Sunday, Apr. 21, 2024

Henselwood And Special Ed Take 1-2 Finishes At HITS Culpeper


Jill Henselwood and Special Ed blazed to victory in the $100,000 USGPL Invitational Grand Prix at HITS Culpeper, Sept. 30. The pair also turned in a second-placed finish in the $25,000 HITS Wild Card Grand Pix on Friday in Culpeper, Va.

Henselwood, of Juniper Farms in Oxford Mills, Ont., described the 13-year-old gelding as “super careful, fast and clever.” They turned in a clear first round in 81.05 seconds to advance to course designer Olaf Petersen’s jump-off.
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Jill Henselwood and Special Ed blazed to victory in the $100,000 USGPL Invitational Grand Prix at HITS Culpeper, Sept. 30. The pair also turned in a second-placed finish in the $25,000 HITS Wild Card Grand Pix on Friday in Culpeper, Va.

Henselwood, of Juniper Farms in Oxford Mills, Ont., described the 13-year-old gelding as “super careful, fast and clever.” They turned in a clear first round in 81.05 seconds to advance to course designer Olaf Petersen’s jump-off.

“I think that Olaf Petersen is one of the best course designers in the world, and today he built an interesting course with difficulties everywhere,” Henselwood said. “It was a good education to the horse and rider, and the whole last line with options was interesting.”

After the triple combination, riders could continue straight and over the last two jumps, or steer right and take another set of jumps. Riders who took the first choice were faced with fitting six short strides in the last line or taking five long strides.

“The choice gave me a chance to take the inside track. I didn’t want to end with the plank jump as my last element; if there was going to be a plank, I at least wanted it in front of the oxer.”

While most competitors chose the first option, Henselwood took the different route to a clear first round.
She was one of six riders in the jump-off and took the coveted position of going last. After watching the other rounds, Henselwood knew she could post a faster time.

“I naturally sit on a faster horse; I just had to stay with him on the same track,” she said.

Henselwood, clocking in at 43.70 seconds, took even turns and finished with a strong gallop to the last vertical to take the lead.

That Special Horse

While Henselwood has enjoyed success with former horses, such as Murphy Brown and Toys R Us, none have compared to Special Ed, who won the Pan American Games individual gold medal this summer and
competed last summer at the World Equestrian Games.

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“I’ve never had a horse as good as him,” she said. “You can’t buy a horse like him. You must search at the bottom and bring up gold.”

Special Ed came to her originally as a dressage horse. “You’re a long way coming to get one with all the qualities—super scope, Olympic scope, a disposition that is kind and generous and all heart,” she said.

Special Ed took a break at the Washington (D.C.) International, where Henselwood showed her other mount, Black Ice. “When one is resting, the other one is working. I’m going to hold that practice all through the fall, at Washington, Harrisburg and Toronto,” said Henselwood, who will compete Special Ed next at Harrisburg (Pa.).

Henselwood will return with both horses to the Canada Cup, Nov. 3-12, in Toronto to defend her title in the Canadian Show Jumping Championship.

Black Ice has already qualified for the World Cup Finals, and while both of Henselwood’s horses have Olympic scope, she sees Special Ed as going all the way. “[Special Ed] has more team experience and more Nations Cup mileage. This horse is world-class fast, in any country,” she said.

Ken Berkley, aboard Krista and Alexa Weisman’s Carlos Boy, went first in the jump-off, riding a smooth and conservative round and posting a time of 44.24 seconds to take second.

From Storm To Success

Very few people can name good things about Hurricane Katrina, but for Kate Cummings the disaster led her to trainer Mike McCormick, where she found her horse, Tenfold. Together, Cummings and Tenfold secured the blue in the $25,000 high junior/amateur-owner jumper classic.

Cummings was visiting McCormick, based in Dallas, Texas, the weekend the storm hit. “My mom told me I was crazy when I kept asking her if we could move to Dallas,” she said. “But after Katrina we ended up moving there for a year!”
 
Cummings first met McCormick when she purchased her large junior hunter, Langley, in the spring of 2005. When she began having problems with the gelding, Cummings returned to McCormick for help.

“I noticed that my riding improved more in an hour with him than in the past four years. I really wanted to ride with him full-time,” she said.

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After the move to Dallas, Cummings began riding jumpers and purchased Tenfold, a grand prix horse formerly ridden by Tracy Fenney, McCormick’s wife.

“We had our eye on Tenfold for a while, and the girl who bought him from Tracy ended up getting hurt,” Cummings said. “We bought him, and he’s one of the best horses I’ve had.”

After moving back to New Orleans in the fall of 2006, she continued to commute to McCormick’s barn every weekend. Even though she had never ridden jumpers before, Cummings quickly moved up from the level 5 classes to the high junior/amateur-owner jumpers.

Cummings placed second behind Laura Linback in the classic earlier this summer. Walking the course at Culpeper, Cummings’ nerves took over, and her goal was simply to make it around the ring. But this time Linback and the other competitors couldn’t keep up with Tenfold’s speed, and Cummings rode to victory in the jump-off.

“When I walked in the ring today, I thought, ‘OK, I can do this,’ ” she said. “Tenfold is game for anything. He’s adjustable, he’s smart, he’s quick—there’s never a time you get on him and you think he’s going to dog you.”

Cummings also shows her other horse, Any Option, in the junior jumpers and won a low junior/amateur-owner class. Outside of the jumper ring, she rode consistent rounds on Langley to secure the large junior, 16-17, championship.
 
Beginning her first year at Trinity College (Conn.), Cummings will keep her horses in Dallas and commute. “I actually had not ridden for over a month before this show, so I flew down to Mike’s just a week before to ride my horses,” she said.

Growing up showing locally in Louisiana, Cummings never thought she would be showing at the level she is now.

“I never dreamed I’d be doing the jumpers and having any sort of success,” she continued. “Everybody tells me I need to name my next horse Katrina.”

Beth Johnson

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