Ride the Course, Enjoy the Horse | Erin McGuire Wins Big at Aiken Challenge Series III Cupid Classic
Amateur rider Erin McGuire has been showing at Highfields (Aiken, SC) horse shows since her short stirrup days on the local circuit. In 2011 when Erin began riding with Jack Towell and Liza Boyd at Finally Farm, they purchased Casallo, a now 13-year-old Holsteiner by Casall. After some time apart from being leased out for the past few show seasons, Casallo is home and winning with Erin back in the irons.
After being leased out for the 2015 and 2016 show seasons to a junior client of Bob Crandall's Erin began competing with Casallo again in January at the Aiken Winter Classics, where they pinned second in the National Derby even with Erin being out of the country for a week.
"I've always said he's my heart and soul in a horse and it's true. He's got a larger than life personality -- he's special and he knows it," she said of Casallo.
"Bob imported Casallo and brought him up from the baby greens to the second years so it was heartwarming to see everything come full circle like it did," said McGuire. "It's great to have him back again, even if only for a few shows. He is still for sale or lease. He's won so much for me and owes me nothing. It's icing on the cake to get to show him again and to have him win some more just makes it sweeter," she added.
Casallo is a quiet and athletic horse with scope for days, not to mention a gorgeous gray. His tremendous suspension from behind and shoulder movement up front allows him to enjoy a slower way of going. "At this point, he knows his job. I jumped him at home on Thursday before he shipped to the show. Friday we hacked in the grass field and Saturday we hand walked in the ring before the class. Some days he's more enthused than others but I think it's refreshing to see that he still loves his job," she said of her partner.
Both rounds of the $2,500 USHJA National Hunter Derby at the Aiken Challenge Series III (Cupid Classic) had long approaches and bending lines which encouraged flowing gaits. The first round had a right lead long approach to a single oxer on the rail away from the in gate. "I may have been a bit ambitious to that jump," said McGuire who trains with Cathy Geitner during the winter while Jack Towell and Liza Boyd are in Florida. Geitner reminded Erin not to overthink the hunters; to just go out and enjoy her horse. Erin and her other mount Kasarr are rock stars in the jumper ring which is where she's spent her time while Casallo was out on lease.
"Ultimately I just want to enjoy my horse so her advice couldn't have been better," McGuire said.
Going into the handy round on top the strategy was the same - ride the course, enjoy the horse. Winning wasn't on Erin's mind, but rather a smooth and consistent round. And it sure paid off with the pair scoring a 90 including the high options.
The top call in the $2,500 National Hunter Derby wasn't the duo's only win during the Cupid Classic held at Highfields Event Center in Aiken, SC. The combination also bested the field in the 3'6" Amateur/Owner Hunters with Geitner-trained Kimberly Quinn and Sail On finishing second.
"I missed my horse and am grateful to have the opportunity to show him again!" McGuire said.