If you were to put together a wish list for the ideal hunter, it might include things like:

  • Comfortable canter
  • Easy to train
  • Excellent jump
  • Nice mover
  • Stands for ribbons

D’Avant checks all the boxes for trainer Joie Gatlin. The San Juan Capistrano-based rider found the grey gelding for her student, Cathy Moore Schmidt, a year ago and is “getting miles” in the ring on him this week at Desert International Horse Park in Thermal, CA.

“We just love him. He’s super comfortable to ride. He’s lovely to train. He jumps great. He moves nice. I’m just really excited about his future,” shared Gatlin.

She’s also excited about his present. D’Avant means “before” in French, but it’s the during and after that’s giving his riders reason to celebrate this week.

Gatlin and D’Avant claimed victory in the first derby of the 2022 Desert Circuit on Friday, riding to a score of 191. The pair collected 89 points plus four for the high option in round one to finish on 93 and in second place behind Nick Haness and Reese’s (94). Second last to return for the Handy Round, they jumped to an untouchable 98.

Watch their winning Handy Round:

Look for this pair in the USHJA International and National Derbies to come at DIHP. (There are many—three international derbies, three U25 International Derbies, 10 USHJA National Hunter Derbies, DIHP’s own 2’ – 2’3” and 2’6”- 2’9” Child/Adult Hunter derbies, PLUS a $100,000 DIHP WCHR West Coast Hunter Spectacular).

“My goals for the circuit may be another derby or two,” said Gatlin, “and then I would really love for him to just get real consistent in the 3’6″ Green Working Hunter.”

When he’s not cruising around the Amateur Owner ring with Moore Schmidt, that is.