Hunter Derby Brings 116th Devon Horse Show and Country Fair to a Close

The Devon Horse Show ended with a display of athleticism, style, and grace as a field of 24 horses entered the ring for the final class

- the $25,000 United States Hunter Jumper Association International Hunter Derby.  The water jumps and brightly-colored rails from the jumper classes on Saturday were removed and replaced with jumps designed to mimic the hunt field-from natural birch rails, to rolltops covered with brush, to standards painted to resemble pine trees. 

The Dixon Oval, for one moment in time, stopped being a horse show and instead became a glimpse into the woods as rider and horse took to hounds.  Riders showed before two teams of judges, seated at different locations, and riders also had several higher fences that they could elect to jump for bonus points.  

For many riders, the first round ended in heartbreak as the rail fell on the higher option final fence.  For those who successfully negotiated this fence or opted for the lower jump, the reward was a ticket to the second round.  Taken, ridden by Kelley Farmer, stood atop the leaderboard after a brilliant round.  His successful attempt of all 4 high options garnered Taken a score of188.  Farmer stood second on Red Sky with 185.  Jennifer Alfano on Jersey Boy landed third with 183.  Keeping Farmer busy for the second round was Clearly scoring 177 and coming in fourth.  Christa Endicott was fifth on Come Monday with a 176. 

Peter Pletcher made his journey to Devon worthwhile, landing sixth and scoring 175 with NLF Shakespeare's Rhythm.  Sandy Ferrell rode to seventh with a score of 166 on Friday Night.  Winn Alden, the first rider to go, scored a 163 to rank eighth on Second City.  Sandy Ferrell's ride on Aha scored 162.5, sufficient for ninth.  Daniel Geitner's ride on Living Color landed him tenth with a 156.  Dana Hart Callanan rode Kalifornia Dreamin' to eleventh with a 155.  Rounding out the cutoff for round two was Summer Catch ridden by Ashley Hotz to a score of 151. 

The top 12 scoring horses were invited to return for the "handy" round, where the ability to execute sharper turns and follow a tighter path were rewarded with bonus points.  Horses were required to trot a fence and hand gallop the final fence-a long approach towards the ingate.  Mid-way through the order, Farmer jumped to a commanding lead on Red Sky, posting a score of 204 for her smooth execution of a course full of inside turns. 

Next to ride was Alfano on Jersey Boy.  Alfano made it look easy, taking all the tight turns and executing the high option fences with scope to spare.  The judges rewarded her brilliant round with a score of 212, catapulting Jersey Boy to first in the overall standings.  It was then Farmer's to win or lose with her ride on Taken.  Farmer executed a beautiful course, showing everyone how the hand gallop is done and then stopping on a dime strides after the fence to exit the ring on a loose rein.  Unfortunately, Taken's score of 199 just wasn't enough to catch Jersey Boy, and Taken settled for third overall.  

Farmer landed in second place on Red Sky.  Rounding out the ribbons were NLF Shakespeare's Rhythm in fourth with a 194.5 handy score and 369.5 overall score, Clearly in fifth with a 189 handy score and 366 overall score, Aha in sixth with a 186 handy score and 348.5 overall score, Come Monday in seventh with a 171 handy score and 347 overall score, Friday Night in eighth with a 179 handy score and 345 overall score, Second City in ninth with a 177 handy score and 340 overall score, Summer Catch in tenth with a 178 handy score and 329 overall score, Kalifornia Dreamin' in eleventh with a 164 handy score and 319 overall score, and Living Color in twelfth with a 112 handy score and 268 overall score. 

As the horses paraded the ring for a victory lap with their brightly colored bridle ribbons, so ended the 2012 Devon Horse Show and Country Fair. 

Photos: Jennifer Alfano on Jersey Boy and Kelly Farmer on Red Sky