Feb 23, 2024

Fourth Generation Homebred Geluk HVF Earns His Second SmartPak USEA Stallion of the Year Award

By Lindsay Berreth - USEA Staff
Bethany Hutchins-Kristen and Geluk HVF. Shannon Brinkman Photography photo

Bethany Hutchins-Kristen headed into 2023 with hopes of earning the SmartPak USEA Stallion of the Year award for a second year in a row on her homebred Geluk HVF, and after a stellar season, including a top-10 finish at the TerraNova CCI2*-L (Myakka City, Florida), she took home the top prize with an 18-point lead.

“The 2023 season was great,” she said. “It was everything I hoped it would be. I wanted to get the Stallion of the Year again, and he achieved that. We had some really great placings throughout the season.”

A fourth generation homebred, “Geluk,” is a Dutch Warmblood by Jazz out of Hutchins-Kristen’s former eventing mare Bronte HVF.

“He’s just a good friend,” she said. “I know him in and out, and he knows me, and we have a very good partnership because of that. For the most part he’s just always very level-headed. He’s very much the same horse each and every time he goes out, and I think that gives us a lot of confidence in each other.”

With help from coach Karen O’Connor, Hutchins-Kristen moved the stallion back up to Intermediate in 2023 with their best finish coming at Rocking Horse (Altoona, Florida) in November where they finished third in an open division.

“Every competition I was just really thrilled with him,” said Hutchins-Kristen. “At Chatt Hills [Fairburn, Georgia] in the CCI2*-S he was really great from start to finish. Both the TerraNovas he was super from start to finish. Those are both great, super hard courses. It was great to feel like I could now get him out and about off to different courses and not just be in Ocala. With the kids being a bit bigger, I felt like I could leave Florida and get out to different venues, and he was just as great as he was at the venues he’s been at the past few years.”

Hutchins-Kristen balances a busy business in Ocala, Florida, with raising two young children with her husband, Nico Kristen.

“My daughter is 5, and my son will be turning 3 in March,” she said. “I kind of feel like I have a little more freedom finally. When they’re babies you’re constantly needed by them. Now my daughter will come home from school and go play in the barn by herself, and my 3-year-old has somebody to watch him during the day, but I don’t need to be constantly on top of him, so it allows me to focus on the horses. I’m much busier this winter—I have eight horses I’m riding and competing in eventing and dressage and lower-level jumpers. I have another foal that’s due in March, a 3-year-old I need to break and get started, and a couple 2-year-olds that will be started six months from now. It’s exciting. During that pause when I was having children, I did some breeding and acquired some young horses. I see myself and my program just continuing to grow.”

Geluk hasn’t bred a lot due to his competition schedule, but Hutchins-Kristen did welcome his first filly last year named First Lady. She has a 2022 colt by him and out of a Thoroughbred mare in the barn as well. Hutchins-Kristen has also bred Geluk’s dam again, and she’s due with her third foal next month.

“I think it’s pretty spectacular that as a stallion he’s been in this sport with more than 60 starts,” she said. “Most of those starts have been at Preliminary level and spanning over a period of about eight years. I don’t know any other stallions who’ve had that longevity in the sport—Windfall was a phenomenal stallion—but a lot of the stallions eventing in the United States are doing it for a couple of years, and then they just disappear from either loss of confidence or not wanting to move up the levels, so I think he’s a pretty special stallion in that he continues to come back and play in the sport year after year. He’s an all-around good boy and very competitive.”

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