Upperville, Va.—June 7
Any derby competitors hoping handiness could redeem their first round scores were sure to be disappointed Saturday, as a late start time and loss of daylight caused show management to pin Upperville Horse Show’s $20,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby following the first round.
Kelley Farmer took the top call in the class aboard Glefke and Kensel LLC’s Point Being, one of her many young up-and-coming hunters, who Farmer says is holding his own despite having considerably less experience than his fellow competitors.
“I’m kind of asking a lot of him,” Farmer said of the 6-year-old warmblood of unrecorded breeding, who navigated all of the course’s high option fences. “Most of the four-foot horses are high performance horses, which have a little more experience under their belt and are a little more seasoned, but he’s proven that he belongs with all of them.”
Late afternoon shadows added a new element to Alan Lohman and Glenn Moody’s course, featuring a challenging first option, two round bale verticals. Farmer said it may have thrown Point Being off his game if he had dealt with them a few months ago.
“I thought those round bales were formidable for a first jump. I quite liked them, but I thought they could get him,” Farmer said. “I would have said around Florida time, he would have been a hair green for that. He’s kind of showing me how good he is, and how much he’s matured.”
While Point Being has spent the year collecting derby accolades and impressing judges in the hunter ring, Farmer said he’s also caught the eye of more than one trainer who thinks he could win big in another ring.
“Every time he’s shown, some jumper person has come up to me and said ‘That horse is in the wrong ring, he could be a big time jumper’,” Farmed laughed. “And I say well, we think he’s a pretty big time hunter!”
Farmer will continue to campaign the gelding in derbies for the next few weeks, and said his work ethic at shows never fails to impress her.
“Every time he goes in the ring he tries harder, and he gets better,” Farmer said. “I’m really, really pleased with him.”
European Jumper To Hometown Hunter
Chad Keenum is an Upperville veteran, but this year the professional felt a bit out of his element on High Five, who’s new to the hunter ring and a derby first-timer.
“He did a lot of the jumper classes in Europe and he was quite successful,” said Keenum, 31. “This was my goal when I purchased him—the $20,000 class at Upperville—because it’s such a beautiful course and it’s pretty much my hometown, where my business is situated. I wanted to buy a horse with more scope than I needed so I could have a good first run at it for my first year.”
The pair took three of the high options, foregoing the last oxer, to finish second on a score of 176 ahead of third-placed Kennzo and Molly Ashe Cawley (173.5).
Keenum is used to bringing along young hunter prospects through his training and sales business CK Sporthorses, out of Meadowville Farm in The Plains, Va. With about 50 horses currently in training, and many showing at the pre-green and green levels, adjusting to the higher fences and High Five’s scopey jump has been a challenge.
“I’m not used to the bigger jumps as a professional rider, so I’ve just been trying to get my eye accustomed to the jumps, and get his balance for me,” said Keenum of the otherwise “easy ride.” “We worked on balancing and making him half-halt sooner than I thought because he likes to get to the base of the jumps and I’m used to just letting them get to the longer spot.”
Keenum and business partner James Web purchased the 8-year-old Dutch Warmblood in January, and Keenum wasted no time getting to know him. The pair spent six weeks at the Winter Equestrian Festival (Fla.), where they consistently placed in the ribbons in the high performance working hunters this spring, which also helped prepare them for the derby at Upperville.
“I thought the course was beautifully done; they had some really nice jumps and different jumps, so the horses looked at it as a different challenge,” said Keenum. “I thought it was overly well-done.”