Thirteen-Year-Old Lauren Walker Snags Win in $5K Sandia BMW & MINI Cooper Ride-and-Drive Challenge at HIPICO Santa Fe

Saturday’s $5,000 Sandia BMW & MINI Cooper Ride-and-Drive Challenge was more exciting than ever! Unique to the Santa Fe Summer Series, this class sported new elements, as well as returning crowd-favorites of this Challenge’s unique format, combining sponsorship and sport at its finest. It was an afternoon of turning and burning, both on horseback, racing in a 4 door MINI Cooper hatch covered in New Mexico ‘Zia’ symbols, and with on-foot sprints across the VIP Lounge, additionally featuring a limbo, gallop on a stick horse across the HIPICO Santa Fe’ awards podium, and a hole-in-one golf finale.

Photo by Mary Neiberg

In a field of 10 entries, who blew through the grass in the speed round and determinedly trudged through the on-foot obstacle course, the youngest entry in the class, Laurel Walker of Chantilly Farm, prevailed! Dan Keen took second prize due to his wild ride on course and Mackenzie Hudson followed in third, who executed an impressive off-side dismount before running across the VIP Lounge.

Thirteen year old, Laurel Walker and her mount Biaggi stole the blue with fierce determination. The young rider has been preparing for this class for an entire year and had tricks up her sleeve to cut time and outline the most strategic route to win, “My family and I have been strategizing since last year. It’s been my dream to do this class!” Before the class commenced, Walker practiced fast dismounts and ran back and forth around her barn area to be sure she could sprint quickly in her riding boots, “When I woke up this morning I was freaking out, because this day was actually happening! I walked the course and was like, ‘this is a Biaggi course,’ because he really likes to gallop and do tidy turns at a fast pace!” After the class she joked that the running part is harder than it looks, so she’s glad she practiced!

Photo by Mary Neiberg

It was hard to tell who was most excited, Walker’s supportive show mom or the crowds, who were riotous during the young rider’s performance, “I’m so proud of Laurel. She started riding when she was five and a half, and saw her first Olympics when she was six. Laurel had said ‘that’s gonna be me one day.’ Last year, the Santa Fe Summer Series was a really big show for her. She kept seeing the Ride-and-Drive and said she wanted to do it. Her trainer [Celine Myers[ kept saying ‘one day when you’re older.’ Sarah [Moses, Sponsorship Manager at HIPICO Santa Fe] was sitting next to us, and she said, ‘Laurel, when you can do 1.20M, I’ll let you do it!’ After doing the High Children’s in the winter, Laurel said ‘that’s it I’m doing the Ride-and-Drive,’ and she skipped the next division and went straight to the Low Junior’s. Laurel rode three horses every day leading up to this show and was so determined to do this class!” said Walker’s mother, KerriAnn, proudly.

In the class, Walker’s impressive speed and accuracy demonstrated that she had no trouble rising to the 1.20M height aboard her beloved horse. “Biaggi has the best personality. I love him so much and a lucky to have him. It’s been my dream to do this class together! I wanted to do this class last year, but I was just one hole away,” said the happy winner.

Photo by Mary Nieberg

HIPICO Santa Fe is grateful to the class’s title sponsor, Sandia Automotive Group, who made Walker’s dream come true, as well as to support a fantastic event for competitors and spectators to enjoy. Eryn Remiger, Business Development Manager of the Sandia and Santa Fe BMW, Motorcycle, and MINI Cooper car dealerships, loves to sponsor this class, because “It’s fun and nobody else does it! Plus, we get to show off this MINI Cooper, horse power, and the competitors going around on their horses.” When asked why one should buy this trendy, performance-oriented vehicle, Remiger answered, “Why not!?”

Thank you again to Sandia Automotive Group, who offers great service and great cars to the New Mexico community.