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Hawaiian Equestrians Salute Graduating Seniors with Hunter Derby Exhibition

Maui, Hawaii - May 14, 2008 - This past weekend a group of dedicated equestrians in Hawaii celebrated their high school seniors' graduation in style. With an exhibition modeled after USHJA's International Hunter Derby, these enthusiastic horsemen created a course with natural elements and held classes under a similar format as the hunter derby series. This event, which was a gift to the graduating seniors, was held in Kula on the island of Maui on Mother's Day, May 11.

The United States Hunter Jumper Association's International Hunter Derbies were created by the High Performance Hunter Committee at the United States Hunter Jumper Association (USHJA) in hopes of bringing back the historic tradition, sport, and horsemanship of hunters from years past. This group of riders in Hawaii has worked with Diane Carney at clinics and finds the horsemanship of the hunter derbies inspirational. Carney is a driving force behind the USHJA High Performance Hunter Committee and contributes regularly to the development of the program in the United States.

Karen Davidge and Jen Martin, who led the Maui Horse Show Association together from 2004-2007, helped organized the Maui Hunter Derby. Carney, who visited them in Maui, designed courses for the event and donated stable plaques for all of the horses. Courses were set so that riders of all levels could participate, and exhibitors ranged from children on ponies to 3'6'' hunter riders.

"We had our hunter derby exhibition on Sunday, and it was a huge success," commented Martin. "I honestly feel that we achieved the goals we set for the day. Our initial goal of recognizing an outstanding group of graduating seniors was accomplished. Every senior rider who was invited attended the event with friends and family in tow."

"Not only were these kids greeted with hugs and wishes of good luck in college," she continued, "but they were handed prizes donated from sponsors such as Diane Carney and Brenda Mueller of Walsh Harness and Saddlery. They also received gift bags and 'horsey' items donated by Karen Davidge and myself."

In addition to the support and encouragement that the riders received from the Maui community, each senior rider in attendance received two scholarship checks: one for $500 from the Maui Horse Show Association and another for $500 from donations by members of the local community.

"All involved felt very good about being able to show their appreciation to these girls," said Martin. "They have given so much to the local sport and have served as such outstanding role models to our younger riders. Our exhibition gave a lot of people their first glimpse of the International Derby format. Most people in attendance had never even heard of High Performance Hunters or Hunter Derbies and were full of questions. People were very excited about the new direction hunters are taking at the highest level."

The course design included unrelated distances, a sunken road bank, a ditch, and other natural obstacles. The handy course included galloping up and down hills. Riders were asked to walk and trot a jump, and they were required to jump out of the ring into grass fields with hilly terrain. Additionally, exhibitors had to gallop forward and use their horsemanship to shorten their canter and answer the questions that were asked by the obstacles.

"While everyone had a lot of fun, they also recognized that it sure was a lot harder than it looked!" noted Martin. "Without all of the ascending ground lines and artificial footing, more athleticism was required of the horses and boldness from the riders. We hope that exposing the local riders to the forward changes currently being made at the top level of competition will inspire them to reach for that top level themselves."

After experiencing a new piece of the hunter industry puzzle, this group of Hawaiian riders came away with valuable knowledge and enthusiasm for equestrian sport. The USHJA's International Hunter Derbies continue to up the ante for hunter competition and challenge riders to raise the bar. Through her involvement with the USHJA, Carney hopes to generate exposure for this new facet of the industry.

Carney has been both an active participant and influential trainer in the hunter and jumper community for many years. Her contributions to the industry extend to the many clinics that she teaches every year, in addition to those that she hosts annually for U.S. Show Jumping Chef d'Equipe George H. Morris and top hunter/jumper trainer Don Stewart Jr. Carney is based out of Hampshire, IL, at Telluride Farm.

Photo: Hawaiian riders enjoy their special day at the Maui Hunter Derby. Photo courtesy of Diane Carney. Photograph may be used only in relation to this PMG press release.


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