Thursday, Jul. 25, 2024

Tuerk’s Hard Work Pays Off At HITS Showday National

This ambitious amateur doesn’t let her late introduction to show jumping slow her down.

Samantha Tuerk knew she could win when she stepped into the ring on Magique des Vaux.

They were the final pair to jump-off in the $10,000 low junior/amateur-owner jumper classic at the HITS Showday National Horse Show, July 9-13, in Culpeper, Va. Tuerk loves to show last and proved why, posting a clear round with a blistering time of 41.21 seconds to top Alexa Lowe’s Obiwankonobie (0/42.04) and 33 other entries in the classic.
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This ambitious amateur doesn’t let her late introduction to show jumping slow her down.

Samantha Tuerk knew she could win when she stepped into the ring on Magique des Vaux.

They were the final pair to jump-off in the $10,000 low junior/amateur-owner jumper classic at the HITS Showday National Horse Show, July 9-13, in Culpeper, Va. Tuerk loves to show last and proved why, posting a clear round with a blistering time of 41.21 seconds to top Alexa Lowe’s Obiwankonobie (0/42.04) and 33 other entries in the classic.

Watching Tuerk, 23, skillfully navigate a course aboard one of her three amateur-owner jumper mounts, you would never guess that she didn’t begin jumping until just six years ago.

Growing up in the Florida Keys, she found that horses were hard to come by and good trainers even harder. Tuerk decided to explore the sport of show jumping after years of riding leisurely and practicing dressage. At an age when most girls got their first cars, she got her first jumper and made the decision to move to Wellington, Fla., to train with David Jennings.

With Jennings’ help, Tuerk developed the skills necessary to compete in the amateur jumpers within just a few years of learning to jump. “[David] is really relaxed, which is good because I tend to be hard enough on myself as it is. He’s very easygoing,” said Tuerk. “He has me work on a lot of the basics, which are key.”

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Tuerk also credited her success in the jumper ring to her experiences growing up owning and riding horses. She learned good horsemanship and flatwork in the dressage ring while living in the Keys.

Tuerk completed college at Northwood University in West Palm Beach, Fla., and now resides in Wellington where she can concentrate on her riding. She currently shows four horses in the amateur-owner jumpers and has several others in breeding and retirement.

Tuerk and Magique des Vaux’s victory at the Showday National was their first classic win together, an exciting achievement, considering she also rode her veteran mount Loraine 18 in the class. Magique des Vaux, known around the barn as “Stevie,” is faster than Loraine, a 12-year-old, Holsteiner by Lennon, but also green and difficult to ride.

“He’s weird in his mouth, which is tough because I get in my hands sometimes, but he is pretty fast,” said Tuerk of the 8-year-old, Selle Français gelding by Dandy du Plape.

Stevie requires far more time and effort than Tuerk’s other, more experienced horses. “Because of his mouth, I’ve been trying to make myself move with him instead of fighting with him. It takes a lot of work to go with the horse instead of against it,” said Tuerk, who admitted that some of her riding skills don’t come as easily as others.

Tuerk purchased Stevie sight unseen from John Endicott out of California in December 2007. “I got very lucky because my trainer went out there, and I saw a video after they vetted him. They said they’d take one of my horses in trade, and it ended up working out. He’s actually one of my favorites, so maybe I shouldn’t try horses anymore!” said Tuerk.

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Loraine, who Tuerk rode to fifth place in the low classic with 4 faults in the jump-off, was her first jumper and a personal favorite. She purchased the mare as a 6-year-old and has had a lot of success over the years in the amateurs.

The pair claimed top finishes everywhere from the Winter Equestrian Festival (Fla.) to the Country Heir Horse Shows (Ky.) to the Washington (D.C.) International Horse Show. They even dabbled in the grand prix ring, but Tuerk’s real grand prix success has been with her high amateur-owner mount, Trixy 5.

Tuerk purchased Trixy, a 12-year-old Belgian Warmblood by Obelix Verdi, a year ago from amateur rider Alya Zahid in Ocala, Fla. They finished seventh in the $30,000 Music Country Grand Prix at the Nashville Classic (Tenn.) in June and were second in the welcome stakes.

In the $15,000 high junior/amateur-owner jumper classic at the Showday National, they placed third out of a field of 15 behind class winner Sarah Chovnick on Pachelbel D’I and second-placed Alise Oken aboard Pedro. Trixy dropped just one unlucky rail at the last fence in the jump-off, where no one finished clean and within the time allowed.

“Trixy is the easiest, nicest horse ever. She really takes care of me,” said Tuerk.

Alex Beckstett

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