Williamsburg, Mich.—July 22
For a few minutes, it wasn’t quite clear whether Clearly had won the $20,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby or not.
Kelley Farmer accomplished a remarkable feat at Horse Shows By The Bay III. Somehow, she managed to ride three horses to exactly the same final overall score in the derby. When the announcer broadcast the scores of her last to jump, Red Sky, the total added up to 387—the same score she’d earned on Clearly and Praise as well.
Luckily, show manager Alex Rheinheimer had in her hands the class specifications and after much consultation via phone and radio, decided how to proceed. According to the class rules, any ties for first place in overall score should ride again in a jump-off round, but in the event of unsafe conditions, the placing will be determined by the raw second-round score of each horse. Since the Traverse City, Mich., area is suffering under the same heat wave that’s gripping the country, Rheinheimer declared it unsafe to jump again due to the heat, and Farmer’s tie with herself was broken by second-round scores.
That meant that Jane Gaston’s Clearly earned the top spot, followed by Selma and Kenneth Garber’s Praise in second, and Larry Glefke’s Red Sky in third. Clearly had come back to the handy round in third place but then earned raw scores of 88 and 92, with both judges’ panels adding 7 points for handy bonus and 4 points for option fences to earn a second-round score of 202, the highest of the evening. To top it all off, Farmer’s rides on Bases Loaded, the winner of last year’s hunter derby at Horse Shows By The Bay, put her into fourth with him.
“I think it's unusual to have that group of horses together. How much luckier can I get? Usually you're lucky enough to have one horse like that at a time, and I am blessed enough to have multiple,” Farmer said.
In fact, Clearly is such a nice horse that Glefke took a real chance in advising Gaston to buy him in January. Last year, Farmer had been showing the 10-year-old Oldenburg gelding (Lordanos—Sella) in the regular conformation division and the derbies for former owner Betty Oare. In January, Clearly came up for sale but wasn’t 100 percent sound.
“He had a bruised navicular bone. He has perfect x-rays, so you couldn't see it unless you did an MRI,” said Glefke. “When we did the MRI, we saw the problem, and Dr. Tim Ober told me, 'Larry, I guarantee you this will get better if you give him 90 days off.' So, I gave him 120 days off. Jane bought him in the beginning of Florida. I brought him back out after four months.”
Clearly’s first horse show back was Keswick (Va.) in May, where he was seventh in the derby, and he was seventh again in the Derby at Devon (Pa.). In June, he won the derby at the Showplace Spring Spectacular II (Ill.). “You don't often get a chance to buy a horse like him. He's as fine an animal as can be; he's the personification of a show hunter,” Glefke said.
J.P. Godard designed two classic hunter courses out in the massive grand prix ring at Horse Shows By The Bay. The handy round included a trot jump and two optional inside turns, but it was still very flowing and open. “The horses love that ring. J.P does a really good job at building a course that invites the horses to jump well. You can really gallop to the jumps,” Farmer said.
Clearly jumped all the four-foot options in both rounds of the derby, and his first-round raw scores of 85 and 92 put him third after the classic round, behind barnmates Red Sky (94 and 94) and Praise (90 and 93). But then Clearly upped the ante in the handy round with impressive jumping efforts. Judge John Roper even murmured ‘Wow!’ as Clearly jumped one oxer. “There's nothing you can't jump, and for a big horse, he's so light on his feet. You can turn him on a dime, and the more you challenge him at the jumps, the harder he tries,” Farmer said.
While Farmer had a lock on the top four spots, fellow professional rider Peter Pletcher placed fifth on Copperfield, sixth on Primero and seventh on Tell All.
Farmer has her sights set on the USHJA International Derby Finals in Lexington, Ky., on Aug. 19-20, but after showing at Horse Shows By The Bay next week, she’s shipping horses to Illinois for the derby at Equifest I on July 31.