Morgan Parasher and Pendleton Top $10,000 USHJA National Hunter Derby at Lamplight Equifest I

Wayne, Ill. – July 29, 2023 – Spectators gathered at the Douglas Elliman Grand Prix Ring on Sunday afternoon to watch 17 horse and rider combinations vie for the winning honors in the $10,000 USHJA National Hunter Derby at HITS Chicago. Morgan Parasher and Pendleton captured the attention of the judges as soon as they stepped in the ring, and with two flawless rounds they earned impressive scores of 94 and 96 to take home the winning title.

Morgan Parasher and Pendleton

“Pendleton is an 8 year old warmblood gelding owned by Kathy Chiaf,” explained Jennifer Alfano, Pendleton’s trainer, “I got hurt last week, so my good friend, Morgan here, came to save the day! I called her on my way to the hospital and Morgan literally jumped in her car and came here to help without hesitation. So she’s been riding a good bit of my horses even after her break and has really done such an amazing job.”

Morgan Parasher and Pendleton

The competition kicked off with the classic round designed by Dean Bataglia, which featured twelve obstacles on a large track, four high options and a couple bending lines. The top 12 returned for the handy round, where a trot fence was introduced in addition to four rollbacks and various inside turns to provide exhibitors the opportunity to showcase their mounts handiness before hand galloping the final oxer.

Kathy Chiaf and Pendleton earned a score of 94 in the first round, leading by just one point in the handy round. Pendleton was brilliant over each fence and topped the standings once again with a score of 96 and winning total of 190. Kat Barkema and Cascadel took home the second-place award, earning a first round score of 90 and a handy round of 85 for a total combined score of 175. Barkema also respectively garnered the third place prize with her second mount, Vex Freedom, after earning a total score of 165.

Kat Barkema and Cascadel

“Pendleton is a pretty straightforward horse, he always gives you a great jump and loves his job. His owner does him in the amateurs and does great with him. He’s got enough miles and experience that you can really count on him. He's truly just a brilliant horse.” Alfonso stated.

Being Parasher’s first time at the Lamplight Equestrian Center, she admired her experience at the showgrounds, “I loved being here this week, everything about this venue is just wonderful, the footing is great, the courses have been brilliant, the landscaping is stunning, and it’s always a plus that there’s an outdoor bar near the barns!”

Competition during the Lamplight Equifest I will continue throughout the weekend as part of the HITS Chicago Series. Sunday will host the highlight event, the $50,000 John Deere Grand Prix, and next week on Saturday, HITS Chicago will host the USHJA $25,000 International Hunter Derby.

Kat Barkema and Vex Freedom