Hunters had a big week at the High Prairie Farms Spring Final. More than 20 horse and rider combinations competed in the $2,500 USHJA National Hunter Classic on a perfect May evening in the main hunter ring. When it was all over, Libby Copeland claimed the championship riding Remember When (Jennifer Wallen, owner).
Copeland, a Kansas City native, rides and trains out of Michael Dennehy’s Bridlewood Farms. She has been there for a little more than a year after calling Dennehy out of the blue to ask if he needed a rider. However, she made it clear she didn’t sign up to be, as she calls it, “the horse show trainer.”
“Working with Michael is great,” Copeland said. “I prefer to stay at home to work with the horses who aren’t at the show and he likes being at the show. I prefer riding in the hunter ring and Michael likes the jumper ring. We are the perfect team.”
Prior to coming to Colorado, Copeland spent a lot of time back east riding with the likes of Tommy Serio and honing her hunter ring skills. About five years ago, she was running her own training business where she worked catch-riding and showing for others on the circuit. Even so, Copeland admitted to having some nerves before entering the ring on Friday.
“I am supposed to be the ‘at home trainer’ and here I was showing in this big hunter classic with some of the best-known trainers in Colorado,” she said. “It was kind of cool to come out here and hold my own with the big dogs.”
In a three-way tie for first following the first round, Copeland had a nearly perfect second round scoring six bonus points for style and an additional three bonus points for taking the higher options at three of the four jumps offered on course. When asked to describe her relationship with Remember When, Copeland confessed the Spring Final marked the first time she’d shown the horse. She also noted the horse himself hadn’t been in the show ring since February.
“He is such a cool horse. As a professional, you have to ride so many different horses – some you bond with and others you don’t. I really bonded with him very quickly,” Copeland added.
Having shown in Parker as a child, she noted how much the Horse Park had changed. But she was quick to note the changes were for the better.
“I love this show facility! It’s probably one of the best around. And the ladies in the office were very patient with me – I normally don’t have to do any of the stuff in the office because Gia (Dennehy) does that for our barn. It was a great experience!”
Other riders and horses had plenty to brag about in addition to their placings in the derby-style Hunter Classic. Among them were Kim Dixon and Calvin K (George Dixon, owner). Finishing fourth in the Hunter Classic wasn’t the only thing the pair could claim as an achievement during the Spring Final show. In fact, Dixon won every over fences class to take home the tri-color in the Regular Working Hunter division. Kris Nixon and her Better Days were the division reserve champions.
Over in the jumper ring, Armando Hassey finally broke Bjorn Ikast’s hold by riding to the top slot in the $15,000 Rider’s Choice Mini-Prix. In the irons aboard Candis Logum BC (Banbury Cross Farms, owner), Hassey bested Ikast, who was riding his Omar Shariff. Susan Griffis riding Udine (Palmer Divide Ranch, owner) finished third while Ikast earned the fourth and fifth places riding his Brave Heart and IZ’s Viva la Vida.
Youngster Sophie Onody won the Marshall & Sterling Children’s/Adult Amateur Jumper Classic on her Akadama. The pair, who trains with Randy Henry, also dominated the Children’s Jumper section by winning every class offered.
In the Junior/Young Rider/Amateur Owner Jumper Classic, it was Larysa Kern winning the class on her Tourando and earning third with her Esprit. Helen Julianov was second on Laton. Both Kern and Julianov train with Mickie Sage in Golden, Colo.
Of course, these being shows by Langer Equestrian Group means that not all the competition is in the show ring. LEG’s Trainer Incentive Program is well underway. Laurie Jueneman is the current leader with 233 points. Michael Dennehy and Randy Henry trail with 159 points and 158 points, respectively. The Maui Trainer Incentive standings can be found at http://www.langershows.com/programs.php.
For more information and complete results, visit the show’s website at http://www.langershows.com/colorado/show_details.php?show_id=137
Hunter-jumper horse showing resumes at the Colorado Horse Park July 1, 2010 with the Colorado Circuit Preview. In California, Hansen Dam will be the setting June 5-6 for Verdugo Hills/Lake View 5, then the action moves to LAEC June 16-18 for Gold Coast 4. Later in the month, the Woodside Circuit Opener will run June 23-27.
Learn more about LEG and all the horse shows at www.langershows.com.
Photos: Copeland sails to the win in the $2,500 USHJA National Hunter Classic Photo: Brian Ryder, Copeland celebrating her win Photo: Brian Ryder, Keeping cool in Colorado Photo: Brian Ryder