Traci: Derby Night

I just finished proofreading our upcoming November article on the USHJA Hunter Derby Finals and it reminded me of the night my friend Stephanie and I watched the Derby. I’ve never been a big fan of watching sports on TV. Maybe it’s because I grew up in Cleveland, Ohio – home of some of the best fans but, ahem, not the greatest sports teams. As a teenager, I can remember hearing my parents and brothers yelling and cheering as the Browns or the Indians scored?but more often than not, they grew quiet as the game wore on and our team lost. I think the most excited I ever got about football was in 1980, when the Cleveland Browns became known as the “Kardiac Kids” because of their habit of winning games in the final seconds. So when Stephanie and I were invited to a party on the night of the Derby, I wasn’t in a quandary about whether to go to the party or watch the Derby, but Steph was. Her friend, Susan Baker, had a horse named Tell All that was scheduled to be ridden by her trainer, Peter Pletcher. Unfortunately, Pletcher pulled out due to a back injury, but Susan, an amateur rider, had bravely decided to ride Tell All in the Derby herself. So, shortly after our arrival, Stephanie deftly snuck her laptop into a quiet area, we grabbed a few beers and pulled up the USEF Network live feed. Now I know how guys feel when they sneak away to watch the football game. The unique, farm-like course design and beautiful horses were mesmerizing enough, but I loved the rider-supportive commentary and was so excited for Susan. She ended up with a 14th place finish which just put her out of the final round, but it was still a job very well done and she was awarded Top Amateur Rider. Young Lillie Keenan, who beat out 59 of the country’s top hunter riders (including her coach Patricia Griffith) to win the Derby, made it all that much more exciting to watch. Thanks to USEF Network, I’ve definitely become a fan. Steph and I are already trying to figure out how to hook the laptop up to the TV and we’re thinking that maybe next year we’ll have a Hunter Derby party so we won’t have to hide in the corner.

Steph and I making a brief appearance at the party before the Derby started
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