Keith and Havana Turn Up the Heat in tbird Grand Prix

If Kassidy Keith (CAN) experienced a sense of deja vu Sunday at Thunderbird Show Park, it wouldn’t surprise many—certainly not those in attendance at the $10,000 tbird Grand Prix 1.40m at the Spring Festival.

For the second consecutive week, Keith and her longtime mount Havana led the victory lap following the feature class of the week’s competition. Besting a five-horse jump-off, the pair cruised around Chris Jones’ (CAN) shortened track in 42.17 seconds for a comfortable victory.

Kassidy Keith (CAN) and Havana. Photo ©tbird/Quinn Saunders

Sarah Lottis (CAN) and Rhapsody finished second (43.62 seconds), with Jaehee Jeon (KOR) and Kadans van de Mispelaere third (45.73).

“[Havana is] so game. When she’s on it, she really doesn’t want to let you down,” Keith said.

There was a turning point in Sunday’s jump-off. Keith was happy with how her horse jumped the first fence, but a sharp angle to the following oxer led to a lot of airtime. Upon landing, Keith knew she had to apply some extra leg.

From there, the pair turned the heat up, navigating the winding track swiftly and accurately. In fact, they almost turned too fast.

“We almost slipped inside after the oxer (the penultimate fence), because I caught it on such a hard angle!” Keith exclaimed.

But Keith didn’t need to take that much risk to secure another win. She and her mount took the longer route and expediently navigated the final vertical, crossing the timers more than a second fastest. Having now jumped their first 1.60m Grand Prix in the fall, the pair’s confidence at 1.40m is evident.

“I think the biggest change in [Havana], is that she’s so much better in the turns,” Keith said. “She used to jump so high in the air, and I was basically hanging on. Now, she so smooth, especially at this height. She jumps hard, for sure, [but] when she kicks out [on course], I know it’s going to be a good day!”

Kassidy Keith (CAN) and Havana stand for the winner’s presentation. Photo ©tbird/Quinn Saunders

$10,000 tbird Grand Prix 1.40m
Place / Horse / Rider / Nationality / Owner / Faults / Time

  1. Havana / Kassidy Keith / CAN / Cheryl Keith / 0/0 42.17
  2. Rhapsody / Sarah Lottis / CAN / Kevin Lottis / 0/0 43.62
  3. Kadans van de Mispelaere / Jaehee Jeon / KOR / 0/0 45.73
  4. Jericho / Laure Jane Tidball / CAN / Thunderbird Show Park Ltd / 0/0 47.11
  5. Cunningham 4 / Christopher Lowe / CAN / Christopher Lowe / 0/0 48.80
  6. Heartvit ZH / Tracey Epp / CAN / Tracey Epp / 4 78.53
  7. Dustin 254 / Aren Ozker / CAN / Aren Ozker / 4 82.5
  8. Buddy Bounce / Darrin Dlin / CAN / Dorothy Dlin / 4 84.81
  9. Pesgo Adelheid Z / Lily van Elliot / CAN / Yvonne van Duin/ 7 89.82
  10. Iowa B / Travis Root / USA / Lindsay Wendt / 8 84.38

McLean, Wall and Arnoldt Shine in tbird Hunter Teams

For barn mates Hazel McLean, Ruby Wall and Ashley Arnoldt, cheering each other on at the show ring is nothing new.

But sharing scores was.

Friday at Thunderbird Show Park, McLean (Northwind After Eight), Wall (Momma Citta) and Arnoldt (Light My Fire)—all of whom train with Eliza Hunt at Delta, BC’s Obsidian Hunter Jumper—joined forces to top the tbird Hunter Teams. The uniquely formatted class combines scores earned by three riders, each at a different height, from 2’6″ to 3′ and 3’3″.

The group of Wall (Velocity), Chloe Mache (Ursa Major) and Sloane Betker (Crack) finished second. Mariah Costley (Roulette), Nyha Leclerc (Ivanhoe F) and Sophia Schliessler (Jembey van’t Eigenlo) were third.

“I’m new to this team and new to the barn, so it was really nice to win something with the whole team and with these people in particular, who are just amazing riders,” said McLean, who received a score of 80 for her 2’6″ round aboard Large Pony Hunter, Northwind After Eight.

Wall, who showed at the 3′ height, led the team with a high score of 87 aboard Momma Citta, her 13-year-old Westphalian mare.

“I’d never done a team event before, so it was really fun,” said Wall, who hopes to qualify for the USEF Junior Hunter National Championships this year. “We’ve always been such an amazing team—not working together—so it was nice to be able to do this with collective scores.”

Arnoldt anchored the team at the highest 3’3″ option with her veteran partner, Light My Fire.

“Doing something team-related is not something we’ve ever done, especially up here in Canada. It was definitely really fun and new and different,” Arnoldt said. “I think it definitely brought another level of difficulty and a bit of pressure in a way where you don’t want to let your teammates down.”

The winning team stands for presentation. Photo ©tbird/Quinn Saunders

tbird Picks Up the Tab for Five More Exhibitors at Spring Festival

Navigating its 50th anniversary show season, tbird is feeling grateful, nostalgic—and generous.

During each of tbird’s 10 major show tournaments, five exhibitors will be chosen at random to receive a free entry at the horse show. Throughout the course of the season, tbird will pay for 50 entries total.

After debuting at the April Season Opener, “tbird Picks Up the Tab” continued Friday with five additional lucky exhibitors learning that their show bill would be significantly lower.

Harriet Arney (Dark Reflection), Reese Washburn (Won for Love), Chloe Mache (Fanta), Lindsay Uyesugi-Lacey (Miles Dyson) and Mairead Gurney (Sporty Spice) were drawn as winners in the tbird show office.

Arney has already earned top results in the Junior Amateur Jumper 0.90m division; Washburn took the win in the Child Pony Equitation Flat; and Mache won the Thunderbird Good Hands and Seat Medal.

Uyesugi-Lacey will contest the Training I Jumper 1.10m Stake, and Gurney has entered the Open Jumper Classic 1.0m.

Every horse entered at tbird is automatically added to the draw each week. Check back in May to see who tbird picks up the tab for next!