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Super Susie

Good health, good horses and good riding have Susie Hutchison on top again

From Horsetrader staff reports - May 1st, 2014 - Cover Story, Show & Event News

1405A CoverTEMECULA — Between Susie Hutchison’s barn and her arena at Casner’s Ranch, there lies a hill.

Since she moved here 20 months ago, each day begins with an up-and-down trek that, for a good stretch along the crest, makes one feel on top of the Temecula Valley.

“It’s good for the horses — it gives them a little ride up, and a little ride back,” Hutchison says. “And there’s a great view from up here.”

Since she first climbed into a saddle 56 years ago at Flintridge Riding Club, Hutchison has gotten used to ups and downs, and she certainly knows a good vantage point when she sees one.

It’s early, but this year looks to be a Kodak moment for the former American Grandprix Association Rider of the Year and World Cup Finalist. At age 61, she is riding as well as ever, and her line-up of young horses that has rocked in the meter-three and meter-four classes, will now step up at the Del Mar National.

Susie Hutchison likes her line-up of horses coming on this year, including SIG Zulieka, here at the Blenheim Fall Tournament, SIG Excel, and Ziedento.

Susie Hutchison likes her line-up of horses coming on this year, including SIG Zulieka, here at the Blenheim Fall Tournament, SIG Excel, and Ziedento.

On her way to Del Mar, which runs Tuesday, April 29 through Sunday, May 4, Hutchison left a wake of success in San Juan Capistrano at the Blenheim EquiSports Spring Classic II and III shows. On Barbara Roux’s 10-year-old gelding, Ziedento, she won back-to-back grand prixes a week apart, taking the $40,000 Classic II ahead of Josephina Nor Lantzman on Chello Z and the $50,000 Classic III ahead of John Pierce on Chianto. She also rode SIG Zulieka to fourth and sixth places, respectively in the two classes. Another SIG International horse, SIG Excel, won the 1.35m $10,000 Cardflex Jumper Classic at Blenheim — the mare’s 14th win in 15 outings.

“It’s really nice to have nice young horses coming along,” says Hutchison. “I am excited. I think, for sure, that there are ebbs and flows in our business, and I’ve probably had as many or more than anyone.”

Her career is carved into eras based on the horses — some of them the most famous of her generation. This current crop may mark a new chapter. It’s the horses, she says, that get her to pull on her boots in the morning. They also motivate her to continually sharpen her own sword, to keep physically and mentally fit.

Woodstock

Woodstock

“My drive to do what I need to do in order to prepare these horses comes from the love I have for this,” says Hutchison, sitting in her tack room adorned with framed 8x10s of legendary partners Samsung Woodstock, America I, Livius, ASAP, High Heels, Bugs Bunny and others. “I must do what it takes to be the best I can for these horses — and the owners.”

The need to be fit first struck her at a grand prix on a hot Arizona day in the 1980s.

“I had Livius and was just getting the Samsung horses,” she recalls. “I came out of the ring at Goodyear on a really hot day and Linda Allen had set a course. I came out of the ring at the end of the class, thinking about going back in the jump-off, and I was almost seeing double, thinking, ‘how I’m going to ride in the jump-off?'”

“I had these horses coming from Samsung, and I thought to myself, it’s not fair to the owners, to the horses or to myself to not be the best that I can be.”

Suzie at Santa Barbara, circa 1963.

Suzie at Santa Barbara, circa 1963.

She then quit smoking with the help of a hypnotist and Nicorette gum, which stuck with her for 11 years until she quit that, too, three years ago.

Hutchison also exercises when she is out of the saddle. Her routines have evolved over time, and now she is sharing them on a DVD series produced by Maravilla Productions.

“We expect our horses to be fit, but I think we’re all athletes,” says Hutchison, whose routine was honed by certified strength and conditioning specialist Kori Lyn Angers, wife of Hutchison groundperson Jeanyees Angers.

“I don’t like going to the gym, and Kori has helped me with a workout routine that I can do with a ball and some simple tools — even in my motorhome at the horse shows. It makes a difference. Kori is really good at pinpointing and finding exercises to do that make you feel a lot better when you ride. She rides herself, so she knows what’s important for all of us.”

An important class will be the $100,000 Grand Prix of Del Mar, slated for 6:45 p.m. Saturday night. It will mark the convergence of good horses, good health and good preparation. Hutchison is thrilled.

“I let my horses tell me about what to do with them, what they are ready for,” she says. “Last year, they were at meter-forty. Soft, tight grand prixes is about where my horses were. Now we’re at the next step up where I can say, ‘OK, it’s time to challenge them a little more and see what they are really made of.'”

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