Twenty-three-year-old Lacey Gilbertson is taking each day at a time in her competitive career, a move that has proven to play well in her favor after many accolades in top venues across the country. This vivacious young woman has her heart set on bigger dreams and bigger fences and JN was excited to catch up with her about her accomplishments in Kentucky this spring.
The Chicago native began riding at the age of six thanks to the parents of her childhood best friend who are actively involved in the equestrian community. Despite her friend falling out of love with the sport, Lacey was hooked and continued to feed her passion. She began competing seriously at the age of fifteen and transitioned to the jumper ring when she turned nineteen.
Lacey now rides with Shane Sweetnam and Michael DelFiandra of Sweet Oak Farm. The Sweet Oak team splits their time between Wellington, Florida for the winter circuit and Lexington, Kentucky in the summer.
With four talented horses to compete, Lacey is working towards her goals of consistency at the higher levels. “I’ve become comfortable jumping 1.45/1.50 but I want to take the next step to be able to be more competitive in some of the bigger Grand Prixs as well as continue to be consistent in the under 25 division,” Lacey tells JN.
One of those four horses is the talented Baloppi, a 10 year old Danish Warmblood mare that Lacey lovingly calls Poppy. Despite having just acquired Poppy in February, it is evident the pair are bonding quite well. “When I make a mistake, she always takes care of me and never holds it against me. She just continues to do her job.”
Like many mares, Poppy has quite the personality. Lacey claims that she is sweet in the stall, but can get pretty hot when in work. “She’s brave and very fast. The faster you go, the easier she is to ride which I think is what makes her such a winner.”
Poppy has lived up to that reputation by building quite the resume with Lacey in their short time together. The pair recently took the blue in the U25 Grand Prix at the Kentucky Horse Park despite a small hiccup in their plan. “I went third in the first round so I was a bit rushed during the walk and didn’t get to see anyone go. Going in the ring, I just wanted to stick to my plan and have a smooth consistent round,” she said.
The pair was first to go in the jump off and Lacey knew they were going to have to put in their best attempt. “There were some other very fast riders in the class. I knew if I wanted to win I was going to have to take chances where I could and luckily it all paid off in the end.”
In addition to their U25 win, the pair also won the High Classic the day before, but their list of successes doesn’t end there. Two weeks after purchasing Baloppi, the mare was on the winning team in the Under 25 team event in Wellington. They also won a High Classic at the end of the circuit at Wellington and took home a win in Miami at the Global Champions Tour.
Lacey and Baloppi at the Miami LGCT. PC: The Book LLC, with permission
While Lacey continues to take home top placings, she isn’t letting that go to her head. “I like to set my goals one step at a time and not think too far ahead into the future. I have a very good string of horses right now so I’m just going to focus on that and make the most of the animals I’m lucky enough to have now. Whatever happens, happens.” With a steady head on her shoulders and a collection of talented horses in her life, Lacey Gilbertson will undoubtedly continue to strive toward and fine excellence in her riding career.