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October 19, 2010

Lone Star Wrangles A Big Win

Hunt Tosh went home with another big win.

Harrisburg, Pa., Oct. 19

Hunt Tosh knew he’d have his work cut out for him as he headed into the ring aboard Lone Star for the regular working handy hunter class at the Pennsylvania National. He could hear the whoops and cheers from the schooling area after a spot-on lead-off performance by Rosalynn and Kelley Farmer, and he'd had all day to think about their close race for the division championship. After finishing half a point behind her at Capital Challenge (Md.) last week, he felt especially compelled to give Betsee Parker’s horse a serious ride.

He had his work cut out for him in the evening’s feature event. The course included a pen of split rail verticals, a tight roll back to a trot fence and finished with a hand gallop over a 4’4” oxer. Refusals and fallen rails over a different (but challenging) course that afternoon plagued the first and second year green divisions. After getting a good look at the tricky course—and lofty fences—only 10 of the 12 top working hunters showed up for their spot in the order.

But Lone Star rose to the challenge for Tosh, finessing through the tightest of turns, keeping perfect form over every fence and riding a true hand gallop to win the class on the highest score of the show so far—a 94—to clinch the division title.

Lone Star’s last big victory came at the $100,000 Chronicle of the Horse/USHJA International Hunter Derby Finals, where Tosh had amassed such a commanding lead in the first round he took a conservative route in the handy.

“Everyone gave me such a hard time about being safe at derby finals, I figured I’d better gallop tonight to make sure I did it,” said the Cumming, Ga., rider. “Lone Star was fabulous. Every time you ask him, he steps up.”

Parker was watching alongside Rosalynn’s owner Betty Oare, who finished an eventual third behind Lone Star and a spectacular round by Margot Snowden’s C. Quito. Rosalynn also finished as the reserve champion in the division.

“He’s the horse of a lifetime for me,” said Parker. “I think watching ‘The Kid’ today was like watching our sport elevated to an art form. I could draw parallels between watching him and hearing Maria Callas sing a Puccini aria and hit the high notes.”

Tosh and Lone Star will finish up their season at the Washington International (D.C.).

A Horseman’s Horse

If you’re ever around when Sandy Ferrell wins the first class at a big horse show, do yourself a favor and don’t tell her how great she was.

“I’m very superstitious, and the first person to congratulate me if I win the first class has to resume the position they were in for the rest of the horse show,” she said. “I don’t care if you’re busy, I don’t care what you’re doing.”

So when Danny Robertshaw complimented Ferrell’s winning round on Showman in the first over fences class of the first year division, he found himself relegated to the same spot in the stands through the rest of the division.

“He said, ‘I’ve got to tell you, my butt’s getting sore from sitting here and waiting for you!’ " recalled Ferrell. “I said I don’t care, get back out there! Thank you!”

Whether it was Robertshaw’s presence, or just plain old great jumping and riding, Ferrell and Showman went on to win another two classes and take second under saddle to take the division title for Alexa and Krista Weisman and the grand green hunter championship. Hunt Tosh rode Douglas Wheeler’s Good Humor to the reserve first year title.

“He’s one of the few horses that can do it all,” said Ferrell, Bernville, Pa. “He’s a horseman’s horse: he’s beautiful, he wants to win, he’s a gentleman in the barn, and he doesn’t have a belligerent bone in his body. He can win the hack and win the jumping. It’s such a rare thing to find nowadays.”

After earning the FTI Winter Equestrian Festival (Fla.) series title, Ferrell campaigned him lightly over the summer, and owner Alexa followed suit in the amateur ring. Thanks to this light schedule, and a careful program with assistant Devon DiPhillips, Showman stays fresh and show-ready when it is his time to compete.

“All of his talent is natural and god-given,” said Ferrell. “If I stay out of way he’s going to do well.”

A Home Run For Bases Loaded

Bases Loaded had unusual preparation for the second year division at the indoors circuit: the 2’6” children’s hunter division.

Trainer Larry Glefke’s customer Nancy Amling sold Bases Loaded to Madison Free this August as the young rider's first serious show horse, and Kelley Farmer reunited with him three days before Capital Challenge. But Bases Loaded was in spectacular form in Pennsylvania, tying with Erin O’Neil and Ante Up, owned by Ann Thompson, at the top of the division, then winning the hack-off for the championship.

“He’s a quiet horse, so it’s easy at a show like this,” said Farmer, Keswick, Va. “If you’ve got one that’s a little tougher to get to the ring that makes it harder here. He’s brave and easy—like today I knew I could take a shot in the handy.”

Farmer found all the tightest turns in the handy aboard the game bay, no surprise as he’s topped two USHJA International Hunter Derbies this year. While Free will continue to campaign Bases Loaded, Farmer plans to borrow him back for major events and already has her sights set on the $50,000 UHSJA International Hunter Derby in Wellington (Fla.) this April and the $100,000 UHSJA International Hunter Derby Finals (Ky.)

Looking ahead….

The 3’3” pre-green division makes its Harrisburg debut tomorrow morning, and the green and regular conformation divisions will follow up before the side-saddle riders take over the ring. The open jumper riders have arrived at the Pennsylvania Farm Show Complex And Expo center and will start tomorrow night with the $10,000 Gambler’s Choice Open Jumper class.

Full results are available thanks to ryegate.com, and we have all the news from junior weekend. If you’re an equitation fan, check out the play-by-play of Sunday’s Pessoa/USEF Medal Finals, or skip to a wrap-up of the event with photos.

Horse Sports