It Was a Valentine's Day Early Applause for Kelley Farmer in the 13th American Hunter-Jumper Foundation Hunter Classic Spectacular
RELEASE: February 19, 2009
AUTHOR/ADMINISTRATOR: By Diana DeRosa
“Early Applause is the most amazing animal I have ever ridden,” commented Kelley Farmer after she rode him to victory in the 13th Annual American Hunter-Jumper Foundation (AHJF) Hunter Classic Spectacular in Wellington, FL. “He is quiet. He is careful, and he tries hard. He is an absolute brat and demands attention from everyone at all times, but he goes from the stall to the ring and he has never let me down,” she continued.
On Saturday night, February 14, at the FTI Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF) hearts were pumping and hugs were plentiful, and a victory for Farmer was the perfect Valentine’s Day present for her and her partner Larry Glefke of Keswick, VA. As owners of Early Applause, they echoed each other in the brilliance that the seven-year-old bay 16.1-hand Warmblood clearly showed.
“He is the personification of a hunter,” commented Glefke. “He jumps in perfect form. You never have to work on his style, his shape or his attitude. It’s just keeping him happy.”
“I have an amazing animal. I am very lucky I get to ride him. He is a first year horse and tries so hard every time he walks in the ring. He’s only shown in eight horse shows total in his life. Every time he walks in the ring he gives me 110%,” concluded Farmer.
Early Applause impressed the judges and took the lead in both the first and second rounds. In the first round he scored 92.50, ahead of Vedette ridden by Morgan Thomas (90.66), and Argentum with Sandy Ferrell aboard (88.33). The scores in the second round combined with their first round kept the top two the same, but Andora, ridden by the defending champion Liza Boyd, claimed the third spot with Sunshine and Peter Pletcher riding fourth and Argentum fifth (Early Applause 92.50+92=184.50, Vedette 90.66+87.50-178.16, Andora 86.33+89.66=175.99, Sunshine 87+87.66=174.66, Argentum 88.33+84.33=172.66).
Thomas also spoke highly of his mount but admitted, “Vedette is not a very experienced horse in terms of mileage, and he’s a little unpredictable. He is honest about the jumps, but also very aware of his environment. He can be distracted by little things off in the distance, yet he is learning to become focused.
“In the first round, I was truly unsure of what he might or might not do. It was his first time stepping on a real stage like that. About a third of the way through the course I started to feel like this was how it was supposed to feel, and I haven’t had a horse feel like that in awhile. I wasn’t nervous. I was just enjoying it because I didn’t have tremendous expectations for him.”The Epitome for Hunters
“I would rather win this class than any other class in America,” commented Glefke. “This horse will go on for years now and this is something they can never take away from him. It is like winning the Kentucky Derby for a hunter. It is the best single event and best staged event in America."
“For us as riders, it’s a blast,” added Farmer. “I love just being in this field under the lights, having us showcased. The horses shine. It’s lovely for the hunter people to get to see our hunters at the top of their game.
“The American Hunter-Jumper Foundation does a beautiful job making this class very important,” she continued, “putting it on a beautiful stage under the lights at night. It makes us all want to ride in it. To show in the field for this week is prestigious. Our hunters get to be showcased.”
“The cream always rises to the top of this class,” noted Glefke. “All the quality horses have won this. Horses don’t leave and fall to the depths of despair. They continue to be quality horses.”
“Even to be in the top eight and to come back for a second round is an honor,” added Thomas. A Unique Experience
Rarely do the hunter riders have such an opportunity to be the highlight of the show and for this one week that’s exactly what happens at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Cen