Tuesday, Jul. 23, 2024

Falcon Flies To The Top Of Country Heir II Hunter Derby

Jennifer Waxman and her equitation horse accelerate to the top of the$15,000 The Chronicle of the Horse USHJA International Hunter Derby.

 Jennifer Waxman knew what she had to do to win the $15,000 The Chronicle of the Horse USHJA International Hunter Derby, and she knew it wasn’t going to be easy.

Hunt Tosh had laid down a phenomenal handy trip on Lone Star, scoring a 202 in the second round. Even though Waxman had the edge with the lead after Round 1, she realized it was going to be a showdown in Lexington, Ky., on June 13.

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Jennifer Waxman and her equitation horse accelerate to the top of the$15,000 The Chronicle of the Horse USHJA International Hunter Derby.

 Jennifer Waxman knew what she had to do to win the $15,000 The Chronicle of the Horse USHJA International Hunter Derby, and she knew it wasn’t going to be easy.

Hunt Tosh had laid down a phenomenal handy trip on Lone Star, scoring a 202 in the second round. Even though Waxman had the edge with the lead after Round 1, she realized it was going to be a showdown in Lexington, Ky., on June 13.

“I said to myself, ‘I’ve got to do this.’ So we went in, and Falcon jumped like a superstar,” Waxman said.

The handy round called for an inside turn to a trot jump, then a long line of 10 strides to an oxer. “I’d done 10 strides in the first round, but Falcon is a bit short-strided, and I wasn’t sure he could get the 10 strides if we trotted in.

“But everyone had done the 10 strides, so I knew that if I wanted to win, I had to do the 10. That was the hardest part for me,” she said.

“I landed after the trot fence, and I just kept going. I kept thinking that it just wasn’t there. I got to five strides and still didn’t really see it, but I just kept kicking. I don’t usually do stuff like that on Falcon, so he was looking back at me, saying, ‘Are you sure this is what you really want?’ I just kicked and said, ‘It’s OK Falcon, we’ve got it!’

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“We got there in the 10 strides and he jumped that oxer so high and so nice,” she continued with a smile. “It was great. Most other horses probably wouldn’t have kept going and done that for me, but he’s great.”

Waxman’s second round score of 201—with two 10-point brilliance bonus scores—was more than enough to keep her edge and earn the blue.

Tosh was watching from the in-gate. “We were holding our breath for Jen to make a mistake in the second round—we needed her to make a little mistake, but she wasn’t going to. It was a great class,” he said.

While she had to take a chance in the handy round, Waxman erred on the side of caution in Round 1. The derby course was set in the new stadium at the Kentucky Horse Park, an impressive environment with its sprawling 390′ x 360′ dimensions and towering stands. It’ll be the venue for the finals of the 2008-2009 ASG Software Solutions USHJA International Hunter Derby series on Aug. 21-22.

“The first round had long lines, with nine or 10 strides. I think people were getting a little bit caught up in the numbers, and the class wasn’t going so well,” Waxman said. “I went 20th on Falcon, and by that time I’d seen a bunch of people go and learned from their mistakes. I figured I should be pretty conservative. I did a few of the bigger options, but I went at a bit of a slower pace and even added a stride in a few of the lines.”

Despite her conservative approach, Waxman won the first round with a score of 184. Tosh was fourth after Round 1 on Lone Star with a 170.

“In the first round, he was a little green over the first part of the course, but he got better as he went. And he came back fabulously in the second round,” Tosh said. “We gave it a shot in the handy round, and we were close, but Jen was ahead enough from the first round that we couldn’t catch her.

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“It’s fun because he’s the kind of horse on which you can go out and try to win classes like that. [In] both rounds, we jumped all the four-foot options,” he noted. “In the handy round, everyone kind of had to follow the same path. I tried to tidy it up and go a little faster to get the bonus points.”

This was the first derby appearance for Tosh and Lone Star. The elegant bay gelding has been in Tosh’s barn for two years, but he showed in the junior hunters with his previous owner. This spring, the time came to sell Lone Star, so Tosh began showing him in the regular conformation and regular working divisions.

“He stepped up and did the four-foot so well that we really wanted to keep him in the barn and keep going, so Douglas [Wheeler] decided to buy him and keep him in the barn with us, which is great,” Tosh said of the 9-year-old Dutch Warmbood.

“Douglas bought him at the end of Florida, and I’ve been showing him since. He’s a fun horse; you can call on him when you need him, and he always steps up,” Tosh said. “Douglas likes to own nice horses and is a great owner, so we’ll keep doing him in the four-foot divisions for a while and see where we go.”

Lone Star has been either champion or reserve every time he’s shown at 4′, including the regular working hunter reserve title at the Devon Horse Show (Pa.).

Falcon only dabbles in the hunter ring with Waxman—he’s one of her equitation horses. But the bay gelding jumps well enough to do double duty and competed in the AHJF Hunter Classic Spectacular (Fla.). She’s had the 15-year-old gelding for four years.

Waxman, who’s in the middle of her last year as a junior, has one more year of high school left and then will attend college. She’s planning to continue riding as an amateur after the conclusion of her junior years.

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