East Dorset, Vermont — Only 11 years old, McKayla Langmeier beat out 36 other entries to win the popular $5,000 Hunter Derby held July 14 at the six-week Vermont Summer Festival in East Dorset, Vermont.
Competing in her first ever hunter derby event, McKayla of East Granby, Connecticut, earned the top score of the first round, an 88, after guiding Czar Z around the challenging 3’3” derby track set by William Glass. The course, which spanned two competition rings, featured many creative natural obstacles including a two foot round log, a woodpile, and boulder rocks set under birch branches which caused problems for several riders. Luckily for McKayla, she and Czar Z had no problem negotiating the natural obstacles.
“I was very surprised with what my score was,” said McKayla who is coached by her mother, well-known trainer Linda Langmeier. “I had never shown in a derby before. I think some of the horses were surprised by the natural obstacles, but my horse doesn’t really care about them. It was really exciting, but I was also nervous because I knew I could win it.”
The top 12 riders after the first round came back in reverse order for the second handy round, and McKayla had the advantage of being last to go. Keri Kampsen, who had been sitting in second with a score of 83 in the first round, laid down a great trip in the handy round to earn an impressive score of 87 with On Top, owned by Two Goals Farm LLC. Although there were some inside turns that McKayla opted not to try, she was still awarded a score of 84 for her handy round to keep her two points ahead of Kampsen for the win.
“The second round is a handy round, so it is a little bit of a tougher course,” explained McKayla, who began riding as a two-year-old and started competing one year later. “I liked the derby jumps; it was fun and cool. It was fun to see the natural jumps. It was like jumping logs out in the woods.”
Her mother, who operates Kelianda Farm, explained the pair’s success by saying, “He has a lovely rhythm and good balance. He is incredibly brave. He is not a big horse, but he has a lot of confidence in himself. He gives you the feeling that no matter what you build, he will always jump it.”
McKayla began riding Czar Z one year ago and, in February of this year at the Winter Equestrian Festival in Wellington, FL, started competing in the junior hunter division. A seven-year-old bay Zangershiede gelding, Czar Z has a white star in the shape of the letter ‘C’ on his forehead.
“He is kind of shy, but he has gotten better,” said McKayla, who says that Czar Z’s favorite treat is peppermints. “He used to be shy in the barn and stay at the back of his stall, but now he lets you pet him. He doesn’t like it when you touch his nose too much, though.”
McKayla will be showing at the Vermont Summer Festival for weeks two, three and five, competing in the Children’s Jumper, Equitation, and Junior Hunter 15 and Under divisions. Which type of competition is her favorite? “After going smooth in the hunters and equitation, I like to go fast in the jumpers!” says McKayla.
Like many young riders, McKayla dreams of one day going to the Olympics and admires the style of Olympic Gold medalists Rodrigo Pessoa of Brazil and McLain Ward of the United States. Coincidentally, Linda Langmeier used to help train Ward when he was a young boy showing ponies.
McKayla has two older brothers, aged 12 and 16. While neither boy rides, the family does enjoy spending time in Manchester each summer. McKayla, who has been competing at the Vermont Summer Festival for the past three years, says, “I like the mountains and the view, and it is fun to watch the storms that blow through.”
Her mother has been showing at the Vermont Summer Festival since the days when the circuit included stops in Stowe and Killington. Linda, who was the trainer at the Ethel Walker School for eight years before deciding to focus solely on her own business, is competing in the Pre-Green Hunter division as well as the 1.40m jumpers at this year’s show.
The $5,000 Hunter Derby series is new for 2011, and is offered each week with the exception of week three at the Vermont Summer Festival. The competitions act as qualifying events for the New England Hunter Derby Finals to be held from August 23 to 28 at the Fieldstone Summer Showcase in Halifax, Massachusetts.
Offering more than $750,000 in prize money, the Vermont Summer Festival is the richest sporting event based on purse in the state of Vermont. The first five Sundays of the Vermont Summer Festival feature a $30,000 Grand Prix at 1 p.m., culminating with the $50,000 Vermont Summer Celebration Grand Prix on Sunday, August 14. In addition to the $10,000 Open Welcome Stake, Presented by Manchester Designer Outlets, held each Friday, the weekly $10,000 Show Jumping Hall of Fame Junior/Amateur-Owner Classics are hotly contested.
The second week of the Vermont Summer Festival concludes on Sunday, July 17, with the $30,000 Battenkill Grand Prix, Presented by Johnson Horse Transportation, at 1 p.m.
Competition begins at 8 a.m. daily, Wednesday through Sunday. Admission is $5 for adults, $3 for children, Wednesday through Saturday. On Grand Prix Sunday, admission is $7 for adults, $5 for children. As always, 100 percent of the gate proceeds benefit the Friends Foundation for MEMS, (Manchester Elementary and Middle School).
For over 20 years, the Vermont Summer Festival has attracted exhibitors and their families to the Manchester region each summer. For more information about the Vermont Summer Festival, please e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.vt-summerfestival.com.
$5,000 Hunter Derby – July 14, 2011
Rider Horse Round 1 Round 2
1. McKayla Langmeier Czar Z 88 84
2. Keri Kampsen On Top 83 87
3. Caitlin Venezia Preston 84 68
4. Elizabeth Kirby Cornetta 74 77
5. Kate Ross Chi Wah Wah 69 80
6. Brittany Johnson Archie 67 79
7. Laurel Tinney Church Road 74 70
8. William Ellis Cooper 65 78
9. Holly French Cool Boy 70 71
10. Samantha Spear Marvel 68 72
Photo: McKayla Langmeier and Czar Z won the $5,000 Hunter Derby during week two of the Vermont Summer Festival in East Dorset, Vermont. Photo credit - David Mullinix Photography