Thermal, Calif. – Nov. 4, 2021 – The professional hunters concluded on Thursday morning at the Desert International Horse Park during the first week of the National Sunshine Series. Alexis Taylor took center stage in the Main Hunter Ring, scoring the High Performance Hunter Championship, sponsored by Oz Inc, aboard Catendro, while Juliette Joseph and earned the reserve championship honors.
Taylor and Catendro, a 13-year-old German Sport Horse gelding by Catoki and owned by Mia Burlington, won the handy class on Wednesday during the High Performance Hunter division, and then went on to win a class and place second on Thursday to earn the championship title. Joseph and Flip De Hus Z, a 10-year-old Zangersheide stallion owned by Citrus Hill Farms, Inc., won over fences and placed second under saddle on his way to the reserve championship award.
Catendro is a triple threat, competing in the High Performance Hunters, the International Hunter Derbies and the equitation. Taylor was thrilled to return to the ring with the talented gelding who she has ridden for three years. The pair consistently earns top placings, with Catendro showcasing his naturally round style over the High Performance obstacles.
Earlier in the day, the Conformation Hunter division, sponsored by Ramard, came to a close with Mitch Endicott capturing the championship prize with Aventus, owned by Jennifer Cancellieri. The duo won the first over fences class as well as the hack to earn the championship title. The reserve championship was presented to Nick Haness and Violet Tatum’s Valedictorian. Haness also earned the Green 3’6” Hunter Championship, sponsored by Brookway Stables, this time aboard Ecole Lathrop’s Starburst. Kylee Arbuckle and Sienna Faidi’s Esteban took home the division’s reserve championship award.
Shawn Casady continued his winning ways from Wednesday to take home the Green 3’9” Hunter Championship, sponsored by Pegasus Farm, with Cassario 8 for Ashland Farms. The reserve championship went to Haness and Reese’s, owned by West Coast Equine Partners LLC.
Hunters will continue to be showcased throughout the National Sunshine Series. Friday’s competition will feature the $5,000 USHJA Junior/Amateur National Hunter Derby, sponsored by Platinum Performance, and the $5,000 USHJA Open National Hunter Derby, sponsored by Ritz Carlton, kicking off at 8 a.m. in the Main Hunter Ring.
FROM THE WINNERS CIRCLE
Alexis Taylor – High Performance Hunter Champion
“He is fabulous. He’s owned by one of my junior riders, Mia Burlington, who had a wonderful season on him. She won an International Derby on him and did the High Performance division a couple of times. I am lucky enough to get to show him down here and I have so much fun every single time I get to ride him. I am so thrilled that he is here at this horse show and had the opportunity to do this division. I’ve had him for three years now, so I know him pretty well – we have a good partnership. He is very scopey and very adjustable in his step, so he really gives you that feeling like he can do anything. He jumps the height easily, always has.”
On Catendro’s personality:
“He’s funny – he’s a little quirky. He pretends like he doesn’t want all the love, but then he really does. He has a very funny personality, but he is a very sweet horse.”
On the Desert International Horse Park improvements:
“I am blown away. I am such a fan of Steve and the whole group here. I just am in awe of everything that they are doing and want to support them in everything that I can do. I am so grateful to them for creating a horse show that is so well suited to the horse care as well as the high level competition. That’s harder to find these days, so just very appreciative.”