The Lamplight Equestrian Center’s Chicago Festival of the Horse Equifest Show Series came to a close on Sunday, and the final weekend offered a fitting grand finale. Here are the highlights!

Caitlyn Shiels and Cassius Win $5,000 USHJA National Hunter Derby

Aug. 12, 2016 – The final hunter derby of the Chicago Festival of the Horse took place on Friday morning, showcasing top horse and rider combinations in the Main Hunter ring. Caitlyn Shiels and her unstoppable mount, Cassius, took home top honors to finish up the $5,000 UHSJA National Hunter Derby.

Shiels and Don Stewart’s Cassius have only been working together since April of this year, but their partnership has grown to produce success in the show ring. Shiels and Cassius finished their first over fences round with a score of 88, putting them in third place going into the handy round.

“He was great,” Shiels said of Cassius. “The first round was really nice. There were nice high options, good turns, and a nice bending line. I thought it really made the horses jump really nice, too. [Cassius] was very smooth, very rideable, and I was very happy with him!”

Following closely behind Shiels heading into the handy round was Laura Stern on Harrison. Stern was nicely situated in fourth place with a score of 87, and also followed closely behind with her other mount, Ellie, with a score of 76.

“Harrison is just a blast!” said Stern. “He’s really learned and grown, and this was our first derby this year. He’s just a really good boy. He walks in the ring at any time ready to play. He knows what to do and to go in and jump the jumps, he’s all about it. It’s nice that he’s a good mover too!”

Shiels was the second to last competitor to tackle the handy round, showcasing Cassius’ beautiful form over fences and ability to remain rideable throughout the course. The pair earned a score of 89, enough to move them up in the ranks and take home the first place ribbon.

“During the handy I just wanted to be super smooth,” explained Shiels. “I had a nice score in the first round, so I just wanted to go in and lay down the same trip with a little bit tidier turns. He handled it all very well. I just knew at the end that he was very good and really deserved the scores that he got, so I was very pleased with him today. It’s just been great having the opportunity to ride such a nice horse.”

Stern and Harrison returned to the ring to earn a score of 88 for their handy trip, securing the second place finish. Stern ultimately rounded out the top three aboard her 8-year old mare, Ellie.

This week marked Ellie’s first week in the hunter ring, and Stern is looking forward to competing the mare in the First Year Green Hunter next year. She commented, “In the first round [Ellie] was really good. I think I was a little conservative with her because I didn’t want to push her too quick, and I got a little long in the line, but in the handy she was all about it and nailed it!”

Stern was pleased with how well her horses finished up the day, saying, “The courses for the class were really fun! It was a little tricky, but I loved it. It made you work both directions both courses. They do such a beautiful job here; we just love it. I’ve come here for years and we really enjoy it.”Caitlyn Shiels and Cassius. Photo: Allyson Lagiovane/Phelps Media Group. Caitlyn Shiels and Cassius. Photo: Allyson Lagiovane/Phelps Media Group.

Rinaldi and Soares Earn Blue Ribbons in High and Low Junior/Amateur-Owners

August 12, 2016 – Giavanna Rinaldi and Jesse Soares rode away with victories in the High Junior/Amateur-Owner and Low Junior/Amateur-Owner Friday morning at the Chicago Festival of the Horse. Both riders won aboard mounts they were introduced to at the 2016 Winter Equestrian Festival, continuing their success at the Lamplight Equestrian Center.

Rinaldi and Little Gun 17 were introduced about seven months ago during the winter show circuit in Florida. Rinaldi rode the WBFSH gelding on behalf of Shader Sporthorses, LLC. and performed exceptionally.

“He did the Medium Junior Jumpers with me during WEF and was really good,” Rinaldi explained. “We won some big classes down there. He came with me to Chicago Festival of the Horse to ride and show and has done pretty well these last two weeks.”

Their victory in the High Junior/Amateur-Owner was their first win in Chicago. Sharing her thoughts on his performance, Rinaldi said, “It was a nice win for us. He jumped really well today. He listened and was fast. Actually, really fast. That’s his strong suit. He gets quite a bit of airtime, because he likes to get his legs up there. He was a good boy today.”

The 8-year-old bay is known for his natural speed, which he enjoyed putting on display for spectators. The duo were the final competitors to tackle the Steve Stephens-designed course, and were the fourth pair to successfully clear it.

Their top spot on the leaderboard was earned by a two-second margin. With a time of 33.600 seconds, they forced Brian Moggre and S&L Bon Vivant to settle for second place after they tripped the timers at 35.425 seconds.

“Since Little Gun is really quick off his feet, I just let him do his thing,” Rinaldi said. “I don’t need to try to get him going. He can run and turn really quickly and any distance I give him, he jumps. He doesn’t care about any of that, he’s a brave horse. He’s fun to ride. He’s super smooth and careful, and he’s great for speed classes. I really enjoy riding him.”

The junior rider concluded, “Little Gun likes a strong rider. He’s a pretty forward horse. He likes to take me to the jumps, but he also likes having the support of my leg there. We’ve been working on that the last couple of days, and it really helped us pull off the win today.”

021975Giavanna Rinaldi and Little Gun 17. Photo: Allyson Lagiovane/Phelps Media Group.

Making their Low Junior/Amateur-Owner debut was Jesse Soares and Atlanta Z. The Bermuda-born rider bought the 12-year-old Zangersheide mare in December 2015 and showed her for the first time at WEF the following months.

“This only our fourth show together,” Soares said. “It was our first time in the Low Juniors, and our first time showing at Lamplight Equestrian Center. It’s a beautiful horse park and I love the ring.”

Sharing her thoughts on her first Low Junior jumper course, she said, “I thought the course was great. It was a good introductory course for me and Atlanta Z. She felt great today. She jumped amazing. I’m pretty sure I got jumped out of the tack a few times, which was great. She had a lot of energy. It was awesome.”

The duo was the sole horse and rider combination to make it to the speed round. Although the pair lowered the height of the final obstacle and incurred 4 faults, they rode away with the victory, tripping the timers at 34.158 seconds.

“She takes a lot of leg and a lot of hand,” Soares shared. “She likes to be down on her forehand, which is hard to do when you’re jumping that big, but we’re working on it. She’s getting better and better and I feel that we’re more confident now in our rides.

Soares has been living in Canada for the last three years and came to Lamplight Equestrian Center to show under the instruction of Rob Carey, who recently moved to the Chicago area. The two met in Canada and have continued working together.

021978Jesse Soares and Atlanta Z. Photo: Devaney Iglesias/Phelps Media Group.

Brian Moggre Wins WIHS Equitation

Aug. 13, 2016 – Brian Moggre has had quite the successful Equifest III series at the Chicago Festival of the horse, dominating the jumper ring and earning win after win at the Lamplight Equestrian Center. He is also a strong force in the equitation ring, and during Saturday’s competition he took home the win in the WIHS Equitation Hunter phase and Jumper phase aboard Viceroy to take home the overall victory.

Though Moggre just started competing in the equitation divisions this January, he has proven his skills and earned titles at shows like HITS Ocala and Devon. Moggre first started riding MTM Farm’s Viceroy at the Lamplight Equestrian Center during Spring Spectacular, and the two have grown into an impressive pair.

“He’s just an all around great ride,” expressed Moggre. “He’s great in the jumper ring, the hunter ring, equitation, everything. He’s a pretty simple ride, but he does need quite a bit of leg sometimes. I use a decent amount of leg to kind of get him going but once he’s on it and on a roll, he’s amazing.”

Moggre commented on the course, saying, “I thought the course was nice. Going into it, I definitely wanted to win, because earlier in the morning I won the WIHS Jumper phase, so after winning that I wanted to win overall. I went in there and wasn’t going to be too bold because I didn’t want to risk it. I put a solid trip down and Viceroy was right up to task and went awesome.”

Second place in the WIHS Equitation Hunter phase went to Giavanna Rindaldi aboard Alex Jayne’s Disney. It was Rinaldi’s first time riding the mare, and it was the mare’s first time competing in equitation.

Rinaldi said, “She’s super smooth and has a really great jump. It worked out in our favor because most of the lines were pretty straight, but she was really good. I was really proud of her for just stepping up and going right in the equitation for the first time. I think she’ll be really cute in the equitation, so hopefully I’ll be able to ride her again!”

Rounding out the top three in the WIHS Equitation Hunter phase was Stella Swarr aboard High Hopes Farm’s Island Boy.

Rinaldi took home another ribbon during Saturday’s competition after winning the $1,000 Junior/Amateur-Owner Hunter classic. Rinaldi was riding Alex Jayne’s Bugsy Malone, a familiar mount for the junior rider. The pair put down solid rounds to earn the win.

“He felt really good. He was super quiet and jumped great, he was on top of his game for all three courses today. Especially in the first round we got an 88, he was super smooth, jumped great, and felt really good.”

Second place in the $1,000 Junior/Amateur-Owner Hunter classic went to Brianna Laheta riding her own mount, My Guardian Angel. The third place finisher was Michelle Durpetti aboard Lucca.

Therese Peck was awarded the CWD Classic Saddle in honor of being the high point combined Amateur-Owner Hunter rider throughout the three weeks at the Chicago Festival of the Horse. Peck rides with Mike McCormick and Tracey Fenny at MTM Farm, who accepted the award on her behalf during Saturday afternoon’s $50,000 Grand Prix. CWD is French a custom saddle company that prides themselves in technology, quality, and service. CWD would like to extend their congratulations to Therese Peck as well as all of the competitors during the Chicago Festival of the Horse.

022009Brian Moggre and Viceroy. Photo: Allyson Lagiovane/Phelps Media Group.

Brian Moggre and MTM Ace of Spades Ride Away with $50,000 Grand Prix Victory

August 13, 2016 – The joy that overcame 15-year-old Brian Moggre upon hearing his name announced as the victor of the Rider’s Boutique $50,000 Grand Prix was undeniable and visible to every spectator in the stands at the Lamplight Equestrian Center on Saturday. With his arms wrapped around MTM Ace of Spades’ neck, Moggre entered the ring to receive his award and take the ceremonious victory lap in the SmartPak Grand Prix arena after topping a seven-horse jump-off during the Chicago Festival of the Horse.

MTM Farm had five horse-and-rider combinations entered in the week’s highly anticipated class, three of which made the speed round.

“It’s nerve-wrecking,” Moggre explained about competing against professionals. “Especially, because I’m competing against Dorothy [Douglas] and Tracy [Fenney], and we’re all from the same farm. When Tracy went in, I knew she was going to light it up and I got nervous. Dorothy went before me, and I told myself I really needed to kick it into gear if I wanted to beat her. Tracy was only fractions of a second behind me. I still can’t believe I won. I’m so happy.”

Although seven riders qualified for the jump-off of the featured class, only five had double-clear efforts.

“The course was pretty difficult, especially going into the first line,” Moggre said about the Steve Stephens-designed course. “It was tough, a wake up call for sure. It was pretty technical with some big jumps. It was definitely one of the biggest I’ve done. MTM Ace of Spades was really good and I trusted that he would be on his game if I was on mine. After we went, I just waited in hopes that we did enough to win.”

Moggre, a Texas native, entered the field after Douglas earned the first double-clear round of the jump-off aboard S&L Elite, setting the time to beat at 38.779 seconds, which would eventually hold up for fifth place. He was determined to outrun the professional and did so, tripping the timers at 36.070 seconds in a faultless effort aboard MTM Ace of Spades. However, he was only the third rider to go and was forced to watch four professionals challenge his speed round.

Fenney was one of those challengers. The MTM Farm co-owner and trainer took home third place aboard MTM Como No in a time of 37.793 seconds, while Richard Cheska and Quick Tempo earned the fourth spot on the leaderboard with a time of 37.808 seconds.

Nearly catching the speedy youngster was Douglas Boyd and Berkley III. The duo fell a hair short, settling for the second place ribbon with a time of 36.867 seconds in a faultless effort.

“The first round he was very good, I just wanted to stick to my plan and be as smooth as possible,” Boyd shared. “He’s always really good in the combinations. He’s a careful jumper. He’s new at this and each time in the ring, he gets smarter and smarter. Today, I could actually go for it a bit and he’s starting to get it, we’re excited. We’re just thrilled with him.”

Moggre, a first-generation equestrian, called his No. 1 fan upon learning that his time went unbeaten.

“I Facetime’d my mom as soon as I won, and she couldn’t believe it,” he laughed. “It was neat. My mother is all out. She is always telling me, ‘Go! Jump the jumps! Get it together and go win!’ I have to tell her to take it down a few notches sometimes. My dad is so supportive. He just wants me to have fun. My mom does, too, but she has a more competitive side to her. That’s where I get it from, I think.”

“Having the MTM team behind me is amazing,” Moggre added. “They’re all so supportive and so nice. It’s great to know that I have so many people that wish for my success, just as much as their own. I couldn’t be happier to be in the same class as them. All three of us had a horse in the jump off and that just felt really good.”

Both Moggre and Boyd has seen their fair share of successes at Lamplight Equestrian Center.

“Lamplight is local for us and we love coming here,” said Boyd. “I’ve been coming here since I was a child, so longer than a while. We just really like it here. We like the grounds and Nina Moore has put a lot of effort into making the facility better. We like her horse shows.”

As the evening concluded, Douglas returned to the ring and was awarded the Kastel Denmark Style of Riding Award for her exceptional American style of riding and sportsmanship to which she exclaimed, “I like riding well and looking good!”022013Brian Moggre and MTM Ace of Spades. Photo: Devaney Iglesias/Phelps Media Group.

Colby Hassfurther and Optimized Earn Amateur-Owner Hunter Championship Win

Aug. 14, 2016 – During the final day of Equifest III at the Chicago Festival of the Horse, competitors in the Amateur-Owner Hunters and the Junior Hunters vied for their respective championships to end the three-week series. It was Colby Hassfurther that earned the championship in the Amateur-Owner division, while Giavanna Rinaldi clinched yet another champion in the Junior Hunter division at the Lamplight Equestrian Center.

Hassfurther and her mount, Optimized, earned a total of two firsts, a second, and two third place ribbons to receive the championship at the close of the division. Hassfurther has been with Optimized for four years, and their partnership has become stronger with each passing year.

“I’ve had [Optimized] for about four and a half years now, and we have a really good partnership,” Hassfurther said. “We were doing the 3’6’’ for awhile and decided to go down to the 3’3’’ because he’s getting a little older, he’s 14-years old now. He’s awesome to ride and I can just hop on and go in the ring without needing much prep. He goes to all of the jumps great; he’s basically perfect!”

Hunter competitors were faced with a different obstacle during their handy round course on Sunday’s portion of the division, tackling a bounce line at the far end of the ring. The handy round offered a nice change of pace for competitors.

Hassfurther said, “I thought the handy round was really fun actually. We had the bounce in there, and you don’t normally see that, so it was a little bit different. Our strategy was just to be as tidy as possible and do what we normally do, and it worked out great!”

Hassfurther rides with Connie Stevens out of Matchmaker Farm in Chicago, and the Lamplight Equestrian Center has been a regular stop for them. She said, “We come to Lamplight quite a bit. We’ve come here for Spring Spectacular and over the summer. It’s such a nice facility and we really love it.”

Elizabeth Wexler took home the reserve championship ribbon in the Amateur-Owner Hunter riding Zurch. Over the span of the division, Wexler took home two first place ribbons and two third place ribbons.

Giavanna Rinaldi also closed out the Chicago Festival of the horse with an impressive championship win in the Junior Hunter. Rinaldi was aboard Alex Jayne’s Bugsy Malone, sweeping all five classes and bringing home nothing but blue to clinch the tricolor.

“[Bugsy Malone] felt awesome today!” Rinaldi said. “After the first round he was really good, and I knew in the handy I could be tidy. I don’t think I’ve ever done the bounce with him, but I trusted him to figure it out, and he was great.”

Rinaldi and Bugsy Malone came back to the hunter ring week after week constantly bringing home first place ribbons and impressive scores. Rinaldi was fond of her three weeks at the Lamplight Equestrian Center, and enjoyed competing throughout the three weeks of Equifest.

“It’s been an awesome experience showing here, I really love it. Especially for three weeks, it went by so quickly. But I’ve had a lot of success here, and I really like the show and the horses have been super.”

The reserve championship in the Junior Hunter division went to Abby Hamann aboard Superfly. Hamann and Superfly earned a total of two seconds, a third, and two sixth place ribbons during the division. 022032Colby Hassfurther and Optimized. Photo: Allyson Lagiovane/Phelps Media Group.

Giavanna Rinaldi and Dulf Van Den Bisschop Cap Off Festival with $7,500 Cavalor Junior/Amateur-Owner Jumper Classic Victory

August 14, 2016 – Giavanna Rinaldi, a local up-and-coming star, has sealed off her fantastic three-week stretch at the Chicago Festival of the Horse with a victory in the $7,500 Cavalor Show Jumping Hall of Fame Junior/Amateur-Owner Classic. The 17-year-old rode three horses in the final class on Sunday, qualifying two for the speed round and riding away with the win aboard Dulf Van Den Bisschop in a time of 33.041 seconds.

“Danny [Dulf Van Den Bisschop] felt awesome, but pretty tired,” Rinaldi said as she patted her horse for a job well done. “These last three weeks have been really long. He jumped the first round like a hunter derby. He jumped it so easily, but then he kicked it into gear for the jump-off. He knows when to go fast.”

The recent Auburn University signee went clear over the Steve Stephens-designed first round course aboard Little Gun 17 and Dulf Van Den Bisschop, as did Caelinn Leahy and Tzargazer.

The three horse-and-rider combinations were the only contenders in the jump-off. Rinaldi attempted the course first with Little Gun 17, but incurred 4 faults in a time of 33.377 seconds. She exited and re-entered aboard the bay Belgium Warmblood and tripped the timers at nearly the same speed in 33.041 seconds, but in an faultless effort to set the new time to beat with Dulf Van Den Bisschop.

Leahy was last to go with Tzargazer, and the pair successfully left all rails intact, but were a second too late. Clocking in a time of 34.131 seconds, the duo was forced to settle for the red ribbon.

“Danny and I had almost the same exact time as Little Gun,” Rinaldi said. “He was really good, too. They’re polar opposites. Little Gun is always moving forward and speedy. Danny doesn’t have as much as a motor, and I really have to get him going, especially after three long weeks. Thalys Z was awesome, too. We just had an unfortunate rail in the first round.”

She continued, “It’s been a tiring three weeks, but it went by faster than I thought. It doesn’t feel like it’s the last week. All the horses I’ve ridden have done so great. They have been so good and jumped really well. They’re ready for some time off.”

The Illinois native has had a busy three-week stint of competition, securing victories each week in multiple divisions and arenas. Her most notable wins were aboard Dulf Van Den Bisschop, a 13-year-old stallion, in the $50,000 and $75,000 Grand Prix events during Weeks I and II against some of the countries’ top professional athletes.

“I’ve definitely surprised myself,” Rinaldi smiled. “At Spring Spectacular, I didn’t have as much success as I did here. We really clicked here at Chicago Festival of the Horse, especially for the grand prix events. I still can’t believe it, honestly.”

With an opportunity to show so close to home, Rinaldi has been a local favorite and has sported a fan base throughout the competition.

“They’re all at the other end of the ring,” Rinaldi laughed as she spoke about her friends and family in attendance. “My dad brought some friends and my grandparents are here. They all enjoy coming, and I enjoy having them here. We live so close. It feels like this show is in our backyard. I’ve always loved coming to Lamplight. It’s great prize money and has beautiful show grounds. I just really love it here.”

Sharing similar sentiments was local Celia Bresch, who earned a blue ribbon in the $1,500 NAL Low Junior/Amateur-Owner Jumper Classic earlier Sunday afternoon. Bresh and Zalicia, an 11-year-old Warmblood, earned the win with a double-clear effort in a time of 35.242 seconds.

“Our barn is about 10 minutes from here,” Bresch shared. “This is our home show. I love the Grand Prix ring. It’s so big with nice footing. It makes you realize how spoiled we are when we go to other shows.”

The young athlete came in for the day to show in the classic and went home with a blue ribbon aboard her 2015 Christmas present.

“I got Zalicia for Christmas,” Bresch said. “I had tried her a few times before that, and when I jumped her, I knew she was the horse for me. She had to be mine. She’s been my step up into the low juniors.”

Securing the second-place finish and the division’s championship was Brooke Saltzman and Don Perion. The duo has only been together since March, but have earned their fair share of success.

“He jumped fantastic today,” Saltzman said. “It was a pretty consistent week for us. He’s a baby, so it’s really best for me to ride him forward and into my hand. We’re both learning and growing together.”022036Giavanna Rinaldi and Dulf Van Den Bisschop. Photo: Devaney Iglesias/Phelps Media Group.

The Chicago Festival of the Horse will return for the Summer of 2017. For more information, please visit A downloadable prize list is accessible online.