Last Saturday, I took a little break from midterm studying and headed up to Someday Farm to watch my friend Stephanie (aka the business mastermind behind De La Coeur Fly Veils) ride in the Rip Gauthier Hunter Classic. While Steph is a die-hard jumper rider, she left her speedy mare Waffles at home and borrowed Gryphon – her friend Tori’s horse. A sure sign a classic is great fun when a jumper rider, who normally dislikes the subjectivity in hunter-land, will trade in a GPA Speed Air for a Charles Owen and a shadbelly!
This charity classic is held annually at the facility in Erin, Ontario, in memory of Rip Gauthier. The concept of hosting a hunter classic at Someday Farm was always a dream of Rip’s, but unfortunately, he had succumbed to illness before he could see his brainchild brought to life. Luckily, his friends and family took it upon themselves to make his dream a reality.
The proceeds (from entries, silent auction and donations) of this classic go to the Headwaters Heathcare Foundation in Rip’s memory. The crew at Someday Farm state two reasons for this:
- It was the facility that took care of Rip while he was sick
- Should a rider ever need hospitalization while competing at Caledon Equestrian Park (the busiest venue in the Toronto area), that is the hospital they would go to.
While the weather last Saturday was quite dreadful, it was a delightful afternoon. I watched Steph compete from under her horse’s wool cooler, and I was so jealous that I wasn’t entered as well. The track this year incorporated a lot of natural obstacles, as well as dashing across the dirt road from the grass ring to a jump in the sand ring. To top it all off was an optional downward staircase obstacle, dubbed ‘Rip’s Risers.’
However, there are some added elements to make this classic unlike any other. The first is the condoned bribing of the judges. Each rider had the opportunity at the end of their ride to give a judge of their choosing (who are generally well-known professionals in the area) a gift of some sort. I know this might sound corrupt and inappropriate, but you have to remember that this classic is all in good fun, for charity, and since the results don’t count towards the final year end-standings, I see no harm in a little fun and bribery. If bribes are involved, can I judge next year please?
The second part I loved was how the rules on horse attire were a bit more lenient than they would be at a recognized show. While it is expected that the horses are clean, braided and well turned out, there was one competitor whose horse wore boots and a gag bit. While this would have been an automatic disqualification at an ‘A’ show, she was allowed to compete and receive her score. I think this is wonderful – since there are so many tough, solid obstacles on course, it’s actually in the best interests of the equine competitors to have some protection on their legs. If that’s the case, I should bring Cycan next year. I think he would look like a darling equitation horse with his hunter braids and black tendon boots!
After Steph finished her round and Gryphon was on the trailer, I had to go check out (and bid!) on some of the items in the silent auction. While there were lots of equine goods up for grabs (including a gorgeous grey and blue De La Coeur bonnet), there were plenty of other items as well, including candlesticks, bird feeders, delicious looking pecan pies, and a whole case of pink champagne!