Ocala, Fla.—March 24
After three months of competing at the World Equestrian Center Ocala’s Winter Spectacular Series this winter, In The Know has come to know his routine very well.
He shows in the hunter derby on Friday, then returns to rider Sam Schaefer’s local farm where he spends three days off enjoying his turnout. On Tuesday he goes back to work—and is a little wild, Schaefer admits. Wednesday he settles back into his job before heading to the show on Thursday.
“He’s like, ‘All right, tomorrow’s Friday,’ ” said Schaefer. “He really knows the drill.”
And the 14-year-old warmblood (Arkansas—Cavelle) owned by Madeline Schaefer and Take 3 LLC came to play for the finale to WEC Ocala’s derby Fridays, topping the $75,000 3’6”/3’9” WEC Hunter Derby over a field of 33.
“He’s just the best,” said Schaefer. “He knows his vacation’s coming. He’s really looking forward to it. I thought he was really good tonight. I think with him, especially in an environment he’s used to now, when I was preparing him it was like doing enough but not too much—trying to leave a little spark in there, [but with] the environment and the atmosphere you have to make sure they’re kind of zoned in.”
Schaefer, Westminster, Maryland, and “Spyder” saw plenty of success at WEC this season, winning three derbies before the final week and a championship in the 3’6” performance hunters.
“I tell myself even [when] you get a little butterflies before the handy, you know what, to me with this horse it’s just another class for me and him, and I’m just lucky to have him in sport, and every class at this point is a bonus,” she said. “What does he have to prove to me? That always kind of takes that internal pressure off. I’m so lucky to have him. He’s been great all season.
“Obviously he had a few moments where he showed that he’s 14 going on 7,” she continued. “I think he’s always his best when you need him to be, and this is probably him making up for Week 6 when he didn’t want to jump the swooped gate. He cantered down there with his ears pricked forward today like no problem. He keeps us on our toes.”
After seven years of riding the gelding, Schaefer has come to know him well, and they keep things simple at home. Spyder doesn’t like practicing, so they play around over the fences set for small ponies and keep his workload easy.
“You have to play into his personality a little bit,” she said. “I think if you took the fun out of it, he wouldn’t be the horse he is for us. He’s spoiled rotten. He knows he runs the show, and he has no apologies for that, but at the same time I think when you put the screws to him and you say listen, he knows. He walks in the ring, and he’s like, ‘OK, I’ve got to pay attention.’ ”
Another Feather In Iwasaki’s Cap
If hunter competitors thought they’d have an easier shot at the top spot now that Augusta Iwasaki is traveling back and forth to shows from Southern Methodist University (Texas) where she’s a freshman, they were mistaken.
The young phenom hasn’t missed a beat, and she added another accolade to her already brimming resume by winning the 3’ Jr/Am WEC Derby. The rider from Calabasas, California, tacked up three horses for the class: Small Moments, Small Love and Allure DVE. She qualified all three to come back from the handy round, and they finished first, fourth and fifth respectively.
Her winning mount, Small Moments, is only 6, but the Hanoverian (Cascadello I—Alcina) co-owned by Iwasaki’s mother, Liz Reilly, and Ava Peck showed she is one to watch. In the first round she earned a base score of 94, plus four high option bonus points for a first round total of 98. Another effortless round in the handy clinched the win.
“She’s really young. She’s 6 this year, but she’s super brave,” said Iwasaki. “She’s really, really good at these classes.”
Iwasaki has been riding “Clara” for about a year now. They spent last year competing in the 3’ greens and national hunter derbies, and the mare just moved into the green conformation division. Professional Kate Conover has done most of the showing while Iwasaki was in school.
“She’s really sweet. We call her little goldfish in the barn because she has those big buggy eyes, but she’s a very sweet mare. She’s not very mare-ish at all.”
With all of her success in smaller derbies, Iwasaki hasn’t ruled out doing international hunter derbies in the future, but for now she’s enjoying letting the mare develop.
“We’re just kind of keeping her doing what she knows how to do, and she’s really good, so we’ll just have to see how it goes,” she said.