Queen Margaret’s School equestrian team riders wrapped up a six-week stint in the California desert late last month, and came home with a long list of accolades.
Head coach Cheryl Keith and equestrian program director Jodie Buydens took eight riders to Thermal, California to compete in the HITS Desert Circuit over a six-week span.
The most successful of those riders was Grade 12 student Kassidy Keith, who headed south in February, ahead of the rest of the team. Working with four different horses, Keith racked up the honours.
On La Reserve, Keith received second half circuit champion in modified junior amateur hunter, reserve grand circuit champion in modified junior amateur hunter, second half circuit champion in 1.3m junior jumpers, and reserve grand circuit champion in 1.3m junior jumpers.
On Chicago, she was winner of the USEF Pessoa Medal in week three. On Crackerjack, she was champion mid circuit in 1.3m junior jumper, reserve champion grand circuit in 1.3m junior jumper, and top five in the junior amateur 1.35m classic. And on Rigoletto, she placed second in the Maclay Medal, won the large junior hunter stake in week five, and finished fourth in the Ronnie Mutch Equitation Championship.
The rest of the QMS riders reached California in March.
“Taking a team of this size to an international competition is a large undertaking,” Buydens said. “Coordinating the transportation of our students, their horses, equipment, and accommodation was time consuming. Yet the passion these athletes display for the equestrian sport makes the effort absolutely worth it.”
Lillian Jiang was reserve champion in short stirrup equitation in week six on Rising Tide. Kyra Westman rode LL Bean and Will I Am to top three placings in low children’s jumper in weeks five and six.
Lily Li was reserve champion in pre children’s hunter on Providence. Christine Coels and TeAmo took consistent ribbons in low children’s jumper in weeks five to seven, and Miranda LeBeuf had consistent ribbons on Carivero in modified child adult. Tianna Jerome rode Capo E to some impressive rounds in the 1.0m jumpers.
The youngest QMS rider at Thermal was Grade 5 student Hannah Anderson. Riding Rosewood, Anderson was second half circuit champion in pre child hunter, reserve grand circuit champion in pre child hunter, second half circuit reserve champion in short stirrup equitation, and second half circuit champion in short stirrup hunter.
“It was really hot in Thermal, but it was really fun to ride in such a big show,” she said. “I was so happy to compete for the month. My Thermal results have given me confidence to compete in more shows locally, and I want to go back to HITS next year.”