Harrisburg, Pa. – Oct. 14.
“I don’t want to make a fool of myself,” said Peter Wylde as he exited the ring at the Pennsylvania National after the high performance hunter under saddle class with a red ribbon on his horse’s bridle, “but I don’t think I am!”
It’s not every day you see a former Olympic show jumping champion dabbling in the hunter ring at Harrisburg.
Wylde paired up with Katherine Hunt’s Oldenburg gelding, Smoking Gun, in June of this year. “Kate Hunt was my very first owner when I graduated from Tufts University 25 years ago,” he said. “Then I went off to do my jumper thing and we talked about buying another hunter when I got back from Europe last year.”
By “jumper thing,” Wylde is referring to his team gold show jumping medal at the 2004 Athens Olympics, his individual bronze at the 2002 World Equestrian Games in Jerez, Spain, training in Belgium, Holland and Germany for a dozen years, and other “minor” accomplishments along the road.
Rather than counting show jumping trophies, these days Wylde is also focusing on his hunter form. “It’s interesting how difficult the hunter ring is,” he said. "You really have to do a good job training your horse.”
“Some people think of hunters as not having much scope or talent, but actually they’re really gorgeous jumping horses,” he said of appreciating both disciplines.
“It’s more about the perfection in the round. The horse has to be really straight, clean, even, and correct. When a horse is really good, you can ride forward to the jump, have a very light contact on the mouth, and the horse takes care of the jump—it’s not manufactured and it’s not fake.”
Wylde appreciates watching Hunt Tosh’s hunter rounds the most. “In a way, it’s an art form, and you could say Hunt Tosh is an artist. It’s beautiful to watch and it’s effortless. Betsee Parker has amassed really phenomenal horses. It’s impressive to see that. God bless her for being such a fan and patron of such great horses.”
Showing alongside Tosh at indoors is new for Wylde. “I don’t assume that I’m going to walk into the hunter ring and win,” he said. But he and Smoking Gun are certainly growing together. They scooped up the high performance hunter circuit champion title at HITS-on-the-Hudson in Saugerties, N.Y., this summer and look forward to competing in the high performance hunters in Florida this winter.
“It’s the same formula,” he said. "You take a great rider, great horse, great ownership, make a great training program—that’s the recipe for success, whether it’s the dressage ring, the jumper ring, or the hunter ring. It’s a different discipline, but it’s still a beautiful rider and a beautiful horse.”
Wylde enjoys the challenge of balancing the two disciplines and wants to continue doing both. As most of his jumper prospects are very young, Wylde will also concentrate on in the hunter ring for now.
“I’ve always brought a hunter or two to the Florida circuit to sell; it’s a business. But I wouldn’t do it if I didn’t enjoy it,” he said.Want more Harrisburg? Stop by The Chronicle of the Horse's official Pennsylvania National page and catch up on all the news.
There will be a full report from the senior week of Pennsylvania National in the Nov. 4 issue of The Chronicle of the Horse. Check out the Pennsylvania National's website for results. There's also a live feed at USEFNetwork.com