After a year-long hiatus from the E.R. Mische Grand Hunter Ring at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center, Laurie Stevens and her own Santiago returned ready to win. The pair performed consistently throughout the division with two firsts, a second, a third, and fifth to capture the grand championship title during Week 1 of the Winter Equestrian Festival.
“Two years ago, I was reserve champion for the entire circuit, but then I had an accident in July of 2017 that forced me to take the entire last year off,” Stevens said. “So, I haven’t even been in this ring in two years.”
The pair made their first debut back into the Adult Amateur division in July and have been working hard to be ready for the winter season since.
Stevens and the coming 12-year-old Bavarian gelding (San Romantiko x La Crima) have been partners ever since she purchased him from trainer Lainie Wimberly when he was imported as a young dressage horse.
“The second I saw him I said, ‘I want that horse,’” she recalled. “It took me eight months, but I finally managed to convince her to sell him to me.”
Stevens plans to continue to compete in the Adult Amateur Hunter Older division and has high hopes for the rest of the circuit.
“He’s just so beautiful, and if you see him in a crowd of horses he always has his ears forward. From the dressage breeding he’s an amazing mover, so it’s easy to pick him out of a crowd,” she said of Santiago.
Wellington, FL, resident Margaret O’Meara and Woodland Way, Inc.’s 11-year-old gelding, Just Nick, tallied a first, two seconds, and a fourth over fences to procure the reserve champion title behind Stevens.