East Dorset, Vermont — McKayla Langmeier of East Granby, CT, left the veterans in the dust as the 13-year-old collected the top prize in the $15,000 NEHJA Hunter Derby held Thursday, August 8, at the Vermont Summer Festival in East Dorset, VT. The win marked the second in a row for Langmeier and Czar-Z having also won last week’s $5,000 NEHJA Hunter Derby.
With the sixth and final hunter derby of the 2013 Vermont Summer Festival offering triple the prize money, all 27 members of the starting field were hungry for a win. Despite being much younger than the majority of her competition, which included professional trainers and veteran derby mounts, Langmeier made it clear she has all the makings of a future pro.
Langmeier and Czar-Z earned a first round high score of 87 and returned as the final duo for the second round of competition. Marylisa Leffler and Zivago had set the bar high with a second round score of 86.5, giving the pair a two-round total of 171.5 points, but Langmeier rose to the occasion and laid down a handy round which again earned the highest score, a 89, placing her on top of the final standings by a considerable margin of 4.5 points.
“It was really fun!” said Langmeier enthusiastically following her win. “The courses were so fun. I really liked the handy course. The trot jump was really cool-looking and the oxer to hand gallop jump was a lot of fun.”
In addition to winning her share of the $15,000 in prize money, Langmeier also took home a new helmet courtesy of One-K Helmets. Langmeier was bursting with excitement as she accepted her prizes; equally as thrilled was her mother and trainer, Linda Langmeier of Kelianda Farm.
“Watching her win was incredible,” smiled the proud mom. “We left here last week and went to Pony Finals for a few days and made the trip back (for the derby). It was well worth it!”
Langmeier, who placed ninth over fences with her large green pony By Jove at the U.S. Pony Finals in Lexington, KY, was eager to get back to the derby ring with her larger mount.
“The easiest part (about switching gears after Pony Finals) was that Czar-Z doesn’t have such a tiny stride!” laughed McKayla Langmeier.
Czar-Z has been pulling double duty with McKayla Langmeier, competing in the Small Junior Hunter division in addition to filling in at the Lake Placid Horse Show as an equitation mount. Linda Langmeier feels that his ability to perform well in derbies and equitation events, as well as a junior hunter mount, is one of Czar-Z’s best assets.
“He’s really versatile and very brave,” said Linda Langmeier of the nine-year-old Warmblood gelding. “He’s very scopey. He has a big stride. I think he’s a little bit relieved to be a hunter again! He likes to be left alone and enjoys less contact. He’s great at following McKayla’s eye and he’s just really a lovely animal.”
Langmeier, who has ridden Czar-Z for the last four years, agreed with her mother, saying, “He’s not spooky and he’s really fun to ride. He’s really easy and just lovely.”
Czar-Z has been owned by the Langmeier family since being imported from Europe four years ago, resulting in a close bond between horse and rider.
“They’ve grown up together. They know each other so well,” said Linda Langmeier.
Also helping Langmeier stay in tune with her horses are her responsibilities around the barn. Linda Langmeier encourages her daughter to be hands-on in the barn, which she feels brings her closer to her horses and teaches her responsibility.
“McKayla does a lot of it herself,” explained Linda Langmeier. “We put her to work! She doesn’t have full responsibility for all of the chores, but everyone at the barn is required to clean their own tack at the end of the day and pitch in. And we work on the days off. Mondays we do all the chores and turn out.”
She continued, “It makes such a difference in her relationship with all the horses. They see her coming down the aisle and they know her.”
A good work ethic and natural talent should pave the way for the talented 13-year-old, who has made it clear she’s a force to be reckoned with after her back-to-back hunter derby wins. Langmeier and Czar-Z next head to the Fieldstone Summer Showcase II Horse Show in Halifax, MA, for the $15,000 NEHJA GGT Footing 3’3″ Hunter Derby Finals.
Competition in the sixth and final week of the Vermont Summer Festival continues Saturday, August 3, with the $50,000 Vermont Summer Celebration Grand Prix, presented by Hand Motors, scheduled to begin at 1 p.m. Gates open at 8 a.m. and Saturday admission prices are $7 for adults and $5 for children. 100% of admissions 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 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.
$15,000 NEHJA Hunter Derby
Rider Horse Owner Round 1 Round 2 Total
1. McKayla Langmeier Czar-Z Linda Langmeier 87 89 176
2. Marylisa Leffler Zivago Kiana Fiore 85 86.5 171.5
3. Lauren Schweppe Tucandu Hanna Whiting 83 88 171
4. Jennifer Bliss Poker Face Harris HIll Farm 84 86 170
5. Kristy Herrera Fifty Shades Meredith Lipke 82 87 169
6. Anna Pavlov Adelante Anna Pavlov 81 84 165
7. Molly Braswell Palladium Lani Sutherland 83.5 81 164.5
8. Todd Karn Chloe Z Chelsea Abramowitz 80.5 82.5 163
9. Jennifer Bliss Extraordinary Harris Hill Farm 82.5 80 162.5
10. Julie Welles Advance Sara Nordstrom 77 83 160
11. Lisa Rex Overheard Erin Brennan 80 78 158
12. JoAnn Kovacs Obadiah Finn Alexine Lesko 78 75 153