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Kaitlyn Sawyer Smith & Megan Ryden win 2021 Breeders’ Trust Non-Pro Stakes

Two non-pro riders—Kaitlyn Sawyer Smith and Megan Ryden—took home the big bucks in the 2021 Breeders’ Trust Non-Pro Pleasure Stakes classes, part of the APHA World Championship Show in Fort Worth, Texas.

With world championships in hunter yearling longe line in 2019 and hunter under saddle in 2020, expectations were high for TWF Only The Roanly in 2021. This year, a new rider—Kaitlyn Sawyer Smith of Apex, North Carolina—took up the gelding’s reins to try her hand at the Breeders’ Trust Non-Pro 3-Year-Old Hunter Under Saddle Stakes on July 1, and “Finn” came shining through once again.

“I just started riding him at the beginning of May. He is super talented and so sweet—he is a big gentle giant,” Kaitlyn said. “This one by far was my favorite ride. I’ve had so much fun.”

After finishing her freshman year at Texas Christian University, Kaitlyn started riding Finn while practicing with trainers Tim and Shannon Gillespie. That led to her leasing the 2018 bay roan overo gelding from owner Susan Demeo of Fort Worth, Texas. With just a handful of rides together, Kaitlyn was especially pleased with their performance in the Breeders’ Trust class.

“He was right there were I wanted him and listened to everything. I just knew I needed to keep his attention and make him focus, and he would do his job if I did mine. He’s very businesslike,” she said. “I’m very happy I could come up on my end and show him to the best of his ability to make that happen.”

Kaitlyn and Finn earned $4,376 for their Stakes win; Finn is by The Wow Factor and out of Ima Good Squaw, and was bred by Nicole Dalton of Waddell, Arizona.

Reserve champion in the Breeders’ Trust Non-Pro 3-Year-Old Hunter Under Saddle Stakes was Kristen Syburg of Camp Verde, Arizona, and The Pleasure Code, a 2018 red roan overo gelding by VS Code Red (QH) and out of Shesa Real Pleasure. They earned more than $3,200. Third place plaid out $2,188 to Lazy Company and Leslie Dentinger of Tampa, Florida; and fourth was Factory Girl and Rebekah Kazakevicius of Ocala, Florida, taking home $1,094.

In the Breeders’ Trust Non-Pro 3-Year-Old Western Pleasure Stakes, Megan Ryden of Fort Worth, Texas, piloted her 2018 bay overo gelding An Original Cowboy to the championship, taking home $2,664 of the nearly $6,000 purse. “Henry” can have a big personality, but he was all business in the pen on July 8.

“It’s easy to say that there’s never a dull moment when you’re around this horse,” Megan laughed. “He’s into everything all the time but he’s really fun.”

Though she had felt nervous showing the gelding earlier in the show, there were no butterflies in Megan’s stomach when she stepped into the John Justin Arena for the Stakes class. The team looked like a pair of veterans, and they loped their way to the class championship­—Megan’s first win at the APHA World Show.

“This is actually my first win ever here, so it’s extra special,” she said. “I had only showed him a couple of times. I knew he would be prepared. Every time you show him, he gets better. I knew he was going to be great and he was. I couldn’t be happier or more proud of him.”

Owned by Megan’s mom, Cathy, Henry is by The Original Cowboy and out of Call Me Sister. He was bred by Marilyn Caliendo of Pilot Point, Texas, and is trained by Simons Show Horses.

Moola, a 2018 chestnut overo gelding, and owner Chelsea Seegert of Ida, Michigan, were reserve champions in the class, taking home $2,072. Third and $1,184 went to Jersey Shore and Elizabeth Sanders of Collinsville, Teas; the 2018 sorrel overo gelding is owned by True North Show Horses LLC of Collinsville.

The Breeders’ Trust Pleasure Stakes classes at the 2021 World Show feature maiden horses competing in their first horse-show classes for total purses worth more than $50,000. To learn more and to read about modifications to 2022 Breeders’ Trust Pleasure Stakes classes, visit apha.com/worldshow/breeders-trust-pleasure-stakes/.


[Reprinting all or part of this news release is permitted, so long as credit is given to the Paint Horse Journal and a link provided back to apha.com.]

About APHA

The American Paint Horse Association is the world’s second-largest international equine breed association, registering more than a million horses in 59 nations and territories since it was founded. APHA promotes, preserves and provides meaningful experiences with Paint Horses.