By Irene Elise Powlick
Meghann Murphy and her own Furstentusch N took the win in the $250 Carousel Hunter Derby, sponsored by The Plaid Horse, at the Coachella Valley Classic, a USEF ‘B’ Rated show taking place during the off week of the Desert International Horse Park winter circuit. The Carousel Derby was in the newer Hunt and Go format, in which riders go directly from the classic portion into the handy, similar to a jumper power and speed.
Murphy and “Tuschy” led the way in the class and simply couldn’t be beat. Not only was she first to go, but it was her horse’s first derby, too. “The course was a lot of fun, it was his first derby course so I was very proud that Tuschy was able to go into the ring and march around,” she said.
Murphy explained that she purchased Tuschy from Natasha Traurig, and he was originally destined to be an FEI dressage horse. The now 9-year-old Rhinelander has found his place in the hunter ring. “He jumped his first jump just over a year ago and he has been the most kind, consistent creature I’ve ever sat on.”
Murphy’s close friend Britain Cecil explained, “I found Tuschy and from the second we met him, I knew he was the one.”
Going into the class, Murphy saw the derby as good practice at a lower fence height. “Because it was 2’6”, my plan was to do the tidier turns—to test the turns more so than the fence height.” Murphy and Tuschy normally show in the 3’ Adult Amateur Hunters and some equitation.
Although without a trainer at the event, Murphy didn’t come without support. Cecil is a self-proclaimed “aunt and treat giver” to Tuschy and was there to support her friend. “[With] horses, it takes a long time, and I think in the modern day, there is [a desire for] a lot of instant gratification. That is not our approach, and a lot of people tried to push to do a lot more and a lot faster,” Cecil explained. “It took much longer than a lot of people would have liked, but the end result is this really amazing partnership and I’m very proud that we did it the right way.”
The slow process of developing Tuschy meant achievements didn’t always come regularly. A year ago, Cecil asked Murphy what her goals were, and Murphy identified doing a derby to be at the top of the list. “Here we are a year later in his first derby and they won it, and I am just so proud of her!” exclaimed Cecil. “She’s worked really, really hard.”
“The fact that he won, for me, it just makes it that much more special, because it’s not what we were chasing,” explained Cecil. “No matter where we placed, we knew we would be going home with the best horse on the planet but winning is a cherry on top!”
Murphy, Cecil, and Tuschy will be headed home with a beautiful blue ribbon and plenty of prizes, and a feeling that they are doing right by their treasured horse. “We brought him here to be happy—and to jump around and be in the sunshine!”
Second in the class was claimed by Amy Hess and Anne Schroeder’s Maestro, just 2 points behind with a 154 point total, while PJ Andersen rode her own Arezzo to third with a 153 total.