Edited Press Release
Wayne, Ill. – July 15, 2022 – Ryan Sassmannshausen and Rosalita made a triumphant return to the winner’s circle on Friday afternoon at HITS Chicago, once again topping the leaderboard in the $2,500 USHJA National Hunter Derby. The veteran duo and derby experts navigated two impressive rounds, executing a flawless handy that garnered an incredible score of 95 from the judges, adding another win to their growing resume.
Discussing his success over the summer at Lamplight, Sassmannshausen said, “I think it just comes down to like your whole outlook on horses in general. Having a good program, having a really good farrier, a really good vet, really good masseuses, all that kind of stuff – all the little pieces. A lot of it is also mental for the riders. We really try to train our brains, and that’s something that I personally have worked on a lot in the last few years. I’ve been able to find my happy place and go in and just focus on the task at hand. I think that’s helped me be super consistent over the summer, and it shows in the work that we put out.”
The work required to win Friday’s $2,500 USHJA National Hunter Derby came from the courses. A flowing classic round welcomed the riders with four high options, an in-and-out, and a bending line away from the gate to end the round. The top 12 advanced to the handy round, where they could take far more risk with multiple inside turns and a delicate in-and-out towards the gate as the final question.
“I didn’t do the last inside turn to the two-stride,” admitted Sassmannshausen. “It was kind of an awkward turn, and I knew if I could link all the other turns, and everything was smooth, I could have her jumping well and we would be more polished. I felt that taking the risk of going to a two-stride really wasn’t worth it. Now, if I wasn’t in first and I was coming back in third or something like that, I would’ve taken the risk because you go for the win, but I already knew I was sitting in a nice spot.”
Sassmannshausen’s plan proved perfect, with judges awarding the duo a score of 95 for the handy round, added to his 88 from the classic round for a two-round total of 183. Ashley March and MTM Jolly Rancher also impressed in the handy round, scoring a 94 for a combined total of 176 and the second-place honors. The only pair to beat Sassmannshausen’s handy score was Kat Barkema and Vex Freedom, who laid down a hoof-perfect trip for a 97, that helped them climb the leaderboard from eleventh place to third place with a total score of 170.
For Sassmannshausen, every win at Lamplight Equestrian Center is special. He concluded, “I always say it’s home. We live right down the road – we actually have two farms within five minutes of here. I grew up here, so it’s kind of a home court advantage a little bit. I’ve ridden in these rings my whole life. I know all of the nooks and crannies of this place – I love it!”