Champions Crowned at Six USHJA National Hunter Derby Regional Championships

USHJA News Release

Lexington, Ky.—Nov. 4, 2021—The inaugural USHJA National Hunter Derby Regional Championships wrapped up in September after six championships were held across the country.

The USHJA National Hunter Derby program, which provides horses and riders a place to gain experience in Derby competition at a lower height, has enjoyed continued success and growth, which spurred the creation of the regional championships.

The championships follow the same two-round format as the regular National Hunter Derby class and are offered in three sections: Open, Amateurs and Juniors. North, North Central, Northwest, South, South Central and Southwest championships were offered this year.

The North Central Championship was held June 9-13 at the Split Rock Hunter Jumper Classic I CSI3* in Lexington, Kentucky. Congratulations to the champions:

  • Open: Sam Berry riding Denver S, owned by Brittany Haugh
  • Junior: Campbell Brown riding Fleetwood, owned by MMK Equestrian LLC
  • Amateur: Erika Jakobson riding Nobel Laureate, owned by Barn Rat LLC

The Southwest Championship took place at the Blenheim June Classic II, June 16-20 in San Juan Capistrano, California. Congratulations to the champions:

  • Open: Jamie Taylor riding Ever So Often, owned by Ava Peck
  • Junior: Skylar Wireman riding her own Baldeur
  • Amateur: Lexie Looker riding her own Dot Com

The North Championship was August 4-8 at the New York Horse & Pony Show in Saugerties, New York. Congratulations to the champions:

  • Open: Cassandra Kahle riding Esprit De Victoire, owned by Holly Cannon
  • Junior/Amateur: Meghan Knapic riding Maliblue, owned by First Blue LLC

The Lexington National Horse Show hosted the South Championship, August 11-15 in Lexington, Virginia. Congratulations to the champions:

  • Open: Alan Lohman riding Carero, owned by Taylor Mitchell
  • Junior: Savannah Welch riding Zeus, owned by Sophia Strahan
  • Amateur: Claire Parkinson riding her own Chazeaux

The Northwest Championship was held at the Northwest Spectacular, September 1- 5 in Wilsonville, Oregon. Congratulations to the champions:

  • Open: Tara Niculescu riding Crafted, owned by Capstone Equestrian
  • Junior: Ella Cate Duke riding Galan, owned by Kennedy Duke 
  • Amateur: Josephine Paulson riding her own Penumbra

The championships wrapped up with the South Central Championship at Southwest Showdown on September 22-26 in Katy, Texas. Congratulations to the champions:

  • Open: Nada Wise riding Stevie Ray, owned by Samantha Brown
  • Junior/Amateur: Skylar Sneathern riding her own Captured

“Competing in the inaugural National Hunter Derby Regional Championships was very exciting,” Looker, who won the Southwest Championship’s Amateur section, said. “I love that USHJA started to offer these six regional championships. They are a great way for horses and riders to step out of the division they normally compete in and show against a wider group of competitors. These classes are also an excellent stepping stone for riders who would like to move up to the International [Hunter] Derby level.”

Looker said they have had some horses at their barn that have competed in International Hunter Derbies but not every horse is able to jump that height, so the National Hunter Derbies are a great way for the younger Hunters to get used to the derby ring.

“I really liked that it was divided between Junior, Amateur and Professional. It made a really big difference in us participating,” Monica Hunt, trainer for Esprit De Victoire, ridden by Cassandra Kahle, Champion in the North Championship’s Open section, said about the Regional Championships. “Being the initial year, I think there will be a lot more involved next year and being split made it that much nicer.”

USHJA National Hunter Derbies are open to any horse or pony registered with USHJA. In order to receive Zone Horse of the Year bonus points, horses, ponies and owners must be actively recorded with USEF and registered with USHJA, and riders must fill out the official USHJA Declaration Form in the horse show office.

The USHJA would like to thank Official Sponsors CWD, Parlanti, Nutrena, and Rood & Riddle Equine Hospital and Veterinary Pharmacy; and award sponsor Essex Classics.

Learn more about the USHJA National Hunter Derby Regional Championship at

Photos: Grand Pix Photography and McCool Photography