A-Circuit equestrian Melissa Rudershausen, a well-known Thoroughbred advocate and head of DoubleRock Thoroughbred Rescue, clinched the reserve championship in the Jumper Amateur Owner National Championships last week aboard half-Thoroughbred mount, Gunner.
Racing against the clock in jumper competitions that drew approximately 300 competitors to the January-to-November show season, the pair was “fast, very fast” across the jumps, excelling in jump-offs, and covering ground very well, says Rudershausen, noting that she credits her mount’s speed, agility and heart to his mother Usta Could’s Thoroughbred line.
“His Mom only won $57 on the track, but she was a great broodmare who produced a lot of really good jumpers,” Rudershausen says.
Throughout the nail-biter competition that placed her and Gunner within striking distance of winning the championship, the pair dazzled at several competitions, including a romp at the Hampton Horse Show in the Hamptons, where they matched wits and won ribbons against 70 other competitors.
After competing up and down the East Coast, traveling as far north as Vermont and south to Florida, the pair took home 2nd, 6th and 10th in the National Horse Show in Kentucky and the Atlanta Fall Classic 1 and 2, respectively, s he says.
“There was a lot of pressure, and I really thought I had it won, but we had a rail down in the last class,” she says.
In addition to winning the Reserve Championship, she and Gunner won Championship in Zone 2, which includes Pennsylvania, New York and New Jersey, and were also named Show Jumping Hall of Fame Amateur Champion for the Year.
Legendary trainer and judge George Morris presented her with the Hall of Fame trophy at a gala Nov. 2 after the National Horse Show, she added.
Although Gunner isn’t full Thoroughbred, Rudershausen credits the blood from his mother’s side of his lines with giving him an edge against other teams.
“He’s got more blood than more of the horses I’m showing against. He’s hotter on the ground, with what I describe as enthusiastic energy; he’s a horse who just loves his job.
“And he’s fast! He’s fast across the ground and fast across the fences. That comes from the TB side of him.”
When she and Gunner aren’t in the thick of competition, Rudershausen spends her time at her Florida-based Thoroughbred charity, DoubleRock Thoroughbred Rescue. She rescues and retrains ex-racehorses; some pulled from kill pens, and prepares them for new careers.