Thermal, Calif. – Dec. 8, 2021 – Week II of hunter competition at Desert Holiday kicked off in Hunter 1 with the Brookway Stables Green 3’6″ Hunter Division. Several of the country’s top hunter athletes took center stage to vie for the top spot after day one of competition. 18 horse and rider combinations tried their hand over a classic hunter round and then showcased their handy hunter abilities in the handy round. In the end, it was Q The Music and Alexis Taylor who led the day after intense competition. Chelsea Brittner and Mattis sit in the second position after day one of the division.
Course designer Alan Lohman set forth two beautiful hunter courses that helped to highlight the impeccable talent that was showcased throughout the division. The first round was a classic hunter course that consisted of eight obstacles that allowed the horses to gallop through the corners and up the long lines, showcasing each horse’s giant step and scope. Then, each horse and rider combination came back for the handy round, navigating their way over a challenging eight obstacle course that asked several testing questions of both horse and rider.
One of the first pairs on course to try their hand over the flowing hunter course was professional hunter rider Taylor aboard Q The Music, a 7-year-old Hanoverian gelding owned by Claire McNichols, who quickly caught the attention of the judges and were awarded for their big, flowing pace and beautiful form over each fence. The dynamic pair was awarded an 85 in the first round, quickly setting the pace for the remainder of the horse and rider pairs.
Taylor and Q The Music were fast to return to the ring to try their hand over the tactful eight-obstacle handy round, which consisted of a tight rollback turn to the first fence followed by a trot jump to a forward bending line. Many horse and rider combinations had issues with the short turns and forward pace needed to get down the lines, but Taylor and Q The Music once again stepped up to the plate and laid down a beautiful handy round earning a second-round score of 84. The final portion of the division was the under saddle class, where Q The Music floated across the ground, highlighting his open stride and fantastic movement, earning them the yellow ribbon and helping them sit in the lead going into day two of competition Thursday.
Fellow competitor Brittner and Mattis, a 6-year-old Warmblood gelding owned by Zenfield Farm, hold the second place spot going into day two of the competition after being awarded for their consistency and great form as they met each jump with grace in both over fences classes. The strong pair received a score of 82.5 in the first round, awarding them the fifth position and sitting them in a good position going into the handy round. However, Brittner and Mattis once again caught the judges’ eyes in the handy round as they laid a seemingly flawless round earning a high score of 86, securing them the blue ribbon in the second over fences class.
Hunter competition will continue in the Main Hunter Ring Thursday at 8 a.m. with the conclusion of the Green 3’6″ Hunter division. Several horse and rider combinations will also be riding for the championship title in the $1,000 Bridgeport Farms USHJA Green Hunter Incentive Stake and the $1,000 CPHA West Coast Green Hunter Stake.
FROM THE WINNERS CIRCLE
Alexis Taylor – Leader of the Brookway Stables Green 3’6” Hunter Division
On Q The Music:
“We call him ‘Tubs’ in the barn. We bought him from Amanda Steege about a year ago. I got to ride him in the Green 3’3” division all of last year, which was fantastic. Stepping up to the Green 3’6” division, he has just been absolutely fantastic. He has just been so solid and I am very proud of him. He shows in the younger Small 3’3” Juniors with his owner [Claire McNichols] on the weekends. They were reserve champion in their division last week and he is just cute as can be. He is really just a good boy. He tries really hard and is a steady Eddy. He has come along so well and I could not be more proud of him.”
“The courses out here are always so fun. It is a beautiful ring and I love doing the handys. [Q The Music] and I have not been able to do a ton of handy rounds since the Green 3’3” division does not have them. It has been a lot of fun to practice and turn a little tighter. We need to work on our trot jumps but otherwise the course went great. The trot jumps always get me! The handy definitely asked a few questions today which is always fun. I had a blast and he was awesome.”
On upcoming plans with Q The Music:
“We are going to stay down here for the entire circuit. He will be staying at Nick Haness’s barn for December. That way he doesn’t have to ship all the way back to Washington. He gets to just hangout in the good weather and have some time off before the circuit starts in January.”
On Desert International Horse Park:
“It is fantastic to be here. I am friends with Steve [Hankin] and I think the group is doing a great job out here. Every time I come here there is another improvement of some kind. I really support them in what they are trying to do, creating a beautiful horse show where we can create top horses and maintain them through good footing and proper stabling. I love it here.”
Horse / Rider / Owner / Score
Brookway Stables Green 3’6” Hunter
1. Q The Music / Alexis Taylor / Claire McNichols / 85
2. Morrison / Nick Haness / West Coast Equine Partners LLC / 84
3. Tangled Up In Blue / Lisa Wall / 3P Equine Partners LLC / 83.5
4. Ballentine’s F / Shawn Casady / Ashland Farms / 83
5. Mattis / Chelsea Brittner / Zenfield Farm / 82.5
6. Homer VDL / Kelly Van Vleck / Linda Freeman / 82
7. Sweet Romance / Nick Haness / Romance Sport Horses / 81
8. Paperboy / Marla Amormino / Julia Greenspan / 79
9. Impressionist / Kylee Arbuckle / Nicole Needham / 78
10. Samba K / Kassy Perry / Kassy Perry / 77
11. Revere / Shawn Casady / Kimberly Gardiner / 71
Brookway Stables Green 3’6” Hunter Handy
1. Mattis / Chelsea Brittner / Zenfield Farm / 86
2. Impressionist / Kylee Arbuckle / Nicole Needham / 85.5
3. Sweet Romance / Nick Haness / Romance Sport Horses / 85
4. Q The Music / Alexis Taylor / Claire McNichols / 84
5. Paperboy / Marla Amormino / Julia Greenspan / 82
6. Quax / Dezraye Choi / Eavan Bronfman / 81
7. Ballentine’s F / Shawn Casady / Ashland Farms / 80
8. Samba K / Kassy Perry / Kassy Perry / 79
9. Advent / Shawn Casady / Marta Rocha / 78
10. Tangled Up In Blue / Lisa Wall / 3P Equine Partners LLC / 76
11. Just For Fun / Nicole Kane / Heidi Kane / 74