Congratulations to the Blenheim EquiSports 2020 Emerging Professional Grant Recipients

Photo © Cecily Perkins

Now in its fourth year, Blenheim EquiSports is proud to present the recipients of the Emerging Professional Grant. As in past years, a large group of impressive young professionals applied and we commend all of them on their hard work and dedication to the sport. The winner of the grant receives $5,000 in Blenheim horse show credit, and the runner-up receives $3,000, bringing the total grants awarded in the program to almost $50,000!

After careful deliberation, Blenheim EquiSports is awarding the 2020 Emerging Professional Grant to Kylie Jo Perkins, a trainer with Team McAllister. Daughter of trainer Cecily Perkins, and neice of rider/trainer Jenni McAllister and trainer Steve McAllister, Kylie Jo started riding before she could walk.

Photo © Sharon McElvain

“As long as I can remember, I have ridden the tough horses no one else wanted to get on,” she says. “My first pony was one that had never jumped before, my next horse was just turning five and I was just turning eight, and the one after that was a thoroughbred and a known stopper!”

She has worked with Team McAllister for four years, where she’s grateful for the many opportunities they’ve given her, especially in the show ring. “The only catch is that I have to place high enough to pay at least half of my show bills,” she says. Kylie Jo has learned the value of hard work, as she cleans her own stalls and tacks her own horses, and still manages “to make it to the ring on time with well-turned out horses and a smile on my face.”

According to Kylie Jo, “At this point in my career, Blenheim is the best place for me to be. There are so many great opportunities there for young riders and young horses, and I want to be a part of that this show season.” Her goals include competing in the Markel Insurance Jumper Series Final and the U25 Series.

Blenheim is also awarding a runner-up grant to another very deserving emerging professional, Sammie Smith, an assistant trainer for Red Gate Farm in Seattle, Washington. She works alongside her mom, trainer Jane Smith.

Photo © Holly Casner

Sammie started riding at four years old, and showing at five. As a junior, she catch rode as much as she could, and competed in the Platinum Performance/USEF Show Jumping Talent Search – West, Maclay Finals, USEF Medal Finals, and Hunterdon Finals. She received the Junior Sportsmanship Award in 2016 from the Washington State Hunter Jumper Association, and received the Dianne Tidball Legacy Riding Scholarship in 2018.

“It was a great honor to be presented with these awards, and I try to exemplify the ideals represented by them every day,” says Sammie. “My goal as a trainer is to help my clients achieve their goals, whether they want to compete in the Long Stirrup or in the High Junior Jumpers.” 

“The caliber of all of the applicants is a testament to the high level of talent and horsemanship on the West Coast,” says Melissa Brandes, VP of Marketing at Blenheim EquiSports. “We are thrilled to be able to help the next generation of riders and trainers, and honored that they have chosen us to be part of their pathway to success.”

Thanks again to everyone who applied for the grant; we wish you the very best this season and we look forward to hearing more about your success both in and out of the show ring.