The Germantown Charity Horse Show in Germantown, Tennesee is not only one of the U.S.’s most historic events, it’s also one of the most beloved and elaborate. From massive costume classes to ladies side-saddle; with big parties and a history as one of Gold Medalist Melanie Smith Taylor’s earliest shows, the one week event was an obvious choice to be a USEF Heritage Competition.
One of the most popular classes of the show with riders and spectators alike is one that not only honors a local equine legend, but goes in search of new ones who can prove that a good horse can and will do any job that’s asked of them.
The Keepsake Perpetual Trophy is awarded to the winner of a versatility class which seeks a horse who can tackle both a graceful hunter trip and a scorching jumper round. Over two courses, each horse must first get a hunter score over traditional hunter fences, and the top 12 will return to face a new course with jumper-style questions. The best combined score earns them a coveted championship and an inscribed slot on the beloved perpetual trophy.
The Keepsake Versatility Class is named for a horse both adored and revered in the southern U.S. – Keepsake was a 1990 Dutch Warmblood who first excelled in the Regular Working Hunters and then seamlessly added the Jumper ring to her repertoire. As it’s explained on the GCHS website, “It was always quite a sight to see her win a 3’6″ Jumper class while the same day taking good care of her other rider in the Pre-Adult division!”
Owned by Barney Mallace, she was a talented packer in jumpers, hunters, and eq over the years, and won numerous championships and year-end awards in her career. And most important, according to the people who knew her best, “She was one of the sweetest and kindest horses one could ever want to own or ride.”
This year the trophy went to a particularly fitting winner: Michael Tokaruk and Hit Me Van’T Zorgvleit (known as “Jack” in the barn). Michael was one of many equestrians who had the special privilege of riding and showing Keepsake in her heyday when he was working at Spring Mill Farm, and the trip to the winner’s circle was a sentimental one.
“She was a really special mare, so it was particularly meaningful to win this class that honors her legacy.” Michael said after the win. His mount Jack hails exclusively from the jumper side of the fence, but he has always conquered his courses with style. The ten-year-old Belgian Warmblood gelding started his career in Europe and was imported in 2016 and has been cleaning up stateside.
Michael and Jack also won the $5,000 Open Welcome 1.40m class at the Brownland Farm Horse Show just last week – It was only Michael’s second time jumping him, and first welcome class!
The handsome chestnut is a sale horse project for Michael, so whether you’re looking for your next Grand Prix horse or your next Handy Hunter Champion, Jack just might be your boy! Contact Tokoruk Show Stables for more details.
Learn more about the Germantown Charity Horse Show in this great local interview with Olympic Gold Medalist and longtime Tennessee local, Melanie Smith Taylor:
Michael Tokaruk is proudly sponsored by Draper Therapies, and he is adamant that he would never accept a sponsorship from a company he didn’t 100% believe in. He uses Draper pads, wraps, and blankets on his horses daily to help them recover from strenuous work and live their best life. Learn more about Draper’s full line of products through the link below.