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Kennedy McCaulley Makes Equitation Debut with Maclay Win at Chicago Festival of the Horse

Allyson Lagiovane

Reporting from Lamplight - Lamplight Equestrian Center, Wayne, Illinois
Thursday, August 4, 2016 :: Posted 08:32:13 PM EDT

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© Allyson Lagiovane: Kennedy McCaulley and Celtic RomanceKennedy McCaulley and Celtic Romance win the ASPCA Maclay division at the Chicago Festival of the Horse

Wayne, Ill. – Aug. 4, 2016 – The saying goes that there is a first time for everything, and Thursday, Aug. 4, marked Kennedy McCaulley’s first time competing in the equitation division. The 14-year-old rider carried her experience from the jumper ring over to the ASPCA Maclay division to best the field of 11 riders to earn the blue.

McCaulley was riding her own mare, Celtic Romance, who was also competing in the equitation division for the first time. McCaulley said, “Up until now, she’s been a jumper so this is her first time in the equitation ring as well. She felt great today; I’m really proud of her!”

McCaulley was the final competitor to enter the ring for the over fences portion of the class, and earned a spot on the callback list to return for the flat work-off. The pair effortlessly demonstrated their skills over fences and on the flat to ultimately win top honors.

“I just really had to think about sitting tall and staying back because that kind of helps [Celtic Romance] calm down too,” McCaulley said of her flat work-off. “She’s a little bit fresh today, but she was good!”

© Allyson Lagiovane: Kennedy McCaulley and Celtic Romance smile
Kennedy McCaulley is all smiles after winning the ASPCA Maclay

Just this winter, McCaulley broke her wrist while at the Winter Equestrian Festival in Wellington, Florida. She has been bringing Celtic Romance back into work and showing ever since recovering from her injury, and decided that they would give equitation a try at the Chicago Festival of the Horse.

McCaulley said, “We brought her to this show for equitation to see if it would work, and I guess it did! I really knew the rollbacks wouldn’t be a problem because she’s a jumper. She can be difficult with that some days but she felt great today.”

McCaulley laughed, “I was just hoping to get around really! I didn’t think I would place or anything, which was a nice surprise!”

Rounding out the top three in the division was Emma Dubinsky riding VDL Zingaro H in second place, and Brooke Pfieffer aboard Samy in third place.

© Allyson Lagiovane: Emma Dubinsky and VDL Zingaro H
Emma Dubinsky and VDL Zingaro H

Following the ASPCA Maclay division, USEF Pessoa Hunt Seat Medal riders took to the Main Hunter Ring to vie for first place honors. It was Isabella Baxter aboard her own Chief that came out on top among the field of 10 horses and riders.

“He’s pretty slow,” Baxter said of Chief. “He doesn’t like to go very fast and he really doesn’t spook at anything. He’s just very mellow and very adjustable, which is nice.”

Baxter just started leasing the 15-year-old gelding in December to compete in the equitation. She has been competing in equitation for about a year and a half under the tutelage of Shannon Hicks out of St. Louis, Missouri.

© Allyson Lagiovane: Isabella Baxter and Chief
Isabella Baxter and Chief

Baxter said, “I like training with her a lot. She’s helped me break a lot of my really bad habits. I’ve become a more confident and stronger rider with her.”

Baxter put down a strong and confident round with Chief, earning her a spot in the top-four callback. She commented, “I wanted to do really tidy turns and practice for finals that are coming up. I wanted to kind of go all out if I could!”

For the work-off, Baxter was placed on the callback list along with Emma Dubinsky on VDL Zingaro H, Amanda Shaw on Contemporary and Brooke Pfieffer on Samy.

The four riders were asked to canter a diagonal line oxer, immediately followed by trotting the end jump. Riders were asked to then navigate to the diagonal single and demonstrate a rollback turn to the inside of the diagonal line, finish at a halt and canter back to the line-up.  

© Allyson Lagiovane: Amanda Shaw and Contemporary
Amanda Shaw and Contemporary

Of the work-off, Baxter said, “At first I thought I heard it wrong, but then I got it down and I just tried to ride everything that I had imagined in my head as successfully as possible.”

Emma Dubinksy and VDL Zingaro H earned the second place ribbon, with Amanda Shaw and Contemporary finishing in third and Brooke Pfieffer and Samy finishing in fourth.

Competition at the Chicago Festival of the Horse continues Friday, Aug. 5, beginning at 8 a.m. For more information on the Lamplight Equestrian Center's Chicago Festival of the Horse Equifest show series, please visit A downloadable prize list is accessible online.

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