Wellington, FL – March 29, 2014 – Deborah Perkins of Wellington, FL, and her 13-year-old Warmblood gelding La Fayette ended their 2014 FTI Consulting Winter Equestrian Festival (FTI WEF) season on a high note, earning the division championship in the Hunt Ltd Amateur-Owner Hunters Over 35 division. The pair won both over fences classes on day two of the division after finishing second to reserve champion Castle Walk in both over fences rounds on day one. Castle Walk, owned by Richard Prant and ridden by Nancy Hooker, was fifth and third over fences on day two and also placed second in the flat. Hooker and Castle Walk finished just behind La Fayette and Perkins, who edged them out by just one point. The jumper classes that were scheduled for Saturday night were unfortunately postponed until Sunday due to inclement weather. 

Competition in the International Arena will begin at 8 a.m. with the $10,000 Sleepy P Ranch High Junior Jumper Classic.

The $100,000 Suncast® 1.50m Championship Jumper Series Final Second Round will start at approximately 11 a.m.

The $500,000 FTI Consulting Finale Grand Prix CSI 5* will start approximately 1:30 p.m.

The $50,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby has been moved from the derby field at The Stadium to the E.R. Mische Grand Hunter Ring and will start at approximately1:30 p.m.

Please visit http://showgroundslive.com/esp/showschedule/List/showid/15721/date/2014-03-30 for the full show schedule.

Both the Suncast 1.50m and FTI Consulting Finale Grand Prix events will still be live streamed at the following link:


Although the feature jumper events were postponed on Saturday night, hunter competition was held throughout the day at PBIEC, as Deborah Perkins and La Fayette earned the Hunt Ltd Amateur-Owner Hunters Over 35 division championship. , who trains with Havens Schatt and Fred Commissaire, has owned La Fayette for six years. For the last three, Perkins has trained with Schatt and Commissaire and noticed marked improvement under their careful direction. More recently, some tweaks in her position on course has made a big difference in their results.

Deborah Perkins and La Fayette

Deborah Perkins and La Fayette

“He’s just getting older and better. He’s such a good boy, he really is. I’m changing a few things about my riding, and he’s adjusting nicely. It’s taken a little bit [of time], but we did well. All the communication is working really well, so we’re really pleased. It’s a great way to end it,” Perkins noted.

Perkins noted that La Fayette has always been a bit of a perfectionist in the ring, which is one of the gelding’s many characteristics that make the pair a good fit.

“He’s always has been a trier. In fact, sometimes he gets upset when he doesn’t do it well. We’re both a little bit like that! Sometimes that can work against you. He gets mad at himself if he hits one, then I’m a little upset with myself if I do something wrong. But we’re both really growing together even more, which is kind of amazing at this point in both of our lives!” Perkins smiled.

She continued, “I have a group of younger ones. La Fayette tries really hard, and he’s a little bit of a perfectionist, so sometimes that gets in the way a little bit. I think the other ones are a little more forgiving, but only because La Fayette likes to be right!”

Perkins admitted that she enjoyed having just one horse to show this week; Schatt has shared the ride with her on younger mounts Kaepernick, High Time, and Set to Music throughout the circuit. For Perkins, week twelve allowed her to simply appreciate her long-time partner.

“[The young ones are] just exhausting!” Perkins laughed. “Even though I constantly have to focus on La Fatyette’s canter, at least we’ve been together long enough that we know each other. Fred says we’re like an old couple!”

La Fayette doesn’t naturally possess the metronome-like canter that many show hunters do, and Perkins acknowledged she has to mainly focus on keeping him balanced and correct. La Fayette has a natural jumping talent.

“His jump is always so cute. You can put anywhere, as long as his canter is correct, he can make a nice jump. That’s what we’ve really worked on this year, trying to keep his canter [well-balanced]. You have to keep creating that for him. But his jump is always there,” Perkins shared.

Perkins liked that about La Fayette from the day she first tried him, and it helps that she found him to be her ideal size. At home, La Fayette is just as well-mannered as he is in the ring – unless it’s dinner time.

“He’s a food hound!” Perkins laughed. “He flips his bucket and everything and he’s very verbal about food. [Other than that,] he’s a perfect gentleman. I trail ride him. He’s very polite. He doesn’t ever act like an idiot. He’s too smart!”

Deborah Perkins and La Fayette in their championship presentation with ringmaster Gustavo Murcia

Deborah Perkins and La Fayette in their championship presentation with ringmaster Gustavo Murcia

Following the amateur-owner hunter divisions, the first round of the $50,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby was held in the E.R. Mische Grand Hunter Arena. The top 25 riders from round one will advance to the final round on Sunday afternoon, hosted in the E.R. Mische Grand Hunter Ring on the Main Grounds of PBIEC.

Tara Metzner will return for the final round at the top of the order, receiving scores of 89 from both judges for her ride on Come Monday. With a bonus for taking one of the high options, Metzner earned four points to end round one on 182 points. Kelley Farmer currently sits second in the standings with Unspoken. The pair earned a 90 and 91 from the judges and a bonus of eight points for taking on the high options, for a collective first round score of 179. Molly Ashe-Cawley and Kennzo are ranked third going into Sunday’s final round for their scores of 83.5 and 86.5, plus eight bonus points for taking the high options.

The top ten horse and rider pairs after round one of the $50,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby are as follows: Mayfair and Sandra Ferrell (177 points), Walk This Way and Christopher Payne (174 points), Generous and David Oliynyk (173.75 points), Friday Night and Kate Ross (172 points), Calentino and David Biesel (171 points), Poker Face and Jennifer Bliss (169 points), and Patricia Griffith and Verona (166.75 points).

Equitation riders will also be hoping to end their season on a high note on Sunday morning, with the Beval Palm Beach Adult Medal Finals in the Rost Arena on the Main Grounds of PBIEC. The final round of the $50,000 USHJA Hunter Derby will begin at 1:00 p.m. in the E.R. Mische Arena of the Main Grand at PBIEC.For full results, please visit www.showgroundslive.com.

Photo Credit: Photos © Sportfot, An Official Photographer of the FTI Consulting Winter Equestrian Festival, us.sportfot.com. This photo may be used only in relation to this press release and must include photo credit.