Naples, FL - April 8, 2008 - On Sunday, April 6, Wrenwood Farms held the $20,000 ASG Software Solutions/USHJA International Hunter Derby. Created by the United States Hunter Jumper Association High Performance Hunter committee, the international hunter derbies return to the roots of the hunter discipline by bringing the lost art of tradition and horsemanship back to the show ring.
Reminiscent of jumps set on a fox hunting field, these international hunter derbies require horses and riders to tackle natural obstacles and varying terrain, and specifications of the class include natural fences and elements such as coops, stone walls, ditches, brush and gates, set between 1.30m and 1.40m.
This past weekend, Wrenwood Farms produced an incredible event that reflected the history of the sport and also incorporated new ideas into the event that will contribute to future of hunter competition.
"The International Hunter Derby was a delightful experience in Naples," commented Diane Carney, a driving force behind the High Performance Hunter committee and the USHJA International Hunter Derbies. "George Morris referred to the class as the 'Aachen for hunters.' The Suttons did an outstanding job with the show. They wanted to host the class to help the industry, and I want to compliment them, as well as the judging panels and the management group, which included Robbie Murphy and his son Bobby Murphy. They did an outstanding job capturing the essence of hunter tradition. They have really set the stage for what international hunter competition will be, and we can't say that about any other class so far. Mr. and Mrs. Sutton put their heart into this show, and their generosity to the sport really showed this weekend."
"There was such creativity and substance to the class," added Carney. "The jumps were built correctly, and they presented the true sport of hunters, as oppose to the predictable, artificial nature of hunters that is often seen in the show ring. The riding that is required for these high performance classes has a lot more to it than just jumping the fences. The rider has to gallop up to these big, natural jumps in a large field with accuracy, and the riding of the horse becomes as much a part of the class as the jumps."
Jennifer Alfano rode beautifully over the courses with her mount Rock Star, owned by Bright Star 158 LLC, and she triumphed for her third win in the international hunter derby series. She and Rock Star won the event in Ocala, FL, this winter and were third in the $50,000 class in Wellington, FL.
"Jen Alfano is a great example of a rider who rides every stride between the jumps," noted Carney.
Bobby Murphy, the show manager and course designer, reported, "I think it was a perfect day in the hunter world. It was a day that we wrote a new page in history for the progression of hunters in America. We can look back at this day and think, 'That was the day.' The hard work of the USHJA, the Suttons, and the city of Naples made it all possible. Everybody got involved and made it a spectacular day."
The show grounds were meticulously groomed and decorated, with landscaping at every jump. Underground electricity and plumbing were installed for the barns, permanent wash stalls were built for the horses, and permanent hedges and stone walls were constructed for jumps. Bougainvilleas decorated the score board, lounges with leather sofas and flat screen televisions were available for riders and spectators, and 26 antique cars, such as the 1930 Rolls Royce Phantom II, the 1939 Bentley 4-1/4 Litre James Young Saloon, and the 1952 X K 120 Jaguar Cabriolet convertible, made for scenic decor for wine and cheese tailgating. Cabanas were also available and high-end gift bags were presented to each rider with items donated by the numerous sponsors.
Rob Murphy, executive director of the show, added, "I really want to thank everyone at the USHJA, as well as Jenny and Kermit Sutton. It took everyone's hard work to make this a success, and it was a pleasure to work with everyone and to bring together so many different people in the horse show world."
Of the international hunter derby series, Carney noted, "We are going back to the future here. We're not creating anything new; this is horsemanship. We're going back to what hunters used to be, before artificial ground lines were put in the ring. When something becomes predictable, it becomes stale, and that's what has happened with the hunter discipline over the years. The high performance hunter classes are taking away that staleness."
Carney, in addition to her involvement with the United States Hunter Jumper Association's High Performance Hunter Committee, 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.
For more information on Diane Carney and Telluride Farm, please visit http://www.dcarneytelluride.com
Photo: Jennifer Alfano and Rock Star, winners of the $20,000 ASG Software Solutions/USHJA International Hunter Derby. Photo (C) 2008 Jennifer Wood. Photograph may be used only in relation to this PMG press release.
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<a href="http://www.equestrianmag.com/article/wrenwood-farms-asg-software-ushja-hunter-04-08.html">Wrenwood Farms Features $20,000 ASG Software Solutions/USHJA International Hunter Derby</a> ~ EquestrianMag.com