Wednesday, Jul. 24, 2024

Hassey Hustles At High Prairie Spring Classic

The Mexican native rides his longtime partner La Roche to a big win.

Armando Hassey needed only to go clear to win the High Prairie Spring Classic mini-prix.

The Mexico City, Mexico, amateur, now living in Parker, Colo., had ridden his Hanoverian stallion La Roche to one of only three clear first rounds. But both of the other riders, Bjorn Ikast on Day Dream and Alexandra Vanderrest on Oxsona M, dropped the last fence in the jump-off, a wide oxer jumped off a sweeping right turn.

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The Mexican native rides his longtime partner La Roche to a big win.

Armando Hassey needed only to go clear to win the High Prairie Spring Classic mini-prix.

The Mexico City, Mexico, amateur, now living in Parker, Colo., had ridden his Hanoverian stallion La Roche to one of only three clear first rounds. But both of the other riders, Bjorn Ikast on Day Dream and Alexandra Vanderrest on Oxsona M, dropped the last fence in the jump-off, a wide oxer jumped off a sweeping right turn.

Hassey, last to go, tried for the best of both worlds—fast and clear. “I tried to make some short turns, but definitely not do anything risky so that we could have the clear round,” he said. La Roche rose to the occasion.

His time was not the fastest of the afternoon, but that was academic. All the jumps were up, and Hassey led the victory lap. The mini-prix was one of the featured events of the High Prairie Spring Classic, held May 14-17 in Parker, Colo.

Hassey and La Roche are no strangers to the winner’s circle in Parker. The pair has won several grand prix events there in recent years. La Roche has been with the Hasseys since the stallion was 2 and is considered a member of the family. “He’s like an icon for us,” said Hassey, 24, whose sister Andrea also rides. “He’s 15 and keeps winning classes.”

Hassey and his family have been regular visitors to the Parker horse shows for years and finally decided to buy a home in the area. Their home sits on a ridge just south of the horse show grounds, with a sweeping view of the Rocky Mountains to the west. “I love it here, and my horses do, too,” Hassey said. “We’ll be here all summer, ready to win some more classes.”

Another veteran campaigner carried his owner to the win in the junior/amateur-owner jumper classic. Lindsay Sceats bested the field with a blazing jump-off round, something she’s come to expect from her Danish gelding Waldi.

“He’s won a class at each of the last five horse shows,” said Sceats, an amateur from Colorado Springs. “You don’t prepare him at all, just a few jumps and there we go,” she said of the 15-year-old jumper. “He doesn’t need much, and we’re trying to preserve his legs.”

Waldi had several grand prix wins to his credit with Aaron Vale up, and Sceats was delighted to get such a wonderful horse to carry her into her amateur career. “He’s wonderful, and I love him to death,” said Sceats, who trains with Michael Dennehy when in Colorado.

Sceats will begin her junior year in the fall at Mount Holyoke College (Mass.) and will captain the Intercollegiate Horse Shows Association team next season. She chose the small eastern school both for its academic excellence and for its commitment to riding competition. The team earned the national championship in 2000 and 2006 but managed only a sixth-placed finish last season.

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“Hopefully next year will go a little bit better,” she said. Sceats is on a pre-med track, majoring in biochemistry. Horses remain her lifelong passion, though. “I actually started Western, and then after a year or so I switched to English,” Sceats said. “I was reading all those horse books, and I wanted to jump.”

Getting In Front Of The Camera

Laurie Jueneman didn’t intend to become a professional rider but proved the career suits her as she rode Elizabeth Boles’ Seleus to the first year green hunter championship, winning four of the five classes.

Jueneman was immersed from an early age in the horse world. “My parents owned part of White Fox Manor in Kansas City,” she said. “As a kid I grew up riding and showing and helping my parents run horse shows.”

In high school, Jueneman ran her own videotaping business and often got to shoot from the judge’s booth. “I learned a lot from the various judges that we had at the horse shows,” she said. Becoming a professional was not first on her career list, however.

“I tried the corporate world when I graduated from college. I did that for about five years—I worked for a European grocery store company,” said Jueneman. “That was a great experience. I’ve been able to use what I learned doing that in the business part of what I do.”

When Jueneman moved to Colorado, she was looking for a way to reconnect with the horse community. She resurrected her video business, which brought her to all the major shows in the area. This soon led to other things.

“Phillip Dreissigacker in Vail called me up one day and asked if I would be interested in teaching a couple of riding school lessons,” she recalled. “I said I’d love to. One led to two led to four, and I decided to try to make it on my own.”

Jueneman’s business in the ski community of Vail went well but was seasonal. She decided a year ago to move her main operation down out of the mountains and bought a farm in Parker. “It’s very near the horse show, just 4 miles east of here,” she said.

She still commutes twice a week to help some of her clients in Vail, a distance of more than 130 miles each way, but her main business now is at the new farm. “It’s a beautiful facility, and I’m excited to be in Parker and just moving forward with things,” she said. “It really is a lifetime dream of mine. It’s extremely rewarding for me, both the teaching and the riding, and developing young horses. I enjoy it so much.”

When she first tried Seleus at Harriet Bunker’s barn two years ago, she knew he’d be a fun one to bring along. “I thought he was a really cute horse, so I tried to find one of my clients to buy him,” she said. “Elizabeth stepped up to the plate. She’s ridden with me for almost 10 years and wanted to get a green horse so she could develop her skills, build on her horsemanship and so forth.”

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Seleus, who is coming 6, turned out to be a perfect choice. “He’s just a great, easygoing guy. He’s really laid back, and he tries to jump beautifully every time out, every jump I go to. He’s been that way ever since we got him,” Jueneman said. “We just think he’s terrific.”

It’s Cold There!

Jessie Lang of Jackson, Wyo., rode Margot Snowden’s C. Quito to second year green tricolors. The gray stallion by Parco was showing last year in the young jumpers. His power and form caught the attention of trainer Randy Henry.

“Randy had seen him and thought that he might make a hunter,” Lang said. “I was looking for a horse to show in the open hunter divisions, and for the owner to show in the adult amateurs.” Lang tried the horse and was delighted with what she found. “He’s got the best mentality in the world. He’s the horse of a lifetime,” she said. “When you get on, he’s all business. He just does whatever you ask—he’s incredibly nice to ride.”

Lang had no intention of turning professional when she moved, 20 years ago, to Jackson,  from Virginia. She’d been deeply involved with horses all her life and was ready to try something else. “I’ve had a varied background,” she said. “I’ve foxhunted, I worked at a sales barn, rode with Pam Baker, rode jumpers with Rodney Jenkins in the ’80s. I wanted a little break from showing for awhile.”

As the Jackson community changed, becoming more gentrified, a demand grew locally for hunter/jumper trainers. As it happened, there were none, and Lang soon found herself back in the horse business.

“Recently the business has gotten bigger, and I’m getting maxed out,” she said. Lang does not have a farm of her own but instead travels to her clients’ private barns in the summer.

Winters in Wyoming are harsh, so each fall Lang’s customers load up their horses and take them to a big indoor facility in Victor, Idaho, about 25 miles to the west, where she teams up with Idaho trainer Bob McDonald. “We spend about five or six months at that indoor facility, and then they disperse to their own nice private barns, and I commute to each barn,” said Lang.

Lang said her winter commute from Jackson to Victor each day takes about 45 minutes and is not for the faint of heart. The road winds over Teton Pass, which is more than 8,400 feet high. The highway is often closed in the mornings so that road crews can take care of avalanches.

“It’s not that easy to run a horse business out of Jackson. It’s tough,” Lang said. Just getting to horse shows is a major undertaking. “This is our closest show,” she said, referring to the Parker events, “and it’s 10 hours. My clients are very committed. They are willing to do what it takes, and that’s what makes it work.”

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