Ackerman Finds More in tbird Junior/Amateur Jumper Classic 1.30m 

Langley, BC — Jaimie Ackerman (CAN) knew her horse Driek was in winning form when the 16-year-old gelding had the energy to try to unseat her in the warm-up ahead of a four-horse jump-off in the tbird Junior/Amateur Jumper Classic 1.30m.

“[Then] I almost came off in the victory gallop,” Ackerman said, laughingly. “So, he’s kind of 16 years, going on 6.”

Ackerman and her partner of five years crossed the timers of Marina Azevedo’s (BRA) short course nearly two seconds fastest (44.71s). Sierra Geisler (USA) and Cincinnati Kid 7 finished second (46.22s), with Helen Wade (USA) and Gatsby third (46.87s).

Driek, whom Ackerman calls her “heart horse,” may have displayed some antics in the warm-up—and is quite the character at home, regularly engaging in his own personal soccer games in his paddock—but the veteran gelding was with his rider every step of the way on course.

“I got quite deep to number two in the jump-off, and my horse is a good horse there and got out of the way,” Ackerman expressed. “Once you’ve kind of gotten away with one lucky one, you might as well just carry on!”

A chiropractor by trade, Ackerman has been vigilant when it comes to keeping her teenage partner feeling physically fit. One of the things she’s come to believe in is the Tempulse B-Sure Boot, which is a wearable technology that allows one to view a horse’s leg temperature readings on a smartphone.

“Our strategy with this horse is to make sure he stays sound and happy,” she said. “I’m really lucky to have access to a technology called the B-Sure Boot that I put on [Driek’s legs] before and after I ride. It lets me know of any heat changes, so I can be really ahead of injury prevention. That’s great at any age, but especially for a 16-year-old!”

Ackerman, who’s won at the international level with Driek at tbird, plans to jump him in grand prix competition at next week’s Western Family.

“I’ve got to play my cards right on Wednesday and Friday, but it’d be nice to be in the Grand Prix next week,” she said. “That would be an excellent goal before August.”

tbird Junior/Amateur Jumper Classic 1.30m
Horse / Rider / Nationality / Owner / Faults / Time

1. Driek / Jaimie Ackerman / CAN / Jaimie Ackerman / 0/0 44.71
2. Cincinnati Kid 7 / Sierra Geisler / USA / Sierra Geisler / 0/0 46.22
3. Gatsby / Helen Wade / USA / Helen Wade / 0/0 46.87
4. Chasanno / Kate Hamilton / CAN / IB Moller / 0/0 48.59
5. Kazavantos VTH / Julia Stanley / CAN / Julia Stanley / 1 81.66
6. HHS Sandy Lane / Hailey Dyck / CAN / Hailey Dyck / 4 75.05
7. Casion de Vincy / Savannah Manac’h / Jenn Serek / 4 78.46
8. Criterio LS / Katie de Witt / CAN / Katie de Witt / 4 78.94
9. Indiana II / Sloane Betker / CAN / Samantha Vanderwoude / 4 80.83
10. Cara II / William Main / CAN / William Main / 8 76.87

Keith Makes It a Double in Langley Grand Prix 1.40m

Langley, BC — Kassidy Keith (CAN) started a streak Sunday on closing day of the West Coast Classic.

After winning Saturday’s feature class in the “Seize the Day” Speed Derby with Evita, she made it a double aboard her longtime partner Havana in the Langley Grand Prix 1.40m.

First to return in a five-horse jump-off over Marina Azevedo’s (BRA) short course, Keith and Havana set a standard that could not be matched. They produced the only double-clear effort of the day.

Their winning time was 49.99 seconds. Ayla Martinoff (CAN) gave great chase with Calloway, but a rail relegated them to the runner-up position (4/48.62s). Stephanie Valdes (CAN) and Cyber Lady Z finished third (8/60.27s).

“With Havana, I’m 100% confident in her all the time,” said Keith, who has developed the mare since her 4-year-old season. “She was feeling her best today, and I knew that there were some fast horses behind me, so I just tried to keep it efficient.”

It was an anxious wait for Keith through four combinations after her jump-off, but she was able to see firsthand the results of the pressure she had put on her competitors—despite doing one additional stride than she would have liked in the line that followed the oxer-vertical combination.

Azevedo’s short course dared riders to push forward with a number of gallop lanes, and that resulted in some miscommunications and flatter jump arcs over the fences. Instead of extending her stride too much, Keith prioritized Havana’s footspeed and agility.

“I think it’s a really hard thing to do, to land off the first jump and already be galloping,” Keith expressed. “That’s where Havana was a bit behind the leg and I could have left [a stride] out, but she was right there [with me], and she’s so quick in the turn.

“To the last line, I just thought that I needed to clear the [penultimate] oxer before I asked [Havana] to go forward,” she continued. “She was very good there: She stayed up in my hand and was very observant and quick.”

tbird remains at the top of Keith and Havana’s schedule. The pair will show again at next week’s Western Family and are targeting international competition in Langley in August. Coming up the grades behind the mare are her foals, whom Keith and her mother Cheryl have bred. The oldest is 5-year-old Statement, affectionately known as “Sabrina.”

“I showed her at Thermal—and here [at tbird] until the last show,” Keith shared. “I’m giving her a bit of a break. She’s really big, and she’s growing. The other baby is two [years old], out of Havana and Fenelon WF.”

Langley Grand Prix 1.40m
Horse / Rider / Nationality / Owner / Faults / Time

1. Havana / Kassidy Keith / CAN / Kassidy Keith / 0/0 49.99
2. Calloway / Ayla Martinoff / CAN / Ayla Martinoff / 0/4 48.62
3. Cyber Lady Z / Stephanie Valdes / CAN / Wendy Valdes / 0/8 60.27
4. Almquist / Locklyn Williamson / CAN / Graham Williamson / 0/12 52.06
5. Rhapsody / Sarah Lottis / CAN / Kevin Lottis / 0/EL
6. Ecolano vs Romano / Georgia Knight / CAN / Georgia Knight / 4 84.75
7. Kristalstar / Sloane Betker / CAN / Betker Horse Park / 4 85.77
8. Ruby / Laura Jane Tidball / CAN / Thunderbird Show Stables / 4 86.01
9. Canberre 59 / Sloane Betker / CAN / Sloane Betker / 4 86.05
10. Jane Avril des Terdrix / Hannah Evans / USA / Hannah Evans / 4 87.65

Keith Rallies in “Seize the Day” Speed Derby 1.25m

Langley, BC — Kassidy Keith (CAN) had mixed emotions while walking the course for the “Seize the Day” Speed Derby, held in memory of Vicki Gourlay Saturday at Thunderbird Show Park.

Keith had two mounts coming forward of varying experience levels for the uniquely formatted class, which brought a myriad of beautifully decorated, yet eye-catching natural fences to the Fort Grand Prix Arena, utilizing the bank, water elements, brush, and logs. With one mount—Evita—Keith felt confident. With the other—Fenelon WF—she was admittedly nervous.

She was correct, on both accounts.

With Fenelon—her first ride of the evening—things didn’t quite go to plan. In fact, she was unseated midway through the course, resulting in elimination.

Evita made up for it. Keith and the 15-year-old KWPN mare—a former winner of the CSI5* SunLife Financial Derby at Spruce Meadows with Sam Walker (CAN)—topped the faults-converted class by more than two seconds, crossing the timers of Marina Azevedo’s 1.25m course in 88.96 seconds.

Bryna Closson (USA) finished second with Meteoric Rise (91.22s), followed by Laina Summers (USA) and Greannanstown Max a Million (91.41s).

“She’s jumped everything,” Keith said of her winning partner. “She wasn’t spooky at anything. And the more gas you give her, the more she wants to win.”

Few clear rounds came on the day, with Closson one of just four riders able to execute a faultless effort. But having a rail at a combination may have been helpful for Keith, motivating her to pick up the pace.

“After the four-stride on the side of the ring, I was going to jump the left side of the option, but I decided to jump the right side to [turn] tight back to the log,” Keith shared. “[Evita] just opened up at the end.”

Evita came into Keith’s string rather fortuitously. Marion Cunningham of MarBill Hill Farm began training on her hunter with Kassidy and Cheryl Keith’s Keepsake Farms about two years ago, and she eventually brought other horses to the stable. Evita was leased out last year and was meant to be leased again upon her return, but a deal did not come to fruition. So, Keith took up the reins.

“This was the second place I’ve jumped her,” Keith shared. “Marion just is very supportive, and she wants the horses to be in good hands and taken care of.”

As Keith forges forward with the mare, she’s appreciative of her record and hopes to participate in more derby events. Ultimately, she wants to place Evita where she can be most successful.

“We’ll do the derby next week at 1.30m,” Keith said. “She’s older, so we just want to keep her where she’s happy and comfortable.”

“Seize the Day” Speed Derby 1.25m
Horse / Rider / Nationality / Owner / Score

1. Evita / Kassidy Keith / CAN / MarBill Hill Farm / 4 88.95
2. Meteoric Rise / Bryna Closson / USA / Bryna Closson / 0 91.22
3. Greannanstown Max a Million / Laina Summers / USA / Laina Summer / 8 91.41
4. Gare du Lyon / Kate Hamilton / CAN / IB Moller / 4 91.81
5. Caponerhall / Kaylie Martinoff / CAN / Inga Martinoff / 4 93.19
6. King’s Gambit / Katie Shokirov / USA / Rachel Anderson / 4 95.4
7. Coralissa / Amanda Sinnett / CAN / MarBill Hill Farm / 0 96.34
8. Iregina / Ashleigh Charity / CAN / Natalie van Hal / 4 98.11
9. IB Boomerang / Shoshana Weiss / CAN / Shoshana Weiss / 8 99.55
10. Mimosa MHJ / Hannah Evans / USA / Mary W. Roush-Evans / 100.76

Tulloch Thrives Under Pressure in Hammersmith Stables Canadian Derby

Langley, BC — It’s commonplace for a hunter derby to be conducted as a two-round competition. It’s rarer for the phases to be contested over two days.

The Hammersmith Stables Canadian Derby was truly an endurance test, and all eyes were on Rodney Tulloch (CAN) and Christine Maclean’s Fleetwood after winning the first phase Friday evening.

They secured the overall title less than 18 hours later, finishing the competition with a winning score of 310 total points from the 3’6″ section. Ashleigh Charity finished second overall with Montega IS (306), followed by Katrina Klimach and Black Pearl (287). The overall champion had the most points across an Open 3’6″ section, as well as a 3’/3’3″ Green and Junior/Amateur section.

“[Fleetwood] is very focused [on his job],” said Tulloch, who rode the 13-year-old Westphalian gelding to another big win in the USHJA International Hunter Derby at the Odlumb Brown BC Open. “I just know that if I don’t mess up, he’s going to try and do the right thing all the time.”

Fleetwood was imported by Maclean six years ago, and the grey has spent much of his career competing in the Low Adult Hunter divisions, with a long-term plan to teach Maclean’s 9-year-old daughter Asia the ropes.

But the gelding, better known as “Marshmallow,” has had plenty more to give when presented with a grander stage. He and Tulloch captured the Canadian Hunter Derby National Champions last year and have repeatedly shined in high-pressure situations.

For Fleetwood, the poise comes naturally—a decoration at the midway point of the course caught some horses by surprise, but Fleetwood didn’t bat an eye—but it’s been more of a learned behavior for Tulloch, thanks to a background in competitive figure skating.

“I never feel pressure,” he said. “I’m very lucky, because I skated before, and I learned that—back in the old days when you had to do compulsory figures—I would fall apart and be a nervous wreck and then have to claw my way up from the bottom after the short program and the long program.

“I did some work with myself, and I realized that [being that nervous] was ridiculous. That is a whole waste of energy and time,” he continued. “[Now I don’t feel pressure], because I’ve had those experiences.”

Hammersmith Stables Canadian Derby
Horse / Rider / Nationality / Owner / Phase 1 Score / Phase 2 Score / Total Score

1. Fleetwood / Rodney Tulloch / CAN / Christine Maclean / 108/ 204 / 312
2. Motega IS / Ashleigh Charity / CAN / Rebekah Chouinard / 101 / 205 / 306
3. Black Pearl / Katrina Klimach / CAN / Katrina Klimach / 97 / 190 / 287
4. Newsprint RW / Rodney Tulloch / CAN / Stephanie Clark / 98 / 185 / 283
5. Oxo van de Bien / Allison Lagan / CAN / Signe Dixon / 99 / 184 / 283
6. Carrington / Katya Rempel / CAN / Katya Rempel / 81.5 / 199.5 / 281
7. Hamilton / Brianne Hujber / CAN / Brianne Hujber / 90 / 189 / 279
8. Carusti / Isabella Thibault / USA / Isabella Thibault / 86 / 118 / 274
9. Light My Fire / Ashley Arnoldt / CAN / Jennifer Arnoldt / 103 / 170 / 273
10. Silver Lining / Chelsea McNeil / CAN / Cindy Ferrie / 193 / 179 / 272

Knight’s Confidence Rises in YETI Welcome 1.40m

Langley, BC — Georgia Knight (CAN) has made winning a habit during the 2024 Thunderbird Show Park season.

But while the majority of her victories have come against her peers in the U25 division, she added a win in senior company to her resume Friday at tbird’s West Coast Classic. She and her longtime partner, Ecolano vs Romano, were best in the YETI Welcome 1.40m.

The duo prevailed in a 10-horse jump-off over Marina Azevedo’s (BRA) short track with a winning time of 40.49 seconds. Ayla Martinoff (CAN) and A Crown Royale finished second (41.92s), followed by Sloane Betker (CAN) and Kristalstar (43.07).

“My riding right now—I feel like I’m on a roll, and it just feels really good to keep that going,” said Knight, 20.

Knight brought two mounts forward to the jump-off, and she tested the waters of the shortened course aboard Ero del Pierire, with whom Knight jumped her first international classes at tbird’s Odlum Brown BC Open in May. Knight and the rangy grey jumped another quality clear round in the jump-off, but they left the door open on the clock, as Knight stored away the knowledge of what the winning strides needed be.

“My first horse has a huge stride. It doesn’t look like it, but his stride is huge, and I think I got a bit lost on him,” Knight shared. “I did the same numbers on my second horse, but I felt like I knew how to ride the numbers. I know [Ecolano vs Romano] so well that, even though his stride isn’t as big, I can make it happen.”

Martinoff returned early in the jump-off and set a standard that proved difficult to catch, holding the lead for much of the final moments of the class, thanks to a furious gallop to the final vertical. She and Knight would ultimately separate themselves from the rest of the field, but Knight trusted her horse’s natural gallop.

“I actually didn’t watch Ayla’s round, but her horse is small, and she must have booked it. She’s a very fast rider,” Knight said. “I just trusted my horse’s ground speed, because he’s naturally very fast.”

Knight is using the West Coast Classic in part to finalize her preparations for the North American Youth Championships, where she will represent Canada on the nation’s young rider team in Traverse City with Ero del Pierire next month. While Ecolano vs Romano—affectionately known as “Romeo”—won’t make that trip, the horse still plays a key role in that preparation, particularly when it comes to confidence.

“Right now, Romeo is probably my most competitive horse. I’ve had him the longest,” Knight said. “The horse I had last year, Onyx, was my main horse, and when I gave up my lease on him, Romeo kind of had to step up and be my confidence booster. That’s just what he is. He’s just always there [for me].”

YETI Welcome 1.40m
Horse / Rider / Nationality / Owner / Faults / Time

1. Ecolano vs Romano / Georgia Knight / CAN / Georgia Knight / 0/0 40.49
2. A Crown Royale / Ayla Martinoff / CAN / Ayla Martinoff / 0/0 41.92
3. Kristalstar / Sloane Betker / CAN / Sloane Betker / 0/0 43.07
4. Ruby / Laura Jane Tidball / CAN / Thunderbird Show Stables / 0/0 43.42
5. Lestat OLD / Ashley Arnoldt / CAN / Jennifer Arnoldt / 0/0 45.92
6. Ero del Pierire / Georgia Knight / CAN / Georgia Knight / 0/0 46.20
7. Cyber Lady Z / Stephanie Valdes / CAN / Wendy Valdes / 0/0 48.66
8. Rhapsody / Sarah Lottis / CAN / Kevin Lottis / 0/4 42.42
9. Havana / Kassidy Keith / CAN / Kassidy Keith / 4/43.12
10. Nico 1427 / Kylie Martens / CAN / Kylie Martens / 04 44.85

Groom Spotlight: Paige Bedborough’s Passion Evolves at Keepsake Farms

Langley, BC — Paige Bedborourgh (CAN) waited patiently for an opportunity to work with Cheryl and Kassidy Keith at Keepsake Farms.

The Langley, BC native was 16 years old and without a driver’s license (She had a hunter mare instead) when the Keiths informed her that a stall had become available at their sought-after operation. Bedaborough made the move from a nearby stable and began cleaning some stalls at horse shows to help offset the costs of competing and training.

Now, she’s Keepsake Farms’ head groom, overseeing the care of 40 horses at the West Coast Classic.

“When I was just riding with Cheryl and Kassidy, never in a million years did I want to groom [full-time]. It seemed too stressful,” Bedborourgh shared. “They said, ‘You won’t know until you try.'”

Over the course of the last six years, Bedborourgh, 22, has seen her role grow exponentially. In 2021, she began grooming Kassidy’s top jumpers, including Havana, who jumped Kassidy to the MarBill Hill U25 overall series title later that year at tbird and is now jumping at the five-star level. She then began taking on the grooming of some additional client horses, quickly realizing how much she enjoyed what she was doing. The Keiths made her the head groom for the entire stable shortly after.

“It’s just built from nothing to being the main person,” Bedborourgh said. “I started as just Kassidy’s groom, and then I started grooming the client horses that Kassidy rode, and then I helped a couple clients that needed extra help. Now, if anyone needs anything, I’m the person they call.”

There’s not much that isn’t on Bedborourgh’s to-do list, and it’s not unusual to prepare Havana for the Grand Prix on the same day she’s grooming a pony hunter or a horse for an adult amateur.

“We also have a boatload of young horses,” Bedborourgh shared. “One just moved up to 1.0m, and it’s the first horse show for another.”

It’s being a part of a horse’s development and watching the progression that has made Bedborourgh’s job most rewarding. When she began grooming Havana, the mare was jumping her first 1.40m classes. She’s since jumped at the World Cup level—and at 1.40m, she’s become difficult to beat. Havana and Kassidy have won the opening two Grand Prix events of the Thunderbird Show Park season at the April Season Opener and Spring Festival—for two years running.

“That’s probably one of my favourite things—seeing how far [Havana and Kassidy] have come in the last few years,” Bedborourgh said. “Havana has always been a solid partner, but now, anything you throw at her, she’s just like, ‘Let’s go.’ She knows—she knows her routine, when she’s showing, and she looks for me at the ring. I’m never not there.”

Learning to groom for an FEI-level partner required some extra reading—and some additional stress—but now, it’s just another horse show for equine and groom.

“The way that Kassidy and I do things, nothing was crazy different. It’s just about being on top of what is and isn’t allowed,” Bedborourgh said. “It’s very nice, because Havana is such an angel to take care of. She’s so easy and sweet. At my first FEI grooming show, I was nervous that I was going to do something wrong. Now, it’s just [part of Havana’s routine].”

More Than a Job

Bedborourgh has significantly invested herself in her role, and as she’s grown as a groom, she’s also grown as a rider.

She continues to work on her skills in the saddle, and at home, her role involves regular riding.

“It’s quite a team effort at home” Bedborough said. “After shows, we don’t just lay low. Tuesday comes back around, and it’s a new week [for the horses]. On Wednesday, we start riding at home [after a show], and we get everything done together. And if I’m busy, Kassidy will help with her horses.”

Bedborough is also a regular name in the show ring, and got to compete with some client horses at tbird in May. She hopes to bring her own partner Castaway, better known as “Kiwi,” to show at tbird later this season, and farther along in the pipeline, she owns a coming 3-year-old, by Keith’s Fenelon and out of Bedborough’s Children’s Hunter. Bedborough dreams of developing a young partner of her own through the Crooks Show Jumping Young Horse Showcase series, starting with the 4-year-old division.

“[The young horses] are our own little protégées, that [the Keiths] breed and bring up the ranks,” she said.

Outside of work, Bedborough and Kassidy are close friends. They rent a house together, and if time allows, they enjoy bonding and  decompressing over a boat ride.

As Bedborough looks forward, she sees great promise. As she looks back, she remains in admiration of the places her job has taken her.

“Six years ago, I never could have seen myself stepping foot in the winning photo, bringing these horses to the ring, setting for them at the gate,” she reflected. “Now, it just comes [naturally]. I love it.”