This year’s leading hunter rider at the Devon Horse Show has a new horse with an unusual background. RF Amber Eyes evented through the CCI** level with Karen O’Connor, finishing fifth at the Bromont CCI** (Quebec) in 2012. Most recently Hannah Sue Burnett filled in while O’Connor recovered from a broken back, riding her to eighth at the Jersey Fresh CIC** (N.J.) this May.
The 9-year-old German Sport Horse (Liberty Son—Natascha, Glistan) has now joined Kelley Farmer’s string of top hunter derby horses. She was purchased by Farmer’s partner at Lane Change Farm, trainer Larry Glefke, along with Ken and Selma Garber. The mare will make her hunter debut in Devon, Pa., on June 2 in the $25,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby under her new name, Commentary.
Kate Conover saw a video of then-RF Amber Eyes eventing through her friend Marilyn Little and instantly knew the mare would be a great fit for Farmer. Conover has a knack for finding young horses with loads of hunter potential in Europe and pairing them up with people like Farmer. Conover sent Glefke and Farmer a video, then warned them that the mare was set to fly to Europe in a few days. So the day after she showed in two derbies in two states in as many days, Farmer hopped on a plane for a test ride.
“When you think three-day horse you don’t automatically think great hunter, but I loved her as soon as I rode her,” said Farmer, Wellington, Fla. “She was a really good eventer; we hope she’ll do just as well as a hunter. She shipped to Kentucky, and I jumped her and rode her in the field, and she’s been great. [Our] plan is [for her] to be a derby horse, and with her background you know she’ll be plenty brave. We’re really excited.”
Watch RF Amber Eyes and O’Connor go cross-country:
Conover will be helping Farmer ride a few Lane Change Farm mounts at the upcoming Upperville Colt and Horse Show (Va.), as riders in that USHJA International Hunter Derby are restricted to riding three mounts each. With that in mind, they will be starting their partnership a week early, and Conover will ride the mare in her Devon—and hunter—debut this Sunday.