The SBS Farms team members not only celebrated blue-ribbon results throughout the three-week Pin Oak Charity and Spring Gathering horse shows in Katy, Texas, but they also celebrated a triumphant return. Both Jennifer Alfano and Jersey Boy re-entered the show ring after injuries kept them sidelined for significant time periods.
The team had a fantastic first week at Pin Oak, March 22-26, at the Great Southwest Equestrian Center, with excellent placings. Alfano and Jersey Boy took home the championship in the 3’3” Performance Working Hunter section with two first-placed ribbons in the two classes they contested, scoring a 90 in the handy round.
"It’s amazing to be back on Lewis (Jersey Boy)," said Alfano. "I did two Pre-Green horses in the morning, and it was so fun to be back in the ring, but my knee was starting to hurt a bit. But having him at the end of the day, and to have him go like that after so long, was really cool.
"When I was going around the course, I was so happy that I’m sure I had a grin from ear-to-ear," she added. "And it was funny. Around the turn I looked in the schooling area, and every single person was standing still watching, and I was like, ‘Oh god! Come on Lewis!' I think he was really happy, and to have him back is so fun."
Alfano also credited her SBS Farms team for their support, from her injury in May at Devon until she was able to return to the show ring on Day No. 1 of the 72nd Pin Oak Charity Horse Show.
"My girls at the barn, Alicia Heberle and Abby Strohmeyer, have been amazing through this whole thing and not just with Lewis but with everything," she said. "Everyone at home, too, has stepped up and made this bearable for me. Everybody—Susie (Schoellkopf), Kristy (Herrera), all of my people and my owners who have waited. Everybody has gone out of their way to make this OK for me, and that really means a lot.”
Alfano and Jersey Boy continued their successful show ring comeback with a second-placed finish in the $15,000 USHJA National Hunter Derby during Pin Oak I.
Alfano also had good rides aboard Kathy Chiaf’s Kindred, taking second place in the USHJA Green Incentive and third in the Texas Super Stake as well as riding to first- and second-placef finishes in the 3’ Green Hunter division. She also placed well with another new mount, Sharon O’Neil’s Talladega in the 3’ Green Hunter section.
Kristy Herrera continued her success in the hunter derby ring for SBS Farms, coming off of a win in the $50,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby at the Deeridge Derby (Florida) with Candid. Herrera and Candid placed second in the $30,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby during Pin Oak I. Herrera and Helen Lenahan’s Miss Lucy placed sixth.
SBS Farms' winning ways in the hunter divisions continued during Week I as Texas-based professional Peter Pletcher piloted Helen Lenahan’s Girl Crush to the championship in the 3’6” Green Hunter section, with a clean sweep and first place in every class.
SBS Farms' Assistant Trainer Alicia Heberle was in the ribbons in the 3’6” Green Hunter section aboard Jennifer Alfano’s Kensi and Kathy Chiaf’s Silver Lining.
Chiaf took the reins and piloted her own Silver Lining and Sweetwater to multiple ribbons in the Adult Amateur, 50 & Over division including second and third place finishes with Sweetwater over fences and third and fourth place finishes with Silver Lining.
Week II of Pin Oak brought even more accolades as Alfano and Jersey Boy topped the $15,000 USHJA National Hunter Derby. “It’s amazing to be back on Lewis (Jersey Boy) and to have him go like that after so long was really cool,” said Alfano. "It was a nice course today. There were tight turns and places you could gallop, which made for a good course overall."
Jersey Boy, a 15-year-old Hanoverian gelding, is legendary in the Hunter show ring as a three-time USEF Horse of the Year (2009-2011) and winner of the 2012 USHJA International Hunter Derby Championship.
Herrera also had success Week II with Helen Lenahan’s Miss Lucy, placing aboard the Dutch Warmblood in the International Hunter Derby.
Chiaf rode her own Sweetwater, an 8-year-old Mecklenburg, to claim reserve championship honors in the Adult Amateur, 50 & Over Hunter secion. The pair placed first and third in the over fences portion, second in the handy and second in the stake. Chiaf also placed well with Silver Lining, earning ribbons in ever class.
Pletcher returned to the saddle for SBS, riding Chiaf’s Kindred to top honors and impressive paychecks in the 3’ Green Hunter Stake, the Texas Super Stake and the USHJA Green Hunter Incentive classes.
During their third week in the Lone Star State, the SBS Farms team maintained their winning streak, this time at the Spring Gathering Horse Show.
Herrera brought home the championship title in the Conformation Hunter section aboard Alfano’s Candid. The pair dominated the division, placing first in all of the over fences and under saddle classes and second in the handy class.
Herrera also found success in the 3’ Green Hunter division, claiming the reserve championship aboard Chiaf’s Kindred with first- and second-placed finishes in the over fences classes.
In the Adult Amateur, 50 & Over Hunter section, Chiaf piloted Silver Lining to the reserve championship. She also earned ribbons in the division aboard her own Sweetwater.
Alfano continued to prove she's back in winning form, by taking second in the $10,000 USHJA National Hunter Derby aboard Jersey Boy.
"He was great and super in the first round," said Alfano. "In the second round, my knee was bothering me. He won the first round and we ended up second overall. He was perfect. He needed a better rider in Round 2. I think he’s really happy and he feels great. I’m excited about that and to see where we go the rest of the year."
Alfano said moving forward she and Lewis will keep going in the show ring but take it slow. "'We're both still recovering," she said. "We'll play it by ear and see how he feels and how I feel and we'll go from there."
Although the Texas shows are a long way from Buffalo, New York, Alfano said that they're a permanent stop on the SBS Farms show schedule and have been for many years. "We love going there--it's a long way from home but so worth it," she said. "The shows are so nice and the people are so friendly and welcoming. We really enjoy going there, and we have a great time every year."