Traverse City, Mich. – June 10, 2021 – Hunter competitors were eager as the 2021 Traverse City Spring Horse Show (TCS) kicked off in the Polk Family Hunter Ring Wednesday with the Performance 3’6” Hunter division. Talented horse-and-rider combinations took their turn at the beautifully designed hunter courses, but it was Kelsey Epperson and Didgereedoo VDL who emerged victorious during Thursday’s portion of competition, winning both over fences classes to ultimately claim the Performance 3 ‘6” Hunter Champion title. Nick Haness aboard Caldiano claimed the reserve champion title after impressing judges during both days of the competition.
Epperson aboard her longtime mount Didgereedoo VDL, a 13-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding owned by Lashier Properties LLC, stepped up to the plate during day two of the competition after placing in the middle of the pack during day one of competition Wednesday, wowing the judges to secure top place finishes in both over fences classes. Epperson spoke highly of her longtime mount and believes his focus, form and the way he steps up to the occasion every time he enters the ring and catches the judges’ eye.
Haness was first in the ring during day one of competition Wednesday aboard his mount Caldiano, an 11-year-old Warmblood gelding owned by Double Down Farm LLC, who impressed the judges with his giant stride, correct jump, and eager expression throughout the course. After day one of the competition, the pair secured the lead, earning first and second place, but Epperson would soon take the lead during Thursday’s competition after laying down two textbook rounds and claiming the win in both over fences classes and winning the undersaddle.
Top hunter competitors from around the country are making their way to Traverse City to join in on the new Hunter Incentive Program, put in place to highlight hunter athletes and their horses. Over $275K in guaranteed prize money is on the table, and exhibitors have the chance to opt into the program throughout the 12 weeks of competition. Horses not enrolled in the program are still eligible to compete for the prize money as long as they have competed for three weeks during the Traverse City Horse Shows. Finals will run concurrently with the 51st Anniversary of the American Gold Cup held during Traverse City Fall Horse Show III.
Friday morning, June 11, competition will continue in the Polk Family Hunter Ring, showcasing the acclaimed Washington International Horse Show (WIHS) Equitation Hunter Phase and ending the day with the Adult Amateur Hunter 18-35.
FROM THE WINNER’S CIRCLE
Kesley Epperson – Performance 3’6” Hunter champion
On partnership with Didgereedoo VDL:
“I have been showing this horse for a couple of years now. I have been able to do a couple of hunter derbies so that is actually why we brought him here, to do the National Hunter Derby on Sunday. The Performance 3 ‘6” Hunter was actually just a warmup for him. I have been lucky enough to do what we have needed to do with him.”
On earning high points in each class:
“Today I loved that he came out and jumped well. Yesterday we were both very casual, we hadn’t shown since Florida and he was amazing in Florida. We had really great results so we both kind of walked in pretty casual and relaxed. Today we stepped up our game and he came out ready to win and he was jumping higher and higher each time and he was amazing. It was so much fun.”
On Didgereedoo VDL’s strong points:
“He loves to perform. We were laughing at him because before we went in the ring he was flipping his head around and kind of being obnoxious, pushing all of us around and then he walked in the ring and was all business. So he loves that.”
On Traverse City Horse Shows:
“We just built a barn down the street and a lot of us have houses here. We love coming here. It is just nice to be here for the whole entire summer and just treat it like home.”