Zionsville, IN - August 8, 2012 - Exhibitors enjoyed another day of perfect weather at the 2012 Traders Point Hunt Charity Horse Show and Country Fair at beautiful Wild Air Farms in Zionsville, IN. Mrs. Elizabeth Johnson, Indiana's first lady of show hunters and long-time master of the Traders Point Hunt, was on hand to offer a warm welcome to guests to her farm at the exhibitor luncheon. She spent the remainder of the day sharing memories with old and new friends and cheering on the riders.
Phil DeVita's courses stepped up the challenge on the second day of Jumper classes in the Russell Fortune Grand Prix Arena. Again, the courses included long gallops to tight turns and rollbacks, but DeVita added terrain- hills and a ramp to further test horse and rider.
The course for Phase One of the Zone 5 Open Jumper Championship, a speed class, kicked off with an oxer toward the jumper tower then a rollback to the right to a vertical and to a left turn to another vertical. The course continued with another hard right to an oxer and an abrupt turn to the left and up the ramp to a vertical. Shortly after the down-side of the ramp horse and rider encountered the first combination- a tricky vertical-to-oxer. Winding hard to the left after the combination, a vertical followed by a sweeping gallop to an option. Riders could choose to take a liverpool or a lower and wider water jump that created a sharper turn to fence 9, an oxer, directly in front of the tower. Then again, the course led the rider sharply to the right and up a hill to a vertical and down again then turning left to the final element of the course, an outside line oxer-to-vertical combination toward the in-gate.
The first to go clear over the winding and difficult course was Erin Haas aboard Casino Van De Helle owned by North Face Farm in Chelsea MI with a time of 75.133 seconds. Then, Lillie Ross and Alison Ross's Pako momentarily took over the lead, stopping the clock at of 73.946. Next on course, Nick Novak and Rendezvous 22 owned by Nancy Whitehead layed down a fast clear round timing out at 72.371 seconds to steal the lead. Three trips later, Nepal and Taylor Land delivered a clean, faster round of 69.341 seconds, that would earn the pair the second place prize.
But it was Aaron Vale and his eight-year-old, Honeyland Douglason, yesterday's winners of the 1.35m Jumpers, who tripped the timer at 68.216 seconds to win the class. Interestingly, Vale was the only clear rider to opt for the higher, narrower Liverpool that set the pair up for the turn to fence 9.
"He's a pretty good water jumper and it's one of those jumps- you don't want to wear it out over their career. If we have to jump it for the Grand Prix on Friday or Sunday, I don't want to wear out jumps," explained Vale. "We got to jump a jump right next to it, so it is almost like jumping it. We just took the easier option, well- not necessarily easier- but it worked out for us. It was a training idea. We had a nice efficient round. It was kind of hard to go clear if you were going fast. There weren't very many clears out of the entries."
"When you came down that combination off the hill the horses were really pulling and a little on their forehand, so that got a lot of rails. The second-to-last jump and the last combination got a lot of rails as well," continued Vale. We're working on turns. It was a little more forward today, because it was a speed class. It worked out. We got the winner's share again."
Earlier in the day it was Vale's wife, Mallory Vale who won the High Junior/Amateur-Owner class with Mi Phone in one of only three double-clear rounds of the class. In the jump-off round, Mallory Vale and Mi Phone were almost two seconds faster than second place winner Hannah Olson and Cleopatra.
"Mi Phone is named after the i Phone- for fun. He's an eight-year-old. We got him as a four-year-old," said Vale about her horse. "Aaron won a lot with him as a six-year-old. He did him a little in the seven-year-old and I did him a little in the seven-year-olds. This year I started riding him in the lows. We moved him up to the highs in June and he's been super. He won his first high class, he was second last week in Kentucky, and he's on a roll, so far, here. He has tons of personality."
"The turn to the combination came up really quick it made you really ride," shared Vale about the High Junior/Amateur course, which included most of the elements of the later speed class. "Phil used all parts of the ring and incorporated the ditch and the liverpool. It was a great mix, difficult enough but great for the first day. The ring is big but it's boxy. He did a really nice job of making the rider go forward while holding your horse together."
"I haven't been here in five or six years," said Aaron Vale. I showed here when I was a kid. I've been here more years than not. It's a super horse show. We get to jump on the grass, which I enjoy. The all-weather rings are great these days but it's always great to jump on grass. They've done a beautiful job preparing for this show. The grass is in great shape and the ring is jumping really well. It's special and they take care of it. Douglas is liking it at Traders Point so far."
As for the family celebration, Aaron Vale said, "We'll go have a nice dinner tonight."
The Traders Point Hunt Charity Horse Show and Country Fair is held on the beautiful 250-acre grounds of Wild Air Farms in Zionsville, IN. The show offers top prize money with two Grand Prix events and a USHJA International Hunter Derby. Exhibitors at Traders Point enjoy fun family activities and events while participating in a competitive, high-quality show. For more information or a prize list, please visit www.traderspoint.org/exhibitors.html
Photos: Aaron Vale and Honeyland Douglason Photo by Carrie Wirth; Mallory Vale and Mi Phone Photo by Carrie Wirth