BY BROOKE GODDARD
PARKER, Colo.— The main event on Friday morning at Summer in the Rockies VII was the $5,000 USHJA National Hunter Derby presented by Littleton Equine Medical Center. Nearly 20 horse and rider pairs tackled Mike Gallaway’s courses, and it was 18-year-old Grace McReynolds (Harriet Bunker, trainer) and Cascavel (Elvenstar, owner) who earned the judges’ highest marks with scores of 90 in the first round and 84 in the handy round.
“My horse was fantastic, so it was a great day for me,” said Grace. “This is a bittersweet show for me because it’s my last show with Cascavel before I go away to college. I just graduated high school, and I’m going to Oklahoma State University to ride on their NCAA equestrian team.”
Grace especially enjoyed the handy round, which posed some good challenges. “The first round was nice with a lot of singles and long bending lines,” she noted. “The handy round started with a trot fence over a big log. A lot of horses had trouble with that first fence, but my horses were super brave. On both my horses, I also took an inside turn to the oxer after the two stride. It worked out well for me and I was super pleased.”
Mike Gallaway was also pleased with how Grace approached his derby course. “She rode very well, and Cascavel was an extremely nice horse,” he commented. “I always like to add something natural in the second round for the horses to look at and I like to start the handy round with a trot fence. I put in a few options for riders, but I didn’t want to get carried away. I felt like it rode well and there were a lot of good scores.”
Grace was happy to finish her time with Cascavel with a bang. “I’m glad we ended on a good note,” she added. “I love these shows. I’m from Colorado Springs, so I’ve grown up competing at The Colorado Horse Park. It feels amazing to be back.”
Good luck in the show ring and don’t forget to share your #RibbonsintheRockies on social media!