Rumba, owned by Tom and Stacey Siebel of Woodside, and ridden by John French made history this past August by winning the Inaugural $100,000 ASG Software Solutions/USHJA International Hunter Derby Final in Lexington, Kentucky. Hunter derby classes focus the sport back on its field hunting roots with substantial jumps of up to 4’ that simulate obstacles one might encounter jumping through fields: stone walls, hedges and piles of logs. The courses offer options which give the rider a chance utilize strategy. The judges reward for bravery, brilliance and scope.
The two days of competition for the Hunter Derby Final featured the top 75 horses who qualified for the event over an 18 month, 48 event qualifying period. These included some of the best horses and riders in the world. Fifty of these horses were eliminated on the first day of competition.
A dazzling nine year old grey, Rumba is a Danish Warmblood ridden by top International Hunter/Jumper rider, John French. John is a man with a long list of equestrian accomplishments including a Silver Medal at the 2004 World Cup Finals hunter competition. When asked about Rumba’s derby abilities, French said “he is very adjustable and is happy to have courses that ask more of his scope, range and handiness.” Stacey Siebel feels he’s one of those very rare horses who knows when to turn it on. He has a big personality and tries his best when it means the most. In the Final, when John and Rumba were awarded the full set of 10 points (a perfect score) from one panel and 9 points from the other three panels, the stadium absolutely erupted. French was quoted later as saying “I don’t think I’ve ever been to a show where I really felt the audience in love with one particular horse. It’s very special.” George Morris, Chef d’Equipe of the USA Olympic Team said: “He’s a fabulous jumper and a beautiful mover and was magnificently ridden. What else can you say?”
The Siebels are putting finishing touches on their state of the art horse facility in central Woodside, Mountain Home Stables. Stacey credits Woodside’s horse friendly zoning for enabling them to build a covered arena which allows for year round training. This, in conjunction with the unique trail system that runs throughout Woodside helps to give her horses an edge in the show ring. As she says, an occasional trail ride gives show horses a much needed chance to clear their minds. WHOA wishes the Siebel family, Rumba and John French the best of luck with their upcoming show season.