Sometimes reaching a goal takes a lot longer than expected. Take for instance Lucy (Jennifer Hodgson, owner), the winner of the $7,500 Spring Preview Mini-prix at the Colorado Horse Park with Michael Dennehy in the irons. According to Michael, the mare is a bit of a puzzle and it has taken a lot of patience on the part of both the owner and trainer to bring her to the point of being able to compete in her first big-time jumping class. Four years, to be exact.
“When we first started with her four years ago, she was very timid and spooky,” said Michael. “We went slowly with her, building her confidence along the way. In fact, we spent probably a little more than two years doing the 1.10M Jumpers. But the great thing about having a timid horse who eventually learns to be brave means you also have a very careful horse. She hates to hit a jump.”
That fact was evident during the $7,500 Spring Preview Mini-prix, where Michael found the first round to be quite straightforward and fair. Then there was the jump-off. Michael and Lucy went toward the end of the class. The pair were not only fast, but clean, putting the pressure on Bjorn Ikast, who had fielded four horses in the class including second-place finisher Royal Flush (Bjorn Ikast, owner) and third-award winner Amore (Bovee Liability Limited, owner).
“We did a lot to build Lucy’s confidence first by taking her to Spruce Meadows last summer, where she really matured. Then this winter we took her to Wellington where we did the 1.35M Jumpers. She came back a changed horse. This was the first time I really felt she was ready to go fast. It was all I could do to not pull on the reins,” Michael added.
Plans for the current show season include competing in another mini-prix during the High Prairie Farms Spring Classic and heading back to Spruce Meadows. The rest of the season remains up in the air as Lucy’s owner has several other pressing obligations. But it doesn’t matter to Michael because he knows Jennifer will be back in the ring with her horses when the time is right.
“I think Jennifer has been riding with one Dennehy or another for probably close to 30 years,” he said. “That’s a long time, and I appreciate all the things she’s done for our family.”
Commenting on Langer Equestrian Group’s moving to the Norris-Penrose Event Center for the 2013 show season, Dennehy noted that while change brings its share of challenges, having a new venue is an interesting proposition. “We’ve had weeks and weeks and weeks of shows at the Horse Park for so many years now. Throwing a new location into the mix is good for the horses and the area hunter/jumper community,” he concluded.
Emily Clingman (Mickie Sage, trainer) and her horse Chivas also experienced success in the jumper ring, winning the $1,500 NAL Children's/Adult Amateur Jumper Classic. Emily has had Chivas since she brought him over from Europe at the age of four. Now 14, Chivas had been sidelined by injuries for almost two years starting with a hip problem in December 2010. By the time that injury was diagnosed, it had lead to complications with his back and neck.
“I wasn’t even sure Chivas would be ready for the show ring during Spring Preview,” Emily said. “But he was so happy to be back in the jumpers, and of course, I am glad he’s feeling 100% too.”
Chivas was one of two mounts for Emily in the class. Her other horse, Grace, also was coming back after what threatened to be a career-ending injury to her left front leg that required surgery last July. However, resume her career she did. Although the mare had eight faults in the classic, she did end up champion in the Adult Amateur Jumper section.
“I was a little worried about the footing for the classic since it had poured rain the night before and my horses absolutely hate puddles,” she said. “The worst part there was a big puddle right in front of the first jump!” she added with a laugh.
Emily has a farm in Fraser, Colorado, but boards in Evergreen during the winter. That is where she began her come-back with Mickie. Although the relationship with her trainer is new, she believes it is a very good partnership and one that will help her progress her horses to the next level. In fact, Emily is hoping to move both her horses back into the High Amateur Owner Jumpers by the end of the summer. And of course, show more in LEG events.
“What can I say about the LEG shows?” Emily remarked. “Everyone is so accommodating, and Charlotte is ready to help out with all my questions and concerns. I really love them!”
Although the cool weather was a bit questionable, Emma Wilsky and her Simply Said had no questions when navigating their way to top honors in the $1,000 Junior/Amateur Owner Hunter Classic. The course was set on a perfect long gallop, just what Simply Said likes.
"He was great everywhere," said Emma’s trainer Keiri Kaneps. "We looked at the course and really didn't see a single jump or line that gave us any concern. Simply Said can be quirky, but his favorite thing in the world is jumping." And she would know. She rode the horse to the tri-color in the 3’6”-3’9” Performance Hunters while Emma was reserve champion with him in the Small Junior Hunters.
Amateur and junior riders dominated the LEGIS $2,500 USHJA National Hunter Derby during the High Prairie Spring Preview. First place in the class went to Tache Rouge (Czech Mate LLC, owner) with Hannah Holik (Randy Henry, trainer) up. The win also meant Hannah was also the highest-placing junior in the class. Lotario X with Rachel Boggus (Paul Rorhbach, trainer) was second and the highest-placing amateur. The highest-placing professional was Charlie Dennehy, who was fourth on Rex the Wonder Horse (Moral Masuoka, owner).
This was the first in a series of hunter derbies hosted by LEGIS, Equine Productions, and Wilson Dennehy. The three entities have teamed up to create this exciting new series, where riders must compete in at least four of seven qualifying events to be eligible for the $10,000 USHJA National Derby Final to be held at the Show for Champions in November. For more information on the series contact Toni Hrudka at 303-638-6530.
Showing at the Colorado Horse Park continues with the High Prairie Spring Classic May 17-20 and two weeks of shows in September. For more information on the High Prairie Spring Preview show and complete results, visit the LEG website.
In California, the ever-popular Memorial Day Classic (May 24-28) is fast approaching, while the Verdugo Hills series of shows at Hansen Dam Equestrian Center will continue June 2-3. In Northern California, the summer series will kick off with Woodside Circuit Opener (June 20-24).
Photos: Michael Denny's patience with Lucy is rewarded with a win in the $7,500 Spring Preview Mini-prix; Emily Clingman and Chivas jump to the win in the $1,500 NAL Children's/Adult Amateur Jumper Classic Photo: Horse and Ryder Photography; Junior rider Hannah Holik tops amateurs and professionals in the $2,500 USHJA National Hunter Derby. Photo: Horse and Ryder Photography