Halifax, MA – August 16, 2013 – The hunter riders stole the spotlight today at the Fieldstone Summer Showcase as they took center stage for the $2,500 Fieldstone 2’9” Hunter Derby. Posting two fantastic rounds for the winning score of 188 points was Jennifer Bliss and Knockout. It was a day of firsts for the pair as they tackled the derby course with dexterity and finesse. Earlier in the day Skyler Fields and Silly Putty took the win in the $2,500 Fieldstone Pony Classic.
Phil DeVita of Apopka, Fl, designed today’s intricate derby courses, which included four high options, many inside turn options and a jump on a table. Riders were also faced with a tight two-stride combination, as well as unrelated distances, bending lines and natural obstacles reminiscent of a traditional hunt field. The top 13 of the starting 52 entrants in the derby returned to showcase their talents over a handy course.
After starting off with a vertical, riders rode directly to a red oxer, where they had an option to jump the higher fence set at 3-feet. With a roll back turn after the third fence, riders were faced with a trot jump at the far end of the field, leading them up the bank to another vertical. They then rode through an in-and-out combination, and completed the course with a final option. Many of the riders opted for the higher options, but it came down to the best of the best out on the field.
Frank Perla and Samuel, owned by Kathleen Mitchell, were the first to be seen out of the select few to return. They laid down a consistent round, and earned the second round score of 89 points. Combined with his first round total of 84.5 points, Perla proved to be the pathfinder. Each consecutive rider attempted to best his score, as the horse and rider combination wore a target on their back.
Although Caschmier with Kathryn Griffin in the irons earned an 87 in the handy, for an overall score of 169, Perla’s score proved unstoppable with Griffin riding to the fourth place finish. Perla once again entered the all-grass field, but this time aboard his second mount Implicit, owned by Laurie Gundlach of Somers, CT. He left no room for error aboard Implict, riding to the high-scoring second round score of 92 to surpass Samuel in the standings.
“Implicit is a Pre-Green 3’ Hunter horse, and it seemed as though he was very happy out there, we had a great time,” Perla explained. “He did the derby a couple of months ago, but he was a little greener then, he was much happier today. It was a beautiful course, the footing is great, and the horses love it on the field. Its good for the babies, I had two out there, and it keeps them happy and wanting to be out there. My two, were both great, they did everything they needed to do. We had consistent rounds, and one beat the other. I couldn’t be happier.”
The game changed when Jennifer Bliss returned to the ring for her shot at the day’s win. Bliss had navigated Knockout to the first round high score of 90 points, and was the last to return to the ring for their turn to shine. They left nothing to chance as they took the handy course with precision, fluidity and consistency.
“I love this horse and have high hopes for him,” Bliss exclaimed. “He’s so much fun. He is brave to the jumps, quiet, and I can just loop the reins and gallop. He was smooth in both rounds, and I tried to just go for it in the handy. The courses were great, and the footing on the field was wonderful, it was very flowing and made for a great time.”
They were dually awarded for their efforts on the field today, earning the judges’ nods with the final handy score of 98 points. A resounding applause erupted from the sidelines as spectators celebrated their success.
Knockout, or Rocky as he is more commonly called, only recently moved from the Baby Green Hunters to the Pre-Green Hunters. Bliss has high hopes for the young horse, with aspirations to see him one day compete in the USHJA International Hunter Derby Championship.
“We are trying to get him some derby mileage so maybe he’ll move up and do the bigger derbies,” Bliss explained. “I had one older horse that qualified for the derby finals, but we decided to just focus on the younger ones and it’s been a building year for us.”
Bliss also rode Bolero, owned by Marigot Bay Farm, LLC of Dover, MA, to the fifth place finish after taking all the high options and riding to the cumulative score of 168 points. Kristen Bumpus rounded out the top six with Inspired, owned by Hannah Curran of Concord, MA.
Bliss concluded, “I came to Fieldstone a lot when I was little and competed on ponies. I hadn’t been back in a while, so I came two years ago because I wanted to do the NEHJA Derby Finals. We loved it, and now we make it a point to come back.”
Earlier in the day, ponies and their riders were given the opportunity to compete on the prestigious derby field in the $2,500 Fieldstone Pony Hunter Classic. The class was an enormous hit, drawing in a large field of entrants, and showing fierce competition as riders contended for the ribbons.
Phil DeVita’s course asked many questions of both Skyler Fields and Silly Putty rode away with the win. Fields posted the second highest scoring first round effort, riding to a score of 75 points, but when she returned to the ring she had her eyes set on the blue. They took the second round of the classic with precision, and their flowing canter led them right into the hearts of the scrutinizing judges. They won the $2,500 Fieldstone Pony Hunter Classic with a final score of 154 points.
“I’ve had him for about a year, and he’s been a very good boy,” Fields stated. “His canter is really comfortable, its like a couch, he just needs you to sit up and keep your leg on. He’s a good jumper, and I think that is what gave us the edge.”
“It was love at first sight,” Fields concluded. “We got him at the 2012 Pony Finals, and he was the perfect pony. He just keeps on trying his heart out, and I think he really likes it here. After a week like Pony Finals, it is so nice to escape to Fieldstone. It’s so much more relaxing, it’s so pretty here, I have been coming since I competed in the short stirrup division.”
Abigail Brayman and Jumanji, also owned by Skyler Fields, rode to the second place, with the overall score of 153 points, hot on Fields’ heels. It was Caroline Ellis and Millpond Patchwork who took home the third place today.
The Fieldstone Summer Showcase will continue tomorrow with the Adult Amateur Hunter divisions, and the Adult Equitation classes. All eyes will turn to the Grand Prix Field at 3 p.m. as the world’s top riders gather on the grass to vie for the lion’s share of the $50,000 Fieldstone Grand Prix. The attention will once again return to the hunters this Sunday, Aug. 18 as riders gear up for the $10,000 GGT Footing 3’3″ Hunter Derby on Sunday, Aug. 18. For more information on Stadium Jumping and the Fieldstone Summer Showcase, please visit www.showfieldstone.com . You can also follow the Fieldstone Horse Shows on Facebook athttps://www.facebook.com/fieldstone.equestrian.