Lexington, Kentucky – In 2013, Caitlyn Shiels purchased a six-year-old grand prix prospect named Cavalier II, and now, after five years of Shiels’ tireless training and tutelage, Cavalier II is no longer a grand prix prospect but has developed into a grand prix-winning mount.
Fresh off a win in the $25,000 Maffitt Lake Grand Prix in Cumming, IA, in May, Shiels and the 11-year-old warmblood gelding traveled to the Country Heir Horse Shows, held June 6-10 and June 13-17 in Lexington, KY. There they topped the $1,400 1.40m Jumpers on Thursday, June 14, and they returned to the Rolex Stadium at the Kentucky Horse Park the following day to take fourth in the $25,000 Rood & Riddle Equine Hospital Grand Prix with a double clear effort.
“It’s very exciting,” said Shiels of her results in Kentucky. “The summer started out in Iowa, and with the success that we had there, I was hoping that was going to really set us up with moving forward and jumping in a couple of the bigger classes here in Kentucky.
“I decided that the best plan for us was to do the $25,000 grand prix at night and to do the 1.40m class the day before to set ourselves up for the grand prix and for Traverse City. I stuck to that plan, and it worked out really well. Cavalier felt really confident, and I’m so happy with how he’s been going.”
In addition to securing top results in the jumper ring with Cavalier II, Shiels rode to strong finishes in the hunter ring and coached the riders of her own True North Stables to ribbons across both the hunter and jumper divisions.
Headlining Shiels’ hunter ring success was a third place finish in the $30,000 United States Hunter Jumper Association International Hunter Derby, held on June 9 during Country Heir I, riding Cassius, owned by Michelle Durpetti.
In the $10,000 United States Hunter Jumper Association National Hunter Derby, also held during Country Heir I, Shiels and Cakewalk, a 12-year-old mare offered for sale by owner Elise Ledsinger, finished fifth from a field of 44 entries.
“It was a big class, so I was really happy with how she finished,” Shiels said of Cakewalk’s performance in the USHJA National Hunter Derby, which included a score of 90. “She’s a good girl, and she’s come along really well ever since I started riding her a few months ago in Florida. I’m excited for her to find her next perfect fit home.”
Shiels also claimed the Country Heir I High Performance Hunter 3’9″ division reserve championship riding Cassius for owner Durpetti of Chicago, IL.
The following week, Durpetti took over the ride on Cassius for Country Heir II, earning two top-five finishes over fences, including a second place, in the World Championship Hunter Rider 3’3″ Amateur-Owner Hunter 36 and Over division.
“The older amateur hunter divisions are extremely competitive,” Shiels said. “Michelle’s partnership with Cassius is still relatively new, and she consistently had scores in the mid 80s, which I thought was great. The relationship between the two of them is truly starting to click, and I’m really happy with the way that they went together.”
During Country Heir I, Durpetti also claimed four top-six finishes in the 3’6″ Amateur-Owner Hunter 36 and Over division, as well as a fourth place finish in the $750 1.10m Adult Jumpers riding Serafina.
Recent Texas Christian University graduate Marisa Malevitis also rode to notable ribbons in the 1.10m Adult Jumpers, besting fields of more than 30 entries to take third-, fourth-, and fifth-place finishes aboard KT Forest, owned by Michael Kirby.
“KT Forest is a brand new addition to the barn,” said Shiels of the nine-year-old gelding offered for sale as a competitive children’s/adult or low junior/amateur-owner jumper. “We got him just a week before we came to Kentucky, and Marisa already rides him really well. He jumped clear every class he entered in Kentucky. He’s super competitive, so I think Marisa’s going to have a lot of fun with him this summer!”
Also new to the True North Stables team is junior rider, Emily Britton. In her first show with True North, Britton and her own Lago Di Garda finished seventh in the $800 Low Junior Jumper 1.20m-1.25m during Country Heir I.
In the Adult Amateur Hunters 18-35 and the 3’3” Performance Hunters, it was Katie Hawkins and Gray Street, owned by Wind Fields Farm, LLC, who claimed top ribbons for True North, including topping more than 60 entries to finish third in the $350 3’3″ Performance Hunters.
Following two weeks at home in Chicago, the team at True North will head next to the Great Lakes Equestrian Festival, held in Traverse City, MI, beginning July 4.
To join the team at True North Stables or to learn more about lesson and training opportunities, please contact Shiels at firstname.lastname@example.org.
About True North Stables
Founded and led by Caitlyn Shiels, True North Stables offers horses and riders top-class hunter/jumper riding and training services. Following more than a decade of experience working with highly-regarded professionals including Greg Franklin, Jonathan and Christine McCrea, Ken and Emily Smith, and McLain Ward, Shiels launched True North Stables to cater to goal-oriented equestrians of all levels. With bases in Illinois and Florida, True North Stables provides the highly-individualized training and opportunities that allow both horse and rider to excel in the sport.
Shiels and True North Stables are proudly sponsored by E’ce Equestrian, Hayward Sportswear, Equine Omega, Samshield, Butet, Blueberry Hill, Tucci, MDC Stirrups, and EquiFit, and are proud to work with photographer Fine Art Horses.