Harrisburg, Pa.—Oct. 14
Golden Rule conquered his weakness on his way to victory at the Pennsylvania National Horse Show—the handy.
“The handies used to be our problem cause he was a little harder to turn because he was so big,” said rider Scott Stewart. “Today was actually the best he’s ever been in the handy. It’s the only time he could be spooky—when you’re passing by a jump backwards sometimes he would spook.”
To help combat the Oldenburg’s struggles in the handy, Stewart worked on his strength to improve his turns and asked him to walk into the ring and canter straight to the first jump—a test asked in today’s course—every time he gave the horse a jump school.
All that practice paid off when the pair earned the top score (89) in the handy hunter. That win gave them the edge needed to win the second year green division and the grand green hunter championship—something that Stewart was shocked to hear.
“It’s really great because I really wasn’t expecting it,” he said. “He’s a great horse but he came here just to go in the ring before [owner Stephanie Danhakl] does him in the [amateur-owners], so there wasn’t really any pressure on him—just to go around, so I was really thrilled with him.”
In the gelding’s first indoor season since being imported to the United States, Stewart learned that the big chestnut is actually less spooky indoors than out. “So far he’s actually been easier inside, I don’t know why!”
“Dreamy” and Danhakl will compete in the amateur-owner hunter, 3’6”, 18-35 section in the latter half of the week before heading to the Washington International Horse Show (D.C.).
Havens Schatt was extremely surprised when she walked out of the ring carrying the first year green working hunter tricolor ribbon. Not only had she earned the honor last year on Bacardi, but her mount Set To Music was also a pretty big underdog.
“I didn’t really think I would be able to do it again this year, but he pulled through right from the beginning,” said Schatt, who picked up first place in the first year green handy, among other strong placings in the division, on their way to the championship. “He didn’t live up to the expectations we had when we first bought him, so we were just going to make the best of it and go along with our plan. He’s just blossomed.”
She took the ride last winter at the FTI Winter Equestrian Festival (Fla.) after seeing Lourdes De Guardiola and Michael Morrissey schooling the now-8-year-old warmblood who had a former career as a jumper in Europe. Schatt immediately thought of an amateur client, Deborah Perkins, who owns five other horses in training at her Milestone Farm in Georgetown, Ky.
Perkins is rather petite, so the gelding’s small stature and easy-going temperament seemed to suit her well. But as Perkins put mileage on him in the adult amateur hunters while Schatt campaigned him in the pre- then first year greens, the results were a bit lackluster.
“He wasn’t really one that wanted pressure,” said Schatt, who also explained that the reason “Calvin” wasn’t excelling in the hunters didn’t have to do with his size—a slight 15.2 hands.
“I think he definitely seems to thrive when the jumps are a little more interesting,” said Schatt, 43. “He’s little, and so that makes you think he probably shouldn’t jump that high. But he’s so scopey that even this year, the 3’6″ is just not enough jump for him. He just doesn’t back himself up. But when he gets to Devon, where [the course] is pretty scopey and a little more interesting, and like Capital Challenge for the first time, and here, he’s brave enough but yet he’s interested.
“A lot of times I think the warmbloods—at 8 years old is when they really kind of finish growing and filling out and changing,” she added. “And then they can kind of get to where you need to go.”
Schatt also rode Perkins’ second entry, Kaipernick, to second place over fences in the first year greens.
Mindful Does It Again
It’s no surprise that Kelley Farmer and Mindful earned top honors in the high performance hunter division. Since Kensel LLC purchased the Hanoverian gelding in April, the pair has won a tricolor every time they’ve entered the division.
“That’s an unbelievable animal right there,” Farmer said. “He was champion at Devon, and he’s just an unbelievable horse. It’s rare that I get to keep them for a while, but we bought him so he’s sticking around! It’s really nice.”
After realizing what a special horse he was, Selma Garber purchased him in full so that they can keep him for the rest of his life.
When the division started on Monday, Farmer rode five in the 12-horse class, but handed over the reins of LPF Woodford and Why to Elizabeth Sanden Mulvey, who works for Farmer and Larry Glefke in addition to running her own business, for the second day to help keep the class moving along.
“At Washington, there’s a limit of three so she’s going to ride those at Washington as well,” Famer said. “We thought there would be more high performance horses here but since there were so few [12 on Monday and 11 on Tuesday] it got tight. Since she has to do next week at Washington, we figured, she might as well.
“The horse shows are great so we don’t want to ever do anything to hold them up and we could accommodate them by doing that,” she continued. “And it was good for her and the horses so she got a little practice before next week.”
To read more about the winners at the Pennsylvania National Horse Show, check out the October 27 issue of The Chronicle of the Horse print magazine.