Samantha Schaefer & In The Know Score Second $25K USHJA International Hunter Derby Title at Upperville

The country’s top hunter athletes gathered at the Upperville Colt & Horse Show (UCHS), presented by St. Bride’s Farm, on Saturday evening. Taking over the B&D Builders Jumper Ring 1, they vied for the winning honors during the $25,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby, sponsored by Salamander Resort & Spa. After two rounds of competition, it was Samantha Schaefer’s top score aboard In The Know that would earn the night’s top prize.

Samantha Schaefer and In The Know. Photo by Phelps Sports

Twenty-eight entries showcased their mounts over a beautiful course designed by Skip Bailey that included a technical option allowing athletes to choose between a bounce, a one-stride or a two-stride as well as four high options to earn extra points. When the top 12 returned for the handy round, they also had to hand gallop to the final fence towards the gate. Two panels of judges carefully observed each horse-and-rider combination, and awarded top scores to the horses that jumped beautifully and flowed throughout the course, while also rewarding the handiest pairs with additional points during the final test.

Defending champions Hunt Tosh and Flamingo-K, owned by Ceil and Kenny Wheeler, were ranked fourth heading into the handy round with a score of 179. Tosh showcased his mounts handiness throughout the course and was rewarded with base scores of 87 from both judges as well as an 8 and a 10 for handiness for a combined score of 379 to claim the early lead. Schaefer was next in the ring with Madeline Schaefer’s In The Know.

“I was actually a bit late to the course walk, so I have to thank Hunt and Kate [Conover] for helping me learn the handy quickly,” Schaefer admitted. “When we learned the handy, I saw [the left turn] right away. My horse is left-leaded and he’s pretty much game for whatever, so I just had that plan and I didn’t really have time to think twice about it. I made my decision out there and that’s what I did and it worked out well. He did it perfectly. I would say the turn I did after the bounce felt like it was nothing because when I landed off of the straw bale to go back into the final line, it seemed like the next vertical came up very fast.”

Samantha Schaefer and In The Know. Photo by Phelps Sports

With a very quick hand gallop to the final oxer and perfect exit, the duo left the ring to the resounding applause of the crowd and earned matching scores of 92 with 10 bonus points from the judges for a two-round total of 391, which went straight to the top of the leaderboard.

Sara Taylor is local to the area based out of Marshall, Virginia, and with her hometown behind her she earned the top score of 185 during the first round aboard Sherri Crawford’s Carento. She was part of the horse’s early career before he was successfully campaigned in the junior hunters. Crawford purchased the horse again in 2018 and Taylor was once again back in the saddle with the special mount. She also took the inside turn after Schaefer during the handy round, but with base scores of 88 and 86, as well as handy scores of 4 and 7, the pair’s total score of 382 would pick up second place, while Tosh claimed third and Schaefer took home the winning title.

In 2016, In The Know and Schaefer competed in their first derby together during the UCHS, earning a top three finish and returning in 2017 to take the championship title. In 2018, the duo placed second after the first round behind Tosh, while the handy round was canceled due to weather. This year, Schaefer wanted to win again and knew her veteran mount would excel during the handy round. Her confidence paid off as they galloped around the main ring at the historic competition with their blue ribbon and championship cooler.

Samantha Schaefer and In The Know. Photo by Phelps Sports

“We’ve done derby finals and he’s been such a consistent horse that I can count on. I got on him today to flat him and it’s like he’s a totally different horse when he knows it’s important. He always rises to the occasion and it’s something I don’t think you can teach horses, so he’s special to me in that way,” Schaefer said.


$25,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby, presented by Salamander Resort & Spa
Place / Horse / Rider / R1 Score / R2 Score | Total
1. In The Know / Samantha Schaefer / 179 / 212 | 391
2. Carento / Sara Taylor / 185 / 197 | 382
3. Flamingo-K / Hunt Tosh / 179 / 200 | 379
4. Argentus / Jimmy Torano / 173 / 202 | 375
5. Olympic Fire / Jennifer Hannan / 182 / 180 | 362
6. Day Glow / Alex Granato / 169 / 188 | 357
7. Maitre D’ / Amanda Steege / 170.5 / 178 | 348.5
8. St Tropez / Chad Keenum / 156 / 187 | 343
9. Mayfield / Brady Mitchell / 167.5 / 171 | 338.5
10. Visto’s Bespoke / Jacob Harris / 157 / 179 | 336
11. Cupido Z / Kat Fuqua / 168.25 / 147 | 315.25
12. Lafitte de Muze / Amanda Steege / 175 / 104 | 279