Catch the action on our Live Stream!

Third Time’s the Charm for King & Cerolino

American Kyle King is not accustomed to taking the ‘conservative clear’ — he’s only done it twice in his career and both times with Ilan Feder’s 10-year-old Holsteiner Cerolino.

On Saturday afternoon at Thunderbird Show Park, it was the smart strategy in the 1.50m CSIO5* Paladin Cup. As the final of six horses to take the field for Peter Holmes’ (CAN) jump-off track, King watched as rider after rider pulled rails at speed. He knew the assignment: leave the rails up and go quick enough to not amass too many time faults. For someone as hardwired for speed as ultra-competitive King, taking the ‘safe route’ does not come naturally.

“It’s the second time [taking the slow clear] has happened to me in my life and it’s been on that horse twice,” laughed King. “I almost blew it the first time in Thermal… [so] I was like, ‘Nah, I don’t want to be in this position again.’”

With no double clears on the leaderboard, however, the steady clear was the wise choice. This time Cerolino left the rails up, crossing the timers in a steady 48.38 seconds. Santiago Lambre (BRA) and Chattanooga took runner up position with four faults in 38.37. Erynn Ballard (CAN) and Game Over settled for third with four faults in 39.39.

“[Cerolino] has a big, big stride, and so I can drop strides everywhere and he’s very agile. When I first started riding him I thought he was always going to be a little bit slow. But he’s not, especially in a field like this. Today was slow, but I was just trying to go clear. I thought he really tried for me and jumped super the second round.” 

Three of the six combinations to contest the short course had the ‘tbird Canoes’ jump down and when asked, King said he took extra care at the fence to ensure success.

“Even in the first round, I wanted to make sure I got really straight to it. It’s a little bit stuck in a funny position.”

Together for about a year, the pair has averaged 57% in clear rounds and top ten finishes at the 1.45m level in 2023 (Jumpr App).

“We bought him for one of my clients, who then ended up wanting to trade him out to another horse,” explained King. “While that was happening, Cerolino didn’t really do all that much. So [owner] Ilan Feder told me that I could produce him a little bit further… And he’s just been money ever since. He makes a cheque every show. He’s just really, really consistent.

“I’ve been a little bit unlucky this week —I should have won the other night. I had the time with one jump down. I had one jump down yesterday. It finally came out today.”

$38,500 CSIO5* Paladin Cup 1.50m

Horse / Rider / Nationality / Owner / Faults / Time

1. Cerolino / Kyle King / USA / Ilan Ferder / 0/0 38.38
2. Chattanooga / Santiago Lambre / BRA / Hf Farms / 0/4 38.37
3. Game Over / Erynn Ballard / CAN / Ilan Ferder / 0/4 39.39
4. Chakkalou PS / Patricio Pasquel / MEX / Gestüt Lewitz / 0/4 41.92
5. Menko vd Wellington / Andrew Bourns / IRL / Andrew Bourns / 0/4 45.87
6. Zeusz / Santiago Lambre / BRA / Lévai Csilla / 0/4 47.72
7. Landon / Kent Farrington / USA / Haity McNerney / 3 86.51
8. Seringat / Patricio Pasquel / MEX / Ainhoa Manero / 4 77.23
9. Cadeau Z / Mandy Porter / USA / Risen Eq Holdings LLC / 4 81.26
10. Etundel de Marocy / Karl Cook / USA / Signe Otsby / 4 81.71

History and Hard Work Pay Off for Barisoff and Quincy in DIHP Canadian Hunter Derby 3’6”.

Patience paid off Saturday afternoon for Mariah Barisoff, who topped the $3,000 DIHP Canadian Hunter Derby 3’6” Open with her horse Quincy at Thunderbird Show Park’s Odllum Brown BC Open. 

The pair finished on a score of 102, just a half-point ahead of runners-up Ashley Arnold and Light My Fire (101.5). Sloane Betker and Crack finished third (101).

Trainer Eliza Hunt of Delta, BC-based Obsidian Hunter Jumper made a clean sweep of the podium, with riders taking first through third, as well as fifth.

The winning pair knows each other well but was light on recent experience. A recent nursing school graduate, Barisoff was making her 3’6” hunter derby debut; it was also her first show back after taking time off for school. She purchased Quincy as a green five-year-old in 2015, but the pair hasn’t competed a full season since 2019, when they ended the year making the trip to Toronto for The Royal Winter Fair and CET Medal Finals.

“This was our first show back at Thunderbird in my hometown, and this derby meant a lot to me,” Barisoff said. “I was quite nervous going in; we’ve been knocking the rust off a bit all week, and I was just hoping for a smooth round.

The pair received a base score of 85 points, adding 10 for taking the high options and an additional seven for handiness.

“I wasn’t going to do the inside option, but he was just behaving so well, and he really feels like a team player right now. So I gave it a go and it came out perfectly,” Barisoff explained.

Hunt attributed Barisoff’s success to extra time the rider had been putting into her preparation, improving the quality of her warm-up and hacking her horse in the mornings before competition.

“He’s a cheeky fella,” laughed Barisoff. “I’d describe him as a bit of a ‘jock.’ He knows he’s good at his job, and he doesn’t really want to practice. And because he’s an exuberant horse, he’s a very good jumper. But he keeps me humble. Even though you have a great round today, tomorrow might not be the same. He keeps me on my toes.”

Riding is in Barisoff’s blood. Her mother is a barrel racer and still competes today.

“My mom has ridden since she was 13,” said Barisoff. “When she got married to my dad, he bought a horse so they could go trail riding together. Once I came along, I kind of stole my dad’s horse and traveled with my mom. 

“I have a barn of Quarter Horses at home — Quincy is my only warmblood,” she continued. “So he lives at home with a barn full of rodeo horses! And me and my mom go through it together. We both take our flat lessons, and we go to our separate worlds. I love it.”  

$3,000 DIHP Canadian Hunter Derby 3’6” Open

Finish Position / Horse / Rider / Country / Owner  / Total Score

  1. Quincy / Mariah Barisoff / CAN / Mariah Barisoff / 102
  2. Light My Fire / Ashley Arnoldt / CAN / Jennifer Arnoldt / 101.5
  3. Crack / Sloane Betker / CAN / Sloane Betker / 101
  4. VDL Iglesias / Quinn Partridge / USA / Effortless Equestrian Farm / 94
  5. St Martin’s Lane / Chloe Mache / CAN / Chloe Mache / 89
  6. Lexington 70 / Petra Pinkerton / CAN / Petra Pinkerton / 86
  7. Talaro PS / Philippa Melski / USA / Mila Anderson / 84
  8. Old Times LS / Samantha Smith / USA / Red Gate Farm / 83
  9. Cyclone Z / Elspeth Longridge / CAN / Elspeth Longridge / 72
  10. Corona OS / Charlotte Reeve / CAN / Charlotte Reeve / 68

Lambre Can’t Be Caught in CSI2* JustWorld International Grand Prix

Approaching the halfway mark of the CSI2* JustWorld International Grand Prix Saturday at Thunderbird Show Park, Santiago Lambre (BRA) and The Diamant Rose Z stood alone, having produced the only clear round in the class up to that point.

It would prove to be a foreshadowing of what was to come.

Four other riders would join Lambre and the 12-year-old Zangersheide mare in the jump-off, but none would catch them. Elongating her stride with just the slightest loosening of the reins, The Diamant Rose Z crossed the timers of Peter Holmes’ (CAN) shortened 1.45m track in an unbeatable 36.61 seconds. Last to jump-off, James Chawke (IRL) and Howard du Seigneur gave great chase but had to settle for second (36.98 seconds), followed by Karl Cook (USA) and Coachella (39.59 seconds).

“She’s very quick, and when I finished the jump off I knew I’d be at least in the top two,” Lambre said. “She has been winning in Ocala (USA), [and] she’s very competitive at this level. I’m trying to keep her in the speed classes; that’s her specialty.”

Lambre’s strategy was simply to dare the others that followed him. He and his mount navigated the jump-off with such ease, Cook and Jaehee Jeon (KOR) did not even try to catch them, instead opting for more conservative clear rounds. Grant Seger (USA) gave chase, but the risks he took on course resulted in an 8-fault score.

“There were only five horses, so when we were first, I tried to go as fast as I can, and then it doesn’t leave so much room for the other riders,” he added.

Lambre has been the mare’s rider for two years, and in that time he has learned that the horse is happiest working within a program of simplicity. The Diamant Rose Z works on a longe line more often than she is ridden at home. At the show, warm-ups are kept short, with Lambre jumping just one fence ahead of the jump-off. The mare is also ridden with simple tack.

“She looks hot, but she’s easy to ride. I ride her in a really soft rubber bit,” Lambre said. “When I watch the videos, it looks harder than it is! It’s much easier to go fast.”

The Diamant Rose Z is a most versatile mare; she tied for the win in the Puissance at the Washington International Horse Show (WIHS), clearing 1.95m, and has jumped up to the CSI4* Grand Prix level (1.60m). But Lambre believes she shines brightest at 1.45m. According to Jumpr App, The Diamant Rose Z has 4 fault or less 52% of the time at 1.45m.

“She’s comfortable at this level, so the plan is to keep her at this,” he said.

$38,500 CSI2* JustWorld International Grand Prix
Place / Horse / Rider  / Country / Owner / Faults / Time

1. The Diamant Rose Z / Santiago Lambre / BRA / Ashland Farms / 0/0 36.61
2. Howard du Seigneur / James Chawke / IRL / Ramsay Equestrian Inc / 0/0 36.98
3. Coachella / Karl Cook / USA / Signe Ostby / 0/0 39.59
4. Kadans van de Mispelaere / Jaehee Jeon / KOR / Brother Fortune Equestrian Ltd. / 0/0 42.99
5. Yoghi Flp / Grant Seger / USA / Fox Lair Performance / 0/8 47.27
6. Lovely Woman / Jesus Francisco Orantes Haua / MEX / Jesus Francisco Orantes Haua / 1 81.39
7. Just Nice van het Indihof / Juan Jose Zendejas Salgado / MEX / Enny Isabel Salgado Negrete / 4 74.35
8. Odysseus / Kyle King / USA / Patricia Vasey / 4 74.48
9. Ester de Maugre / Alison Robitaille / USA / Alison Firestone LLC / 4 74.56
10. Nono vd Withoeve / Santiago Lambre / BRA / Marnick Spits Spits BV / 4 76.49

Fairy Tale Ending for Shawn Casady & NKH Cento Blue in CSIO5* Longines Grand Prix

The stars aligned for Shawn Casady (USA) Friday afternoon at Thunderbird Show Park, as the 28-year-old recorded the biggest victory of his career with NKH Cento Blue in the CSIO5* Longines Grand Prix. 

It took nearly a third of the class for a clean round to materialize over Peter Holmes’ (CAN) track, and it was Langley, BC’s own Samantha Buirs to lay it down with Chic D Emma Z. Once she did, World No. 10 Shane Sweetnam (IRL) followed suit with Out of the Blue SCF. But a trend it was not.

While fences fell in relatively equal measure, the last fence, the Longines vertical (‘unlucky’ 13) fell seven times. Just two more clears joined the jump-off: Canada’s Kara Chad with Igor GPH and the last pair in the ring, Casady and Cento Blue.

First to return over the short course, Buirs had an unfortunate refusal, costing her a chance at victory. Sweetnam laid down a clean round to put the pressure on, stopping the timer in 43.05 seconds. Elimination befell Chad and Igor, it was all down to Casady.

According to Jumpr App, Casady and KNH Cento Blue have performed with 4 faults or less 80% of the time in 2023, so it was only a matter of time before they had their turn in the winner’s circle. Today was the day, as they posted a clean round in 42.46 seconds.

“I didn’t see Shane’s whole jump off,” Casady explained. “[I was] just wanting to be double clear and consistent. For a big horse, he covers so much ground. I think that’s kind of where we were. We snuck in.

“I could have been fourth at the worst and it would have been a good day. I was just I was so proud of him,” he continued. “We were walking up to the ring together, and he knew we had a big a big day ahead of us.”

Casady, who grew up catch-riding ponies, didn’t acquire the ride on Cento Blue until his owner, Erin Davis-Heineking had an unfortunate injury, requiring shoulder surgery. She asked Casady to take on the ride and sent her horse to California, where the new partnership immediately started to win. After being named the U.S. team alternate for the Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup™ of the United States of America, Casady was encouraged to go on to Thunderbird.

For the past two weeks in Langley, Casady has been living and working out of his RV, grooming on his own and enjoying having the time to really get to know Cento Blue.

“He’s very food driven. He loves attention. And if you’re anywhere in the barn, he has his head out of his stall,” Casady described. “Every time you go near where there might be a snack, he looks over and wonders if you’re going to grab something for him. But he’s polite about it. He knows not to be rude.”

Perhaps it was that strengthened bond and more intimate familiarization with his mount that helped propel the pair to their biggest win yet—and inspired Casady to a moment of reflection.

“I know [that] in order to be successful, you have to believe in it and be confident. But I also know to be humble and to make sure I’m, you know, dotting the I’s and crossing my T’s,” Casady said. “I’m really grateful for all the effort that’s gone into [the journey] and the people and horses that have believed in me. It’s just a really special moment for it all to come together.”

tbird Pays Your Tab: Five Show For Free at BC Open

The tbird show office has become a most festive location on Friday afternoons. Thunderbird Show Park brought five entry fees to $0 to kick off the weekend at the Odlum Brown BC Open, as part of the “tbird Pays Your Tab” initiative.

During each of tbird’s 10 major show tournaments, five exhibitors are chosen at random to receive a free entry at the horse show. Throughout the course of the season, tbird will pay for a total of 50 entries. The milestone giveaways began at the April Season Opener and continue through the BCHJA Fall Finale in September.

This week’s lucky winners included Alicia Stein (Atlas RPH), Connor Dennis (Violette d’Amore), Lauren Esdale (Hilco), Joanne Lauzon (Columbia 27) and Sloan Betker (Canberre 59).

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

Jordan Coyle and Ariso Find Mutual Respect the Key to Success in CSIO5* West Coast Cup

Like in any good relationship, there is always a certain amount of give and take. Ireland’s Jordan Coyle and Ariso have found their middle ground, taking the win in the CSIO5* West Coast Cup 1.45m Friday afternoon at tbird’s Odium Brown BC Open. 

Of 10 who qualified to jump the short course set by Peter Holmes, three—with their eyes set firmly on Sunday’s Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup™ of Canada—elected to withdraw; that left just seven to return. 

It quickly became apparent that some bold inside turns would be necessary for a winning outcome, but that also came with risks. The move ended up actually being costly for Brazil’s Santiago Lambre and Zeusz, who incurred two time penalties while getting “stuck” in the tight turning. Coyle and Ariso had the luxury of jumping late in the order, allowing Coyle to watch and adjust his plan. He ultimately elected to take a few inside turns and a few take outside turns, maintaining a strong, forward momentum to seal the victory.

“It’s funny: He’s very foot-fast, and this course didn’t really suit him,” explained Coyle of Elan Farm’s 12-year-old gelding. “If you had to go really fast, there would be places to leave out strides, but I didn’t feel we needed to go quite that fast today.

“My plan was actually to do the round that we did yesterday together [in the CSIO5* Nations Welcome 1.50m],” he continued. “We had a very good round; I did all the ‘leave-outs,’ and it was very fast, and he just pulled the last jump. So today I wanted to just give him a smooth round—still win, but not really run quite as hard.”

Clean and fast, they left all the jumps up and stopped the clock in 45.15 seconds—four-tenths of a second ahead of second placed Susan Horn (CAN) and Kirlo van den Bosrand. Vanessa Mannix (CAN) and Carmela Z finished third (45.78 seconds).

Partnered together since 2020, Coyle and Ariso won the CSI5* MLSJ Grand Prix at tbird last year and have a 67% clear rate at the 1.45m height in 2023, according to Jumpr App. Naturally fast and full of scope, 12-year old Ariso has been learning to slow down and have a little more respect for the task at hand.

“Ariso used to be quite strong, but he’s got much more respect now that he’s jumping up at the higher levels,” Coyle said. “Everything was so easy for him. He just thought he could do what he wanted, and that was that. And although most of the time it was true, I’ve caught up with him and try to be just a little bit smarter!”

$38,500 CSIO5* West Coast Cup1.45m
Place / Horse / Rider  / Country / Owner / Faults / Time

1. Ariso / Jordan Coyle / IRL / Elan Farm / 0/0 45.15
2. Kirlo van den Bosrand / Susan Horn / CAN / Kingsfield Farm / 0/0 45.55
3. Carmela Z / Vanessa Mannix / CAN / Vanessa Mannix / 0/0 45.78
4. Cadeau Z / Mandy Porter / USA / Risen Eq Holdings LLC / 0/0 47.00
5. Zeus / Santiago Lambre / BRA / Lévai Csilla / 0/2 54.48
6. Atout des Trambles / Nicole Walker / CAN / Nicole Walker / 0/4 44.81
7. Oaks Casanova / Samuel Overton / AUS / Samuel Overton / 0/4 47.47
8. Gakhir / Erynn Ballard / CAN / Esperanza Imports, LLC & Ilan Ferder / 0/WD
8. Nadal Hero & DB / Conor Swail / IRL / Manon Farm / 0/WD
8. H-Lucky Retto / Jose Antonio Chedraui Eguia / MEX / Jose Antonio Chedraui Eguia, P Dolfsma / 0/WD

Robitaille Gets Rolling With Ester de Maugre in CSI2* Friends of tbird 1.45m

Alison Robitaille’s (USA) familiarization with new mount Ester de Maugre has been one of experimentation.

A tack adjustment and the identification of a preferred grass surface proved to be the winning formula Friday at Thunderbird Show Park’s Odlum Brown BC Open. Robitaille and the quick-footed 9-year-old mare recorded the first international victory of their young partnership in the CSI2* Friends of tbird 1.45m.

The pair bested an 11-horse jump-off over Peter Holmes’ (CAN) shortened track. The winning time was 40.23 seconds. James Chawke (IRL) and Howard du Seigneur finished second (40.51 seconds), with Grant Seger (USA) and Yoghi Flp third (41.80).

“My horse is a very quick horse naturally,” Robitaille said. “I was surprised I took the lead when I landed from the last jump. I thought that I had pulled in too many places.”

At the recommendation of her coach Kent Farrington (USA), Robitaille acquired Ester de Maugre in December from Mark Bluman (COL), also the former rider of her top mount, Oakingham Lira. The forward-thinking mare prefers to do things her way, and at first, that proved to be a give-and-take situation with her new rider.

“We slowly got to know each other over the jumps. We tried some different bridles, and I wasn’t sure what to use,” Robitaille explained. “I asked Kent to ride her a bit for me when I was in Virginia with my kids, and when I came back, he made the suggestion for me with this blue pelham, which she really likes.

“She really likes to feel like she’s pulling me and in control,” she added, “and I like to feel like I have some sort of say of when we leave the ground. It’s been a little bit of a work in progress, but this seems to be working great.”

Alison Robitaille (USA) and Ester de Maugre stand for the winner’s presentation with tbird CEO Jane Tidball. ©tbird/Quinn Saunders

Holmes’ jump-off course included a vertical-oxer combination, set downhill, that plagued many pairs in the first round. In the jump-off, it again played a role and proved not to be an area where risk should be taken. Robitaille took a check to set up the element and let the mare carry her pace the rest of the way. According to Jumpr App, Ester de Maugre finishes on the podium 38% of the time at 1.45m.

“My plan was to line up [the first two fences], but not angle too much with the water jump in the background, and then open her up,” Robitaille detailed. “I wanted to slow down a little bit to the double, and then she was great.”

For Robitaille, competing at the top levels of the sport has been a balancing act, as she has built up a new string and determined to be a present mother for her two daughters, Ava and Zoe. She’ll leave Thunderbird at week’s end to attend Zoe’s middle school graduation and will take time away from the saddle in July to accompany her daughters on a family trip, complete with homework assignments and presentations relating to European artwork.

“I have a small string of three horses, so [the schedule] actually seems to take shape on its own,” Robitaille said. “I keep the thing that’s most important to me—my kids—at the very top of the list, and the horses and the rest sort of just fall into place.”

$38,500 CSI2* Friends of Tbird 1.45m
Place / Horse / Rider / Country / Owner / Faults / Time

  1. Ester de Maugre / Alison Robitaille / USA / Alison Firestone LLC / 0/0 40.23
  2. Howard du Seigneur / James Chawke / IRE / Ramsay Equestrian Inc. /  0/0 40.51
  3. Yoghi Flip / Grant Seger / USA / Fox Lair Performance /  0/0 41.80
  4. Corner Pocket Z / Erynn Ballard / CAN / The Z Group / 0/0 42.44
  5. Jetouelle-S / Tiffany Foster / CAN / 5 Roosters / 0/0 42.50
  6. Florentine / Camilla Siekmann / USA / Seikmann Show Stables / 0/0 42.80
  7. Matonge of Colors / Nicole Walker / CAN / Nicole Walker / 0/0 43.93
  8. Caya / Shauna Cook / CAN / Sheilagh Kelly / 0/4 42.11
  9. McCaw Mynz / Katie Laurie / AUS / Carissa McCall / 0/4 42.19
  10. Caipirinha de Reve / Alicia Gadban-Lewis / CAN / Torrey Pines Stables / 0/8 47.38

Patricio Pasquel Opens Odlum Brown BC Open with a Win in CSIO5* Nations Welcome

A huge week of international show jumping kicked off at the Odlum Brown BC Open Thursday with speed being the name of the game for CSI2* and CSIO5* competitors all day.

In the feature class of the day, the $38,500 CSIO5* Nations Welcome, world no. 8 Conor Swail (IRL) was third in the ring of the 39-horse starting list and first to post a blazing round with Count Me In, stopping the clock in 60.80 seconds.

From there, the rounds were fast and they were clean, but sadly not in combination. America’s Shawn Casady came close with NKH Cento Blue (60.94) and then Swail and his second horse Casturano laid down a clear in 61.43 to move into third.

The class seemed all-but over. Then in came Mexico’s Patricio Pasquel with nine-year-old stallion Chakkalou PS — second to last in the group.

The pair put the pedal to the metal, shaving turns and strides off the Peter Holmes-designed 1.50m course. Stopping the timers in 60.40 seconds, they took over the lead with one to go. When Ireland’s Jordan Coyle and For Gold pulled a rail, it was Mexico’s win. Swail would have to settle for second (and fourth), pushing Casady into third.

“It’s his first 1.50m win,” smiled Pasquel, who took over the ride in Chakkalou PS’s 7-year-old year. “This is one we’ve tried to build up his confidence since I’ve had him and now I feel him ready to move up to the bigger stuff. You have to be patient.

“He’s coming along really well. He covers a lot of ground, which helps a lot. He is very fast and, to be honest, I didn’t know if I had [Conor] but when I looked and saw I did, I was pretty happy because he’s really fast! Any day you beat Conor Swail is a good day!” he laughed.

Show jumping heats up Friday with the CSI2* Friends of tbird at 8:45am, the CSIO5* West Coast Cup at 12:15pm and the marquee event of the day the $235,000 CSIO5* Longines Grand Prix at 4:00pm. Tickets are available on

It’s Game Over for Erynn Ballard in CSI2* Grand Prix

A top Canadian female rider led another victory gallop at Thunderbird Sunday afternoon, to close out the MLSJ Canadian Premier Week for 2023. 

Former leading female rider in the world, Erynn Ballard piloted Game Over with precision and tact to a double-clear, shaving 0.09 of a second off Conor Swail’s time to cross the finish in 38.70 seconds — a time that would hold up for the remainder of the class.  

A new partnership coming into Ilan Ferder’s sales stable, Ballard has competed Game Over less than a half-dozen times. She’s the first to admit sometimes horses just come into your life and there is an instant connection.

“Some of these horses appear in my life and it was like an instant match,” says Ballard. “I feel like this horse can make me fly. I believe so much in him. And he goes the way that I like — he’s forward. He’s a little spicy. He has a big opinion. And honestly, I just adore him.

I liked the course [today] when I walked it. I thought it was quite suitable for him. The tight time allowed also suits him. His feet always need to be moving. So you ride every round like it’s a speed class. And he also doesn’t have so much experience going fast. So the more he learns it, the better he gets. But he’s naturally fast. He doesn’t even have to go as fast as the others or do as few strides and he’s already faster. He’s just light in the air. He’s light off the ground. He’s really agile. And I think that we will see big things from this horse. I’m very excited about him.”

Ballard anticipates Game On becoming her true “second horse” to back up top horse Gakhir, a luxury that not all Canadian upper level riders manage to maintain.

“We rely on Gakhir so much. And he always steps up to the plate and he always gives us a result. But how nice would it be for him to have to have another horse so that he doesn’t have to be the one that we rely on all the time? It just shows how hard it is to get that horsepower and keep that horsepower. But when you have a horse that makes you feel like you can fly, you already are ahead of the game. So I have a team now and that’s really cool and really special.” 

It was truly an international field of competitors in the immaculate grass Fort Grand Prix Arena, with the top ten alone including riders from Canada, Ireland, Mexico, Korea and the United States. 

Ireland’s Conor Swail, the number 10 rider in the world, finished just behind Ballard in second place with a clean jump off round and a time of 38.79, with Patricio Pasquel of Mexico in third and Alicia Santa Rosa fractions of a second behind in 38.79.

This being Thunderbird Show Park’s 50th Anniversary, much discussion has centred around the idea of “legacy” over the past week. When asked what her legacy might be, Ballard very thoughtfully remarked, “In this sport I feel like there’s so much more to it than just riding. I hope people will remember me for being a great rider, but also a big influence in the sport and an influence to young girls that see me and they say ‘one day I want to be just like her.’ I think that Tiffany [Foster] probably feels the same way. So to have that for Canada — to have such a strong female presence and influence, I hope I’m remembered for things like that as well as for being the rider that I am.”

Game On, Erynn, Game On.

CSI2* $38,500 Grand Prix 1.45m 

Place / Horse / Rider / Owner / Country / JO Faults:Time

  1. Game Over / Erynn Ballard / Ilan Ferder / CAN / 0:38.7
  2. Casturano / Conor Swail / Rider / IRE / 0:38.79
  3. Alicia Santa Rosa / Patricio Pasquel / MEX / 0:38.98
  4. Kadans Van De Mispelaere / Jaehee Jeon / KOR / 0:41.3
  5. Chicago CM / Eric Krawitt / Rider / CAN / 0:41.86
  6. Cerolino / Kyle King / Ilan Ferder / USA / 4:38.78
  7. Chic D Emma Z / Samantha Buirs-Darvill / Rider / CAN / 4:39.52
  8. NKH Cento Blue / Shawn Casady / October Hill Sales / USA / 4:40.27
  9. Howard Du Seigneur / James Chawke / IRE / 4:42.36
  10. Chili Pepper H M Z / Lillie Keenan / Rider / USA / 4:43.72

Nicole Bourgeois Finds Way to Top of 7Up Stables USHJA International 3’6” Hunter Derby

Nicole Bourgeois of Wilsonville, Oregon, captured the $25,000 USHJA International 3’6” Hunter Derby with Wayfinder owned by Hilary Sosne. 

Leading from start to finish with an overall score of 348, Bourgeois topped her closest competitor Samantha Smith with Pierre, by a full 22 points.

When asked about her strategy for the two rounds, Bourgeois was quick to praise Wayfinder and their partnership:

“My strategy in the first round was just have a really smooth round,” she commented. “He’s an amazing jumper. As long as I somewhat get him near the jumps, he will do his job. It’s really nice to have a horse that jumps that well. I’m lucky he’s not spooky, so I don’t have to worry about that. I spooked a little bit at the barrels because in the Derby on Thursday the barrels were trouble for some. He’s not spooky, but I was a little spooky at them. He didn’t care at all and he couldn’t have been better. I’m lucky that I have such a nice horse to ride.

“I was a little conservative on my second round. Normally, I kind of go guns blazing in my second round, especially lately coming from California where there are just so many in the class. I was lucky here. There weren’t quite as many in the class, so I had a little bit of more of a conservative approach in the second round. I didn’t jump any of the high options. I just was going for a nice smooth second round, which he gave me.”

Congratulations are also in order as Bourgeois is an aunt to a new pony rider — her sister Kendall had a baby Friday night. The next generation of tbird riders is born just in time for another 50 years.

©tbird/Kady Dane