Katie Prudent has been based out of her Plain Bay Farm–only 5 miles from the Upperville Colt & Horse Show–for 28 years. And while Prudent was a member of the U.S. gold-medal team at the 1986 World Champion-ships, and placed second in the 1989 FEI World Cup Final, she’d never won the $100,000 Budweiser/Upperville Jumper Classic in Upperville, Va.
That was, until this year, when Humour du Parc proved to be just the horse to help her triumph in the June 11 finale of this year’s show, held June 6-11 in Upperville, Va.
After watching all four riders before her have one rail in the jump-off, Prudent was determined to, at least, have the fastest four-fault round. But, Humour du Parc left all the rails up, and his trust in his rider allowed Prudent to risk shaving her turns to the last few jumps and complete course designer Ken Krome’s jump-off in 44.11 seconds.
“My horse’s strong suit is that he is very brave, and very honest,” Prudent said. “I didn’t even really need to give him a straight shot. If I just tell him at the last second to go, he will go.”
Not bad for a sale horse Prudent didn’t originally ride. Humour du Parc was sent to Prudent to be sold last winter and was her son, Adam’s, mount in the junior jumpers in Florida. Prudent only began aiming the horse for grand prix classes when Adam, 16, returned to school in France. The Upperville class was Humour du Parc’s biggest test to date, and he proved he had what it took to step up to the new challenge.
“He is still for sale, I guess,” Prudent said with a laugh. “But, I think his price just went up.”
The only other pair to complete the jump-off without faults and post a double-clear day was Anne Kursinski and Lorenzo. Their time of 45.02 seconds was less than a second slower than Prudent’s, a second Prudent attributed to her shorter turns.
Kursinski said her plan to aim for clear is what cost her the time. She knew Lorenzo could be fast, but she said she simply didn’t ask him soon enough. “I was a little slow in the beginning,” Kursinski said. “I then went fast at the end, but it was too late.”
But Prudent’s time almost didn’t hold up. Aaron Vale and Artur 28 pulled off the inside turn to the last two jumps, putting them on pace to speed past Humour du Parc before a heartbreaking rail at the last oxer.
In the first round, though, Prudent and Kursinski were not alone in their quest, as the first six riders of the day left all the rails up, being six of eight riders to advance to the jump-off.
But, then the rails started to fall. The triple combination of 6ABC claimed the most victims, as it alone kept six riders and horses out of the jump-off. Kursinski described the first-round course as “a very nice course. Some years, they’ve had such diabolical courses that, maybe, he [Krome] was a little on the nice side, but you never know here,” she said.
She believed the element that made it tricky was the rolling terrain, which included a down-hill approach from No. 5, a big oxer, to the bogey triple combination and an uphill approach to the other combination on course, 4AB, and, later in the course, a tall vertical at fence No. 11 that also caused a number of rails.
Step By Step
For once, the weather at Upperville was nearly perfect. And one horse who was just about as flawless was Peregrine, who was champion or reserve in three divisions.
Coming off a successful Devon Horse Show & Country Fair (Pa.), Peregrine won two over fences trips en route to the first year green championship. The 8-year-old warmblood-Thoroughbred cross also collected two blues and a red as the green conformation reserve champion.
“Every horse show, he’s kind of started where he finished at the last show,” said rider Katie Huber. “He walked in this ring [at Upperville], and he just loved it here. He was so brave and just walked around like he’s been doing it for years.”
She also credited his successful Devon with giving him that confidence to really come into his own, since he had limited showing in the pre-green division last year.
This confidence was evident also in the children’s, 14 and under, division with owner Adele Norton. The two earned two firsts in the division, which gave Peregrine the points to earn the championship and the grand hunter title.
Norton said that, even though Peregrine is still young, “he’s so good and covers up my mistakes for me. I can make a mistake, and he just forgives me.”
Norton began riding with Huber’s mother, Sharon Huber, six years ago and has been with Katie for about 2 1/2 years.
Having bought Peregrine from Jessamy Rouson, who found him in a dressage barn, 13-year-old Norton is hoping to move Peregrine up to the junior hunters soon, and Huber is looking forward to seeing them jump 3’6″.
She said the two “have a beautiful look and are a beautiful match; they just go [together]. Most kids wouldn’t handle his peek as well as she does, and I think it’s going to be really incredible–her in the juniors on him.”
Like Peregrine, Independence used a successful Devon performance to do well at Upperville. Showing with Sandy Ferrell at both shows, the striking gray warmblood won four over fences trips to earn the second year green championship.
“He believes he can jump mountains, and he probably can,” Ferrell said, “He is 100 percent confident in what he can do.”
Independence is also owner Kimberley Dunn’s adult amateur horse, and the pair placed third in the Woodslane Farm Adult Amateur Hunter Classic.
Ferrell said his confidence is what makes him such a good amateur horse. “He’s got a big heart, so he’s very forgiving,” she said. “Ultimately, with that big heart, he just aims to please.”
Coming from a reserve championship in the green conformation division at Devon a week earlier, Scott Stewart rode Molly Ohrstrom’s Compliment to the green conformation hunter championship.
He began riding the 8-year-old Oldenburg, by Rolls Royce, in January this year and was green conformation circuit champion at the Winter Equestrian Festival (Fla.).
As expected, the pair impressed judges throughout the show. “I think he’s the perfect hunter,” Stewart said. “He jumped great and was quiet the whole time.”
The pair has taken to each other without a hitch, and Stewart anticipates a bright future for this horse.
“I always love riding here, especially with the grass rings and the trees,” Stewart said of Upperville. “The weather was perfect, and all the horses I rode were just great in general.”
Stewart’s winners at Upperville also included the regular working hunter champion, Dynamic, and the regular conformation tricolor with Good Life.
Stewart’s amateur student, Glenn Senk, had an Upperville that was just as good. He rode his two horses, True and Dynamic, to win both sections of the adult amateur hunter, 46 and over division, and claim the grand adult amateur championship.
Amateurs Have Their Day
Perhaps this pair was meant to be. Just after purchasing Keep The Faith, Katie Meagher’s trust in her 12-year-old Oldenburg landed her atop the Woodslane Farm Adult Amateur Hunter Classic class. After exiting the ring, she scooped up her excited 3-year-old daughter, Kalli, at the in-gate and was greeted with an enthusiastic “Yay mommy!”
Meagher, of Virginia Beach, Va., showed Keep The Faith in Florida earlier this year for his previous owner. Since the horse was for sale at the time, Meagher took advantage. “He’s been such a wonderful horse and completely takes care of me,” said Meagher.
The pair added a score of 90 to the 84 they earned in the qualifying class the day before. “I’ve never ridden a horse like him. He’s got so much feel, and he sees the jumps himself. If I trust him, he’ll do anything. That’s the best part about him,” said Meagher.
She also expressed gratitude to trainer Pam Baker. Baker originally imported Keep The Faith from Germany as a 4-year-old. Elizabeth Coughlin first competed the talented bay gelding as a junior hunter and earned numerous championships in the large division.
Meagher hopes to continue the successful track of Keep The Faith. “I’d like to step up to amateur owners, but for right now I’m OK with adult [amateurs] because I still work full-time,” said Meagher who works for Verizon Wireless.
“Hopefully, [Kalli] will get to ride him someday,” Meagher added. Kalli also showed proudly at Upperville this year aboard Anna Rossi’s pony, Tiddlywinks. The pair finished second in the 1- to 3-year-old leadline class on Saturday.
Lysa Burke Horkan, a name synonymous with Upperville, claimed championship honors in a section of the adult amateur hunters, 36-45, aboard On The Air, her 6-year-old German -bred. Horkan is the daughter of legendary horseman Bobby Burke and Elizabeth Busch Burke, who currently owns grand prix horses and has an impressive lifelong resume showing as well.
While fulfilling her own ambitions as a mother and wife take top priority in her life, when Horkan finds time to compete, she does it well. “The horse rode perfectly,” Horkan said of On The Air’s triumphant performance in the first class.
During the second class, however, a rail kept them from qualifying for the classic the next day. “The second class was the qualifying class and he was having a beautiful trip. But, unfortunately, we pulled a rail on a jump that people were having problems with all day. It was the last thing on my mind because this horse does not like to touch jumps,” Horkan explained. “It was a real tear jerker.”
But Horkan still had a ride in the classic. She rode her daughter Brittney’s 10-year-old gelding, Too Much Fun, to finish seventh. “I’ve only ridden him three times and am still getting to know him. With the exception of the first fence, which was rider error, the rest of the trip was beautiful,” said Horkan.
Horkan also recalled her daughter’s first show aboard Too Much Fun. “We took him to a schooling show in Boyce (Va.) just to practice and get to know him. My father [Bobby Burke], who was 80 years old at the time, got on the horse and warmed him up for me. When I got on to show him, he rode perfectly. So we put my daughter on him and she was champion at her first show. We call it the three-generation warm up team.” Horkan said.
Another apparent talent in the Horkan family is entertainment. Lysa annually sings the national anthem in commencement of Upperville’s Budweiser Jumper Classic and voices commentary for ESPN’s broadcast of the event. Brittney, 12, plays drums in a rock band called Fatally Yours that will open for Switch Foot on July 22 at the Belmont Country Club in Leesburg, Va.
But when all was said and done in adult amateur competition, Chiara Parlagreco, 25, of Warrenton, Va., reigned victorious as best adult amateur rider for her performances aboard Victoria’s Secret, The Impressionist, Joe Cool, Gibson and her own Flirt.
Though she’d just met Victoria’s Secret the day she competed in the adult amateur, 18-35, classes, the pair presented an elegant ride worthy of 90 points, the day’s highest score. Parlagreco also impressed judges with The Impressionist in the restricted junior/amateur hunter division to add another championship to her resume.
“She did not make one mistake over any of the jumps on any of the horses,” said trainer Denice DeRisio Perry. “It’s the best I’ve ever seen her ride.”