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Press Release


Olivia Lawton and G.P.S. Brilliant Disguise

Olivia Lawton and G.P.S. Brilliant Disguise

Olivia Lawton and G.P.S. Brilliant Disguise

Kelsey Thatcher and Stella Luna

Caelinn Leahy and Caribe

Caelinn Leahy accepted her $7,500 NAL Low Junior Jumper Classic award aboard her second mount of the class, Sonas Douglas.

Abbey Soffer and Violetta

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Olivia Lawton and Caelinn Leahy Capture $7,500 NAL Low Amateur-Owner and Junior Jumper Classics During Week Two at Great Lakes Equestrian Festival

Written by: Taylor Renner
Client: Morrissey Management Group (MMG)
Release Date: 2016-07-16

Traverse City, Mich. – July 16, 2016 – Olivia Lawton, an amateur rider from Burr Ridge, Illinois, and her 12-year-old grey Holsteiner gelding, G.P.S. Brilliant Disguise, outrode a field of 27 horse and rider combinations to win the $7,500 NAL Low Amateur-Owner Jumper Classic on Saturday during Week Two of the Great Lakes Equestrian Festival (GLEF) held at the Flintfields Horse Park. In addition, prior to the $7,500 NAL Low Amateur-Owner Jumper Classic, it was Caelinn Leahy and Caribe, owned by Steve Schaefer, who bested a field of 22 competitors to take home the blue ribbon in the $7,500 NAL Low Junior Jumper Classic.
Eight exhibitors had clean rounds over the first round track in the $7,500 NAL Low Amateur-Owner Jumper Classic, but only four were able to achieve double clear rounds. Bethany Bolen and her own Sullivan were the early double clear pathfinders, setting the pace for the jump-off round at 35.119 seconds as sixth in the order. Lawton followed Bolen four trips later and challenged her time with a double clear performance in 34.240 seconds to move into first.
Kelsey Thatcher, who won the $5,000 NAL Low Junior/Amateur-Owner Jumper Classic during Week One of GLEF, entered the ring on Pony Lane Farm's Hannah one round later to finish fault-free in 35.288 seconds — just 1/10th of a second behind Bolen. Thatcher returned as the final entry to take on the course once again however on the last of her four mounts of the class, Stella Luna, owned by Pony Lane Farm, to secure second place honors in 34.814 seconds with Bolen claiming third and Thatcher also grabbing the fourth place ribbon.
"He definitely loves to compete," said Lawton of G.P.S. Brilliant Disguise. "He has a lot of antics when we're going in the ring, but it's all for show. He's such a nice horse to ride. All the jumps show up nicely and he tries his heart out every time we go in. He definitely helped me in a few spots I wasn't sure at today. I love him for that.
"The course was really nice," continued Lawton. "It was difficult because there were a couple of tricky places, like the long line down the center where you kind of had to choose between nine or ten and the bending lines. They also had moved an oxer from the junior classic to our classic so you had to kind of rethink your jump-off, but I liked it. It was challenging."
Lawton will be at GLEF through next week, and chose to compete at the Flintfields Horse Park for her last show of the summer before gearing up for her freshman year of college at the University of Georgia where she will be competing on their NCEA equestrian team.
"I've been here before," said Lawton. "We've come here a couple of years. It's probably my favorite horse show of the year. It's like a vacation and a horse show all rolled into one. This is my last horse show before I go off to college. I'm riding at the University of Georgia on their team. I'm going to be a freshman. I'm so excited!"
Leahy was the first to tackle Thomas Hern Jr.'s track in the $7,500 NAL Low Junior Jumper Classic with Caribe. They finished the first round in a clear effort, allowing them to continue on to the jump-off, eventually finishing fault-free in 31.876 seconds.
Leahy has been riding Caribe on and off for the last two years under trainer Steve Schaefer. The talented junior rider normally rides the 13-year-old stallion from Argentina during the winter months at shows such as the Winter Equestrian Festival, while Schaefer takes him on for the summer to compete with in the grand prix classes. However, this year, due to a back injury, Schaefer offered the ride to Leahy for the summer.
"He is really fun," said Leahy of Caribe. "He's super cool. He's definitely a really big horse and has a huge personality. He thinks he's the man and he loves his job. He's so easy and he's so elastic. He's very fast with his turns and just loves his job and is super careful. He definitely hunts for the turns in the jump-off and he's very quick. It's like he knows we are doing the turn before I do. It's really great. The jump-off was really fun.
"The first round was great as well," continued Leahy. "There were technical parts, but I kind of ride him through every course with a little bit of a speed, not necessarily going fast but just kind of carrying that pace, and I think that definitely helped me. When I have that pace it's easier for me to slow down. The triple — that was definitely a really good exercise because it was on the rail and you had to turn into it. Overall I think the course was great and definitely had plenty of challenges."
Abbey Soffer and her own Violetta were the first to finish double clear in the class in 35.929 seconds. However, Leahy returned to the Grand Prix Ring twelve trips later and took over the lead, garnering Soffer the red ribbon. The class saw four in total go on to finish with no faults with Briley Koerner and her own Up'An Go St Druon rounding out the top three in 36.393 seconds.
Although Leahy has competed at the Flintfieds Horse Park before, this is her first year competing in the Grand Prix Ring.
"Last time I was here was around three years ago," said Leahy. "I was in the Jumper Annex doing the Low Children's Jumpers and now I'm doing the High Juniors. Next we're headed to Equifest, but I had a blast here. It's been a lot of fun. It's been awhile since I've been here, but it's been great and a lot of my friends are here. It's just been a really great experience."
The Grand Prix Ring at GLEF kicked off on Saturday at 8 a.m. In the $500 Adult Jumper class, Lindsey Tomeu and Bonapart, owned by DBHC, Inc., led the victory gallop in a double clear performance in 47.104 seconds. Rachel Boggus and her own Wiedam trailed Tomeu's time by 2/10ths of a second, grabbing second place in a double clear time of 47.351 seconds, while Madeline Cooley and Jennifer Santana's Rosario LN finished double clear and not far behind in 49.644 seconds to take third.
Following the Adult Jumpers was the East Wind Farm Children's Jumpers, which saw Hailey Berger and her own Shannondale Gino best a field of 28 to take the top spot in 46.335 seconds. The class had 15 horses and riders produce clear rounds in the speed competition with Mackenzie Snider following Berger by one second aboard Melissa Hirt's mount, Roc N Groovy, in 47.740 seconds. Concluding the top three was Jesse Soares and her own Atlanta Z, tripping the timers in 48.017 seconds.
GLEF will continue to welcome riders and thrill spectators over the next two weeks throughout the first series of competition, which runs July 6–31. Week Two will conclude on Sunday with the highlighted main event, the $50,000 Grand Prix of Michigan, presented by Peninsula Capital Management and Craig Rosenberg, to be held in the Grand Prix Ring at 2 p.m.
Horses are not the only form of entertainment lined up for this year's Great Lakes Equestrian Festival. The festival has teamed up with top musicians and entertainers from around the country to offer fun-filled evenings for this year's concert and dinner series.
To kick-off Summer Evenings at Flintfields, Porterhouse Presents hosted the Dirty Bourbon River Show's unique New Orleans Funk, Jazz and Americana sounds on Friday evening. The event was sponsored by East West Equine Sports Medicine, and featured North Peak Brewing Company and Black Star Farms products. The night kicked off at 6 p.m. with unique and entertaining music as well as New Orleans and Cajun food that was enjoyed by all.
The second week of the Great Lakes Equestrian Festival, held July 13–17, has completely sold out of stabling space with limited spots remaining for Week Three, July 20–24. Act now to reserve stabling spots for August, and do not miss out on the chance to compete during the all-new FEI Great Lakes Equestrian Festival series in August.
Series Two kicks off on August 10 and runs through August 28 featuring three weeks of hunter and jumper competition with a FEI CSI2* rating Week Five and Six and a FEI CSI3* rating during Week Seven culminating in the $100,000 Grand Traverse Grand Prix on Sunday, August 28.
The Great Lakes Equestrian Festival is set on 88 beautiful acres and showcases five world-class competition rings in addition to spacious schooling rings. The property features don't stop there as the park offers convenient on-site campgrounds and weekly nights of entertainment for a truly unique attendee experience.
For more information, please visit


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