! People are very happy to be out and showing and this horse show is really a beautiful event.”
Top rider Jenny Karazissis and Cartier Du Rouet owned by Heidi Kane took home the reserve spot in the Green Hunters 3’6”.
Champion in the Green Hunter 3’9” was Grateful owned by Bianca Jenkins with Gabriela Pattinson in the irons with the reserve tricolor going to Miller’s Cove, ridden by Carleton Brooks and owned by Aubrey Wagner.
Winner of both the $1,000 USHJA Green Hunter Incentive 3’6”- 3’9” and the $1,000 West Coast Green Hunter Stake was Deja Blue ridden by Carlton Brooks and owned by the Roaring Fork Farms LLC.
“We love everything they’ve been doing and they’ve done so much in such a short period of time. We love the new rings, we love that they address the footing, the landscape is beautiful and they are really open to suggestions – they are exhibitor friendly as well as horse friendly so it’s really nice,” said Traci Brooks of Balmoral Farm. “We look forward to WCHR week, they will make it a really special event -it’s always fun and the riders and owners like to hear the scores.”
Champion in the 3’3 Green Hunters, sponsored by G2 Insurance, was Crystal Theisen of Los Angeles, and Loco Lex, owned by Hollis Winkler. It was the eight year old horse’s second time showing in the hunter ring but was shown as a jumper in Europe. Barbi Pappas’ Winsome, with Karli Postel in the tack, took home the reserve ribbon.
Theisen boasted about the DIHP, “It’s unparalled to anywhere on the west coast and even the nation. I love it here! The footing is incredible and obviously the great landscape and the greenery, and even the overall space and the freedom. Horses love it here; I just can’t say enough!”
SWS Checkini ridden by Gabriela Pattinson and owned by Madison Hirshberg won a double header with the highest score of 89 to win both the 3’-3’3” $1,000 USHJA Green Hunter Incentive and the $1,000 West Coast Green Hunter Stake.
“We just got him a year ago and he’s extra special because not only does he do this but he teaches his owner [Hirshberg], she is just learning to canter and does cross rails so he’s very good with her,” said Pattinson, who rides for Devon Gibson in Redondo Beach.
“It’s really incredible what they’ve done with this horse show,” added Pattinson. “I grew up here and rode ponies so I’ve seen all the phases. The horses and people are happy to be here, we even added some weeks that we weren’t originally planning on.”
High Performance 4’ Champion was June Salin’s Corragio ridden by Emma Lindstrom and reserve champion was Black Jack ridden by Jamie Taylor and owned by Grace Russo. The division was sponsored by OZ Inc.
Improvements to the hunter area include lush landscaping, shade pavilions for exhibitors with permanent shade areas for horses to be added, new jumps and more.
Competition Continues with Record Number of Derby Entries
Competition continues at the Desert International Horse Park with a record number of derby day participants in Friday’s $50,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby sponsored by Butet with over 40 entries, and the $5,000 USHJA National Hunter Derby sponsored by Pyranha, which has been split into Open and Junior/Amateur sections with the Open section California split. The $1,500 USHJA Pony Hunter Derby sponsored by Antares, will host approximately 35 ponies.
Week VII Professional Hunter Division Champions
Division Horse Owner Rider
3’ Green Hunters
Champion: Advent Nicassio Valley Barn Shawn Casady
Reserve: Travel Size Forever Horses LLC Rebecca Bruce Glynn
3’3” Green Hunters
Champion: Loco Lex Hollis Winkler Crystal Theisen
Reserve: Winsome Barbi Pappas Karli Postel
3’6” Green Conformation
Champion: D’Avant October Hill Farm Leslie Steele
Reserve: Record Year Balmoral Farm Leslie Steele
3’6” Green Hunters
Champion: HH Elmo Lindsay Maxwell Nick Haness
Reserve: Cartier Du Rouet Heidi Kane Jenny Karazissis
3’9” Green Hunters
Champion: Grateful Bianca Jenkins Gabriela Pattinson
Reserve: Miller’s Cove Aubrey Wagner Carleton Brooks
3’3 Performance Hunters
Champion: Louis Le Bon Rachel Rosenblum Rachel Rosenblum
Champion: Easy Street HU Double Down Farm Nick Haness
Reserve: Goodnight Moon Liberty Lane Farms Julia Tossow
Reserve: Timon Nick Haness Katherine Simonds
4’ Performance Hunters
Champion: Corragio June Salin Emma Lindstrom
Reserve: Black Jack Grace Russo Jamie Taylor
All photos courtesy of ESI Photography
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.