[starts out] with a challenging week one and then the riders start to rise to the challenge. By week four they have it down and fully rise to the occasion,” Remiger said. In addition to being proud of her clients, Remiger enjoyed riding a horse named Contendro’s Dream, who hadn’t shown in a year, in the 3’6” Performance Hunters. She also leased Rancho Corazon’s Cesar’s Crack and won Reserve Champion in the 3’3” Performance Hunters.
Esprit De Corps
Sandia Farm is a big fan of the VIP Lounge, “I just love that the VIP Lounge brings people together for breakfast and lunch everyday like a barn family—to hang out and talk. Whereas at bigger shows, you pass others in the ring and don’t get to watch fun classes with them or go to auctions together,” said Remiger.
Woodhill Farm, TX
Matt Cyphert—the head trainer and professional at Woodhill Farm—joined us for three weeks of the Santa Fe Summer Series. Cyphert has a big presence here, and not just because he’s more than 6 feet tall, but also because of the number of horses he brought to the Summer Series. This is Cyphert’s second time at HIPICO Santa Fe, and he is already calling it one of his favorite horse shows! “It’s a great experience for us as pros, for our horses and the clients. Everyone has really enjoyed their time here and the improvements they make year after year are really showing—we’ll absolutely be back next year!” said Cyphert. One of his favorite parts about this show is how the Summer Series incorporates New Mexican culture into the competition, “It has a unique feel to it. It really captures the spirit of the city and there’s a great sense of camaraderie and fun among the competitors.”
Cyphert’s talents extend beyond the horse arenas into the golf fields. As a lifetime lover of golf, Cyphert had a great time golfing with good buddies at Monday’s Santa Fe Waldorf School Summer Breeze Golf Tournament with his teammates Trapp O’Neal, Steven Johnson and Lance Echols. The quartet of golfers had a blast together and found themselves laughing just as hard after the fifth hour of the tournament as the first. The tournament was a definite highlight for Cyphert, “I have plenty of horse trophies but it’s definitely my first golf trophy—I’ll probably put it on the mantle!”
Friendly State Rivalry
After watching the Sister City Challenge Cup, a head to head jumping battle between Santa Fe and San Miguel de Allende held during Sonrisa Week 2, Cyphert immediately started lobbying for a similar competition between teams from neighboring states. Show Manager John McQueen agreed to run the “Battle of the Flags” once four teams formed – all vying for the right to fly their state flag on the Grand Prix field. When Cyphert’s good friend Trapp O’Neal decided to compete on behalf of his home state New Mexico, rather than for Texas, Cyphert joked, “We’re all taking [this competition] very seriously. I hung up on Trapp when he told me!”.
After the Santa Fe Summer Series, Cyphert heads to St. Louis for Maclay Regionals with his student, Mia Graddock, with fingers crossed for qualifying at Harrisburg. Following that, he heads to indoors with another client!
Rancho Corazon, NM
Chenoa McElvain has been in it since day one! Competing for four consecutive weeks was very helpful for the young professional and head trainer of Rancho Corazon, “You start to get to know the arenas to understand how each arena is gonna ride. You figure out what changes you’ll have to make with the horses. And then the horses get familiar with the arenas, which is especially nice with a young horse who benefits from repetition. Once they’re familiar, they are more relaxed so that you can start to understand the technicality of each ring as well.”
The first annual Fiesta Auction, sponsored by Electronic Vet, was a huge success for Rancho Corazon! With four young Rancho Corazon horses entered in the auction, McElvain was thrilled when they were purchased. “We had a wonderful turnout and are really excited to see where all those horses end up and are sure they’ll be successful in all the homes they went to.”
One moment that particularly stood out to McElvain was watching her mom, Sharon McElvain, seal the win for Team Santa Fe in the Sister City Challenge Cup. “That was a really proud moment of mine, because she had to buck up after falling off earlier in the day and pull through for the team. She couldn’t have been a better anchor rider,” she said. Also, it was fun for McElvain to watch her client, Beth Bowlen, compete in the Ride-&-Drive on a younger Rancho Corazon horse.
After the Summer Series, McElvain is off to Split Rock. She plans to chase World Cup points on one of the coasts and then finish up the year at the Vegas National in November.
Showtime Farms, TX
Colleen Acosta certainly made a splash in her farm’s second year at HIPICO Santa Fe—with 14 horses each week, riding in each Welcome Stake and Grand Prix, and jumping for Team Mexico in the Sister City Challenge Cup! Acosta shared some of her favorite parts about HIPICO Santa Fe, “I like the weather, the hospitality and showing on the grass. I’m getting my Grand Prix horse ready to show on the grass in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico at Club Otomi Hipico and there aren’t a lot of places to do that.” In all, the head trainer and professional of Showtime Farms, said, “This show is nice because there’s lots of sociability here. And because it gets done early, we can hang out in the afternoons—to graze the horses and enjoy the VIP Lounge.”
A Personal Success
Acosta and HIMINI have thrown down fantastic jumper rounds throughout the entire series in the upper level classes. “He always gets better and better here. He likes the grass and cantering across the big rings,” she said. “It’s hard to find a jumper as special as him—you can jump him around [over big jumps] and then have a little kid walk him out a few minutes later,” she said. Riding this horse was an special highlight of Acosta’s summer. The pair’s spectacular performances placed them a ribbon in every Grand Prix class this circuit.
A big draw to HIPICO Santa Fe for Acosta is the city itself. “I love to go downtown,” explained Acosta. She goes to art festivals, walks around the downtown plaza, loves the food and explores local hiking trails.
Sleepy Hollow Farm, CO
Joining the Santa Fe Summer Series for three weeks, Sleepy Hollow Farm had an incredibly successful circuit at HIPICO. This show marked a time for the professional to watch the growth and success of his clients. Spending more time ringside, rather than on horseback, allowed him to bask in his clients’ accomplishments. “My successes here have been my riders that I’ve been coaching,” said Mead. One of Mead’s clients stepped up to the 1.10m, another was champion in the 18-36 A/O Hunters and another did her first 1.35m class on her horse—lots to be proud of!
A long-time fan of HIPICO Santa Fe, Mead said, “I love it here. I’ve been at every [Santa Fe Summer Series] show so far! This place gives you a good feeling. I like that I can come here and take a breath, because it’s so beautiful and everyone involved has done such a wonderful job. The footing is the way it needs to be and the fields are way better with their strong root system. Also the people at HIPICO Santa Fe make you feel welcome.” Another key aspect of Mead’s experience here is galloping around on the grass field, which he says you can’t find anywhere else unless you head to The Oaks in San Juan Capistrano. “All of our hunters have been unbelievable. As a competitor, this series gives you options and all sorts of things to be excited for—like having the hunter classes on the Derby Field week three—where else can you do that?!”
Of all the shows Sleepy Hollow Farm attends, Mark shared that HIPICO Santa Fe’s VIP Lounge is the only one his clients and him splurge on, “The Lounge here brings everyone together—you end up with clients and friends. The camaraderie created here is unbelievable!”
After the Summer Series, Mead will resume showing in October in Kentucky with a 6 year old jumper who’s qualified for Young Jumper Championship. In November, the barn out of Longmont, Colorado, will head to Tucson, followed by the Vegas National.
Skybound Farm, NM
Stephanie Gershon is a HIPICO diehard! The young professional of Skybound Farm in Abiquiu, New Mexico, has been to every week of every Santa Fe Summer Series. “We always come for the whole circuit every year—it’s local and we want to support it. And all of my clients enjoy it—it’s too good not to take advantage of!”, said Gershon. Because Gershon is here for multiple weeks, she likes to break up the time by going on lots of trail rides on the adjacent public land to get the horses out of the arenas.
She’s proud of her clients who have had many accomplishments throughout the circuit—one client won the .85m Jumpers, another client did his first round in the Long Stirrups and yet another client is showing successfully on a horse who is particularly dear to Gershon. Staying here for four weeks has proved helpful for Gershon’s clients and elevated the experience for her barn as a whole, “The great thing about being here all for weeks is to try new things, because you have a longer stretch. If you try new things and it doesn’t go well, you have time to rework your plan so that everyone still ends confidently.”
As a 27-year old with a diverse background in western riding and eventing—Gershon has much to offer. She keeps her hunter/jumper program tight-knit and prides herself on her tenacity and willingness to put in the hard work to maximize a horse’s success. “My clients are very loyal to me, as I am loyal to them. We have a supportive group and each want the others to succeed. I’m very dedicated to putting in the work it takes to make the changes and if someone is in it for the long haul, then I’m right there with them.” In Gershon’s blossoming business, her goal is to “be the best rider and trainer I can be and I love developing young horses that are maybe considered problem horses to find the job they’re good at.”
LET’S MAKE THE LAST WEEK THE BEST WEEK!
Although the show is winding down, there’s still much fun to be had! The Grand Prix de Santa Fe riders are here and you can catch a first glimpse of them in Friday afternoon’s $10,000 Welcome Stake. Saturday is a jam-packed day with the first Public Safety Saturday festivities to celebrate first responders. Don’t miss out on the inaugural $5,000 1.20m AOHCJI Jumper Challenge – many competitions, all in one class! Who will win the prize money, who can guess what AOHCJI stands for and what state team will win bragging rights in the “Battle of the Flags”?
And don’t forget about the smallest competitors of the show—the dashing Dachshunds and mixed breed runners in the Chorizo Wiener Races to close out Saturday afternoon. Lastly – the pinnacle event of the series is almost here! The top riders of the circuit will surely deliver impressive performances as they showcase the peak of equestrian athleticism over a course designed by Hector Loyola. Grab a picnic blanket, bring your family and smear on that sunscreen to watch Sunday’s $40,000 Grand Prix de Santa Fe.
OFFICIAL SHOWTIME APP:
Stay on top of your schedule with instant updates, orders of go, and live-scoring! Be sure to download the Equestrian Digital App to stay up-to-date with each of our jumper rings. This is the app’s United States debut and has been a great addition to the Summer Series.
CAPTURE YOUR FAVORITE HORSE MOMENTS:
The Santa Fe Summer Series offers 3 photographers on site for purchasing and perusing through show photography. You can find their images on the links below:
Sharon McElvain Photography sharonmcelvain.com
Mary Neiberg Photography maryneiberg.com
Jerry Mohme Photography jerrymohmephotography.com