A new format has been devised for the International Ring at the Wellington Equestrian Festival this Friday night and the aim is to make Hunters fun. “That’s the whole point,” said Andrew Lustig of Geddaway Farm, who joined forces with fellow Hunter professionals Geoff Teall and Louise Serio to come up with something unique. “The (Hunter) Spectacular the following week is very serious and this is supposed to be fun.”
The Kristen Baran $100,000 Neil S. Hirsch Boys and Girls Club Team Hunter Exhibition takes over from the longstanding Equestrian Triathlon as an annual horse community fundraiser for the local charity. Andrew started talking to Wellington International last year about the prospect and Friday night, under the lights, the plans will come to fruition.
“It is a whole new format that has never been done,” he said. “First thing that is different - it’s the first time that a team in Hunters has had significant prize money. They have done it for fun - they’ve never done it for $140,000 [$100,000 class plus $40,000 additional].”
Fourteen teams compete for the cash, with a professional, adult amateur and junior rider on each one. Each team will enter the arena together and take turns - leaving their holding place in the corner - to jump the course before exiting en masse. There will be a drop score taken from the final results.
The format, devised by Andrew’s trio, gives a nod to the days of old. “The class is a brand new format, so it’s a combination of a Stake class - which back in the day meant the Hunter had to show a little bit more brilliance - combined with a Handy,” he said. “The first part of the class is like a Stakes class and then the rider does a Handy - maybe four or five jumps - and then the last set of jumps go back to the old-fashioned Stake class.”
Watching from the International Club will be guests at a Hunt Ball, complete with filet mignon and dancing once the class has concluded.
“Everybody is very excited about it,” said Andrew. “It’s something different. When something’s new there are a lot of questions and I don’t blame them; I would have a lot of questions too if I didn’t help invent it. We are having a throwback to an old-fashioned day class and a Hunt Ball in the VIP club. We’re trying to bring a little interest and fun into the Hunters.”
For tickets to the event, visit here.
Written by Sarah Eakin for Paper Horse.