Traverse City, Mich. – June 25, 2023 – Katie Dinan (USA) had a difficult task ahead of her in Sunday’s $145,100 CSI3* Grand Prix to close the Traverse City Spring Horse Shows, presented by Turtle Creek Casino & Hotel. Not only were the six jump-off contenders ahead of her extremely fast, she also had a surprise rainstorm show up right when it was her turn to bring it home as the last to go.
At the time, Hallie Grimes (USA) led with Chaccato PS, owned by Can We Keep It? LLC, on a time of 39.91 seconds over Anderson Lima’s (BRA) short track. Dinan held second with Dijon Terdoorn Z, making for a repeat situation to the week prior, when she got her first major Sunday grand prix win.
“I thought, let’s just do this; it’s not going to get better,” Dinan explained of how she felt going in the ring. “We have to be really thankful for the amazing footing here. I wasn’t worried about that. It had just started raining and we have great ground here so I knew we’d be fine.”
Making neat turns and letting her 17-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding (Namelus R x Gerlinus) do his thing over the jumps, Dinan came home in 39.84 seconds. But she didn’t know that when she crossed the timers.
“It was exciting and suspenseful because I came out of the ring and had no idea what place I was in,” Dinan said of the brief loss of power right before her round as a storm moved in. “I was obviously really excited to find out I won. It was close; it was a really fast group of riders so to win against that caliber of rider means a lot to me.”
Taking the win with Brego R’N B and third place with Dijon Terdoorn Z, both owned by Grant Road Partners, LLC, echoed the result she had during Traverse City Spring II. Grimes claimed second with Chaccato PS.
Giving her extra confidence in the pouring rain, Brego R’N B is a trusted partner for Dinan through the highest levels, so she knew he was up for the challenge. “I tried to not focus on everything going on around me and just get the jump-off done,” she said. “It’s a real tribute to Brego who’s so brave and so game. He has such a big stride and I’m usually holding him back. I think he really loves it in the jump-off when he can finally go.”
“I love Traverse City,” she said of her time spent in Northern Michigan. “It’s a great town. There are some great restaurants. We went to Farm Club both Saturday nights before the [Sunday] Grand Prix. After we won last Sunday my team agreed to go back this week. So now we’re going to be Farm Club regulars.
“We’re here to focus on the show but you can enjoy being in a nice town and being by the water,” Dinan continued. “And that the people in the town are more excited about the horse show and coming here. It’s always nice when the horse show is embraced by the community.”
Coming off an incredible two weeks, Dinan could not be more pleased. “I’m super happy for my horses; they deserve it,” she said. “I’m really happy for my team. Consistency is something I really strive for and I’m really happy for these two weeks.”
At the end of the day, Dinan recognizes she wouldn’t have achieved either win without the team behind her. “My coach, Beat Mandli (SUI), has trained me for almost 10 years now, and he still is patient with me. Lou who grooms Brego and Dijon and our other groom Kelly. Everyone who does the sport knows it’s a huge team effort and it wouldn’t be here without them and my parents who are my biggest supporters.”
Didgereedoo VDL Dominates $10,000 USHJA National Hunt & Go Derby
Fan favorite Didgereedoo VDL did what he does best Sunday afternoon in the $10,000 USHJA National Hunt & Go Derby to close out World Championship Hunter Rider (WCHR) week at Traverse City Spring Horse Shows, presented by Turtle Creek Casino & Hotel. Kelsey Epperson piloted the 15-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding to dual scores of 90 in each round for a combined total of 180.
“I was excited to ride Diddy today because this is a big week for us,” Eppseron said of Didgereedoo VDL, owned by Lashier Properties. “He was champion early in the week in the 3’3” Performance and I was excited about how he felt. I wanted to keep him feeling really good so we decided to do the derby today instead of doing [the WCHR Spectacular] last night because we knew he’d be super comfortable there. I was really looking forward to doing it today.”
Epperson and “Diddy” have won countless hunter derbies in Traverse City and Diddy himself has become a bit of a celebrity around the show grounds. His unique look and stellar jump set him apart from the crowd, which worked in his favor in Sunday’s class.
“He initially came from a VDL auction and Brian Shook bought him and did some grand prixs on him,” Epperson said of Diddy’s background. “We ended up having him for a kid to do the junior jumpers on. She decided she wanted to do the junior hunters one week and we thought he jumped cute enough so he could do that. After that we realized he was such a good hunter and really loves to perform and loves his job. When he goes out and does the derby he knows it’s important.”
Epperson and the team behind Diddy are very practical about planning the gelding’s schedule, knowing they should aim him at more important classes to increase his chances of succeeding and bringing home top prize money.
“We’re going to keep it pretty simple for him,” she said of the rest of his summer schedule. “We want to keep his jumps minimal because he is jumping so well. We’re going to keep him here for the rest of the summer but he’ll probably show every other week. He’ll do the Performance and the derbies with me. We want to keep him happy and excited to do it.”
Just prior, the $10,000 USHJA Non Pro National Hunter Derby saw 36 entries, and it was Logan Jacobson who took top call on MTM Crossed My Mind. The junior rider earned a score of 91 in the first round, putting her right at the top to return last, then laid it down in the handy round, scoring a 93 for the win on a total score of 184.
“Going in I was planning to play it safe but then I heard a couple other high scores, so I thought I’d be tight with my turns but nothing too major,” Jacobson, of Austin, TX, said of her plan. “I like to keep a bold canter in handy rounds to get higher scores. I trust my horse. He’s really good in the handy rounds.”
Jacobson has helped the horse grow over a year and a half and now, in their first trip to Traverse City, they’re aiming at the rider’s first ever Adequan®/USEF Junior Hunter National Championships appearance next week.
“I got him a year and a half ago from MTM Farm in Ocala, FL,” Jacobson said of the 8-year-old Oldenburg gelding. “I took him from the 2’6” to the 3’6” Juniors. He’s been really great and has gotten better and better with each show. He always looks so happy to do it and always wants to be here. He’s very brave and bold and has a big lofty jump.”
Jacobson has both MTM Crossed My Mind plus another up-and-coming young horse that she has been working with to eventually take into the show ring. “I really enjoy bringing horses up,” she remarked. “I love seeing their progress and how much better they get, what they develop into. It feels great to get to show them myself. Being able to go in and win on a horse you develop yourself is amazing.”
In Jacobson’s first trip to Northern Michigan, it was a nice reprieve from the hot temperatures back home in Texas in the dead of summer. “It’s so beautiful here,” she said of Traverse City Horse Shows. “The first few days were a little cold and it’s been wonderful since then. I love the rings. Everything’s been so nice. The show is planned out so well. It’s really great.”
The Adequan®/USEF Junior Hunter National Championships begin Wednesday, June 28, with the USHJA Gladstone Cup Equitation Classic in the Turtle Creek Casino & Hotel International Ring.
Reese Merna Tops 1.20-1.25m Podium in Markel/USHJA Zone Jumper Team Championships
The Markel/USHJA Zone Jumper Team Championships came to an exciting close Sunday morning with two separate jump-offs to determine the entire podium for the 1.20-1.25m section. Reese Merna, who kept all rails intact the entire week of jumping, claimed the gold medal aboard Kickstart II, owned by Abigail Wexner.
“I was really excited to go in for the jump-off,” she said, last to go up against Malia Radcliffe and Emma-Lee. “We watched the ones go in before me to figure out our plan since I was able to go last. [Malia] was a little slower so I knew I didn’t have to go super fast; I just wanted to be neat everywhere.”
A first-time gold medalist with aspirations to rise through the sport, Merna is feeling on top of the world with her catch ride Kickstart II. “It feels awesome. He’s a really special horse so it’s great to be able to win gold on him. I don’t know how long I’ll get to ride him. He’s for sale, but I’m really grateful I get to ride him for the time being.”
An elite equitation rider training under Stacia Madden at Beacon Hill Show Stables, Merna has high hopes for the year in both the jumpers and equitation. “I moved up to the high junior jumpers so I want to get consistent there and focus on the equitation and the finals and do really well there as well,” she explained.
Show jumping resumes at Flintfields Horse Park for the start of the Great Lakes Equestrian Festival on July 5.