It’s A Family Affair for Emma Schauder and Tru Balou in the $5,000 USHJA National Hunter Derby at Vermont Summer Festival

Emma Schauder and Tru Balou. Photo by Jess Windhurst

Edited Press Release

East Dorset, VT – July 7, 2022 – HITS is back in Vermont and ready for another summer under the beautiful Green Mountains. Thursday afternoon hosted the first major hunter class of the six-week Vermont Summer Festival series. Over 30 combinations vied for the winning honors during the $5,000 USHJA National Hunter Derby. With an impressive score of 88 in both rounds of the class, Emma Schauder earned the winning title aboard Tru Balou with her whole family ringside during the victory.

“I got Tru Balou as a 4-year-old sales horse – now he’s 8 years old and I have refused to sell him because he’s such a special family horse,” smiled Schauder. “My sister competes in the Junior Hunters on him, and I’ve been doing the derbies on him for a few years now. He’s just one of those horses that never lets you down. He wants to win, he knows when it is go time, and he’s just one of the smartest and most talented horses I’ve ever had. My sister showed him earlier today and set him up perfectly for me, so it’s a family affair. My mom helps train, so it’s a nice family moment when you have a big win like that!”

Set as a Hunt & Go Derby, Thursday’s event featured a unique format with riders completing both their first-round classic and handy round at the same time, beginning in Hunter Ring 1 with their classic round and then cantering directly into the connected Ring 2 for the handy round, giving every pair the chance to compete over the handy round. Riders began the course with their first test at the first fence, where they were presented with the first high option. They continued through the rest of the classic round, where the last fence was an option oxer, before cantering into the second ring for the handy round and the third high option, followed by two rollbacks and a bending line. The trot fence followed the fourth high option, and the handiest riders could trot directly to the small vertical and make another quick turn to the last two fences, or they could go around to be more conservative.

Schauder and Tru Balou were tenth in the order of go, opting for the direct approach to the trot fence, setting the bar high for the remaining riders. The duo was rewarded with scores of 88 during each phase, for a total score of 176 that would prove unbeatable. Sara Taylor and Stephanie Danhakl’s Golden Rule came the closest after earning an 87 in the first round and an 84 in the handy round for a score of 171 and second place. The third-place honors went to Autumn Janesky and Damas De Tannerre, who earned a total score of 167.

Schauder was thrilled to claim Thursday’s winning title with Tru Balou saying, “He loves the handy – I think that’s where he and I shine the most. He just picks up on what I am thinking before I even ask him. He loves that competitive nature, and I think he was really great. Today’s most difficult part was the trot jump at the end – to show that your horse was polite and handy enough to break to the trot and still make the turn. He did that fabulously, and I was very happy.”

The Vermont Summer Festival is always on the schedule for Country Lane Farm and the Schauder family, so Thursday’s win was a wonderful way to kick off the six-week competition. “I’ve been coming to Vermont for 20 years, since the leadline, so it’s a very special show every summer,” she concluded. “We love coming to Manchester – we love the town. It’s been run fabulously, and I think winning at a show that feels like home is very special.”

Emma Schauder and Tru Balou