As they say, if you build it, they will come. Over a decade ago, Jeff Brandmaier had the vision to expand the Knightwood Hunter Derby (a class in honour of his wife Muffie Guthrie’s mother Lorna – a formidable horsewoman herself) into a national series. The classes are a welcome throwback to the old days of hunters where the classes were more exciting than ‘around the ring and across the diagonal’ and offer higher jumps for extra points, handy options, and fun tailgate parties.

Brandmaier, Guthrie and Cawthra Burns enlisted the help of show managers, rule makers and provincial federations coast-to-coast to produce and promote the class into the burgeoning series it is today spanning five provinces and offering hundreds of thousands of dollars in annual prize money and a National final at the Royal (2020 is the 10th anniversary).

The real influence of this series can be seen by the increasingly elevated level of horsepower being bred, developed and acquired in Canadian hunters today. This is the only class that sees juniors, amateurs and professionals competing on a level playing field (in Ontario that is usually over a course of beautiful jumps that Brandmaier himself has built).

The Jr/Am Derby (run at a lower height for developing riders and horses) is almost as heavily populated as the regular class which is open to all. A field of 50+ is not abnormal at many shows, often drawing bigger crowds than the Grand Prix!

Foreseeable Future

• Continue to build the sport in Canada by providing an opportunity for hunter riders to take center stage in a grand prix environment and showcase the high performance capabilities of horse and rider

• Focus on coast-to-coast participation to make the 10th anniversary of the Canadian Hunter Derby Series National Championships the best yet

• Strengthen the international component of the hunter derby community in Canada: International Hunter Derby showcase at the Royal

• Increase prize money

• Provincial derby championships and year-end recognition

• Expand the Canadian Hunter Derby Series organizing team

• Increase tailgaiting and overall fun

Mission Possible

• Hunter Derbies offered at all levels (eg., pony, masters)

• High-profile class at every horse show

• Increase prize money

• Strong international focus: destination for top North American Derby competitors, Canadian Hunter Derby riders competitive on the international stage

• Watch our kids galloping around a hunter derby!