Wednesday, May. 29, 2024

Conover And Trust Headline At Devon

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Devon, Pa.—May 28

When Kate Conover was a child living outside Philadelphia, she used to skip school on the Friday of Memorial Day weekend and go to Devon to watch the competition. Too short to see over the fence, she’d instead peer between the slats and watch the best hunters in the country go head-to-head, dreaming that someday she’d be the one in the ring.

Someday came today.

Conover rode Trust to the green conformation title for Glade Run Farm, winning her first championship at Devon on her fifth trip here (sixth if you count her leadline debut). Reserve went to Shadowfax Equestrian LLC’s Monarchy, ridden by Geoffrey Hesslink.

Trust and Kate Conover earned the green conformation hunter title at Devon. Mollie Bailey Photos

Monarchy and Trust were nearly tied after this morning’s under saddle class, with the handy and stake left to go.

“[Hesslink’s] horse went beautiful today, and Trust really put some extra to pull out those two scores of 93,” said Conover, Ocala, Florida. “I’m really proud of that horse and the whole team behind him, and I’m really grateful to [trainer] Tom [Wright] and [owner] Laura [Karet] for the opportunity to have him. It’s just a really special day.”

Trust also showed in the 3’6” green division, so Conover was able to hone her green conformation handy round with some tips from Wright.

Monarchy and Geoffrey Hesslink jumped to the green conformation reserve championship.

“He’s big on the little details,” Conover said. “Sometimes I could over-think, and he’ll say, ‘Trust yourself and do it, turn a little earlier here.’ The fine-tuning makes me better as a rider, which I really appreciate.”

For the horse’s part, Trust delivered on Devon’s big stage.

“He just really relaxed for that handy, and I knew that at the end of the day it’s a jumping competition,” she said. “He really was showing off his style over every fence. I was neat, but I wasn’t too greedy about it. I knew that he was going to put in all the efforts that I wanted to get a big score if I did my round right. He was showing off today.”

Conover shared the ride on Trust with Jacob Pope during the Winter Equestrian Festival (Florida) because of her obligations working at Shadow Ridge Farm on the World Equestrian Center—Ocala (Florida) circuit. To prepare for Devon, Conover and the 10-year-old Dutch Warmblood (Thunder Van De Zuuthoeve—Time Out 3), went to Aiken Charity I and II (South Carolina), where he won the grand hunter championship both weeks. She’s known the horse a long time, though, as she rode him when he was doing the 3’ green division while owned by Jane Gaston.

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“He’s been in and out of my life a lot,” she said.

“He likes you to be soft,” she added. “He wants you to just kind of let him do his thing. Sometimes he can overstudy the jumps, but like his name, you’ve just got to trust him, and when it works, it’s magic.”

Frosted Tops The 3’6” Green Division

During Jennifer Hannan’s first trip to Devon as a professional, she won the first year green championship with As Always, and this year she had flashbacks to that horse show when she and Frosted claimed the 3’6” division title for Rindy Dominguez. Reserve went to Glade Run Farm’s Circa and Nick Haness.

Heading into today’s jumping classes, Hannan knew that she had to pull out great performances to take the title.

Frosted and Jennifer Hannan won the 3’6″ green hunter title at Devon.

“I was aware that the points were fairly close, and I thought that’s why I should get the handy done well right away, to try to ease the pain a little bit on the last,” she said. “It’s certainly a lot of pressure, but I tried to just have a clean mind walking in.”

She and “Frosty,” a 10-year-old Holsteiner by Connor, scored a 92 and the blue ribbon in the handy and fourth in the stake to clinch the title.

Frosted and Jennifer Hannan nailed the handy round to capture the division title.

“We’ve had an incredible season,” said Hannan, Wakefield, Rhode Island. “He won a lot [at the Winter Equestrian Festival (Florida)]; he was circuit champion there. Moving up to the 3’6” has just been a delight; it’s so easy for him and I’m just really lucky to ride a horse like him.

Hannan fell in love with him as soon as she saw him on crossties in Europe, naming him immediately.

Watch their winning 3’6″ green handy hunter round, courtesy of USEF Network:

“We bought him just over a year and a half ago,” she continued. “When I tried him in Europe, I didn’t really know who was going to get him, but I thought, ‘I have to have this horse, so I’m going to find somebody to buy him.’ He’s really been incredible since he started. Whoever was going to buy him I said, ‘We need to have this horse, but I’ve already named him. His name is Frosted, and his barn name is ‘Frosty.’ ”

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Frosty does double duty with Dominguez in the adult amateur division, winning the division championship their last show out together. Dominguez and Frosty will contest a few shows after Devon, then he will gear up for the Platinum Performance USHJA Green Incentive Championship (Kentucky).

Circa jumped to the 3’6″ green reserve championship with Nick Haness up.

Ever After Writes A Fairytale At Devon

Scott Stewart swept the 3’9” green hunter division, riding Bikoff Equestrian’s Ever After to the championship and Sophie Gochman’s Colter to the reserve title.

Scott Stewart guided Bikoff Equestrian’s Ever After to his second consecutive Devon championship.

Two years ago, Ever After won the 3’6” green hunter title with Stewart up, but then he got hurt, and the Bikoff family decided to give him extra time off to make sure he was feeling 100 percent. Eight months ago he started tack walking, and he enjoyed a light season, only showed in the 3’9” green hunters a few times during WEF.

The 14-year-old Oldenburg (Arko—Hera) prepared for Devon by showing at Kentucky Spring, where he was champion in the 3’6” performance hunter division. Altogether the gelding showed just six times this year before coming to Pennsylvania.

Colter jumped to the 3’6″ green reserve championship with Scott Stewart up.

“His original name was Arko Junior, because he’s by Arko, so we call him ‘Junior’ in the barn,” said Stewart, Flemington, New Jersey.

“He’s so much fun to ride,” he added. “He’s extremely easy; he has a big stride, and he’s scopey. He did the big jumpers in Europe, and the 3’9” is real easy for him. He’s just nice to ride.”

Watch their 3’9″ green handy hunter round, courtesy of USEF Network:

Owner Ella Bikoff has been busy studying at Harvard University (Massachusetts), but she’s back to riding and will take over the reins next week in the amateur-owner hunter division at Upperville (Virginia).

The Chronicle has a pair of reporters at Devon bringing you photo galleries, stories from the competition and more at www.coth.com. Be sure to follow us on Facebook and Instagram to make sure you don’t miss a thing. You can see a full report from the entire competition in the June 17 issue of The Chronicle of the Horse magazine.

Important Links: Devon Horse Show website / Detailed schedule / Results and orders of go / All the Chronicle’s coverage

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