Devon, Pa.—May 31
Can Can made his first trip to the Devon Horse Show count, galloping to the high performance conformation hunter championship for owner Stephanie Ring. He and Chris Payne won the stake, the model and an over fences class, then jumped to second over fences and finished fourth in the handy to get to the title.
Maria Rasmussen rode Worthy to the reserve title for Sunset View Farm LLC.
Can Can got his start in the jumper ring, competing through the 1.40-meter level with Nayel Nassar. The Italian Warmblood (Cascari—Carebella Della Caccia) and Payne paired up at the end of 2020.
“A friend of ours, Sophie Verges, called us and said, there’s this really adorable horse here I think you should come look at it,” recalled Payne, Cincinnati, Ohio. “We were sort of putting it off and putting it off. Finally David [Belford, Payne’s parter at New Hope Farm] ran over there and tried him. He jumped four jumps and said, ‘Come over here right away.’ I jumped six jumps on him, and he got vetted. We bought him within a day or two. He’s the best, most fun thing to ride in the world; he loves his job.”
Payne took his time transitioning Can Can to the hunter ring.
“It took him a minute to not overjump,” said Payne. “His tendency is to be very enthusiastic and put in a big effort for the oxers, which is nice because it’s just him enjoying himself. But it takes a minute for him to realize not to get so serious.
“It’s been a lot of easy repetition over low jumps,” he continued. “At the oxers he gets a little serious, so we do lots of small oxers so he doesn’t overthink it and doesn’t try too hard, and so he finishes the jump a little smoother.”
To prepare for Devon, Payne showed him over 3’6” fences at Kentucky Spring, focusing on keeping him calm.
“He wins the model, jumps beautifully, makes a beautiful picture,” said Payne. “He has a big jump, and big personality. He’s a very confident little guy, very sure of himself. A little bit like, ‘Why are you telling me something when I think I know what I’m doing?’ He knows better than I do.”
Payne credited Belford for everything he does behind the scenes to keep Can Can and all the New Hope horses in winning condition.
“Working with David is amazing,” Payne said. “He makes sure every horse is as healthy as possible. Every hair is in the right place, each horse has the right amount of weight, and the horses are meticulously cared for, nonstop. David is so in tune with each horse, and makes sure they’re as happy physically and mentally as possible. And on the ground with me, David has such a great eye for how to clean up the approach to each jump to make a better picture and help me not get sloppy up there and keep the whole picture going right.”
Cannon Creek Makes It Two In A Row
What do you do when your partner wins a high performance hunter championship at Devon? For Hunt Tosh and Cannon Creek the answer is simple: You come back and do it again the next year.
Yesterday Nottingham and Scott Stewart laid down the gauntlet in the second over fences class, scoring a 93, but Cannon Creek jumped out of his skin to mark a 94 and get the win, which helped boost him to the division title for the Wheeler family. Betsee Parker’s Nottingham and Stewart claimed the reserve title.
“He’s so great,” said Tosh, Milton, Georgia. “He has great rhythm and balance. He’s a very tall horse, but for being a tall horse doesn’t ride like it. He’s a big horse, and he’s just so scopey, and he handles any questions for him. When the jumps get bigger, lines get longer, he gets better.”
Cannon Creek (Cancara—Tiffany S) has been a consistent performer for Tosh, but the pressure was on at Devon.
“He’s one of those horses where when you need that little bit of extra, like yesterday afternoon, he’s there for you,” said Tosh of his double Platinum Performance/USHJA International Hunter Derby Championship winner. “Scott went beautifully and we needed to go back and beat him. Cannon Creek always rises to the occasion when you need him to.
After yesterday’s performance Tosh raced off to be inducted into the Show Hunter Hall of Fame.
“I’m shocked to be inducted,” said Tosh. “It’s the best honor that I could ever have in this industry. When your peers put you in that, it means so much. Wouldn’t be here without the Wheelers and [owner] Betsee [Parker] and all the ones that support me. When [SHHOF president] Jimmy Lee called me and said I was getting inducted I didn’t know how to respond. You start thinking back about your life in the horse world and doing this, and obviously I started so long ago, but it’s going by so fast.”
McQueen’s Grand Trip To Devon
Tuesday’s champion in the green conformation hunter division, Strasburg Morin’s McQueen, was crowned grand hunter champion today at the Devon Horse Show.
It’s the second consecutive grand hunter championship for the team of Carleton Brooks and Traci Barman Brooks of Balmoral and rider Nick Haness, having won last year with Only Always.
“To have a back-to-back grand champion is something you can only ever dream of,” Haness said. “To win it once is incredible, but to win it two years in a row is really special. Shows what a great bond we have and partnership.”
That championship, coupled with McQueen’s reserve title in the 3’6” green division and John and Stephanie Ingram’s Pavlova’s reserve title in the green conformation division helped boost Haness to his first Devon leading hunter rider title. Stewart won the title the last 17 years running.
Haness has been riding as a professional at Devon since 2011, winning his first championship with Lindsay Maxwell’s Technicolor in 2016. “Nick is a natural talent,” said Carleton, of Los Angeles, who recruited Haness to start riding his horses last year. “He’s a freak in understanding any horse.”
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Don’t forget to pick up copies of The Chronicle of the Horse magazine. Junior Weekend coverage will be found in the June 12 & 19 issue, and coverage of Senior Week will be in the June 26 issue.