The final day of the Old Salem Fall Series attracted the area’s top horse and rider combinations with the competition focused entirely on the hunters with featured derby events. All three hunter derbies, the $5,000 Old Salem Farm Hunter Derby, the $1,000 Child/Adult Hunter Derby and the $1,500 USHJA Pony Hunter Derby, gave hunter riders their opportunity to take a turn on the farm’s iconic grass Grand Prix Field. The $5,000 Old Salem Farm Hunter Derby kicked off competition on the field with young professional Hannah Isop rising to the top. Amateur Julia Weiss took the second victory of the day aboard Don Pedro in the $1,000 Child/Adult derby and Eva Mackenzie led the victory gallop aboard Farmore State Of The Art in the $1,500 USHJA Pony Hunter Derby.
Hannah Isop on Zalandra. Photo by SEL Photography.
Nancy Wallis designed an elaborate hunt-and-go formatted course for the first derby track with the handy round starting at fence eight after the riders crossed through a chute of posts, signaling the beginning of the short track.
“For today’s course, I focused on spreading out the time between the fences and just encouraging a nice flow because the terrain of the field presents enough of a challenge to many horses,” explained Wallis. “I didn’t really put together many set distances between fences but rather just wanted the riders to produce a nice hunter round where they did not have to make too many adjustments or overuse their reins.”
Wallis said that the walk element between the posts gives the horses and riders a minute to take a breath and regroup, while giving judges the opportunity to call the score in for the first round before the handy begins.
Three dozen combinations contested the track and received a combined score from judges Timmy Keys and Jenny Fisher. Hannah Isop ended the classic round with a score of 85.00 and then improved her performance by earning an 86.00 for her handy round. She finished with the win with a score of 171.00 points.
Left to right: Julia Tolman of Beval Saddlery, Amanda Terbrusch and Hannah Isop on Zalandra. Photo by SEL Photography.
“Today was absolutely beautiful for the hunters,” Isop said. “This is a stunning venue and it is five minutes down the road from our farm so it’s a fun local show to be at with our peers. The footing is great and it is always run well.”
The Pawling, New York, resident added that walking through the posts to begin the start of the handy phase was unique and beneficial to both riders and judges.
“I enjoyed the hunt-and-go format because it was something different. It was a great idea, as was the walk through the post,” she said. “When I have done this format in the past I know the judges have sometimes struggled to get their scores in in time for the handy so it was definitely smart.”
While Isop’s partnership with the 10-year-old KWPN mare Zalandra (Zento x Galandra Z), owned by Harry Littler, is new, she sees a bright hunter future for her.
“I only showed this horse once before and she has just recently started her hunter career, but she was fabulous today,” she said. “She was incredibly handy in the second phase and very brave throughout.”
Patricia Griffith piloted Ashley Neudorff’s 7-year-old Holsteiner gelding Carousel (Clinton I x Wildera) to the second place position just one point behind Isop with scores of 84.00 and 86.00 for a 170.00 point total. Elise Perry Salvani’s Chapeau Van Overis Z, a 10-year-old Warmblood stallion (Casper Van Erpekom Z x Navarra Van Overis), ridden by Lisa Rex, took the third spot. Finishing with a two-round score of 169.00, two points off the leaders and one point behind Griffith, the pair earned scores of 84.00 and 85.00 respectively.