East Dorset, Vermont — Lyman T. Whitehead and Carabello found their way to the winner’s circle on Thursday evening, July 25, in the $5,000 NEHJA Hunter Derby at the Vermont Summer Festival in East Dorset, VT. Carabello is usually ridden by owner Rosie Powers in the Children’s Hunter divisions, but Whitehead decided to take a chance on the derby class to see how the eight-year-old gelding would fair. It was the first time Carabello had ever competed in a derby class, proving he was more than up to the task.
“We figured we would play around a little bit while we were up here and he took to it really well,” said Whitehead, based out of Eight Fences, LLC, in North Salem, NY. “He was great. Derbies suit him. He’s big and he’s very brave so he would be a good derby horse. We didn’t expect him to win, but we’ll take it!”
Carabello fit right in among the other seasoned derby competitors, placing in the top three after the first round with a score of 84. Whitehead piloted Carabello to a second round high score of 85 to win the class with a combined total of 169. “He has all of the qualities you would want in a derby horse,” said Whitehead. “He’s very brave, he has a big stride and he’s very scopey. He started his life as a jumper in Europe, so he’ll jump any jump you put in front of him.”
Carabello may have all the makings of a perfect derby mount, but it doesn’t come at the expense of rideability for his young owner. “I think he’ll actually be better (as a result of competing in the derbies) because jumping is very easy for him,” Whitehead said. “I think with the spookier jumps and the bigger track, it gets his attention a little brighter and improves his jump. I think it’ll benefit him and he’ll be a better horse for it.”
Whitehead admits that they’ve been lucky with Carabello, who was bought almost “out of desperation” when neither of Powers’ horses were sound during the peak of the FTI Consulting Winter Equestrian Festival in Wellington, Florida.
“We were at a loss for horses,” explained Whitehead. “We needed a horse quickly and we were lucky to get him. He came with very good credentials as a seasoned horse. That’s what my rider needed; a horse that would jump from anywhere and take care of her. He was billed as that and he has not let us down.”
Referring to the Vermont Summer Festival’s large blue and white spectator’s tent, Whitehead joked, “I could send him to that tent and he’d jump it! That’s what’s great about him for his owner. He would never say no. If she makes little mistakes, he just says, ‘Okay, come on, we’re still going.’”
Whitehead also finished sixth in the $5,000 NEHJA Hunter Derby with Elizabeth Monaco’s Tidal Wave. He describes the hunter derby classes at the Vermont Summer Festival as the perfect confidence builder for young horses starting their show careers. “They’re great classes for young horses that you want to give some experience,” said Whitehead. “The courses are good derby courses but the jumps aren’t huge. The classes are good stepping stones to get a green horse into that environment. It’s enough without overdoing it for them.”
Hunter derby classes are also valuable at a horse show because of the challenge they present for riders. Whitehead feels the heightened competition fosters improvement for riders and horses alike. “The jumps are different from what you normally see and I love that they use two rings. It’s not often you get a track that big and it’s nice to be able to switch it up (with more demanding courses). It makes better horses and it makes better riders,” he explained.
Competition for the fourth week of the Vermont Summer Festival, hosted at Harold Beebe Farm in East Dorset, VT, continues Saturday, July 26, with the $30,000 Mount Equinox Grand Prix at 1 p.m. Gates open at 8 a.m. and admission prices on Saturday are $7 for adults and $5 for children. 100% of admission proceeds will benefit the Manchester area non-profit organizations Mark Skinner Library, Friends Foundation for MEMS, Community Food Cupboard, and Community Sharing Project.
The Vermont Summer Festival, celebrating its 20th anniversary in its current Manchester location, offers more than $750,000 in prize money, making it the richest sporting event based on purse in the state of Vermont.
The first five Saturdays of the Vermont Summer Festival feature a $30,000 Grand Prix. The $50,000 Vermont Summer Celebration Grand Prix will be held during the sixth and final week on Saturday, August 10. The weekly $10,000 Open Welcome Stake, Presented by Manchester Designer Outlets, is held each Thursday. The hugely popular $5,000 3’3” Hunter Derby is also held each Thursday for the first five weeks, with week six featuring the $15,000 Hunter Derby.
The Vermont Summer Festival is a proud member event of the Show Jumping Hall Of Fame, the Marshall & Sterling League, and the North American League (NAL). Please e-mail us or visit our website for more information about the Vermont Summer Festival.
$5,000 NEHJA Hunter Derby
Rider Horse Owner Round 1 Round 2 Total
1. Lyman T. Whitehead Carabello Rosie Powers 84 85 169
2. McKayla Langmeier Czar-Z Linda Langmeier 86 81 167
3. Marylisa Leffler Zivago Kiana Fiore 79 86 165
4. Amanda Steege Surreal Katharine Vonholstein 85 79 164
5. Jean Sheptoff Alavanta Jean Sheptoff 82 80 162
6. Lyman T. Whitehead Tidal Wave Elizabeth Monaco 78 82 160
7. Donald Bourque 7th Heaven Lisa Hankin 77 75 152
8. Hugh Dollard McKinley Steeple Chase Farm 80 71 151
9. Sandra Epstein Catamount Sandra Epstein 77.5 70 147.5
10. Cory Hardy Le Chasseur Mary Chase 81 61 142
11. Meredith Combs Preston Jennifer Combs 74 60 134
12. Alessandra DeLucia Say Goodnight Olivia Graham 75 55 130