USHJA International Hunter Derby Course Designed by 13 Year Old

13 year-old Sarah Clifton Yandell of Memphis, TN was given the chance to design the course of the $10,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby at the recent Gulf Coast Winter Classic. Allen Rheinheimer, owner of Showtime Jump Company, LLC, came up with the idea to offer youth riders an education in course design.

Yandell is appreciative of the unique education Rheinheimer’s contest provided. “I learned designers have to do much more than set up jumps in the field. A lot of time goes into planning, measuring and working with the show’s schedule. After I won, the designers asked me to come to the show office right away and get started putting my courses into the computer program specially made for course designers. They introduced me to the exhibitors and people who were involved in the class. Mr. Rheinheimer and Mr. Rodes were so nice to me and included me in every part of the process.”

Sleeping on Wednesday evening was nearly impossible as Yandell counted the hours down for the next phase – making her design into a reality on the grass field. A normally eager and focused competitor, Yandell found herself watching clocks on Thursday as the two o’clock build time seemed to take “forever to arrive.” But when the time came, Yandell was every bit as hands on in the course build as Rheinheimer, Rodes, and Jewel. By four o’clock she was a bit awestruck by the reality of it all.

“We went out in the field during the walk-through for the exhibitors. We measured heights and put finishing touches on the fluff. They asked me about everything, right down to what kind of brush and if I wanted flowers on my jumps, what colors did I want to use. They included me in every part of the decision making. I couldn’t believe the course when it was done!” Yandell said.

For her efforts, Rheinheimer, owner of Showtime Jump Company, LLC, generously gifted Yandell with her choice of any obstacle on the Derby course. Just as she did with the course work, Yandell put in some serious considerations before deciding on a log jump, but feels the greater reward was the experience itself. “They (Rheinheimer, Rodes, and Jewel) were really nice to me and made me feel like I was an important part of the team. I will never forget having the opportunity to learn more about the other side of riding a hunter course and how much fun I had!” Yandell said.

Should a similar circumstance be offered at events in the future, Yandell clearly would jump at the chance again. “I had the best time ever!”

Bob Bell, co-chair of the Gulf Classics, added, “This was more than a fun contest for the kids, it was a great learning experience for them and us. We all need to give more of our time to teaching and encouraging our youth about the many facets of this sport because they are its future.”

Bell is looking at other Classic Company events to see where and how best to create more learning opportunities.

The 2012 Gulf Coast Winter Classics continues with world class Hunter Jumper Competition, and hospitality through March 18th at the Harrison County Equestrian Center in Gulfport, MS.

Video of the course design and 2nd place finisher, Promise Me













The Classic Company is a USHJA Members Choice Award winner, known for producing quality, exhibitor friendly, international-level hunter/jumper horse shows throughout the Southeast US. For additional information on any of the 2012 events please call the office at 843-768-5503 or visit them on the web at For great hotel or condo rates contact