Abby Robinson and her sweet-natured warmblood Hillman Hunter cruised their way to a decisive win in the Show Hunter of the Year today, with an almost foot-perfect final round under pressure.
Abby and ‘Hilly’ also won this title in 2017 and clinching it for the second time was a definite goal for Abby after taking a rail last year. But she says the win was a bit of a surprise and she wasn’t even sure she would make the callbacks. “We were just about ready to head off! I didn’t think our first round would score as highly as it did and I definitely wasn’t expecting to be last to go,” she says.
Walton-based Abby bought Hilly as a yearling from Weiti Station and broke him in herself. He is a 17hh nine-year-old by Bay Indoctro out of a Pico Bello mare, and Abby says he is super laid-back and has been easy to produce.
Abby bought Hilly with show jumping in mind, and they also competed in the Pro Am at HOY this year, with just a rail down. Hilly doesn’t seem to mind switching between the two disciplines – Abby simply ditches the ear bonnet and takes her spurs off when she transitions back to the show hunter ring, and he seems to know what to do!
The 40-strong field for Show Hunter of the Year contained three other former winners besides Hilly – Dawn (Jo Craddock), Kiwi Motto (Chloe Hansen) and Red Socks (Anna Kincheff). Chloe and Anna both made the callback, with Anna and her pretty mare Red Socks finishing in eventual second on 477 points, to Abby and Hilly’s 508. Anna was thrilled with her exuberant Red Socks, who show jumps as well, and they finished fourth in the Amateur show jumping class earlier in the week.
Briar Woolley and her aptly-named bay Miss Plain Jane were third on 466 points with a super round in the callback. Chloe Hansen and Kiwi Motto, a six-time winner of this class, looked like the ones to beat and they also performed strongly, to finish fourth on 460 points.
Feilding’s Laura van Velthooven picked up her second Amateur Show Hunter of the Year title in a row, this time with her Donnerubin gelding Montbelle Donahue. Last year, Laura won with Sirocco Daisy, but the mare suffered an injury over winter and has now been retired to the broodmare paddock.
Equine vet nurse Laura bought the 16hh nine-year-old Monty as a four-year-old. “He’s so easy-going and he just loves to jump.”
Laura trains with Gail Goodwin but also has a few students of her own and was happy they were there to watch. She elected to scratch from the Open title class, feeling the horse had done enough for one show. “He doesn’t owe me anything and he’s tired.”
Sharyn Goodwin and Showtym Duchess were second in the Amateur, while Anna and Red Socks were third.
Christchurch rider Rosa Buist Brown is more commonly found in the show jumping ring, but despite being very new to show hunter she assuredly cantered away with the Junior Show Hunter of the Year title on her gentle giant Bellick ST. It was a wonderful birthday present for Rosa, who turned 18 today.
The 17.2hh Bellick is by Centavos out of a Dream Boy mare and is a full brother to the show jumper Valle, ridden by Rosa’s sister, Molly. Rosa bought him a year ago from Amanda Wilson and has taken him slowly on account of his size.
“He is just so docile – nothing has ever spooked him. He acts like he’s 20!” says Rosa.
After just a handful of show hunter shows, Rosa says the win was completely unexpected. “I didn’t know what the judges were looking for. I actually find show hunter more stressful, because they are judging you as well as the horse – in show jumping, you can be as messy as you like!”
Bella Ladbrook and Whakanui Homebrew were second in the Junior, with Ella Miranda on Kinnordy Go Girl in third.
Central Hawke’s Bay teen Dylan Bibby won the Category C Pony Show Hunter of the Year with Greedy McCready, yet another show jumper who is dabbling in show hunter this season. Dylan rides Greedy for his owne/breeder Pam Simmons and describes him as ‘calm, relaxed and easy.’ The 145cm gelding is by Kizzys Copy and is currently on the market. Dylan (15) trains with Claire Wilson and is currently leading the Junior Rider show jumping series with his mare Wenrose Vertigo.
Masterton’s Hollie Falloon won the Category B Pony Show Hunter of the Year with her awesome allrounder Farleigh Catterick. Hollie (15) and the Australian Riding Pony ‘Jasper’ have also placed at Pony Club Eventing Champs and in Working Hunter classes and show jumped to Mini Prix level.
Brave Hollie was actually riding with a broken collarbone, but didn’t let it slow her down. “I fell off a young horse at Masterton A&P three weeks ago – they put in six screws and a plate. I hadn’t ridden until I came here.”
Rotorua rider Wiremu Priest took out the Category A Pony Show Hunter of the Year on My Gemma Bear with two silky smooth rounds. Wiremu (12) has been riding the consistent wee chestnut ‘bush pony’ for her owner Emma Bates this season and she is currently on the market.
“She’s the easiest pony we’ve ever had,” says Wiremu’s mum, Jasmine, who also competes in show hunter.“There’s been a bit of interest in her but she hadn’t quite sold yet so we decided to bring her to HOY and it paid off! She is a fantastic pony and really knows her job.”