BY EMILY KERR
THERMAL, Calif. – January 23, 2021 – Desert Circuit saw the first of eighteen hunter derbies on Friday with the $2,500 USHJA National Hunter Derbies – Open & Junior/Amateur sections, sponsored by Platinum Performance.
Kicking off the day, Nick Haness (Temecula, CA) rode Morrison to the six-year-old’s first ever derby win in the Open section with an overall score of 182.5. Haness also received the reserve honors for his efforts on West Coast Equine Partners, LLC’s Crowd Pleaser with a combined score of 181. Finishing off the top three was Katie Taylor (Tarzana, CA) aboard Astaire, owned by Joann Goltermann, for their combined score of 178.5.
“We are super excited about Morrison,” shared Haness. “He is owned by Gail Ellis and West Coast Equine Partners, LLC; a very successful owner with a lot of nice horses. Many of her horses are used to being Derby winners. We are really excited and pleased to welcome him to the winner’s circle.”
Haness hopes to continue his campaign with Morrison in the 3’3” Pre-Green Hunter Division this year. “We have big hopes for the International Derbies one day […] We will continue doing the National Hunter Derbies for the time being and next year come back and do the International Derbies,” Haness noted.
In the Jr/Am section of the $2,500 USHJA National Hunter Derby, Skylar Wireman (Bonsall, CA) continued Haness’ winning streak by earning the top placing aboard Haness’ West Port. The pair earned a combined score from the Classic and Handy rounds of 180.5.
Wireman rode Kennedy Duke’s Crowd Galan to the reserve placing with a combined score of 180 and Paige Walkenbach (Paradise Valley, AZ) & Imagination, owned by Walkenbach Equestrian LLC, earned third place for their score of 174.
“I just rode [West Port] for the first time yesterday. He’s a catch ride from Nick Haness. He’s a lot of fun, he has amazing form and jumps fantastic,” revealed Wireman. “My strategy going into the Classic Round was just to put in a nice, solid round and get to know the horse more since I barely knew him. For the Handy Round, it was all about being neat and tidy. Being on a new horse, it’s getting to know where they will allow you to be a little more handy.”
Wireman catch rides often and will find herself on a few new horses in the Hunter ring this winter: “For the rest of Desert Circuit, I have a couple of [jumper horses] that I have been working with. I’ll also be competing in some more Equitation and a lot of catch riding in the Hunters. A little bit of everything,” Wireman shared.
About the Desert International Horse Park
With nearly 1.3 million square feet of competition and riding space, the Desert International Horse Park is one of the largest equestrian facilities in North America. Offering multiple weeks of world-class equestrian competition from October through March, the facility is a destination location for thousands of equestrians, their horses, family and friends for several months annually. Competitors from all over the world travel to Thermal, CA to not only compete but to enjoy everything the desert has to offer.