Santa Fe Summer 2019 Fiesta Week

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If you don’t like the summer heat and humidity in the mid-south, where do you go to horse show? Michael Tokaruk traveled all the way to Santa Fe, New Mexico to the HIPICO Santa Fe equestrian facility for a week of their Summer Series. The shows ran from July 17-August 11, 2019, but Tokaruk was there for Fiesta Week, July 31 – August 4. The weather was rather comfortable, compared with the Memphis area, with highs in the mid-to-low 80s and lows around 60 degrees and much lower humidity.

Tokaruk was plenty busy at the show, too, with 39 classes to ride in, placing in 26 of them, and taking home over $6,000 in prize money. Two of the hallmarks of his week of showing were winning the $1,000 Professional Equitation class with Vulkano’s Boy and winning the $10,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby, both Handy & Overall, aboard his black horse Trademark Darmanville.

Find more information about the show at 
Michael Tokaruk & Vulkano’s Boy Win Professional Equitation Class

By Madeline Skrak

In the Santa Fe Summer Series’ second annual $1,000 Professional Equitation Class, Michael Tokaruk of Tokaruk Show Stables in Collierville, Tennessee took home the blue ribbon, thanks to his textbook correct equitation skills in a field of seven competitive entries Thursday evening August 1, 2019. As the professionals battled it out in the New Mexico heat, they had to reach back into their equitation skill set from past junior riding careers.

Skip Bailey’s course tested the professionals with a bounce, trot jump, hand gallop, and lots of options to demonstrate savvy turns. As the flat class commenced, there were joked remarks about “sitting up for the first time in years” and “I forgot how painful this was!” The judge challenged the professionals by asking them to perform the sitting trot into a counter canter, lengthening of stride at the trot, and several sitting trots.

Tokaruk delivered an expertly smooth ride aboard Vulkano's Boy, earning the pair a score of 87 over fences. He took every inside turning option, glided across the bounce, and boasted a bold hand gallop. “When I was a junior, I did the equitation division, went to Finals and took it quite seriously. I’m a product of it. It’s fun as a professional to do this type of class. Today I tried to sit up, which isn’t as easy as it used to be. The judges drilled us for sure! I’m just glad they let us keep our stirrups!” said Tokaruk, who is competing at HIPICO Santa Fe for the first time.

 Tokaruk is an advocate for equitation and understands the importance of learning this style of riding, “The goal is to promote good riding, good fundamentals, good position, and hopefully, those skills will be carried to the hunter or jumper rings. I was a good example of that today! Equitation gives you the basics of proper position and teaches you to ride courses that way. I try not to teach students to be stiff or to artificially pose. I want them to be natural and have ‘feel’ and do things with their position as a rider that make their horses jump better. Hopefully the form follows function!”

 Tokaruk was presented with a bucket of Senior by Triple Crown, which “Piano” proceeded to knock over and then munch on during the awards presentation! The professional profusely thanked Triple Crown Feed for sponsoring, “It's wonderful that Triple Crown sponsored the class. They make some great feed.  I'm very grateful that they are here supporting the show and supporting us trainers who are trying to equitate out there.”

Triple Crown Feed representative Mandi Wilkins was just excited about the sponsorship of the class, “We chose to sponsor this class because it’s fun and inspires great competition. Triple Crown is an elite feed, this is an elite sport, and these are elite athletes. We want to feed them to the best of their ability, so they can go on and do what they were meant to do!"

Congratulations to Michael Tokaruk on his victory, who proved that he “practices what he preaches” in the equitation arena!

Kelley Buringa and Yahtzee were second and Matt Cyphert on MTM Cashew were third.
Michael Tokaruk and Trademark Darmanville Win $10,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby

By Madeline Skrak

Michael Tokaruk and Trademark Darmanville were one-for-one in their $10,000 USHJA International Derby debut! Friday morning August 2, 2019, Tokaruk guided Trademark Darmanville or “Trio” over the horse’s first derby course to date. The gelding effortlessly cleared each fence, showing off his conventional beauty and scope. In a field of 19 entries, Mindy Coretz won the classic round of the class aboard Happy Hour, and Tokaruk won the handy round on his first of two entries in the class. Tokaruk won the entire class by just half a point, sending Coretz into second place, followed by Natalee Haggan on MTM Here’s 2 You and Kelley Buringa on Udarko.

In the handy round, Coretz received a 96.5 and 90 (186.5) and Tokaruk received a 96 and 100 (196) from two panels of judges. Skip Bailey presented a complex handy course, which involved the return of the “Santa Fe Star,” incorporating any combination of two of four total hay bales presented in a star formation, followed by a railroad tie jump in the middle of the complex. 

Tokaruk was thrilled with Trio’s performance in the horse’s first derby, but isn’t surprised that his athletic derby partner, owned by Maple Ridge Investments, LLC., excelled in the class. “I’ve jumped him in Grand Prix classes. I’ve done everything I could in the jumper ring and thought I’d try the derbies. He is brave, has tons of stride and jump, and doesn’t scare about spooky jumps or scary handy elements. I had confidence in his bravery and knew we had to give it a shot. Mindy’s horse is spectacular and was ahead in the first round, so I had to do something to catch up.” Tokaruk’s smooth trot jump, dramatic hand gallop, calculated inside turns, difficult track through the Santa Fe Star, and breathtaking air-time sealed him the win. 

It was a beautiful and breezy morning on the derby field and Tokaruk finished his interview saying, “You’re only as good as your horse. I’m grateful that wonderful people have sent me their horses to train, show, and sell. This is about as fun a hunter derby as it can get—in a beautiful field, over beautiful jumps, on a pretty morning. How lucky are we for doing this!?”

Tokaruk’s other mount, Vulkano’s Boy, placed sixth.

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