Gulfport, Miss.—March 7
Most hunter riders worry about making sure their horse will be relaxed and comfortable in the environment when it’s time to show, but Tim Maddrix has the opposite plan with Eloise. With her, the spookier the venue, the better she is.
He opted not to handwalk her on the grass grand prix field before this morning’s $15,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby and kept her away from the ring so she would brighten up when she walked onto the field for the first time. That paid off with the blue ribbon in the biggest hunter class of the Gulf Coast Sunshine Classic V—their first derby blue as a team.
“The field impressed her just enough,” said Maddrix of Claudia Stylsinger’s warmblood mare. “When the derbies are in a ring she doesn’t always put on her best performance, but out here she was awesome.”
Allen Rheinheimer built a relatively inviting course for the 21 entries. The start list included a mix of derby veterans, newcomers and first year horses. The oxer-oxer two-stride tripped up a few combinations, and Capable and Shannon Klein who parted ways there. But most riders were more worried about the height of the jumps than anything else. The jumps looked so imposing only two combinations (Arthur/Andy Kocher and Holly Shepherd/LPF Woodford) attempted all four high options in Round 1.
“They were really big and wide and solid,” said Courtney Calcagnini, who finished second on Elementary in that horse’s first derby. “I was nervous this morning for my first year horse—I didn’t take any high options. But he jumped everything great.”
Maddrix and Eloise jumped into the lead midway through the first round, and headed into the handy round 8 points ahead. The handy round included a trot fence and several options for brazen turns.
“If someone had gone in there and got a 95, I would have done an inside turn [after fence 1],” said Maddrix, Birmingham, Ala. “But I figured if I just went around and was as handy as I could be everywhere else I’d stay on top and get good handy scores. It worked out great.”
Both Tim Maddrix and Eloise have racked up plenty of derby experience under their belts, but it’s mostly been with other partners. Eloise competed at USHJA International Derby Championships (Ky.) twice with Stylsinger, and Maddrix has been a regular competitor in the program on other mounts. Styslinger turned Eloise’s reins over to her sister Stella when she headed off to Randolph College (Va.) last fall. Stella’s just stepped up to the junior hunter division on Eloise, and Maddrix takes over the ride on derby day. Maddrix and Eloise finished second in the Pensacola Winter Series (Fla.) edition earlier this season.
It’s hard to not to notice the mare, as she has a distinctive patch of white hairs on one side of her neck.
“She got sick last year and while she was at the vet, she developed a fungus from the IV, and the hair grew back white,” said Maddrix. “Claudia didn’t like it at first but I said ‘Come on, it makes her unique, so she’s not just a plain bay.’ Now everyone embraces it.”
First Time’s A Charm For Quinn
Quinn may not have much experience under his belt, but that didn’t stop him from winning today’s $5,000 USHJA National Hunter Derby with Kim Buzby up.
That pregreen horse topped the field of 38 who contested today’s competition, edging out many more seasoned horses in his first national hunter derby.
Quinn splits his time between the pregreen ring with Buzby and the adult amateur ring with his owner, Catharine Cox. According to Buzby, he was completely unfazed by the grass field or the change in venue.
“He’s a very confident horse, so I really wasn’t worried. He just needs a little bit of a kick ride, a little lift, point him at the middle and off you go,” said Buzby, Malvern, Pa. “We work on straightness because he’s still a young horse, but he always goes to the jumps. He’s a blast to ride.”
Buzby had two other notable young horses in the class as well. Both Sinsational Fox and Drum Roll Please earned USEF Horse of the Year awards in the 2-year-old hunter breeding divisions, and now they’re finding success in the performance ring as well. Young horse guru Emily Belin showed both on the line, and works with Buzby once they’re ready to go under saddle at shows.
Both Marcia Heylin’s Sinsational Fox (Sinatra Song—Feiner Dance, Feiner Stern), 5, and Amy Trout’s Drum Roll Please (DeLaurentis—Feiner Dance, Feiner Stern), 6, jumped around confidently. Drum Roll Please also finished seventh in the class.
“They’ve handled everything great, and they’re going to be really nice horses,” said Buzby.
Results are available at Horse Shows Online.