30-Year Bucket List, A Last Hurrah And The Thrill Of The Ride: Professional Hunter Winners From National Horse Show

Oct 30, 2019 - 4:41 PM

 Lexington, Ky.—Oct. 30

Since the end of 2013, Lucador has been a steady presence on Scott Stewart’s string. The 11-year-old Oldenburg (Lord Pezi—Quinta) has won at every major horse show up and down the East Coast, and soon “Luc” is headed for a new career with junior rider Maddie Tosh. So heading into the National Horse Show, Stewart had high hopes for Betsee Parker’s bay gelding.

Luc showed exactly why he’s just so good, winning the high performance conformation championship as well as the grand hunter title with Stewart.

“I was glad I had probably one of my best rounds on him today, so that was a great way for that to end,” said Stewart. “He might go Friday night [in the $50,000 National Horse Show Hunter Classic.] We’re going to talk about it, but it couldn’t be any better to go out champion.”

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Scott Stewart and owner Betsee Parker accepted Lucador’s grand championship. Kimberly Loushin Photos

Luc has been known to be quirky, but Stewart said he was on his best behavior this year.

“You know, he’s pretty much the same as he was when he was 4 years old,” said Stewart. “He can be really, really great, or he can show his not-so-good side. He can play porpoise and stuff, but he actually behaved well here. He’s always been really confident about the jumps and a beautiful mover and a beautiful jumper. It’s been great. We haven’t really over shown him a lot; he’s probably shown seven or eight times a year maybe the last few years, so he stayed pretty fresh.”

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Catch Me was the high performance champion with Scott Stewart up.

Stewart also rode Gochman Sport Horse’s Catch Me to the championship in the high performance hunters, which helped him win his 13th leading hunter rider title. The 12-year-old Holsteiner (Casiro I—Wonne I) also topped the amateur-owner, 36 and over, division with Becky Gochman.

“He went awesome yesterday,” said Stewart. “We got unlucky today. He hit one, and it came out of the cups, but he was really fun to ride around those courses yesterday. And he’s just an amazing animal.”

A “Pinch Me” Moment

As he walked out of the Alltech Arena leading Maverick adorned in a National Horse Show championship ribbon, Jeff Gogul could hardly believe it was real. He’s been chasing this accomplishment for his entire career, and the fact that it came on a green 6-year-old was just icing on the cake.

“[It is] pretty much a ‘pinch me’ moment and a bucket list item for about 30 years of being a professional now, so, I’m thrilled,” he said. “I’ll for sure sleep with a smile on my face.”

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The young gun Maverick won the 3’6″ greens with Jeff Gogul.

The Roberts family purchased the warmblood gelding (Karet—Charett Ask) last July. Gogul showed him four times at 3’3″ last year before moving him up to the 3’6″ greens this year. He was the grand green champion at Capital Challenge (Maryland) this year, so they were feeling good headed to Kentucky.

“He just has a beautiful way of going,” said Gogul. “He’s so light and elegant across the ground. And he just shows you a distance perfectly all the time. He’s just lovely to ride around a course and super brave.”

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Holly Orlando rode Park City to the reserve in the 3’6″ greens.

Just Enjoying The Ride

Amanda Steege always feels pressure when it comes to showing, but when it comes to riding Lafitte De Muze, she tries not to let the nerves overwhelm her.

“I just try to remind myself when I go out there, when I pick up my canter, come on buddy, let’s just have fun,” she said. “It’s so fun to ride him and jump him, and I’ve never really felt a horse that gives you the feeling that he does when he jumps. I try to remind myself not to get thinking too much about all the other stuff and to go out there and just enjoy the horse and give it our best.”

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Lots of kisses for Lafitte De Muze from Amanda Steege.

Steege has been feeling a little bit like a bridesmaid with the 8-year-old Belgian Warmblood (Darco—Everlynchin De La Pomme). They’ve had a successful season, but oftentimes he came up just short of the win at major shows. But at the National, he left the ring adorned in the championship ribbon for the 3’9″ green hunters.

“I have nerves all the time,” Steege said. “I want to do the best job and to never let the horses down. So probably, the better the horse is, the more you feel like you don’t want to let them down. But I felt really good today, actually all week I felt good. I felt like I was on a really good horse, and I can count on him to try his hardest and just gotta go in there and keep putting in the rounds and see how it goes.”

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Lafitte De Muze’s powerful jump helped him win the 3’9″ greens.

Living Up To His Namesake

Before Kent Farrington even sticks a foot into a stirrup this week, he’ll be feeling pretty pleased about how things have gone at the National thus far. Consent, a 7-year-old Westphalian (Los Angeles—Fiones) who Farrington owns with Larry Glefke, took home the green conformation championship with Kelley Farmer to kick the week off.

Farrington has owned horses with the crew from Lane Change Farm for the past several years, but usually they’ve sold those horses before the indoor circuit comes along. This was the first time the team brought a horse here, so when Farmer told Farrington that the horse they call “Kent” in the barn was coming to the National, Farrington had one question.

“He was like, ‘OK, could we be champion?’ ” she said. “I’m like, ‘Well possibly. If I don’t screw up, the horse is capable.’ He’s like, ‘I would love that.’ I don’t know if he’s here yet, so I have to call. It’s exciting; it’s fun. He’s a great partner to have.”

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Kelley Farmer rode Consent to the green conformation championship.

Farmer said Kent is a suitable name for the bay gelding, as he has a similar personality to his namesake.

“They know they’re good,” she said. “And he always steps up and wins when he’s supposed to. He knows when it matters, and he tries.”

Farmer and Glefke elected to skip the beginning of the indoor season this year in favor of Tryon (North Carolina) and the World Equestrian Center (Ohio) because many of her horses weren’t quite ready after Farmer had to take some time off due to injuries.

“I always had a bad back, and it went out, like completely failed on me, before the second week [of the Kentucky Spring shows],” she said. “I couldn’t ride. I was walking up the stairs, and I literally went to step, and I fell down the stairs and then had to crawl up the stairs. We went through a long process of doctors and injections and this and that. And in the meantime, a couple days after my back I was getting in the car to go to the doctor, and I slipped on the running board, and I put a hairline fracture in my foot, so I was a total mess.

“I did a couple shows after mid-summer, but if I did one day with three horses, then I couldn’t walk for four days,” she said. “I was like piecing myself back together slowly. I’d manage to get a day and then none. It’s just kind of been slowly progressing.”

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Kelley Farmer imported Hulla-Balou as a 4-year-old, and Michael Dennehy rode him to the reserve championship in the green conformation.
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Jeff Gogul rode Just Ask to a pair of reserves in the 3’9″ green hunters and the high performance conformation.
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Havens Schatt piloted Fabulous to the reserve title in the high performance hunters.
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Amanda Steege’s ride Lafitte De Muze enjoyed hamming for the cameras.

Don’t miss all the Chronicle’s online coverage, with behind-the-scenes stories, lovely photos and more! Follow the Chronicle on FacebookTwitter and Instagram @Chronofhorse and check out the Nov. 18 issue of the magazine for full analysis of the competition.

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