By Irene Elise Powlick | Photos by Izzy Feinstein
After recovering from a broken back, Mindy Coretz showed Happy Hour in the 3’3” Amateur/Owner Hunters during the first week of the 2016 Winter Equestrian Festival, expecting to continue campaigning him in the lower division. By week two, it was apparent the gelding was ready for more. During WEF Week 2, Coretz showed Happy Hour in the regular A/O 3’6” division, and finished with a win in the stake class.
Coretz never expected Happy Hour, known as Ernie around the barn, to progress so quickly, but he has proven to be more than just an A/O horse. Coretz showed nine year old Dutch Warmblood in his first USHJA International Hunter Derby in May where he exceeded all expectations. Ernie jumped to the highest score in the classic round, and finished third overall.
“He really exceeded all of my expectations, it was just a piloting error that caused him to not take the win,” explained Coretz of her first derby experience with the gelding. “I didn’t expect to get in to the derby ring this year!”
With several other top placings, Coretz and Ernie earned the opportunity to compete in the USHJA International Derby Finals in August, where the duo had solid rounds to compete in both the classic and the section B handy round. To culminate her summer Coretz competed at the Rolex Central Park Horse Show in New York, NY.
Coretz tackled the Jr/AO class, and was able to top the class, despite the spooky jumps and impressive setting. Horses competing in the hunter classes were shipped the morning of the event, and competitors had a schooling opportunity in the morning before the classes began for the day to allow the horses to get acquainted with their surroundings. Despite the opportunity to school, horses continued to have trouble with the intimidating backdrop, causing minor issues such as a falling off of a lead. Coretz was coming back last in the class, and was letting the nerves get to her, when Hope Glynn, who was helping her at the show, gave her a valuable piece of advice.
“Hope pointed out that there weren’t very high scores, and that all I needed was a good, safe round. I went in with that in mind, and it paid off!”
Ernie was rewarded a score of 80, which topped the class to take home the largest check in the $2500 class. While it wasn’t the highest score she has ever received, Coretz was thrilled with how her horse performed in the difficult arena and setting.
“The Wollman Rink is small and oddly shaped,” said Coretz. “You also knew it wasn’t an ordinary hunter course, since the course included jumps like a big apple jump, subway, and a baseball bat.”
Following their win, Ernie will get a bit of time off before heading back to Florida for the winter circuit, while Coretz focuses on some her younger horses. Coretz, while maintaining her amateur status, has her own LLC under the name of Eighteen Acres Farm. She excels in finding horses, giving them ring experience, and finding them new owners with whom they can be competitive.
While she tends to ride the horses in the ring, Coretz believes that the team behind a rider makes the difference. “I’m a big believer that success does not occur in a vacuum, and I don’t believe that individuals ever become a real winner. The people who consistently win are truly backed by a great team. While I don’t consider myself among those winners, I have the type of team that it takes,” explained Coretz. “I have a huge list of players that make it all possible for me. Ernie’s barn manager, Tiffany George, along with his vets Dr. DeRoy White and Dr. Shelby Matz, his shipper Clint Coulter, and of course Libby Barrow who encourages me to always get out there and try new experiences.”
While Coretz might not take credit for her success, she is certainly a force to be reckoned with, thanks to dedicated horsemanship and passion for her horses. “[Ernie] is really such a great friend of mine, and I feel so fortunate that he has made all of these things happen for me!”