The future looks bright for Kelley Farmer. While she might have nabbed the blue ribbon in the $25,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby at the Lake St. Louis Hunter/Jumper show on her derby veteran Taken, he’s got competition in her new rides.
Farmer guided three young horses to ribbons in the derby as well, claiming third on Mythical, sixth on Act Of Valor, and ninth on Beyond Words. All three are first-year green horses.
Why did Farmer ship her string 20 hours from her winter base in Wellington, Fla., to Lake St. Louis, Mo.? “For $25,000 I’ll go! It’s a nice show and they give good money,” she said. “For the young ones, I wanted them to get a nice derby under their belt. If we hadn’t gone there, their first derby would have been either Jacksonville [Fla.], under the lights at night, or at Wellington on the field. I think it’s nice for them to get one of those classes under their belts and not be overwhelmed at one of those big ones.”
Since the Lake St. Louis derby is held in an indoor, there aren’t the natural obstacles found on many derby courses. “It wasn’t overwhelming or too much for a young horse. It wasn’t small, but it was a nice course,” Farmer said. “It was good for the young horses. They had to think about it and be ready and on their toes, but it wasn’t discouraging for them.”
She put Taken on the truck to have an old friend along, as well. “He’s my security. I know anything can happen on any given day when you take the young horses, so it’s nice to have one you can count on with you too,” she continued.
While Taken might have been the derby star, the young ones did some winning of their own. Mythical, 8, claimed the high performance hunter championship and the first year green reserve title. Act Of Valor, 6, was the first year green champion, and Beyond Words, 5, claimed championships in the regular and green conformation division before their derby performances. “I could not have been more pleased with them for their first real derby. They were fantastic,” Farmer said.
Farmer and her partner Larry Glefke bought all three from Europe just off viewing videos of them. “I’d never sat on any of them before they got to this country. Yeah, you’re taking a shot when you do that, but you’re taking a shot whenever you buy a horse,” she said. Kate Conover had been in Europe and tried Act Of Valor and Beyond Words. “She called and told me they were lovely. If Kate calls and says ‘You’ll love this one,’ chances are we will,” said Farmer.
Both Mythical and Act Of Valor showed with Farmer throughout the summer, but Beyond Words just landed in the United States in September. His first show as a hunter was in late November, when Holly Orlando, who helps Glefke and Farmer with riding and showing duties, showed him at the South Florida Hunter/Jumper Charity show in Wellington. Lake St. Louis was just his second show.
Despite the greenness of her younger mounts, Farmer didn’t hesitate to challenge them in the handy round of the derby. “All my young horses did the high options. If they can jump that big when they start, everything looks easy. They’re all real derby horses and they have to learn how to do it sometime,” she said. “Beyond Words and Act Of Valor, I went around in one place where I went inside on Taken because of their greenness. But Mythical can do everything Taken can do. He can go inside and jump big. He’s a young horse, but there’s nothing green about Mythical.”
Farmer thinks that Mythical, who she imported from a German dealer they work with regularly, is going to be something special. “He’s like Taken in that he knows that he’s good. And they’re right,” she said. “I think Mythical is going to be my new Taken. He’s a pretty special horse. Even though he’s a first-year horse, just jumps the four-foot easy and wins in the high performance. He’s a little horse with a huge stride and a lot of scope who just tries so hard. He’s my future star, I’m pretty sure.
“We’ve got a great group of new derby horses for this year. I’m excited. Holly and I have a great group,” she continued.
Because they had so many greener horses in the barn, Farmer and Glefke chose to bypass the fall indoor shows this season after showing at the Capital Challenge Horse Show (Md.) in October. Instead, they shipped them all to their Wellington farm, where they enjoyed a quiet November. “It was nice to get them settled in and let them have time to be ready to start the year,” she said. “You’re not trying to condition them and get them to the horse show at the same time.”
After the holidays, showing gets back into full swing for Farmer and her string in Wellington at the FTI Consulting Winter Equestrian Festival.