Huntfield AQHA Derby

For the second year, the Huntfield AQHA Derby took the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington by storm.

By Tracey Clark Berry
The American Quarter Horse Journal
July 22, 2013

Hannah Bedwell and Regal To A Te win the 5,000 Ann Call Memorial Non-Pro Finals at the 2013 Huntfield AQHA Derby in Lexington, Kentucky, photo courtesy of TCBerry Photography

Hannah Bedwell and Regal To A Te won the 5,000 Ann Call Memorial Non-Pro Finals at the 2013 Huntfield AQHA Derby in Lexington, Kentucky. (Photo courtesy Julie Moses) Scroll down for more photos from the event.

In its second year, the growing and popular Huntfield AQHA Derby was held June 26-30 on the grounds of the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington, Kentucky.

AQHA Professional Horsemen Lainie DeBoer of Forest Lake, Minnesota, and David Warner of Frankfort, Kentucky, founders of the Derby, along with their devoted team, created a Showcation – a competition and vacation set in a world-class venue located in a part of the country renowned for its love affair with horses.

“The area is great, it's such a horsey town,” said AQHA Professional Horseman Chuck Briggs of Azle, Texas. “There is a nice variety of different classes to compete in and the facilities are unbelievable! Even after two weeks of showing here, we didn't want to leave!” 

As I walked around, the smiles and relaxed demeanor of exhibitors and their horses was easy and inviting. Even after a thunderstorm where bags of shavings were equal to bars of gold and folks were searching for ways to build an Ark, the camaraderie continued to flourish. 

Eighty riders – almost double from last year – came from around the country to compete in the five-day event, offering up not only a lovely way to spend the day with friends and family, but a chance at their share of $20,000 in cash and prizes.

Sitting next to a picturesque lake punctuated with soft spraying fountains, the famed Rolex arena, noted for its size, excellent footing (even after rain) and notable riding legends, sported a thoughtful course designed to challenge the Quarter Horse hunter.

Lori Bucholz, a 2010 Select world champion from Waterloo, Nebraska, walked her gelding, Larks Happy Days, (Rugged Lark-Emma Big Leaguer by Ima Big Leaguer) affectionately known as “Fonzie,” into the Rolex for the first time and said, “Wow, Fonzie … can you believe we're here?”

“I've been showing since '72 and this is the best ground I have ever ridden on,” Lori said.  

One of the most entertaining options was the Pairs class in which two riders dressed in matching attire rode a series of eight jumps together as a team. 

Kelby and Haley Kane of Lexington, Kentucky, along with Rodger Call of Fort Worth, Texas, and Erin Dolson of Zeeland, Michigan, made their way over each jump sporting Calumet Farms authentic racing silks. Watching this rhythmical challenge put huge smiles on everyone’s faces.

“It was really fun! We loved the pairs class! the Kane girls chimed.

One of the highlights of the this year’s event was the much-anticipated exhibitors party, held at beautiful Calumet Farms, which is home to legendary Kentucky Derby champions Whirlaway and Alydar, as well as this year’s Preakness winner, Oxbow. Manager Ed Kane and wife Rita couldn't have been more gracious hosts as they let the Huntfield family immerse themselves in the surroundings of such Thoroughbred history.

Sitting under the shade of 100-year-old oaks at picnic tables painted in the farm’s signature red color, this year’s competitors were treated to a delicious buffet of fried chicken and salads, complete with tiny gourmet cupcakes and a huge decorated cake.  

Hayrack rides were given past immaculate barns filled with young Triple Crown hopefuls along lush bluegrass pastures and white board fencing. As the evening wore on and the warm pink glow of the setting sun bathed the sky, a brief shower produced a magnificent rainbow. All that witnessed it were certain it was a sign from a late, special lady.

That special lady was the focus of the weekend’s final event. The $5,000 Ann Call Memorial Non-Pro Finals. Ann, an accomplished horsewoman and the late wife of Rodger Call, passed away in 2007. Those who knew the couple and their passion for showing and helping others were delighted to be vying for the beautiful perpetual crystal trophy displaying Ann’s name.

The 3-foot class with 3.3 options open to all AQHA youth and amateur exhibitors was won by AQHA youth world champion Hannah Elizabeth Bedwell of Ball Ground, Georgia, on her champion gelding Regal To A Te (Regal Rhapsody-Sierress by Sierras Showtime).

“I was really honored to win it,” Hannah said. “Rodger is such a caring man and it means so much to have done so well in that class”
Packing up that evening for home, riders reminisced about the week’s events. Annette Fowler from Azle, Texas, winner of the $500 2.9 amateur pairs class, along with former Farnam All-Around Amateur Adelaid Royer of Fort Worth, Texas, summed up the experience like this: “It was early in the morning, the sun was rising and everything was quiet. As I walked my horse along the beautiful grounds and looked around, I got teary-eyed and thought to myself – this is what it’s all about”  

For those thinking about attending next year’s Derby, start planning now so you, too, can find out exactly what Annette was talking about.

For more information go to www.huntfieldderby.com or at Huntfield AQHA Derby Series on Facebook.

Tracey Clark Berry is a freelance photographer and writer in northern Kentucky who has been involved in the equine industry for many years. For more information, go to tcberryphotography.com.