After aging out of equitation competition at the end of the 2016 show season, Kendra Gierkink of Harpswell, ME, had no plans to ever compete in another equitation class. However, on Friday morning, Gierkink rode Casstess HBC to win the Ariat National Adult Medal. The class consisted of a first round and a test of the top four riders. Gierkink and Casstess HBC, owned by Kadley Holdings, LLC, earned the high score in the first round, an 88, and laid down a flawless test to take the blue ribbon.
The nine-year-old Holsteiner stallion by Cassiano had never competed in an equitation class before Friday, as he was previously campaigned by Gierkink’s sister, Addison Gierkink, in the Medium Amateur-Owner jumpers.
“I started riding him at the beginning of the winter circuit,” Gierkink explained. “He decided he doesn’t want to be a jumper anymore, so I’ve just been riding him at home and taking lessons. I was doing the warm-up in this ring on Tuesday and my trainer, Missy Clark, said, ‘Oh, he goes really cute, why don’t you do an Adult Medal.’ We decided to do the Ariat, and he was super!”
All four riders in the test executed the more challenging and shortened track smoothly, but Gierkink’s consistency and smoothness over both rounds helped her win the class.
Speaking of her trips, Gierkink said, “In the first round there were several options, but I decided to ride off of what I was feeling. I liked the course and my horse went around really well, he landed all the leads and was great. Testing is not always my strong suit, but I thought it was a good test!”
Catie Staszak of Boynton Beach, FL, piloted Agnes Augusta, an entry owned by East Wind Farms, LLC, to the second place ribbon. The pair earned the second highest score in the first around, an 86. Rounding out the top three placings was Gabi Morris of Bridgewater, NJ. Morris guided her own Hypnotic to a first round score of 85.