Todd Minikus has made one thing abundantly clear in his career: If there’s a horse to sit on, he’ll take it. He will crisscross the hunter and jumper rings repeatedly in the course of a day to ride multiple horses, and the results never suffer for it.
Earlier this month, for example, Todd and his team had half a dozen mounts at the Chicago Equifest II, and the outcome was a raging success for any mere mortal, but just another day in the office for Todd.
He headed out with Exceptional — a six-year-old warmblood gelding Todd co-owns with the horse’s importer, Brem’s Sporthorses — and won the $5,000 USHJA National Hunter Derby with high scores of 99 from both panels of judges to win on an eye-popping 198.
“Exceptional is definitely living up to his name,” said Minikus. “He really went well here at Equifest. The show grounds are nice and they have a lovely ring here. And Exceptional’s turned into quite a fancy show horse! He’s still young – six years old – and he’s like a true professional now. I’m very excited about him.”
Then Todd switched gears and rode three horses in the $50,000 Prix de Lamplight, and came out fourth aboard JuJu VDM, an eight-year-old mare also owned by Brems who was making her Grand Prix debut.
“Even though she’s new at the Grand Prix, she really showed her true form,” said Todd.
Team Minikus’s other two mounts in the class, Incitatus and VDL Excel, also finished in the top 20.
VDL Excel would come back for his moment in the spotlight, taking runner-up honors in the $20,000 Jumper Derby (and narrowly edging fellow Draper Therapies teammate Michael Tokaruk and Vanrock, who took third) with absolute style.
“VDL Excel is eight years old and seems to be figuring out our system,” Minikus said. “He jumped outrageously well in the Jumper Derby!”
Later Todd and Exceptional went back to the hunter ring and won the open hunter in their height to round out a week of success in Chicago.
And that was a slow week for those guys. Earlier this summer at Tryon, Todd rode 10 horses in nearly 30 classes in a single week at the Tryon Summer VI CSI 3*. Here again, Todd and Exceptional were on top in the hunter derby with a lot of stiff competition, taking the USHJA $15,000 International Hunter Derby.
He won the 1.30m open jumper on Chablis S and rode a number of youngsters in everything from their first 1.40m classes down to a cute little youngster getting his feet wet in the .80m puddle jumpers.
The week after, Todd kept his winning ways up in the Grand Prix ring, winning the $35,000 Welcome Stake at Tryon aboard Luigi, beating his next nearest competitor by nearly two full seconds.
All the while, he’s got a slew of students and clients tackling junior and AO classes, and the whole team seems to thrive. and of course, it’s a family affair with wife Amanda tackling massive logistics and children Langley and Colt tagging along for the ride (and often making adorable cameos in the winner’s circle!)
There are no days off in summer for this hard-working team, but it seems that’s how they like it. We can’t wait to see where Todd is headed next, and we wish him and all his mounts the best of luck!
Todd Minikus relies heavily on good technology to keep his horses strong and sound, and believes in the necessity of assisting circulation in his horses. As such, he’s an advisory board member to Draper Therapies, which sells numerous products with an FDA-approved material shown to increase circulation in the contact zone. See their full product line by clicking below.