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Skidmore's Saratoga Classic adds international hunter derby

June 16, 2010

Skidmore's Saratoga Classic adds international hunter derby

A prestigious international equestrian event on June 19 promises to add a new dimension to the popular annual Skidmore College Saratoga Classic Horse Show.

HunterNew this year is a United States Horse Jumping Association (USHJA) International Hunter Derby. The high-level competition will be punctuated with entertainment by Albany-based rockabilly band the Lustre Kings. It all starts at 5 p.m. at the Horse Show Grounds on Union Avenue across from the Saratoga Race Course. Food will be available. The event is free and open to the public.

As a qualifying event for the 2011 USHJA International Hunter Derby Finals, the derby is a coup for the Saratoga show. "Historically, competitions that host the International Hunter Derby see an increase in the number of entries at their horse show," explains USHJA Director of Programs and Education Melanie Fransen, adding that the derbies draw "the best of the best?those trying to qualify for the $100,000 prize money that is offered at the finals." The Saratoga Classic event will offer a purse of $10,000.

The International Hunter Derby series was developed to bring what the USHJA describes as the lost art of tradition and horsemanship back to the show ring, through the use of challenging courses featuring obstacles "reminiscent of the hunt field" such as stone walls, post and rail, white board fence or gate, hedge, and natural foliage. "It goes back to the root of our sport," says Hunter Messineo, a member of the USHJA High Performance Hunter Committee and associate publisher of the organization's magazine In Stride. That, says Messineo, makes it a perfect fit with the Saratoga Classic, "a horse show with roots that go back to the 1920s."

The competition will follow strict USHJA specifications, with a judging system that rewards great jumping, athletic ability, and bold hunter riding. It promises excitement for seasoned equestrian enthusiasts and newcomers alike. "It's an exciting class to watch," says Messineo, "and the venue in Saratoga is a perfect place to show off these horses and riders. Whether you know a lot or a little about horses, you can't help but get excited watching the derby and the strategies used by each rider to try to bring home a piece of the $10,000 prize money."

The Skidmore College Saratoga Classic Horse Show

The derby is a new feature for the annual Skidmore College Saratoga Classic Horse Show, which this year runs June 15-20 and June 23-27 at the Horse Show Grounds on Union Avenue. The entire show is open to the public free of charge.

Proceeds go directly toward scholarship awards for students who otherwise would not have the resources to attend Skidmore College. The show has raised more than $2.8 million in the last decade.

The show, inaugurated in 1927 and brought back to life in 1998, is a highlight of the early summer season in Saratoga Springs. This top-level historic competition is anationally recognized United States Equestrian Federation sanctioned event and a World Championship Hunter Rider event , attracting many of the country's best horses and riders. The schedule includes numerous events in hunter, jumper, and equitation classes, for riders ranging from children to adult.

Parking for the International Hunter Derby is available free of charge.For more information , call 518-580-5633, or go to

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