Professional rider Jodie Davis makes every point count.
Even without counting the bonus points from each round, Westcott Bay and Jodie Davis would have romped to the win in the $10,000 The Chronicle of the Horse/ USHJA International Hunter Derby at the Evergreen Classic, Aug. 5-9 in Carnation, Wash.
But when you add in the 9s and 10s the judges awarded them in both rounds for their brilliance and style, their margin of victory became even bigger. Davis and Westcott Bay finished with a total of 390 points—41 points ahead of second-placed finishers Bailey Robinson and Versailles.
“He’s a really fun ride, really brave,” Davis said of Westcott Bay. “The bigger the jumps are, the better he jumps. The course was great. There were lots of options, and the jumps were big. It was a great ring to ride on, out on the grass. He’s great at tight turns, so we really went for it.”
In Round 2, the judges awarded Davis and Westcott Bay two scores of 90, with 10 bonus points added.
Entering the derby wasn’t originally in the plan for Davis, since the bay gelding’s owner, Kelsey Brooks, usually shows him in the children’s hunter, 12 and under, division on the weekend. But Brooks had to attend a wedding the weekend of the Evergreen derby, so Davis got the ride.
Westcott Bay, a 9-year-old Dutch Warmblood (Furore—Loenone) has been in the barn at Parkside Stables, where Davis trains, for two years. Davis shows him in the regular working hunter division during the week before Brooks takes over the reins.
Davis has ridden at Parkside, in Bellevue, Wash., since she was on ponies. After taking some time to attend the University of South Carolina, where she continued her riding career with Jack Towell, Davis returned to Parkside.
She made the transition to professional rider and now rides and trains alongside Anne Selinger. “Anne’s great on the ground, and everyone there has been like family. Anne’s been great at giving me confidence. She teaches me to go for it,” Davis said.
Just For Fun
Robinson couldn’t quite believe she was collecting the red ribbon in the derby. “I definitely was excited for this class the whole year. I watched it last year, and I was really hoping I could ride in it this year,” she said.
Trainer Jill Pierce gave the go-ahead for Robinson to enter her junior hunter, Versailles, in the derby, and Robinson set a goal for herself of just having fun.
“I was really impressed with myself that I made it to the second round. And getting second was beyond anything I’d imagined,” she said.
She and Versailles stood second after Round 1 with scores of 88 and 89, with no bonus points added. Solid, good jumping stood them in good stead again in Round 2, where they earned scores of 84 and 83, with 3 and 2 bonus points.
“We were supposed to do some of the inside turns, but I missed two of them. I tried to stay pretty handy, and I did go for a couple of the bigger options,” Robinson said. “It was definitely exciting to aim at the four-foot jumps—I was a little scared, but it was a lot of fun. Galloping to the last jump, I could feel myself thinking, ‘Oh, this is big,’ but I saw the distance, and he jumped it great.”
Robinson, 17, got Versailles, a Westphalian gelding, as a Christmas present last year. They started out in the children’s division this winter, then moved up to the 3’6″.
“He’s really hard to ride! He’s a challenge, and it’s been fun getting to know him and figuring out how to ride him. He can get a little strong, especially if you don’t have tons of core strength. It’s hard to get him back. He was really soft and good in the derby—I think he liked the big field,” she said.
In her last junior year, Robinson wanted to focus on the equitation division, but soundness problems with her equitation horse changed those plans. So she was glad to get the chance to shine in the hunter derby with Versailles, whom she normally rides in the large junior, 16-17, division.
Night Cap Moonlights
Night Cap did double duty for Colleen Biemer at the Evergreen Classic. She not only rode the gray gelding to third place in the hunter derby but also to ribbons in the equitation classes.
Night Cap, 9, is primarily Biemer’s equitation horse. “He’s not really a hunter, but he jumps well and he’s brave, so we did it for fun,” she said. Going into the handy round in fourth place, she wasn’t going to be conservative.
“I jumped all the big options, and I decided I had nothing to lose, so we did really tight turns. I rode it like an equitation round. I was in there for experience and fun, so why not go for it?’’ Biemer, 15, said.
The judges rewarded her with bonus scores of 7 and 10 points added to her scores of 84 and 85, to move her up to third place. “I love that class. It’s fun to change it up a bit and do all the different options and more natural obstacles,” Biemer said. “You definitely can feel the pressure in the ring, because everyone comes out to watch that class. It’s becoming a big deal, and all the professionals were in it.”
After showing at Evergreen, Biemer returned to her family’s farm in Portland, Ore., to help her older sister, Kathleen, run a pony camp. “My sister runs it, and I work with her. We have a bunch of beginner kids—mostly elementary school ages—who love horses, and we teach them on our school ponies.
“I really enjoy working with the kids and teaching them all about horses,’’ she added. We teach them how to take care of horses and ride and do fun things with them.”
The Biemers have a 19-stall facility, and their mother breeds a few horses every year. Event rider Maria Kerola works and teaches out of the barn and helps the Biemers with the young horses.
Biemer rides with Jeff and Shelley Campf and also competes in the jumper ring. At shows, she takes care of her own horses. “I do most of the grooming, and I muck stalls and feed. I like to do it. I think it helps me become closer with my horses. I think the horsemanship aspect of it all is important,” she said.
Biemer made her first trip east to the equitation finals last year, but it didn’t go quite as planned. “I leased a horse, and it did not go very well. But I learned a lot! I’m hoping that this year, because I get to bring my own horse, it’ll go a little smoother. And I think that even though it didn’t go well last time, I learned a lot and got a lot of experience,” Biemer said. “Showing there is so different to showing here, and the pressure’s different. It was good to go and feel that.”