Grace Loughlin and Briljant Z Shine in $5,000 USHJA National Hunter Derby, Presented by Perfect Products

Following an equitation championship Saturday, Grace Loughlin took another big win Sunday in the $5,000 USHJA National Hunter Derby, presented by Perfect Products, aboard Briljant Z.

“I bought ‘Billy’ about a year ago,” Loughlin said of the 15-year-old Warmblood gelding. “I needed a junior hunter for Junior Hunter Finals, and he worked well with me. It took a while for me to figure him out but now that we’re on a roll we’ve got it. He’s a little older, but he hasn’t gotten tired yet!”

Grace Loughlin stands for presentation aboard Briljant Z. Photo © Andrew Ryback Photography

Loughlin’s consistency was what sealed the deal in Sunday’s derby, making Briljant Z the Platinum Performance Hunter of the Week. The duo scored back-to-back scores of 90 for a combined total of 180 and the top call.

“I just wanted it to be slick while also fairly slow and smooth,” Loughlin continued. “I felt like he jumped great. I think he’s very flashy with a pretty jump. He’s very striking in the ring. Something I really love about him is his demeanor. He always has his ears up, he’s always looking forward. I feel like he deeply enjoys his job and that makes it a lot easier.”

Riley Hogan claimed second-place honors with Double Fantasy, just one point off Loughlin’s score with a 179. Elise Stephens and Chronicle, owned by Rendezvous Farm, captured third place on a score of 174.

Loughlin has enjoyed her time showing in Northern Michigan, and plans to spend one more week in Michigan before heading home for a break.

Riley Hogan & Double Fantasy. Photo © Andrew Ryback Photography

“I’m going to have one more week of showing at GLEF 6, and then I’m going to give him some time off before indoors so we can prepare for that,” she explained.

Hunters resume Wednesday for the final week of the Great Lakes Equestrian Festival.

Elise Stephens & Chronicle. Photo © Andrew Ryback Photography

Felice Hybert and Zeus Drive Away with Great Lakes Golf Cars Low Adult Hunter Classic Win

Felice Hybert & Zeus. Photo © Andrew Ryback Photography

It seemed the seasoned horses had their time to shine Sunday, as the winning horse of the Great Lakes Golf Cars Low Adult Hunter Classic was also an older citizen. Zeus was piloted by Felice Hybert to scores of 82 and 79 for the win in Sunday’s classic, on a two-round total of 161.

“He is 19 years old,” Hybert said of Zeus. “He’s been everywhere, and I got him last year. I’m trying to get my confidence up and trust him. He’s just an amazing teacher. He loves his 2’6” job and taking care of me.”

Hybert, attending Traverse City Horse Shows for the first time, made the trip from Crete, IL, along with the team at Judgement Farm.

“It’s been a lot of fun,” she said of her experience. “It’s the first time I’ve ever been to this show and it’s a great show. We had a really successful week last week and I’m so excited to be here and show. There’s lots of great sportsmanship, and a lot of people telling each other congratulations and good job. It’s such a beautiful venue.”

As she’s gotten to know Sophia Strahan’s Zeus, Hybert feels all the pieces coming together, saying her goals this week were, “really trusting him, and letting him do his job and making sure he was on the right pace in a straight line. He takes care of the rest. I train with Judgement Farm in Oswego, IL, and we’ve been working hard on strengthening my leg, with no stirrup work, and adjustability – having him go forward and be able to come back. He’s just an amazing teacher so he makes it easy.”

The win Sunday further affirms that, as a team, they’re headed in the right direction. “I feel amazing,” she shared. “It really is exciting because he is such a good boy, and I just try my best to show him off as best I can.”

The trip to Traverse City has been great both in and out of the ring for Hybert. “I love it,” she said of her trip. “We’ve been out to dinner – we went to Pepe Nero’s, and we went to Stella’s – it’s amazing. We rented a boat, and we got our picture taken with the National Cherry Queen yesterday. It’s been amazing for us.”

Nora Kalso Earns Bows to Shows Title

Nora Kalso & Windhover Spotlight. Photo © Andrew Ryback Photography

Nora Kalso had a stellar outing during week five of GLEF, and her mother, Holly Kalso, had a front-row seat for all of it. Aboard Windhover Spotlight, Nora won the Bows to Shows Walk, Walk Trot and Walk Trot Jump for the overall division victory.

It was a truly generational victory for both Nora and Holly, with special guests in attendance and Nora carrying on the next generation of riders.

“We got the pony in March,” Holly said of Windhover Spotlight. “She named him Snowflake. He came with the name Beasty and I said, ‘oh no.’ We had to change that. He is the love of our lives. She’s gotten so confident so that’s been a big deal for Nora to go out there and be able to know the pony can stop when she says stop and steer when she says steer. She’s so excited, and she loved every second of it. Both sets of grandparents were here to watch.”

The six-year-old rider is learning from the best, as her whole family is in the industry. Holly is a trainer and works alongside other family members. “She started showing [when she was] a year and a half in the leadline. Last year was her first time doing the walk by herself. This year, all year, she’s been doing the Walk Trot.

Nora Kalso & Windhover Spotlight. Photo © Andrew Ryback Photography

To Holly, the win for Nora means “The world. I love that it’s at eight a.m. and I had nothing else going on because I could just be a mom. Our farm is called Four Generations Farm. My grandma started it, and my aunt was my trainer. I’m the third generation, and my daughter is fourth generation. It is really fun to have everybody here and to have the clients be so supportive and come down and watch.”

While Nora continues to rise the ranks in the world of horse showing, all her family members and all members of Four Generations Farm will watch and support from the sidelines.