Wellington, Fla.—Feb. 1
There are some horses that wow you from the first fence—not Mindful. He gets you way back at the in-gate.
The gelding’s superior form and style earned him and Jennifer Hannan the win in the $15,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby at the Winter Equestrian Festival on Friday afternoon, but it was his insanely glossy coat that caught your attention from the word go. I mean, you could practically see your reflection in his bum; it was crazy!
After the class the team from Ocean Echo Farm was quick to credit the man behind the masterpiece that is Mindful’s turn out, super groom Felipe Gaytan. Gaytan has been taking care of the gelding for three years, and he’s not body clipped—Gaytan goes through a curry mitt per week keeping his coat this perfect!
“I curry him for about an hour before he works and then maybe 45 minutes after,” Gaytan said as he gave the gelding a handful of victory carrots. “He loves it.”
Gaytan’s elbow grease had Mindful ready to shine in the ring with rider Jennifer Hannan—the pair beat out 56 entries to take the top call in the class, a nice return to the winner’s circle for Hannan.
“It feels pretty awesome because I’ve been out for a long time,” Hannan said. “I was out with an injury since May of last year; I fell off a horse and broke my heel. This is my first derby back.”
Hannan and Mindful had the highest combined score from the classic and handy tracks in the derby’s hunt-and-go format (meaning there were not two separate rounds, think power and speed—riders went right from the classic round to the handy track and got separate scores for each.)
“He’s a super star; he’s truly amazing,” Hannan said. “He’s a show horse; he wants to win every time, so it’s a real privilege and an honor to ride him.”
Check out our shots from the class!