Upperville, Va.—June 10
Sam Schaefer has been doing derbies since she was a younger junior rider, but her victory in the $25,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby at the Upperville Colt & Horse Show marked her first win.
Topping the first round with her sister Madeleine Schaefer’s In The Know, Samantha consistent handy round brought her to the long awaited blue ribbon. “I always managed to let it just slip by me a little bit,” said Samantha.
“Coming in on top [after the first round] I knew I had to just keep my composure and stay focused on what my horse does well. I know this horse, knew I could do it and just be bold off the bat,” she said.
Samantha and the gleaming bay warmblood took every high option in both courses and stayed on top in the second round. Straight out of the in-gate, they cantered boldly to both high options in a diagonal line, opted for two inside turns and finished with a flowing canter to the largest jump on course—a tall grey stone wall vertical, which several of the entries in the first round elected not to jump.
Although In The Know was a bit playful at the end of the ring in the handy round—which Samantha attributes to the noisy crowd—the judges praised the pair for their consistency.
“He came in relaxed right off the start and I thought he jumped great in the first round. He played a bit, but I think [the judges] rewarded his jumping style,” she said.
And In The Know knew he was a champion. He bucked playfully in his tan USHJA cooler during the victory gallop, as the pair celebrated their winning total of 374.5 points.
“For me I don’t think I’ll ever have a horse that is this talented for these types of events,” said Samantha who just became professional this year. “He’s careful, brave, scopey and quiet—and looks to help you out and is trying to do the right thing.”
Galloping just behind her was Evan Coluccio with three ribbons from his multiple entries in the class: second aboard High Society, fifth on RF Remarkable and seventh on Anthem. Amanda Steege took third aboard Maitre D’ and was also the recipient of the style award for riding with beautiful technique and flair.