Schaefer Sisters Go One-Two in $5,000 USHJA National Hunter Derby at Traverse City Spring Horse Show

Traverse City, Mich. – June 28, 2020 – The final day of the debut Traverse City Spring Horse Show, presented by Turtle Creek Casino & Hotel, took place Sunday at Flintfields Horse Park, with the $5,000 USHJA National Hunter Derby serving as the grand finale of hunter competition following a series of championship crownings over the weekend. Jumping to the top of the leaderboard as the clear-cut victors for the second week in a row, Samantha Schaefer and Take 3 LLC’s Trademark added another victory in the $5,000 USHJA National Hunter Derby to their collection, and the win was made even sweeter thanks to Schaefer’s younger sister, Madeline Schaefer, who navigated Sutton Place to the reserve honors. Riding to a near-perfect total score in the Adult Amateur 18 – 35 Hunters, Kendall Meijer piloted Copper Fox LLC’s Elliot to the division championship.

Samantha Schaefer on Trademark and Madeline Schaefer on Sutton Place. Photo: Andrew Ryback Photography

Serving as Sunday’s highlight event in the Main Hunter Ring, the $5,000 USHJA National Hunter Derby featured a natural track constructed by course designer Bobby Murphy. The classic phase pattern offered horse-and-rider pairs a chance to showcase their ease of going and proved to be an ideal course as the majority of the field raked in scores of 80 or above to keep the points close headed into the handy round. The week one victors in the same event, Samantha and Trademark once again led the group with a lofty score of 91, but the next-closest duos were hot on their heels. Younger sister Madeleine rode Sutton Place to early marks of 89, followed by Jacob Pope and Athos Van Het Poeleind Z just one point behind with a score of 88. In the next two positions sat David Beisel on MTM Bentley with 85.5 points and Anna Koenig with Criminal Minds on a score of 85, keeping the top five contenders in a tight race.

Returning for the handy phase, both Beisel and Koenig kept the pressure on the top three pairs, riding to total scores of 174.50 and 175, respectively, which meant the leading duos would need individual scores in the mid-80s or higher to retain their status. Pope and Athos Van Het Poeleind Z laid down a quality round to earn a cumulative score of 174.25, just a hair behind Beisel with the two Schaefer sisters left as the last to ride. The first of the sisters to return, Madeline and her own Sutton Place added 86.5 points to their initial tally, bringing their final score to a respectable 175.5 points. The final competitors, Samantha and Trademark continued to prove why they deserve such high praise with a handy round score of 91 to match their classic round points and finish on a winning score of 182, once again taking the top title and leading the lap of honor. Though it is a relatively new partnership, Sutton Place carried Madeline to second place overall, an improvement over their third-place finish in the same class just one week ago, and Koenig and her own Criminal Minds claimed the final podium spot.

Samantha Schaefer and Trademark. Photo: Andrew Ryback Photography

Over the course of the weekend, Meijer and Elliot shone in the Main Hunter Ring to nearly sweep the Adult Amateur Hunters for the 18 – 35 age group, topping the scorecard in four of the division’s five classes to clinch the championship tricolors. Separating themselves from the pack as the clear frontrunners and setting a near unbeatable precedent Friday, the talented duo earned three blue ribbons, two over fences and one under saddle. Returning to competition Saturday, Meijer and Elliot maintained their momentum to earn two more top finishes over fences, resulting in another first-place finish and a fourth-place result to their list of accomplishments.

Kendall Meijer and Elliot. Photo: Andrew Ryback Photography

Earning the reserve championship honors was owner-rider Grace Hutson aboard Savile Row. The partnership earned points in each of the division’s classes, ultimately earning finishes of second, second, third and sixth over fences. In the under saddle, Hudson and Savile Row nabbed fourth position to add to their cumulative total and help them to secure the overall runner-up spot.

Sunday’s competition concluded the inaugural Traverse City Spring Horse Show, presented by Turtle Creek Casino & Hotel. Equestrian action will continue in Traverse City on Wednesday, July 1, as the Great Lakes Equestrian Festival, presented by CaptiveOne Advisors LLC, begins its first day of the six-week series.


Samantha Schaefer – $5,000 USHJA National Hunter Derby champion

On Trademark:
“Trademark is a horse that we bought as a 5-year-old in Europe. He is very, very green and he has kind of grown up under our wings. It’s been nice to see him develop and now starting to become a derby horse is always exciting. He has come a long way. He is scheduled to go home and probably not see a saddle for a week or two. That is normally my reward and we try to leave them alone. He will gear back up and might show at Swan Lake or another smaller show just to keep him in the groove. He will head to Kentucky at the end of July and hopefully contend in the Green Hunter 3’6″ Incentive Finals.”

On competing in Traverse City:
“We are leaving this week, unfortunately. We actually added these two shows to he schedule a little last-minute. We have never been up here but obviously we really enjoyed it. We had some great success and will definitely be coming back next year, so we are really looking forward to it. I think the horses all really enjoyed it. They all went well. The rings were beautiful and the courses were great. All in all, they all performed well, especially after having so much time off. It was nice to get back in the ring.”

On activities outside of the horse show:
“We really try to get as much as we can into one day, everyday. We really enjoy it, and we went on the lake for a few hours yesterday after we were done showing. I love the water, so this is a place that I really enjoy. We have tried to take advantage of any downtime that we have had throughout the whole week.”

On competing against her sister:
“My sister also competed today on Sutton Place and I think she had a really good time. She definitely out the pressure on. I thought she rode awesome and put the pressure on me to follow her. I know my horse really well and I thought he was great, especially in the handy, so I was happy with that. A good round to finish on.”

Kendall Meijer – Adult Amateur 18 – 35 Hunter champion

On Elliot:
“I got him just about exactly a year ago, and he has been a really good match for me. He is a kick ride, which I love. He is brave and he is the epitome of a hunter. He goes in the ring with his ears up and is slow and beautiful, and he jumped super this week.”

On the hunter arenas:
“It’s been really fun. I love riding up here, especially at the Main Hunter Ring and Hunter Ring 2. They are both so fun to ride in with beautiful jumps and beautiful scenery. It’s so lovely to be up here. We had excellent weather this week and it was just perfect.”

On showing in Traverse City:
“I love showing up here in Traverse City. I don’t think it gets much better than Northern Michigan in the summertime. Especially now, they have put so much into the horse show with the new bar that overlooks the International Ring with the beautiful pavilions. The footing is phenomenal so we love showing up here. I’m lucky to be up here for six weeks this year. We sort of have to rotate my horses so none of them show too often, but I am looking forward to Hunter Week since that is always exciting, especially for hunter riders like me. I’m excited to continue to horse show. It should be a great summer.”

On activities outside the horse show:
“Particularly this year with all of the coronavirus and things happening, I think the restaurants and really all the entertainment up here – they have been very vigilant about creating a safe environment for people to still enjoy everything that Traverse City has to offer. I love going out to eat here because some of my favorite restaurants in the state are here. The beaches, the bay, everything is lovely and I definitely feel safe.”


$5,000 USHJA National Hunter Derby:
Place / Horse / Rider / Owner / R1 Score / R2 Score / Total
1. Trademark / Samantha Schaefer / Take 3 LLC / 91 / 91 / 182
2. Sutton Place / Madeline Schaefer / Madeline Schaefer / 89 / 86.5 / 175.5
3. Criminal Minds / Anna Koenig / Anna Koenig / 85 / 90 / 175
4. MTM Bentley / David Beisel / Lori Taylor / 85.5 / 89 / 174.5
5. Athos Van Het Poeleind Z / Jacob Pope / Michelle Caroli / 88 / 86.25 / 174.25
6. Kenan / Skyler Fields / Skyler Fields / 83 / 87 / 170
7. J’Adore / Jacob Pope / Team Rakowsky Equestrian LLC / 82 / 84 / 166
8. Act Of Valor / Lillie Parr / Pinecone Farm LLC / 80 / 81 / 161
9. Suede / Hillary Johnson / Copper Fox LLC / 77 / 82 / 159
10. Constellation / Anna Schierholz / Grace Hutson / 70 / 86 / 156
11. Lonesome Dove / Hillary Johnson / Copper Fox LLC / 72 / 82 / 154
12. Kingsbury / Ava Berman / Ava Berman / 64 / 80 / 144


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