Working Her Way to Success: A Rider’s First Experience at the Devon Horse Show

Photo: Irene Powlick

Photo: Irene Elise Powlick

By Grace Salmon


Kaitlyn Lovingfoss of Canyon Country, California is no stranger to success. In March, she topped a field of 27 in the Ronnie Mutch Equitation Championship at HITS Coachella. In May, she decided to travel across the country to Devon, Pennsylvania to tackle The Devon Horse Show – a new venue for the fifteen year old. Kaitlyn is in tenth grade, attends Laurel Springs Online School, and trains with Elvenstar and Carolyn Culligan. The Plaid Horse caught up with her after her debut at the historic horse show, where she brought home ribbons in every class.


Kaitlyn says that both the atmosphere and the competition make the Devon Horse Show stand out from other shows. And like many other great riders, she turned the trip into an opportunity to learn. “It is amazing to see and watch phenomenal riders put in flawless performances. It encourages me to keep trying harder and to do better.” She comments on the diversity of the horse show, stating that “My favorite things about Devon are the educational opportunities in riding, horsemanship, and training as many different riding styles and horses compete against one another.”


When asked how she prepared for such a prestigious horse show, Lovingfoss said she did not stray too far from her usual plan. “I prepared for Devon like I would for any horse show. Of course Devon is not just any show – but I always strive to do my best, so my preparation should set me up as if I was doing the championships.”


Lovingfoss rode her own Hasta La Vista in the equitation classes. Lovingfoss describes the ten year old Belgian Warmblood as “a solid and consistent horse. He tries his best every time.” They’ve been together for less than a year, but since the start of their partnership, they’ve seen much success together, including top placings at venues like the Winter Equestrian Festival and Indoors.  Lovingfoss speaks fondly of her mount, who she’s had since the fall of 2016. “He has proved to be an amazing partner.”


Together, Lovingfoss and the chestnut gelding competed in the USEF talent search placing 5th, the ASPCA Maclay placing 6th, USEF medal placing 7th, and also placed 8th in the WIHS jumper phase.


Lovingfoss only started showing in the 3’6 Equitation during the summer of 2015, but any nerves she feels only fuel her. “I get nervous for big important classes but the nerves just push me to do better.” Training with both Elvenstar and Carolyn Culligan is integral to her success. “I usually start riding a few horses at Carolyn’s around 5:30 and then go and ride at Elvenstar around 10. Riding at both of these amazing barns has taught me so much about riding and they both stress horsemanship.” The tenth grader also does online school through Laurel Springs in order to have a more flexible riding and showing schedule throughout the year.

Going forward, Lovingfoss will show some more in her home state of California, with plans to get more into the jumpers. She’ll then head back east in the fall for the equitation finals.