DEVON, Pa—Scott Stewart historically has had a strangle hold on the Leading Hunter Rider title at the Devon Horse Show and Country Fair, and he kept it at this year’s show, which ran May 25 to June 4 at the show grounds on Route 30 in Devon.
Scott, of Flemington, N.J., won the Leading Rider title for the 13th time, having only lost it twice in the past 15 years, both times to Kelley Farmer of Keswick, Va. Scott annually takes a number of horses to Devon, and annually he wins numerous championships with them.
This year he rode the Devon Grand Hunter Champion, Dr. Betsee Parker’s Cameo, who was the High Performance Working Hunter Champion.
Scott also rode Parker’s Private Life to the Green Conformation Hunter Championship, Parker’s Lucador to the High Performance Conformation Hunter Championship and Parker’s A Million Reasons to the Leading Mare title.
"Cameo is really brave,” said Stewart. “The bigger the jumps, the better. The working courses were nice and a little scopey, which was good for him because he got to try pretty hard. Ken [Berkley] and I bought him as a 6-year-old and Betsee [Parker] bought him a few months later."
"He's a great horse,” said Stewart. “The best part about him is that he's very comfortable and brave, so I never have to worry about anything going wrong that way. He definitely was at his best this week and put a lot more effort into it."
"Competing at Devon is always one of our goals,” said Stewart. “We really try to peak here. I have a great group of horses again this year. It's one of my favorite shows. I like the ring, I like the atmosphere and I like that it's only one ring. It's nice we all get to focus and watch. You needed a 90 to get a good ribbon this year. The ring rides great and you can really gallop. It's one of the few rings you can still gallop around."
LOUISE SERIO of Kennett Square, Pa. rode Meralex Farm, Inc.’s Kings Landing to the Green Hunter 3’6” Championship.
"Kings Landing felt awesome this week,” said Serio. “He went great both days. He was a little green in the handy round today, but he really rose to the occasion. He felt wonderful and is a fantastic horse."
"We bought him as a 2-year-old out of an auction in Germany,” said Serio. “He came over to America as a 4-year-old and has really been enjoying himself since then. We didn't really start with him until he was 5, and he is 7 now."
"I love the Devon Horse Show,” said Serio. “I think it is a fantastic competition because it's mostly one ring and many people come to watch. Everybody comes, from East Coast to West Coast. The competition is really good. I've shown here for a long, long time and I just really enjoy it. I love the Dixon Oval."
Sandra Ferrell of Bernville, Pa., rode Alzlynn Radwanski’s Because to the Green Hunter 3’9” Championship.
MAGGIE JAYNE rode Standing Ovation, owned by Pony Lane Farm of Bluffdale, Utah, to win the $25,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby over Victoria Colvin on Cuba, owned by Brad Wolf of Memphis, Tenn.
“Ovation was imported early this fall, so he's been doing the Green Conformation,” said Jayne. “I did him in two other derbies and haven't placed. This was actually my last chance to qualify for derby finals, so no pressure, but I got a ribbon, and we are now qualified. He's been showing in the Green Conformation and Amateur-Owner Hunters with his owner Maddy Thatcher. He had a great week and really didn't put a toe out of place."
"He has athletic ability,” said Jayne. “He has the smoothest canter I've ever ridden. He just floats. It's no effort. He's constantly balanced and always leaves the ground effortlessly. He has a perfect lead change and never spooks. It feels like cheating. It feels like riding a ballerina, he's that elegant."
"I wasn't pleased with myself in the first round,” said Jayne. “I got him a little riled up at one of the in-and-outs. The second round, my goal was just to have him be slow and tight but nothing crazy. He did jumpers before so he can get a little excited. One of his best features is that he can jump out of a slow, lopey canter because he does everything so effortlessly. I thought in the second round I got him to take a breath and showcase that a little better."
BECKY GOCHMAN of Palm Beach, Fla, rode Gochman Sport Horse LLC’s Catch Me to the Amateur Owner 36 and Older, 3’6” Championship and the Devon Grand Amateur Huner 3’6” Championship, and she was the Leading Amateur Owner 3’6” Rider.
"As everyone knows, Catch Me has been an unbelievable horse in the professional divisions, and I always hoped he would do the amateurs,” said Gochman. “After he won the first $100,000 WCHR Peter Wetherill Palm Beach Hunter Spectacular, I said to myself, 'He jumps so great. I really think he's going to be a professional horse.' I started riding him a little bit, and we got better and better, and we were even circuit champion at WEF. He has just come into his own as an amateur horse. I feel like we have a very close relationship."
"He's a magical unicorn,” said Gochman. “He just wants to land the leads, go out there on a loose rein, jump up and show off his trot at the end of the round. He's an incredible horse. I've had some nice horses but he's definitely one of the nicest. Cookie [Beck] brought him along as a youngster and is famous for bringing her horses along slowly and properly."
Catch Me won the Sambalino Award for the amateur owner horse that, in the eyes of the judges, best exemplifies the classic hunter horse in movement, jumping style and presence and is not based on points.
"To win the Sambalino award was just amazing because I am a true believer that Sambalino is with me when I ride,” said Gochman. “I know he is. I just feel him. I try to give my horses the most positive vibes and intentions. I think that has really paid off."
"Devon has always been really special because this is the first show I ever attended as a youngster when I was 6 years old,” said Gochman. “I love the horses and the candy booth, and I so enjoy sharing Devon with my kids now. It just gives me a thrill to see their happiness. I have so many memories of my kids on ponies here, and now the junior hunters. Amanda [Derbyshire] has been doing great here too this year. (Derbyshire rides the Gochman jumpers and was the Devon Leading Open Jumper Rider), Devon has pretty much always been a special show for all of us. Maybe our team can feel that, maybe the horses can feel that. It's a special place and a special town and it's been a lot of fun coming here through the years."
Jaime Auletto of Tabernacle, N.J., rode Suzanne Auletto’s Carla to the tricolor in the Amateur Owner 3’6”, 18 to 35, section.
Martha Ingram of Nashville, Tenn., rode John & Stephanie Ingram LLC’s Lyons Creek Bellini to the Amateur Owner Hunter 3’3”, 18 to 35, Championship and the Grand Championship in that section, while Virginia Fout of Los Angeles, Calif., rode her Carma to the Over 35 section.
In Local Hunters, Taylor Willever rode Markus, owned by Austin Kunsman of Hellertown, Pa., to the Championship,
Gillian Beale King of Chester Springs, Pa., rode Natalie Peterson’s Alta Mira to the Ladies Hunter Side Saddle Championship.