Friday, May. 24, 2024

Gochman And Her “Magic Unicorn” Shine At Devon



Devon, Pa.—June 3

Most people lucky enough to earn a blue ribbon at Devon—or any ribbon at all, really—frame the coveted award and stick it on the wall of the tackroom. But not Becky Gochman.

This year, as in previous ones, Gochman accepted her mount’s amateur-owner championship ribbon, then walked to the rail and handed it to a lucky young person, then she did the same thing with a trophy a few minutes later.

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Becky Gochman gave Catch Me’s championship to a young onlooker. Photo by Mollie Bailey.

It’s not that she didn’t appreciate the awards. Rather, she wanted to spread the Devon magic.

“I remember coming here when I was 6 with some family friends and I loved the horses and the candy booth,” recalled Gochman, New York City. “I so enjoyed seeing the little kids at Devon. It gives me a thrill to see their happiness and to share horses with a town. You have to love that.”


Catch Me and Becky Gochman jumped to the amateur-owner hunter, 36 and over, championship. Photo by Molly Sorge.

Gochman piloted Catch Me to the amateur-owner hunter, 36 and over, and grand amateur-owner championships, and Gochman earned the leading amateur-owner hunter rider. 10-year-old Catch Me (Casiro—Wonnie 1) won three classes and finished second and third to take the division championship over John Ingram and Airport 48.

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Airport 48 and John Ingram jumped into the reserve amateur-owner hunter, 36 and over, championship. Photo by Molly Sorge

Let the Chronicle take you Behind The Stall Door with Catch Me.

Judges Chris Wynne and Rick Fancher also selected Catch Me to win the Sambalino award, given to the amateur-owner horse who best exemplifies the classic hunter horse in movement, jumping style and presence. That award, donated by Gochman in honor of her late mount of the same name, was the most meaningful one of the show for her.

“I’m a true believer that Sambalino is definitely with me when I ride,” she said. “I can feel him, and I can talk to him. He’s there.”


It was Becky Gochman’s first trip to Devon with Catch Me. Photo by Molly Sorge.

Gochman credited the River’s Edge team and her own squad at her private Baxter Hill Farm for making Devon a standout. River’s Edge Scott Stewart has been showing “Snoopy” in the open divisions, and Gochman just took over the ride at the start of the Winter Equestrian Festival (Fla.). While the pair meshed through the WEF circuit thanks to Gochman adjusting her ride and paying attention to his quirks, she swears by another secret weapon: carrots.


“It might be a bribe, but who cares,” she said, laughing. “My horses all get treats at the ring. It really works, and if I could tell anyone to do one thing, it would be this: give the horses more treats. I think he’s really turned into a magic unicorn.”

Secret Goal: Achieved 

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Great rounds boosted Martha Ingram and Lyon’s Creek Bellini to the low amateur-owner, 18-35, and grand low amateur-owner championships. Photo by Mollie Bailey.

Martha Ingram has been coming to Devon for as long as she can remember, and this year she made the trip really count.

Martha, daughter of John, piloted Lyon’s Creek Bellini to the low amateur-owner hunter, 18-35, championship and the low amateur-owner grand championship thanks to two blue ribbons over fences. The 20-year-old rising sophomore at Furman College (S.C.) also earned the leading low amateur-owner hunter rider award. Stephanie Danhakl, who recovered from a skiing accident just in time to show at Devon, finished reserve with Enough Said.

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Stephanie Danhakl recovered from a skiing accident just in time to get back in the ring for Devon, winning the low amateur-owner hunter, 18-35, reserve title on Enough Said. Photo by Mollie Bailey.

“She’s been riding for a long time and never been champion at Devon,” said trainer Tom Wright. “This has been her favorite horse show for her entire life. This has been a secret goal of ours since we started this year and everything was about trying to peak during WCHR week and Devon and peak here. We achieved our goals this year beyond thrilled.”

This is Lyon’s Creek Bellini’s third championship at Devon, have earned two small junior hunter titles with Hunter Holloway. Ingram started riding the 11-year-old Polish Warmblood of unrecorded breeding three years ago.

A Long Awaited Win
Virginia Fout didn’t waste much time after piloting Carma to the low amateur-owner, 36 and over, championship. She immediately loaded her two mounts onto a trailer, hooked it up to her Suburban and started driving south to her family’s farm in Middleburg, Va., eager to get the horses out in a paddock to get a few day’s rest before competition starts up at the Upperville Horse Show (Va.).


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Virginia Fout traveled from Los Angeles to win the low amateur-owner, 36 and over, division championship on Carma. Photo by Mollie Bailey.

But she had a big smile on her face as she drove north. Despite her horse country roots, the Los Angeles-based event production company owner has never been a Devon regular, and while she’s been to Devon a few times as an adult, she’s never earned a championship.

“As a kid, my parents weren’t really into having show ponies,” said Fout, who grew up foxhunting and participating in Pony Club rallies. “I had some junior horses that were racetrack rejects. Mom and Dad said I had plenty of time to do this, that there would always be another a horse show. And they were right! I finally came here and won. At 46! It was worth it.”


Fout sealed her tricolor over Tina Allen and Galaxy with a win in today’s handy then second in the stakes.

“Yesterday he was good,” she said. “We were fourth in the first class and second in the hack, but today I really feel like he came out feeling 100 percent.” 

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Tina Allen and Galaxy jumped to the low amateur-owner hunter, 36 and over, reserve championship. Photo by Mollie Bailey.

A Family Victory
Jaime Auletto was one of the few riders at Devon who went into the ring without perfectly clean breeches, having spent her down time between classes mucking a few stalls.

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Jaime Auletto piloted Carla to the top of the amateur-owner hunter, 18-36, division. Photo by Molly Sorge.

“I can’t be sitting, and I don’t like to watch—though maybe I should!” said Auletto, 36. “I like to keep myself occupied riding and longing and doing stalls.”

Between her barn work, Auletto piloted Carla to the amateur-owner hunter, 18-35, title over Danhakl and First Light in their first trip to Devon together. But one person may have been even more excited than Auletto, her mother Suzanne Auletto. Carla’s a special favorite for Suzanne, and she owns her for Jaime. Carla lives at Jaime’s parents’ house in Tabernacle, N.J., and Suzanne takes her out for rides.

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Stephanie Danhakl and First Light picked up a blue ribbon today to boost them to the amateur-owner hunter, 18-35, reserve championship. Photo by Mollie Bailey.

“She’s perfect,” said Jaime of the 9-year-old Dutch Warmblood of unrecorded breeding. “I don’t have to teach her anything or show her anything, I just try not to mess up. She’s been a delight.”

Jaime, who trains with Emil Spadone of Redfield Farm, will give Carla a few weeks off before heading to the Lake Placid (N.Y.) circuit.

See full results from Devon here

2017 Devon Amateur-Owner Hunters

Mollie Bailey / June 3, 2017 9:54 pm

. To see all of the Chronicle’s coverage from the Devon Horse Show, click here. And make sure to read the June 19 issue of The Chronicle of the Horse for more in-depth coverage from Devon.

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