When there’s a line-up full of experienced hunters competing for the biggest hunter paycheck of the HITS Ocala circuit, you don’t expect a 5-year-old to step up for blue. But rider Adrienne Iverson wasn’t surprised that her partner Fandango HX earned a serious payday. He’s been a natural in the hunter ring since he started just six weeks ago.
As the final east coast qualifier of the season, the lineup of the $50,000 Live Oak International CSI-W included an awful lot of ambitious riders all jockeying for an invitation to the Longines FEI World Cup Final in Las Vegas this April. But Cian O’Connor had a much more modest goal: He just wanted to test out his rising star, Good Luck, with an outing on the grass. And that stallion outdid himself, rising to the top of the 46-horse class in a competitive class to earn blue for the Irish rider and owner Adena Springs.
There's plenty to see around the HITS Ocala showgrounds, and it doesn't all happen in the show ring. Here are a few of our favorite moments from today. Want to see more from HITS Ocala? Check out this gallery from yesterday's action.
For most riders, winning a grand prix would be the main focus of their day. But for Andy Kocher, his time in the show ring is a short respite between selling horses. Lucky for him, he’s gotten quite good at both.
When Mark Mead walks Gold Panda into schooling ring at a horse show, he immediately knows all eyes are on him. After all, it’s pretty hard to miss a palomino Thoroughbred in a hunter schooling area these days.
“If I’m at a place where people have never seen him before, when I’m riding around people are looking at me like ‘What’s he doing with a cow horse?’ ” said Mead. “But then they see me pick up canter, and he’s got an 18-foot beautiful lopey stride, and I know their view changes. It’s really cool.”
Martien van der Hoeven only came to Gulfport, Miss., for one week this winter, but he made it worth his while when he rode Cellino to the top of today’s $10,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby.
That derby specialist spends most of his time in a paddock and enjoying light hacks in a field at home, only getting his mane braided when there’s a big derby on the schedule. And today Cellino’s experience came in handy today, helping him top the field of 35 to take the blue for Julie Thompson.
The U.S. Equestrian Federation and U.S. Hunter Jumper Association announced a moratorium on Federation-generated protest measurements for the rest of the 2015 competition year on Feb. 23. This change will not preclude members from protesting the height of ponies and horses owned by other members.
World Championship Hunter Rider program officials have selected Mindful as their Hunter of the Year. The 11-year-old gelding will receive the Peter Wetherill Cup during the $100,000 WCHR Peter Wetherill Palm Beach Hunter Spectacular for his achievement.