Friday, Jun. 9, 2023

Mindful Makes A Magical Trip To Washington

“Good horses try to win, and he tries to win all the time,” said Kelley Farmer of Mindful.


Washington D.C.—Oct. 22

Kelley Farmer and Mindful couldn’t have had a much better trip to the Verizon Center for the Washington International Horse Show. They won every single class they entered, sweeping the high performance and the regular conformation divisions to win the grand hunter championship for owners Ken and Selma Garber.

“Good horses try to win, and he tries to win all the time,” said Farmer, Keswick, Va. “If he doesn’t, it just because I’ve gotten in his way.”

Mindful edged out his barnmate Why, with Liz Sanden-Mulvey in the irons, for the conformation title, and LPF Woodford and Todd Minikus for the high performance hunter championship.

Sanden-Mulvey stepped in shortly after Farmer broke her collarbone this summer, filling in while Farmer was on the mend. She’s been commuting between shows and her own business, Castlegate Farm, in Dover Plains, N.Y., to help out at Lane Change.

“It’s really been above and beyond,” said Farmer. “She’s exactly the kind of young rider who has the drive to do it and the ability to do it and really wants it.”

Farmer paired up with Mindful, a 10-year-old Hanoverian gelding (Graf Grannus—Baronesse, Bold Indian) just before Devon (Pa.), then immediately climbed aboard to win the high performance hunter title and top the $25,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby. Since then he’s grabbed major wins everywhere he’s gone, including the high performance hunter and regular conformation titles at Pennsylvania National last week, missing out on the grand title there thanks to a technicality.

Those three championships boosted him to another major honor, the Protocol trophy, which is awarded to the horse with the most points in the high performance divisions at those three shows.

“It takes a hell of a horse to win it, and I’m very fortunate that I’ve had three of my horses do it,” said Farmer, referring to Mythical, Mindful and Rosalynn.

Farmer and Mindful will head to Kentucky to wrap up the indoors season at the National Horse Show.

Triple Threat

Not to be outdone, Scott Stewart earned every other open hunter championship up for grabs. He rode Lucador to the green conformation title, A Million Reasons to the second year green and grand green titles, and Quest to the first year green title. Those armloads of ribbons boosted him to his eighth Leading Hunter Rider title of his career at Washington.

Stewart and Farmer have battled it out for the last few years to see who took the title, and Farmer got the edge last year.

“Kelley was 1 point ahead coming into today, so it all came down to today,” said Stewart. “It’s a fun competition.”

A Million Reasons was Stewart’s newest ride, and she was pretty new. That mare, owned by the Thatcher family’s Pony Lane Farm, caught Betsee Parker’s eye at Harrisburg, so Stewart took her for a three-fence test ride there. Parker immediately leased her, and they brought her to Washington, where she was waitlisted and not even entered. She was braided and ready to go yesterday morning, and when one horse scratched, Stewart swung a leg over her, hopped a few fences in the notoriously tiny schooling area, and headed into the ring.


Since Pony Lane Farm breeds their mares, they weren’t willing to part with her full-term, hence the lease.

“So far she’s one of the easiest horses I’ve ever ridden,” said Stewart of the 9-year-old Holsteiner (Coriano—Inema). “I think she goes exactly the way you want a hunter to go. She’s beautiful, she moves great, and she’s scopey.”

Stewart was just as pleased with Lucador’s performance as that Oldenburg (Lord Pezi—Quinta) is only 6. That horse, owned by Parker, topped the under saddle to win over Montana Coady’s Ranger with John French up.

“This was actually the most consistent he’s been,” said Stewert, Flemington, N.J. “He was first or second in every jumping class, and I think it came down to the hack.”

Quest, a 7-year-old warmblood (Verdi—Udina) has his main career as a 3’3″ amateur-owner mount for owner Stephanie Danhakl, and he dabbles in the first year green division with Stewart up.

“He was pretty good at Harrisburg,” said Stewart. “He just got back to showing. He had some time off, so he’s a little bit out of the groove. But he was right on track today, it just took him one show to get ready.”

Repeat Amateur Wins

Becky Gochman scored her third leading amateur-owner hunter rider title at the Washington International, this time after riding a new mount, Last Call, to the amateur-owner hunter, 36 and over, and grand amateur-owner titles. Gochman also rode Touchdown to the reserve low amateur-owner, 36 and over, title.

Lynn Seithel and Walk The Line won the reserve amateur-owner, 36 and over, title.

“It’s always been a lucky show for me,” said Gochman, New York City. “I love this show. I love D.C.”

Gochman bought the 13-year-old warmblood of unrecorded breeding this spring, and she’s been working on making small adjustments to get their partnership strong, like stretching her petite frame taller over the 17.0 ½ hand gelding. She credited Ken Berkley of the Rivers Edge Team for putting in the extra effort to make him ready to win at Washington.

“Scott and Ken have been doing a great job with my riding and trying to get me to be calm and still,” said Gochman. “I can’t do that all the time , for sure, but when I can that’s the best, and it makes them happy! I don’t know, maybe Last Call will be the one who finally teaches me how to really do that.”

Danhakl’s another repeat victor at Washington with a new mount in the spotlight. This year she rode Golden Rule to the amateur-owner, 18-35, title.

Danhakl and Golden Rule paired up in February, even though she wasn’t in the market for a new horse.

“I jumped him around once and fell in love with him,” she said. “I didn’t think my parents would go for it, but they said yes. We were champion our first two times showing, and he’s just gotten better and better since and been such a great horse for me.”


Danhakl calls Pacific Palisades, Calif., home, even though she lives in Philadelphia as she’s finishing her masters in art history at University of Pennsylvania with a focus on 19th century American painting. She’s celebrating her championship by visiting the Smithsonian American Art and Portraiture Museum in D.C.

Danhakl and another mount, Humor Me, tied for the reserve title with her barnmate Krista Weisman and Reality. The pair opted against hacking off for the ribbon, and Danhakl insisted that Weisman take the honor.

“She’s a really good friend of mine,” said Danhakl. “She rode great and won the stake. She deserved it.”

Memorable Wins

Kyle Owens’ horse Voila may only be 5 years old with barely a year in the show ring under his belt, but he still helped Owens accomplish a major goal.

“I hadn’t won a class at indoors yet, and that’s what I needed to do,” said Owens, 23. “When we won one class it was awesome, and being champion was just the cherry on top.

Owens and Voila won two over-fences class and finished third under saddle to clinch the 3’3″ amateur-owner hunter, 18-35, and grand 3’3″ amateur-owner titles. He also won the leading 3’3″ amateur-owner hunter rider. Taylor Willever and Whisper took the reserve division title.

Owens, Columbus, Ohio, has been working with Voila alongside trainer Peter Pletcher to get the horse ready for indoors. Midway through the year he took over the ride in the pre-green ring to use that division as a warm-up for the amateurs. And at Horse Shows By The Bay (Mich.) he felt overjoyed to beat his trainer in a class.

“He’s still a little unsure as far as ‘where do you want me to go’—a little squiggly,” explained Owens. “You have to hold him with your hand and leg and keep him straight. He still has his green moments, but he’s the sweetest horse ever and so brave and has a massive step.”

Glen Senk was just as happy as Owens to win the 3’3″ amateur-owner, 36 and over, title, but for a very different reason. Last year his champion partner Beholden fell ill with an undiagnosed viral syndrome, which kept him in a clinic for a month.

“He won a class at Lake Placid and went in for the jog, and he wasn’t sound,” recalled Senk. “He’d never taken a lame step before. By the time he got home he’d spiked a fever. Thank God the staff at Rivers Edge is so diligent.”

Beholden recovered over six months and has regained his strength enough to show lightly with Senk this season. Senk didn’t show that many times because he has a busy work schedule as chairman and CEO of Front Row Partners, which he founded earlier this year. Senk estimates he only gets to show about eight to 10 times a year, and he doesn’t practice nearly as much as he’d like.

“I call him my Range Rover because he’s like driving a car,” said Senk of Beholden. “You’d never know it, but he’s a stallion. He’s so kind and broke. If there’s ever a mistake it’s always mine because he wants to be good.”

Follow along with the Chronicle as we bring you all the news from Washington here. Full results from the competition are available here and you can watch a livestream of the entire competition for free here.

For a full report from the Washington International Horse Show, check out the Nov. 10 issue of The Chronicle of the Horse magazine.



Follow us on


Copyright © 2023 The Chronicle of the Horse