Emma Lindstrom and Coraggio had a banner week at the National Sunshine Series 2 (California), taking the championship in the high performance hunters Thursday, then punctuating that win Friday by topping the $65,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby Southwest Regional Championship.
Lindstrom and June Salin’s 12-year-old gray Holsteiner (Chablis I—Aviary) Coraggio—not to be confused with the similarly named, differently spelled East Coast hunter stallion Corragio—put in a stellar round over Thomas Hern’s course to start, earning a combined score of 178 from the two panels of judges. The gelding’s sweeping canter and beautiful jumping efforts kept them in the lead as round one came to a close.
In the handy round, Lindstrom did exactly what she had to do, being just bold enough while also protecting the lead, doubling her score with a repeat score of 178, for a two-round total of 356.
Just behind Lindstrom on a score of 354 was amateur rider Caroline Ingalls and Concerto, who just returned from a highly successful indoors season on the East Coast. Nicole Bourgeois captured third place with Belico Royal, owned by Peyton Broll, with a score of 351.5.
“He is great in a big ring like this,” Lindstrom said of Coraggio’s winning performance in the Grand Prix Arena, which is home to hunters only a few times each season. “He has a huge stride and big, slow canter. A ring like this is made for him. He loves new environments so, for him, getting in there and seeing all the flowers and beautiful jumps, he loves that and it makes him pay attention. He was on it.”
The element of the handy she thought went particularly well was one that many riders dread.
“He’s always great at the trot jump,” she said. “I try not to take it for granted because it’s smaller than the rest of the jumps but I thought he did that really well.”
The focus hasn’t always been front and center, however, for the gelding, who’s matured quite a bit from Day One with Lindstrom and Salin.
“The owner, June, has had him since he was 4, so it’s taken a few years to get here and there have been challenges along the way,” Lindstrom said. “He’s always been so brave, bold and confident. It just took a little channeling to get him here, but it feels great.”
As for his training regime, their focus has to change frequently to keep the horse engaged.
“It’s a mix of letting him think he’s having his own way while also making him understand there are some things he needs to just do,” she said. “We do a lot of trail riding, I don’t go to the ring every day. We do a lot of cavalettis and small jumps just to keep him interested. His mind needs to stay engaged.”
Watch their winning handy round, courtesy of ShowGroundsLive.com:
See full results from the $65,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby Southwest Regional Championship here.