If there was an aviation pilot’s logbook for DFG Stables’ Daniel Geitner and Ann Ritter’s Jumbo Jet, it would be voluminous and impressive.
The rider/horse combination continued their winning ways this spring at the Foothills Equestrian Nature Center in Tryon, N.C., and the Aiken-based rider and 13-year-old Warmblood gelding have been nothing short of sensational, winning the grand prix classes in consecutive weeks.
“They were very fast classes,” said Geitner, who earned blue ribbon honors in the $10,000 EMO Jumper Classic. “That’s his specialty.”
The 16.1 hands gelding not only demonstrates his celerity in the show ring, but is extremely careful. Geitner and Jumbo Jet went double clean the first week, having to contest the jump-off against a strong contingent of riders. The course was designed by Aiken resident J.P. Godard.
“He was great the first week, and we had a great draw, and went last,” said Geitner. “We knew we had to go very fast. It was very quick, and everyone kept going faster and faster.”
The rider/horse combination had to eclipse the time eatablished by David O’Brien and Hollow Creek Farm’s Varius Van St. Anneke.
“He went right before me,” said Geitner. “He went real quick, so I knew I had to beat him.”
Doug Russell designed the course for the second week, and although fewer riders went clean during the first round of the following week’s event, there was enough competition qualifying for the short course.
“It went fast, but not crazy fast,” said Geitner.
The bay Warmblood gelding has a pugilistic spirit, and an indomitable will when in the grand prix show ring. Jumbo Jet seems to possess an intuitive quality.
“He’s such a fighter,” said Geitner. “He wants to go fast and to win. He knows when it’s important when he has the braids in.”
A strong bond between the rider and horse has yielded optimal results. Geitner has been riding Jumbo Jet on-an-off for the past four years. However, it’s not only their understanding of one another, but a thoughtful routine prior to competing.
“Before the practice classes, I won’t jump big in the schooling areas,” said Geitner. “And before the grand prix, I’ll jump one big jump in the schooling area, just to remind him that we’re doing a big class. He knows his game so well. He’s just a neat horse.”
The rider/horse combination are returning this weekend to the site of their previous success, and will be doing the 1.40 meter class at Tryon.
“That’s easy for him,” said Geitner.
Jumbo Jet has had a busy spring, and will take a respite from competition, getting an opportunituy to jog in the woods.
“He’s real fresh and excited about his job,” said Geitner. “His owner is off to law school, so she doesn’t get to ride him quite as much as she wants. So, it’s lucky for me. I get to ride him and have fun with him.”
However, there’s a lot of depth in the DFG Stables barn, and a strong group of hunters are currently in work.
“We have a bunch of young ones and pre-green horses that I bought in Europe this winter,” said Geitner. “A couple of them I’ve sold, but I’ve been able to keep riding. So, that’s nice. Most of them are pre-green horses.”
Several of the show hunters have qualified for the United States Hunter Jumper Association pre-green incentive program this summer in Kentucky. Ava, a horse Geitner purchased in Europe, is among the horses he will probably take to Lexington.
“This is the first year we’re doing that,” said Geitner. “I’m really excited. We’ll be going in August. I think we have a few with good shots. It’s probably going to be $125,000 at least in prize money, which is just fabulous for pre-green horses.”
Geitner won the $2,500 USHJA National Hunter Derby at the Tryon Summer Classic while riding Elizabeth Tarumianz’s Holsteiner Contemporary.
The rider would place second with Lindsey Rigby’s Calypso in the class. The Holsteiner gelding was also among the horses Geitner purchased this winter in Europe, but sold and kept the ride on. Calypso is among the candidates under consideration for Kentucky.
“There are possibly two others,” said Geitner. “I’m going to show them in Tryon and Blowing Rock, and if we feel like they’re ready, we’ll take them also.”
A busy summer schedule finds Geitner heading to Tryon this weekend, having two weeks off, and then spending two weeks at the Blowing Rock Charity Horse Show before going to Kentucky. Geitner credits his wife Cathy, who is also a professional, and a strong support staff in making sure the barn runs smoothly when the Geitners are on the road. Organization and communication are the keys to success, he said.
“We all talk on the phone everyday, even at home, and find out what’s happening,” said Geitner. “Organization is the biggest thing, and making sure things are written down. It’s a challenge. I think the biggest thing as with any large operation is that you have to be able to delegate authority.”
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