By: Brittany Bevis
Over fence aficionados and lovers of all things devoted to the Hunter discipline gathered at Kentucky’s Lakeside Arena on September 29th for the 2013 Huntfield AQHA Derby Series Open Finals. This exciting competition was a culmination of a year’s worth of speciality hunter derbies that took place at AQHA breed events such as the Arizona Sun Circuit and the Big A as well as making appearances at Fox Lea Farm in Florida and the NSBA World Show in Oklahoma.
The 2013 Huntfield Non Pro Finals were held at Rolex Stadium in Lexington, Kentucky in June. Open exhibitors made the return to Kentucky over the weekend to try their hand at competing for nearly $10,000 in cash and prizes.
“Basically, what we did is our final Derby of the year,” says Lainie DeBoer, Huntfield Derby co-coordinator. “It’s where we give out the most prizes, money, saddles, and tons of product. Everybody walked out of the ring with bags of stuff.”
“We had 14 horses in a two round format with a classic hunter and a derby round. It was really fun. All the horses had really nice scores to qualify for the second round. We went in reverse order of go for the handy round, which created some drama. Exhibitors could earn extra bonus points if they ramped up the risk level. Towards the end, some of the people who were sitting third and fourth took a lot of risks to try to go past the person that was leading.”
DeBoer was pleased to note that two of the riders who took the biggest risks in the second round were non-pro competitors. The gamble must have paid off, because the Champion Non Pro in the class, Lauren Eichstadt with It’s My Lucky Detail, placed third in the overall standings. The Reserve Champion Non Pro, Heather Brown with Bigtime Texan, placed fourth overall.
“The two that took the biggest risks were non pros,” she says. “I thought that was cool. They know their horses just a little bit better, so it was really neat that they went all out and didn’t get intimidated. They were in it to win it for sure. It was really fun to see people outdoing themselves gunning for first place.”
Adding to the Championship-level atmosphere of the event was an elegant champagne and crepe brunch with decadent delicacies provided by The Sweet Shop. Exhibitors, trainers, and spectators gathered at the brunch anxiously awaiting news of a big announcement that would be made about the future of the Huntfield Derby Series.
Beginning in 2012, DeBoer and David Warner founded the Huntfield Derby Series with the intention of offering a variety of hunter level classes, similar to those offered in USHJA, while keeping competition in an AQHA breed setting. After the overwhelming success and enthusiastic response following the first derby at Fox Lea Farm in Venice, Florida, news of the Huntfield Derby Series spread like wildfire. Numerous shows contacted the pair about holding Huntfield derbies at their events, and companies clamored to become sponsors. The first year of competition concluded with the Huntfield Derby Finals being held at the AQHA World Show in 2012, which offered over $40,000 in cash and prizes.
Now, at the end of the 2013 show season, DeBoer has a big announcement to make that will change the future of the Huntfield program. It is a decision both she and Warner hope will expand this fledgling company into a nationally recognized brand.
“The best part of this is that Fox Lea Farm’s Kim Farrell has bought Huntfield, and she is turning it into a Quarter Horse League full of all kinds of speciality classes,” DeBoer says. “There will be Trail and Hunter derbies, Freestyle Reining, and Freestyle Horsemanship. It will really diversify the program. Shows can apply to have these speciality classes at their events, and it’s a league, so there will be year-end points and qualification for the finals. They are going to try to get a Trail and Hunter Derby at the World Show. It’s going to go to the next biggest level. I really love the fact that they’re bringing the western into it. They’ve got really great ideas. It’s really going to ramp it up.”
“We are so excited. Huntfield is so much work for [David and I]. We have training barns and families, but everybody loved it so much that we didn’t want to stop. This was the most perfect solution.”
“I see it going on to bigger and better things,” she says. “This thing will go nationwide where any show can apply. Maybe that will attract some smaller shows. Kim already put some information on the Huntfield Facebook page about trying to develop an e-mail list. She wants show managers to e-mail her if they have interest. She’s already been swamped by people wanting more information. It’s going to be the talk of the industry for sure…”
If you are an exhibitor or show manager who would like more information about the future of the Huntfield Derby Series, text your contact information to 941-809-6365 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. The first e-mail blast will include information about class specifications, point levels, and the show application process.
Click here to view photos and results from the 2013 Huntfield Derby Series Open Finals that took place over the weekend in Kentucky. Congratulations to 2013 Champion David Connors who rode Yourbluemightbegray to a first place finish for owner Mark Llewellyn and Go Big Sky to a second place finish for Rodger Call.