Jennifer Bauersachs of Frenchtown, NJ, and Cleaveland topped a field of 50 horses to win the $5,000 3'3” NEHJA Hunter Derby, presented by Eastern Hay, on July 21 during World Championship Hunter Rider (WCHR) week at the Vermont Summer Festival in East Dorset, VT. The Vermont Summer Festival runs for six consecutive weeks from July 5 through August 14 at Harold Beebe Farm.
Bauersachs earned scores of 87.5 and 88 over innovative courses designed by Doug Russell of Ocala, FL, that spanned two rings and incorporated regular hunter fences as well as traditional derby obstacles. Her scores combined to total 175.5, giving Bauersachs and Cleaveland the win by a margin of more than seven points for owners, Meritage Stable and Spring Hill Farm, Inc.
Taking second, Amanda Steege of Bedminster, NJ, piloted Playmaker, owned by J T Farm, to scores of 82 and 86 for a total score of 168. Katie Cooper of Owings Mills, MD, and Sandlot, owned by Cherry Knoll Farm, claimed third on scores of 87 and 79 to finish with a final score of 166. Caitlin Venezia-White of Marstons Mills, MA, rode Waterfall to fourth for owner, Jennifer Combs, and combined scores of 84 and 80 to finish on a 164. Steege also rounded out the top five with Zidane, owned by Susan Darragh, with scores of 79 and 84 to settle on 163.
Kristy Herrera of Wellington, FL, and Georgette le Bon, owned by Mary Davis, jumped to scores of 86 and 76.5 to take sixth with a total of 162.5. Herrera's performance earned her the Kastel Denmark Ladies Style of Riding Award for the second week in a row, which was presented on Thursday by Susan Benson of Kastel Denmark.
Cleaveland, a 13-year-old Holsteiner gelding, was imported as a stallion two years ago and Bauersachs has been by the horse's side ever since.
“We have been through a lot with this horse,” she said. “We have had success and difficulties. It's nice to have it finally all come together. I am really proud of him. I knew it was going to be hard for him to go into the second ring and face the derby jumps. I know him well enough now to know that he wants you to trust him and give him time. I was happy that I was able to accomplish that in both rounds and have him respond. I'm a little bit of a control freak and he teaches me to not be like that.”
Bauersachs is spending two weeks at the Vermont Summer Festival and has experience with its take on the hunter derby format.
“I have competed in these classes before and the courses are always fun to ride,” she said. “[Management] does such a great job – you can tell they really care.”
According to Bauersachs, her bucket list includes winning the WCHR Pro Challenge someday. She is hopeful that she will qualify in 2016 and face some of the best hunter riders in the country at the Capital Challenge Horse Show this October.
The WCHR program was founded in 1992 to recognize and celebrate the hunter rider. WCHR program members qualify for national and regional awards by earning points at member events held across the country throughout the qualifying year. Each year, the top-ranked riders come together to compete in the WCHR Finals at the Capital Challenge Horse Show in Upper Marlboro, MD.
“The program is fun because it's a chance for the riders to excel,” she said. “You don't have to have multiple horses, just one good horse and you can still be competitive. It's feasible for anybody.”
In addition to her share of the prize money and a commemorative scrim from Mona's Monograms, Bauersachs was presented with a Land Rover Experience Driving School off-road excursion from Dan and Garrett Johnson, representing class sponsor, Eastern Hay.
For over 20 years, the Vermont Summer Festival has attracted exhibitors and their families to the Manchester region in southern Vermont for great competition in an ideal summer setting. Outside the show ring, exhibitors enjoy the charm of Vermont's shopping, dining, and outdoor activities.
Competition at the 2016 Vermont Summer Festival runs weekly from Wednesday through Sunday, beginning each day at 8 a.m. Admission is $6 for adults and $3 for children from Wednesday through Friday. On Saturday and Sunday, admission is $9 for adults and $5 for children with 100% of all gate proceeds benefiting the Manchester Community Library, Dorset Equine Rescue, and Meals on Wheels.
Please e-mail or visit www.vt-summerfestival.com for more information about the Vermont Summer Festival.
$5,000 3'3" NEHJA Hunter Derby, presented by Eastern Hay - Thursday, July 21
Rider Hometown Horse Scores
1. Jennifer Bauersachs Frenchtown, NJ Cleaveland 87.5/88 = 175.5
2. Amanda Steege Bedminster, NJ Playmaker 82/86 = 168
3. Katie Cooper Owings Mills, MD Sandlot 87/79 = 166
4. Caitlin Venezia-White Marstons Mills, MA Waterfall 84/80 = 164
5. Amanda Steege Bedminster, NJ Zidane 79/84 = 163
6. Kristy Herrera Wellington, FL Georgette le Bon 86/76.5 = 162.5
7. Amanda Steege Bedminster, NJ Surreal 81/77 = 158
8. Shachine Belle Farmington, CT Cote d'Or 80/76 = 156
9. Heather Hays North Salem, NY Stellar 78/75 = 153
10. Jennifer Bauersachs Frenchtown, NJ Overjoyed 88/53 = 141
11. Ally Archer Katonah, NY Victor VDL 85/54 = 139
12. Lillian Manion New Castle, NH Pocage Marblesien 79.5/50 = 129.5