Ocala, FL: The presentation of the United States Hunter Jumper Association (USHJA) Zone 4 Handy Hunter Classic to the Ocala Masters commenced with the Zone IV Pony Handy Hunter Classic on February 26 at HITS Post Time Farm in Ocala, Florida.
Riders maneuvered their ponies through the course, all in hopes of securing a prestigious blue-ribbon victory in the Classic. Only one could take home the title, and that team to beat was Summer Nights, owned and ridden by Alexis Cruz of Oviedo, Florida—not only was the victory a first-time class win for Cruz, but was also her first-ever go at the $1,000 Zone 4 Pony Handy Hunter Classic.
“The course was fun, and we couldn’t be happier that HITS offers this class,” said Cruz’s trainer Laura Barrett-Gurtis. “This is a great program and it’s really nice that Zone 4 gives back to the competitors.”
First to challenge the course was Macho Man, owned and ridden by Alpharetta, Georgia, equestrian Daphne Rowse. Rowse and her bay, Welsh gelding came in behind Cruz with a score of 69, with an Option Bonus Score of three points and a Handy Bonus Score of three points. They earned a total score of 74 for their efforts, ultimately finishing in second.
Jessica Bader of Bluffton, South Carolina, and her own Hershey’s Kiss came in behind Rowse and Macho Man. They earned a score of 55 with an Option Bonus Score of three points and a Handy Bonus Score of eight points for a sum total of 66, putting them in third-place. Lourdes Low, of O’Katie, South Carolina, and Overcast, entered next but two unfortunate refusals eliminated the pair from the ribbons.
Fourth to go in the order, Cruz piloted her steady grey mount to earn a score of 68, with an Option Bonus Score of two and a Handy Bonus Score of seven for a sum total of 77 to move up the leaderboard over Rowse’s round.
“She is a really hard-working and dedicated kid,” said Barrett-Gurtis. “She’s very focused and we are thankful to have this class to compete in when we travel.”
Camryn Halley, of Oviedo, Florida, and Caleche, owned by Laura Barrett-Gurtis, were the final pony and rider to test the course in the $1,000 Zone 4 Pony Handy Hunter Classic. They finished with a score of 50, an Option Bonus Score of three and a Handy Bonus score of 10 to put them in fourth-place.
For more information and a complete schedule of classes and events, visit www.HitsShows.com.