Wednesday, May. 29, 2024

Worthy Lives Up To His Name At Devon

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Devon, Pa.—May 29

Maria Rasmussen didn’t have the best start to the second day of competition in the regular conformation division. She and Worthy parted ways in the handy class after a stop she took full responsibility for.

“I made a big mistake in the first trip today, and he was like, ‘I’m not sacrificing our lives for you,’ ” she said. “It was totally my fault.

“Today was a big lesson in adversity,” she continued. “I have great friends around here. We have an amazing group of horsemen and riders. Everyone was like, ‘Come on girl, you got this.’ Because I was ready to call it quits for the day. I was like, ‘I can’t believe I just did that.’ … Everyone just rallied around me.”

Worthy and Maria Rasmussen. Mollie Bailey Photos

Rasmussen took a deep breath and came back in the stake class to score a 92, the highest score of the class. Coupled with a win under saddle, a win yesterday over fences, and a win in the model, Worthy took the regular conformation hunter championship for Sunset View Farm LLC, giving Rasmussen her first Devon championship. Walkenbach Equestrian’s McQueen took reserve.

Kristen Hamel bought Worthy for her daughter Sydney Hamel to ride in 2019, and Sydney rode him in the junior hunters. After she aged out, Worthy, a Holsteiner by Cannavaros, started focusing full time on the open divisions with Rasmussen.

“I absolutely love the conformation, and it’s the most stressful division at the horse show,” said Rasmussen, Wellington, Florida. “Maybe it’s the challenge of it. I love the horsemanship behind what we do. I love taking care of them; I love keeping them at their peak athletic ability and making sure they’re fit and their nutrition is good, and the grooms are on top of what they’re doing. I love that part of it. I always gravitate toward it.”

Worthy, 13, has a big team behind him. There’s owner Kristen, Rasmussen’s partner Brian Brown, groom Luis Ruiz, barn manager Jayme Anderson (who sent Rasmussen and the Sea Change Farm team to Devon with highlighted checklists to keep them organized), as well as assistant riders Lexy Reed and Ki-Juan Minors.

To prepare for Devon, Worthy went to Aiken Charity I and II (South Carolina) where he earned tricolors both weeks.

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“I think he just likes the spotlight,” said Rasmussen. “I really do. I think he likes to win the classes, and he always goes out there and tries as hard as he can.”  

McQueen and Nick Haness.

Cannon Creek Pulls Off A Hat Trick

It’s hard enough to win one championship at Devon, but the Wheeler family’s Cannon Creek just notched his third consecutive Devon win in the high performance hunter division.

Tangled Up In Blue and Halie Robinson traveled from California to pick up the reserve title for 3P Equine Partners LLC.

Cannon Creek and Hunt Tosh.

It was a week filled with highs and lows for Cannon Creek and rider Hunt Tosh. They won the first over fences class yesterday, then it all went wrong.

“We came back in for the second class, and he was going beautifully,” said Tosh, Milton, Georgia. “He jumped into the two-stride on the rail, had a stumble, caught his toe on the footing, tripped and went down to his knees. He looked up and tried to jump out. I was so discombobulated. I stayed with him, but it was a bit of a mess. Thank goodness he was OK. We jumped a jump in the schooling area, and he was fine.

“Today in the handy maybe we were a little nervous after that yesterday—either he was or I was, I’m not sure which one was more,” he continued. “We were a little rusty. It came down to the stake class, and I was like, ‘It’s now or never. Let’s see what he can do.’  I asked him to step up, and he was spectacular. He had a 93 and won the stake. It came down to the hack, and he won the hack and wound up champion.”

The two-time wire-to-wire Platinum Performance USHJA International Hunter Derby Championships winner was honored last night at the National Show Hunter Hall of Fame as the trainer’s choice high performance hunter of 2023. Now that the 13-year-old Holsteiner (Cancara—Tiffany S) is confirmed, he keeps a light training schedule at home. Tosh said he, assistant rider KJ Pearson and his daughter Maddie Tosh fight to get to the barn first so they can put their initials next to his name on the marker board for his daily ride, which is often a trail ride or hack, just enough to keep him fit enough to jump the 4’ fences.

Tangled Up In Blue and Halie Robinson.

“He’s quite a tall horse. I’m not sure exactly how tall he is—we’ve never officially measured him—but he’s for sure the tallest hunter I’ve ever ridden, so the stride is massive,” said Hunt. “Because he’s got a huge stride, you go a little under pace compared to what you do on other horses. But for being such a big horse with long, slow canter, when he gets to the jump, the power is unbelievable. He can just canter up without much push. It’s a little bit deceiving, how high he can push, and the height he gives you for a big, slow horse. [The] balance is great. Being as seasoned as he is, he’s quite a careful horse and super brave. He gives you all the confidence in the world.”

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Haness Nabs Another Leading Hunter Rider Title

Reserve championships aboard the 3’6” green hunter Circa and high performance conformation hunter McQueen helped boost Nick Haness to his second consecutive leading hunter rider title.

Scott Stewart’s 3’9” green hunter champion Ever After, owned by Bikoff Equestrian, finished yesterday but earned the grand hunter championship today.

Nick Haness earned the leading hunter rider award for the second year in a row at Devon.

“It was always a dream to be here competing as a professional amongst the top professionals,” said Haness, who showed here once as a junior in the equitation divisions. “For me this moment is really exciting, to have won the leading hunter rider here at Devon for the second year in a row. Once was good enough for me, but twice is even better, so I’m very, very excited. Scott Stewart has taken this title the past many many, many years. He’s a great friend of mine, so it’s not that I’m not happy for him, but it’s very exciting to be among him because he’s an idol for me.”

Haness has clients on the West Coast near his home base of Temecula, California, as well as on the East Coast, and he spent most of the winter circuit season crisscrossing the country. This winter he earned major titles, including the $100,000 USHJA WCHR Peter Wetherill Palm Beach Spectacular (Florida) with the Walkenbach family’s McQueen and the $100,000 West Coast Hunter Spectacular on Golden Road (California).

Haness had just one warm-up show, Aiken Charity II, before heading to Devon.

“I was flying back and forth between Wellington and Thermal [in California] weekly, sleeping pretty much never, and so after all that ended how I prepared was I went home to my farm in California and let down for a minute,” he said. “I hadn’t shown much at all since the end of Thermal or the end of Florida. I hadn’t been competing, so I actually felt really refreshed this week to get to Devon and be prepared and physically feel really ready to go and have a great show. This was a change.”

The Chronicle has a pair of reporters at Devon bringing you photo galleries, stories from the competition and more at www.coth.com. Be sure to follow us on Facebook and Instagram to make sure you don’t miss a thing. You can see a full report from the entire competition in the June 17 issue of The Chronicle of the Horse magazine.

Important Links: Devon Horse Show website / Detailed schedule / Results and orders of go / All the Chronicle’s coverage

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