Conyers, Ga.—June 13
With their first round, Caramo and Harold Chopping hit a home run. Scores of 88 and 87 with 4 additional points for high options from each judging panel in the classic round of the $25,000 Atlanta Summer USHJA International Hunter Derby gave them 183 points. It also earned them a healthy lead over second-placed Ashton Alexander on Lordano and that pair’s first round score of 165.5.
So coming back for the handy trip? Chopping had to score just high enough to keep his edge—not the easiest task when faced with a tiring mount, an enormous derby field and competitors who were laying down handy trips in the high 80s.
“I honestly was being a little cautious. It’s pretty hot outside,” said Chopping. “Why take all the risks in the second round? I felt like I should make this job easier.”
But Caramo and Chopping’s safe bet paid off when they earned scores of 82 with 8 handy points from each judging panel, winning the 14-horse class with 363 points. Daniel Geitner was second aboard CDS Stables’ Sister Act (350), and Timothy Maddrix was third on Claudia Styslinger’s Eloise (347.5).
“I think the track was really fair,” said Chopping. “I was here another time where they used the big bank at the end and made it really tricky. I know they don’t look at it this way, but if you saw where horses made mistakes, it was spread around the course. I’m not a hunter course designer, but as a rider, you love to see where the track was fair. I believe it needs to be a little challenging in the handy if it’s a derby.”
Caramo, a 13-year-old Danish Warmblood (Carano—Ladylavall) owned by Caroline Russell Howe, has built a solid derby record with Chopping in the last year, and the Southern Pines, N.C.-based rider is aiming him for the USHJA International Hunter Derby Championship (Ky.) in August. He’s already won international derby classes in Aiken, S.C., Culpeper, Va., and Raleigh, N.C.
“Cleary he’s a scopey horse who handles this beautifully,” said Chopping, who splits his time equally between hunters and jumpers. “He really is a great one to ride around. There’s nothing tricky about it. This job is made for him. It caters to everything he’s good at. He’s very reliable. He jumps beautiful jumps, and when you test him a little bit, he’s quite good in the handy rounds. He never looks for a way around. He’s like you put him in gear and broke the stick off. He’s so easy to stay in rhythm.”
Since Howe loves watching the gelding go in the derbies and occasionally in the high performance hunter division, he’ll likely stay in Chopping’s barn.
“He’s my buddy,” said Chopping. “He’s like the owner’s pet. When you get special horses to ride, and when the program is not to sell them, it’s great. It’s really easy to love a horse who gives you so much. He tries so hard.”
See full results from Atlanta Summer I classes online.