Laura Mayfield Gerst of Windy Hill Equestrian, Larry Mayfield’s daughter and close family members selected Menlo Charity Horse Show to host an annual event in his memory. Larry had been an exhibitor at MCHS since the early days, so making the decision to honor his memory was an easy one for the family, due to Larry’s love for this iconic show. In fact three generations of this equestrian family have consistently participated in and attended MCHS; Larry himself, his daughter Laura and granddaughter Natalie.
The Horse & Hound Classic is a jumping relay race in which the fastest time for the combined Horse & Hound course completion wins. A team of four, consisting of horse and rider plus hound and handler complete a course of jumps; first the horse and rider jump seven jumps on course, they then quickly dismount and race to touch the hand of the hound handler who then races off with their hound to finish the course on foot over a set of smaller dog sized jumps. Each team in turn complete the course with penalty points for a knock down or refusal, the fastest time wins. “The idea was all Maja’s,” explained Laura. “I was in Sweden, my parents lived in Sweden,” continued Maja. “I was watching the Stockholm Horse Show on TV and it was the Horse & Hound Class; I thought, someone needs to do this class at a horse show, it was so funny, with one rider even picking up the dog to carry it over the jumps. The crowd loved it.”
Windy Hill Equestrian is more than a Sponsor of the classic, As a family orientated barn their team spirit is contagious, whether competing in the class or cheering on their teammates. “Our assistant Dakoda Mower is competing on Cool Cristal, they were third last year, he can be fast so they are a strong team. Madeline Panaccione and Winston are partnered with my daughter Natalie and our dog Scooter, who has competed for four years now.” Laura shared.
The Horse & Hound is a great class and only a 1.20m, so Juniors and Amateurs can take part, while family and friends can do the ‘Hound’ leg of the relay. “It’s nice to have the team and camaraderie aspect, everyone plays a role.” Laura explained, “The grooms play a huge part, they have to catch and calm the horse, as the riders launch themselves from their horses to tag the dog handler, a very entertaining part of the class. The event is really fun and low key, big dogs and little dogs, children and adults, we love the event.”
Laura shared some of her memories of years gone by. “One year Scooter (Laura’s dog) got loose and ran into the VIP tent. I even remember Hugh Mutch doing an acrobatic flip after leaping from his horse and Robert Blanchette, defending champion, jumping a dog jump in the victory gallop.”
Windy Hill Equestrian has changed over the 21 years they have been in business, attracting more children as Laura herself had a family. The barn is very much family orientated and they have a lesson program, you can literally start your riding career and finish it all at Windy Hill Equestrian. Laura explained a little about the barn and her team. “We have 12 horses here at Menlo Charity Horse Show and another 33 at home. Dakoda and Maja came here, while I continued to work at home in Los Altos Hills, we will all swap about to make attending the show work for us all. We have a really good team, John, Dakoda, Maja and I have worked together now for 6 years. When we are away at shows John Wohr is at the barn, I don’t even have to call home, he takes care of everything.”
Thirteen teams raced around the course this year; the winners being Robert Blanchette and Kashmir, the very same partnership as in 2016, however, Hello Kitty has had a name change to Kashmir. This year Nicolas and Star were the partners on the dog section.
“I am thrilled with the win” Robert exclaimed “Second year in a row on the same great horse, I want thank the owner, Courtney Pacheco for letting me ride. It was Nicolas and Star who really made it happen this year their time was fantastic. This is a wonderful event, excellent fun.”
“Star is six years old and really fast, we bred her ourselves.” Nicolas explained, “I competed three years ago and tried it again today, I will definitely try again next year.
2018 will be a fun one to watch as Robert attempts three wins in a row.