Susan Merrill Hutchison started riding by the age of five at the Flintridge Riding Club. As a pupil of the legendary horseman Jimmy A. Williams, Riding Master at Flintridge, Susan won all the horseman finals offered on the West Coast while she was a junior rider. Aboard her horse Red Baron at the Indio National Horse Show, she jumped a record 7 foot high puissance wall at the age of 18. At the age of 12, she had been Reserve Champion in the Junior Hunter division at the New York's National Horse Show. From ages 12 through 18, she was either Champion or Reserve Champion Hunter Seat rider of the Pacific Coast Horse Shows Association.
At age 18, she became a professional, partnering with her mentor Jimmy A. Williams at Flintridge. Countless additional championships came her way in both the hunter and jumper divisions. She also contributed to the training of Anne Kursinski, who was reserve rider for the United States Equestrian Team at the 1984 Olympic Games, and an Olympian in both Seoul and Barcelona. Other students have included Lisa Kursinski, Cece Durante Bloome, Laurie Fieger, Francie Steinwedell Carven and Gigi Gaston. Students Laurie Masto and Katherine Ginzton have acquitted themselves with distinction at the national finals in Hunt Seat Equitation.
From 1978 to 1980, Hutchison rode for the United States Equestrian Team at Spruce Meadows in Calgary, Canada, succeeding against teams from six other nations. She qualified and competed in the World Cup Finals in Paris, France, in 1987, and has competed three times since then in the World Cup Finals in Sweden, achieving a finish of fourth in the world in April 1993.
Hutchison has won over 80 Grand Prix show jumping competitions since 1988, with 12 victories in 1992 alone while competing coast to coast. In that year, she was a nominee for the American Horse Show Association's Equestrian of the Year title. In 1989, Susan won the Mercedes Challenge Series for show jumping and was awarded a new Mercedes automobile. In 1990, her winning the Leading West Coast Rider award for the World Cup entitled her to a new Volvo, and in 1992 her exploits in the show ring won her a new Cadillac as American Grand Prix Association Rider of the Year. She was also voted 1992 Rider of the Year by influential magazine The Chronicle of the Horse in Virginia, and in 1993 was named the first recipient of the Mark Muller Perpetual Sportsmanship Award of the Pacific Coast Horse Show Association.
In 1993 and 1994, her stature as one of the world's top show jumping riders was enhanced with major victories. Aboard three different horses (Samsung Woodstock, ASAP, and High Heels), Hutchison won six Grand Prix, including the richest prize on the West Coast, the $100,000 Grand Prix of the Desert. By May of 1994, she was already the winner of three Grand Prix that year, including the Del Mar Grand Prix for the third time in four years, and a West Coast candidate for the United States Equestrian Team tryouts for the American representatives to the World Equestrian Games to be held in August at the Hague in Holland. She was elected to the United States Equestrian Team's Active Rider Committee , and judged the USET Medal Finals held in October 1994 at Gladstone, New Jersey.
After competing against the top horses and riders in the country at the 1994 trials in Gladstone, New Jersey, Hutchison finished among the top four to qualify as a member of of the World's Championship Team. She went on to represent the United States at the Hague in Holland. She returned home in September 1994 with a new mount from Germany, a grey Westphalian gelding known as Bugs Bunny. Six days after he arrived out of quarantine, Bugs Bunny and Hutchison placed third in the $30,00 Grand Prix held at Griffith Park. They went on to win the $40,000 Samsung Grand Prix of Flintridge the following weekend.
In 1995, Hutchison was again a nominee for the AHSA Hertz Equestrian of the Year and voted California Professional Horsemen's Association (CPHA) Horsewoman of the Year. Based on her Grand Prix wins on Bugs Bunny, she was the Leading West Coast Volvo World Cup Qualifier and added a 1995 Volvo to her car collection. While competing at the World Cup Finals in Sweden, Bugs Bunny won the "Skandia Cup" on Easter Sunday. Upon their arrival home, the two were victorious again in the $40,000 Grand Prix at the Volvo Dressage World Cup Finals in Los Angeles. Three weeks later, Bugs Bunny jumped into the winners circle again at the Grand Prix of Showpark in Del Mar.
In the 1995 - 1996 season, Madeleine Paulson's bay stallion America I made his Grand Prix debut, winning the $40,000 Samsung Grand Prix of Flintridge. He went on to become one of the top four money winning jumpers in the United States during the season, qualifying for a berth in the National Horse Show at New York's Madison Square Garden. He finished the show year winning the $50,000 Budweiser Grand Prix at the Garden, followed a week later with a second at the Los Angeles Grand Prix.
In 1997, Susan was the highest point qualifier on the West Coast for the Volvo World Cup finals held in Gothenburg, Sweden and received another new Volvo. Traveling to the finals with America I was another milestone in her career finishing 14th overall, a great finish for their debut in Europe. In June this team won the Royal Bank Cup at Spruce Meadows in Calgary, Canada. The storybook close to the year was the comeback of Samsung Woodstock who won the World Cup Qualifier at the L.A. National in Los Angeles.
America I recovered from an injury to place 2nd in the $50,000 Grand Prix of the Oaks - his first start back after one year off. Highlights during 1999 include winning both Grand Prix of Pebble Beach while placing 3rd and 4th on other mounts. Susan's three entries in the Portola Grand Prix placed 2nd, 3rd and 5th. The $50,000 Grand Prix at the Oaks produced a third place finish.
Susie has been showing her new Grand Prix horses with tremendous success! In April 2005, “Star Graffix”, owned by Rheta Strong (Snowmass, CO) started his first Grand Prix and placed in the top five in several Grand Prix, winning the 2006 Oaks Blenheim Summer Classic V and the 2007 Oaks Blenheim Spring Classic III.
In 2005, Susie also started her partnership with “Playboy”, owned by Ellen Spalding (Temecula, CA). Since then, their successes include top 10 finishes in Oaks Blenheim Summer Classic I (2008), Oaks Blenheim Summer Classic II (2007, 2008), and Oaks Blenheim June Classic III (2007), including top 5 finishes in Oaks Blenheim Summer Classic I (2008), Oaks Blenheim Summer Classic II (2007), Oaks Blenheim June Classic III (2007).
2008 has been an exciting year for Susie and “Cantano,” owned by El Dorado 29 and Jim & Pat Iverson. With help from Sandy Aston on the ground, their first ever Grand Prix was April 5, 2008, at the $35,000 Oaks Blenheim Spring Classic II where Cantano won, easily stepping across the finish line after a double clear performance and out-jumping 39 other horses. Then on June 28, 2008 at the $25,000 Oaks Blenheim Red White & Blue Grand Prix, Cantano again put in a double clear performance to win that class. He followed that win one week later by winning the $25,000 July Theme Grand Prix in San Juan Capistrano on July 5, 2008! As Susie has said “He is phenomenal!” This team is looking forward to a sensational 2009!
2009 has proven to be another fabulous year for Grand Prix wins. In June 2009, Susie and “Cantano” won the Blenheim June Classic 4 $25,000 Red, White, & Blue Grand Prix and the $30,000 Copa De Amistad Grand Prix 09. In April they won the Blenheim Spring Classic II $35,000 Grand Prix. And in June, on another mount — “Muscadet De la Savenier” — Susie won the Blenheim June Classic 1 $30,000 Grand Prix.
2010 and 2011 have been banner years for Susie and Cantano as they continue to be the best of the best. This powerful team of horse and rider shone in many prestigious events, including:
- March 14, 2010 Thermal HITS $300K Lamborghini Class (third place)
- April 10, 2010 $35,000 Blenheim Spring Classic II Grand Prix (first)
- May 27-31, 2010 Memorial Day Classic Grand Prix (second)
- June 9-13, 2010 $30,000 Blenheim June Classic 1 Grand Prix (second)
- June 16-20, 2010 Blenheim June Classic II $30,000 Grand Prix (first) and 1.35M Jumpers (second)
- September 22-26, 2010 $50K LA International Grand Prix (second)
- October 20-24, 2010 $30K California Horsetrader Grand Prix 1.45M (second)
- March 30-April 3, 2011 Blenheim Spring Classic I (first)
- April 9, 2011 $40,000 Orange County Register Grand Prix at the Blenheim Spring Classic II (first)
Other notable 2010 and 2011 events for Susie and Cantano include:
- Cantano finished 2010 as PCHA Grand Prix Horse of the Year
- Susie Hutchison achieved Top 25 Rider Status in the United States
Notable 2013 events for Susie:
- May 4, 2013 - Harry Forbes Sportsmanship Trophy Lifetime Achievement Award
- October 28, 2013 - PCHA / USHJA 2013 Affiliate Sportsmanship Award for the Western Region
Notable 2014 events for Susie:
- January 2014 - Tucalota Creek Ranch Cellars launched its collection of fine California Artisan Wines, each with its own unique story of Horses, Heroes and Friends they have come to know through their involvement in the horse industry. One of the featured wines is a Grand Prix 2011 Cabernet Franc Blend showing Susie Hutchison doing what she does best: Winning Grand Prix!
Notable 2015 events for Susie:
- April 2015 - Susie Hutchison was inducted into the 2015 National Show Hunter Hall of Fame, which “honors excellence by providing recognition, education, and appreciation for the achievements of the horsemen and horses who have made the sport of show hunters so rich in history.”
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Susan was elected and continues to represent the Active Athletes on the Board of Directors of the AHSA since 1996. A member of the 2000 AHSA FEI Competition Committee, Susan also enjoys serving as co-chairman of the Jumper Committee (with Hap Hansen) of the Pacific Coast Hunter and Jumper Association board of directors. She has judged the East Coast USET Finals along with the Midwest and West Coast International Jumper Futurity Finals. When she is not showing, Susan offers clinics, and advises on investments and syndications.