By Tammy Chipko
I was privledged to interview one of the West Coast’s – actually the Nation’s – most renowned show jumping riders, Susie Hutchison.
Susie Hutchison is not only an icon of the show jumping world, but a truly charming person and an outstanding horseman. Her impressive show jumping accomplishments include winning Leading West Coast Rider and American Grand Prix Association Rider of the Year, competing as a member of both the United States Equestrian Team and the World Championship Team in The Hague, and riding in four World Cup Finals.
Among the names of her famous horses are Samsung Woodstock, ASAP, High Heels, Bugs Bunny and America I. She has won five cars competing over the years.
Some years ago, Susie was helping Marybeth Molt and teaching clinics in the Temecula area. When Marybeth heard Susie was looking to make a change of location, she offered her a 20-stall barn on 20 acres. It is a beautiful facility very close to Galloway Downs with riding trails and grass paddocks. Susie has run her full service training operation from Temecula for six years now. “I could not be happier!” Susie exclaimed, “We all get along great and I bought a house eight miles from the barn.”
Speaking highly of the two assistants who help her both at home and at shows, Susie said, “Britt Harley does a fabulous job with the young horses as well as with the equitation horses and riders. J.K. Williams works part time and covers things at home when I am on the road. Both girls are great and I am lucky to have them!”
El Dorado 29’s Cantano
I noted that she had recently won some big classes with a horse named Cantano and asked Susie to tell us a little bit about this wonderful horse that looks to be on his way to a very successful career.
Imported as a stallion by a client of Sandy Aston’s, Cantano was started in the 1.00m classes. Sandy and his owner at the time asked Susie to ride Cantano in the six-year-old division of the west coast Young Jumper Finals and she accepted. Sandy, also a renowned horsewoman who has recognized and trained many a talented horse and rider, could see the potential of this pair and decided to ask the Iversons to purchase the young stallion for Susie to ride. Jim and Pat Iverson of El Dorado 29 have been involved in equestrian sport for many years. They also owned Southshore, a top Grand Prix horse piloted by Richard Spooner some years ago.
Since moving to Temecula, Susie has had the privilege of working with Sandy. With Susie as rider and Sandy as groundperson and consultant, this team has achieved success on horses for The Oaks, Jenny McLaughlin, Susie’s private clients and now the Iversons. “Sandy is an invaluable part of the team,” Susie said.
In less than two years, now eight years old, Cantano has advanced from the 1.00m to 1.45m.
Big Wins (and some lessons along the way)
Cantano did his first 1.45 m class at the Oaks Spring Classic II and handled it beautifully so they decided to give the Grand Prix a shot. Susie beamed, “He was fabulous and won the class!” Next stop on the mileage trail was Del Mar, always a good place to give a young horse experience in the indoor arena under the lights. In the night class, Cantano stopped at the liverpool jump, where there as a glaring reflection in the water from the lights. “I felt like saying to him, ‘Sorry, that startled me too!’’ In the next big class Susie made a rider error that caused a little problem at the skinny. By Saturday at Del Mar Susie and Cantano were in sync and won the $7,500 Open Jumper Class.
“This is how I think it will go with him for now – we will bounce back and forth a little between classes and he will let us know when to step up or step down. He is fun to ride and he loves the jump-offs. I am ecstatic since I have not had a horse in a while that wants to play the game like this. If he gets himself into a little trouble or to a place that I would rather not be, it’s like he says, ‘Don’t worry – I got it!’”
Susie’s future goals with him, of course, will depend on how things go, but she would like to compete in the eight year old finals and the Grand Prix series at Oaks-Blenheim this summer. “Maybe next year we’ll try to qualify for the Las Vegas Grand Prix and the year after that, the World Cup Finals. No matter what, I am having a wonderful time. It is fun to have a new jumper with these great characteristics. He is a cross between America I and Woodstock – it doesn’t get much better than that!”
Susie’s enthusiasm is contagious, you can feel the positive energy she exudes about this horse. Of course we would all love to see Susie and Cantano at the World Cup Finals, so we’ll keep an eye out and wish you both all the best!