Thermal, Calif. – Feb. 3, 2022 – Hunter champions were crowned in the professional divisions on Thursday during Desert Circuit II. Amongst a field of impressive talent, athletes let their respective mounts show off their scope and athleticism to impress the judges and earn the top spot in each of the classes towards weekly championship titles. Topping the Pegasus Farm Green 3’9’’ Hunter division was Michael Williamson and Givenchy, owned by B R Farms, LLC.
Kevin Holowack designed the courses for the two days of competition in Hunter 1 to challenge each of the horse-and-rider combinations and determine who would walk away with championship honors. Thursday’s courses consisted of a classic hunter round, featuring a single oxer on the outside, a bending line across the diagonal, and a vertical-oxer two-stride combination to complete the round. The second trip served as the $1,000 USHJA Green 3’6’’-3’9’’ Hunter Incentive Stake, which utilized the same course components in a different order.
During Wednesday’s portion of the division, Williamson and Givenchy, an 11-year-old Warmblood mare, picked up a win over fences and in the under saddle, along with a second place in the handy round. Combined with Thursday’s results of second and third place over fences, the pair earned their spot in the winner’s circle. Reserve champion honors went to Corene Smith and Hannah Scheuer’s Copacabana. Smith and the 8-year-old Holsteiner mare won the handy round and placed second over fences Wednesday, riding to first and fifth place over fences Thursday to ultimately clinch the reserve tricolor.
Riders also battled it out for the top title in the $1,000 Green 3’6’’-3’9’’ Incentive Stake. The Green Hunter Incentive Program is open to horses eligible to compete in the Green Hunter at the 3’0″, 3’3″, 3’6″ and 3’9″ height. The program is designed to encourage the development of green horses and is multifaceted to include the Platinum Performance/USHJA Green Hunter Incentive Championships, regional championships, and stake classes throughout the year and across the country. It was Leylan Gleeson who piloted Zoe Jaoquin’s C’est Jolie to the blue ribbon Thursday afternoon. Second place was awarded to Lisa Wall riding Tangled Up In Blue, owned by 3P Equine Partners, LLC, with Kylee Arbuckle and Sienna Faidi’s Esteban rounding out the top three.
Hunter competition at Desert Circuit III will continue Friday, February 4, spotlighting competitors in the $10,000 USHJA National Hunter Derby – Open and the $10,000 USHJA National Hunter Derby – Junior/Amateur.
FROM THE WINNER’S CIRCLE
Traci Brooks – Balmoral Farm trainer
On the plan for Thursday’s rounds:
“Our plan was to just set up [Givenchy] for her owner [Ashley Kaplan] who is showing this weekend. We were trying to have it be smooth and solid and confident, keep her straight and just let it be a happy experience so she is ready for her mom this weekend!”
“This is a new horse to us; she came to us in November for an amateur Ashley Kaplan. We are super excited about her. She was eligible as a second year [green] so we started doing that to get to know her a little bit. She’s been champion a few weeks in a row. Ashley showed her for the first time last weekend and she was amazing. We are so excited; so far she has exceeded our expectations.”
On the importance of the Green Incentive Program:
“It is so important for us to keep developing and producing horses here in America and keep the hunter divisions strong and flourishing.”
On goals for Givenchy:
“Our goals are for Ashley and this horse to get to know each other and gel and have a great time and become a strong partnership. Our eyes are on indoors for Ashley.”
“We love it! We are so happy to be here. It’s so great to see all of the improvements every time we come back. Everybody is so receptive when you ask for something, they bend over backwards to try to make everyone happy. The horses are happy, so we couldn’t be more thrilled.”