Karrie Rufer Raises Her Glass in $50,000 National Grand Prix
Karrie Rufer has known for quite some time that she had a special horse on her hands with Stern Dei Folletti. Now, with several grand prix and FEI wins under their belts, the rest of the world knows it too. Saturday afternoon, she and the Morning Star Sporthorses-owned 12-year-old Holsteiner gelding (Toulon x Berlin) added another victory, topping the extremely competitive $50,000 Pyranha National Grand Prix.
In the middle of a seven-horse jump-off over Joey Rycroft’s track, Rufer knew the pace had been set at a quick pace by Kyle King, but she also had faith in Stern Dei Folletti. She blazed to a time of 41.752 seconds, leaving the rest of the field to catch her. Mark Kinsella and Ben Asselin’s Quality H came very close, clocking in at 42.001 seconds, ultimately taking second place. King ended up third with SIG International’s SIG Chiari.
“With that horse, you have to find a good [distance] to the first jump with a nice rhythm and balance and then you follow his lead,” Rufer said of her jump-off strategy with Stern Dei Folletti. “He doesn’t ever want to slow down. It’s really just using his pace and his stride to make up the time in the turns and in the long gallops. The gallop down to the double today was a long ways away. You had to land, gallop, and trust. Luckily we found it really nicely and he backed up beautifully for me. I was very proud of him.”
The partnership has been years in the making, but the wins are coming in spades recently, proving her efforts and patience have been worthwhile. “He knows what jump-offs are,” Rufer continued. “He’s very smart about that. I’ve never had a horse that good at understanding the job in a jump-off. He’ll do everything in his power to miss the jumps to help me out. Feeling that fight is an incredible feeling. I have had him for six years and he’s just gotten better and better. It’s fun to have days like this where it all goes right.”
Rufer, an amateur rider, admits the horse’s progression was a team effort with many key players.
“I wish I could take all the credit; I had some great help along the way,” she shared. “In Europe I had Eoin McMahon (IRL) help and start him as a 7-year-old, I had Enrique Gonzales (MEX) who rode him as a young horse, and Mark Kinsella (IRL) actually had him for a little bit and taught him the flatwork and adjustability. It was a huge group effort and it took a lot of patience.”