For the second year in a row, Queen Margaret’s School equestrian team rider Kassidy Keith has qualified for one of the biggest events in the sport, the ASPCA Maclay National Finals in Lexington, Kentucky on Oct. 27 to Nov. 1. Unlike last year, this time, she is making the trip.
Keith had to go through a gruelling summer schedule in order to qualify for the Maclay Regionals in Munro, Washington. Thanks to outstanding performances at Thunderbird Show Park, Milner Downs and Evergreen, she collected the points she needed.
Then it became time to pick the right horse to ride at the regionals. That horse is Wallabee, who was loaned to Keith by Dr. Jolene Benham, a QMS alumna and Duncan dentist.
“When Kassidy qualified for the Maclay’s again and had another shot at Lexington, we knew this was her chance to show at her highest level to date,” said Cheryl Keith, the QMS head equestrian coach and Kassidy’s mom. “It became of utmost importance that she ride with an equine partner she was comfortable with and already had an established relationship.”
The pairing of Keith and Wallabee earned the Washington State Hunter Jumper Medal and a top-five position at the Maclay’s Regionals, the required result for Keith to gain a ticket to Kentucky. While she didn’t end up punching that ticket last year, she won’t miss out this time.
“I was thrilled to qualify for the nationals last year, but financially it just didn’t work out,” Keith related. “This year, my mom fully supported me in my drive to qualify again by promising as much aid as she could gather.”
Competing in Kentucky will require a big financial commitment on the Keith family’s behalf — trainers, equipment, horse transportation and feed, travel, accommodations, etc. — and members of the QMS community and the equestrian community at large are stepping up to help out.
“We’re still looking at who my equestrian partner should be in Lexington, but we are so grateful to everyone who has offered us assistance,” Keith said. “This is my dream, and I’m humbled that there is a huge community willing to support me so I can pursue it.”
In the meantime, Keith isn’t just waiting for the Maclay finals. Last weekend, she competed at the Thunderbird Fall Finale in Langley, earning her qualification for the Royal Horse Show in Toronto this November.
Her performance also earned her the Jump Canada Medal and the Melanie Walters Memorial New Generation Award for the highest points accumulated in the CETs. As a result, Keith has earned her way into the Royal Horse Show in Toronto this November, as well as the Royal West in Calgary later this month.