Temecula, Calif. – Apr. 21, 2022 – Hunter champions were crowned Thursday for the first time of the 2022 season at the Temecula Valley National Premier I hosted by Nilforushan Equisport Events. The West Coast’s top hunter combinations took to the Grand Hunter Arena to impress the judges and set the bar high for a great five weeks of showing. The 3’6” Performance Hunter division presented steep competition, as top professional athletes took their superstar mounts over courses designed by Meghan Rawlins (CAN). After three over fences classes, a handy round and an under saddle class spread across the two days, Nick Haness and the West Coast Equine Partners, LLC, entry Reese’s walked away with championship honors. Jenny Karazissis was named reserve champion of the division with Big Shot, owned by Dulcie Lou Morris.
The courses for the day offered athletes a chance to show off their horses’ adaptability and talent, first demonstrating rhythm and scope over a classic hunter course, then returning for a handy round in which various questions were asked to test versatility. Riders cantered directly to fence one, followed by a tight rollback to fence two. Other challenges presented were a bending line, a two-stride and a trot jump.
Last in the ring on day two of the division, Haness piloted Reese’s, a 9-year-old gelding, around a flawless first round, earning a high score of 88. Knowing he had a shot at the division championship, Haness put it all on the line as he flowed around the handy course, cutting corners tight and riding several fences at an angle to ride the track the course demanded. The pair aced the trot jump and galloped home over the final oxer for a high score of 89 and the championship.
Karazissis took home stellar results on day one of the division with her partner Big Shot, an 11-year-old Holsteiner gelding. Their scores of 87 and 86 in the first two round, respectively, put the pair in a prime position to secure a tricolor as the division came to a close. Karazissis will now focus “Dude” on Friday’s $25,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby, sponsored by Rusty Brown Jewelry.
Haness has a strong relationship with both Reese’s and the Temecula Valley National as a hometown hero. The pair’s first outing together was at this event in 2018 when Reese’s was only five. Four years later, the gelding has continued to prove himself as a top competitor and one of Haness’ top rides.
Hunter action continues at Temecula Valley National Premier I Friday morning in the Grand Hunter Arena with the $25,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby, sponsored by Rusty Brown Jewelry, followed by the $2,500 USHJA National Hunter Derby, sponsored by South Coast Winery.
FROM THE WINNERS CIRCLE
Nick Haness – Champion, 3’6” Performance Hunter
“Reese’s is one of my favorite horses; he’s like my son. One of the cool facts about him is that he made his debut showing at this horse show when he was a 5-year-old way back in 2018, so he’s grown up here in Temecula and produced too many championships here at this horse show.”
On Reese’s returning to the ring after a break:
“He’s a really seasoned horse, he loves to compete and show. The break was nice but he came back and has been right on the money where he left off. I feel like the break was good for his mind but he really feels great; he’s jumping really well and has been perfect for me, so I’m really happy.”
On being back in the saddle:
“It feels really good. We understood the difficult times we had to face with the horses’ safety and health being our first concern, but it was in some ways nice to take a break and regroup. The horses had some down time and we are ready to reboot.”
On showing at the Temecula Valley National Horse Show:
“I’m from Temecula and I love supporting the horse show here. We are thrilled to be showing, and the show grounds look great. Many improvements have been noticed and appreciated, and we are going to be here for the whole time!”