The Downeast Junior Medal at the 2019 Downeast Medal Finals was won by Kaitlin O'Connor. Here is what Kaitlin had to say:
"Since I was young the most vivid images that I can remember are that of horses. I would play with the realistic Breyers my parents had bought for me and flip through countless coloring books and carefully draw only the images of horses. My mom would recount her memories of the horses and ponies she rode when she was young and hearing those stories I knew that I wanted to follow in her footsteps and become an equestrian.
When I was seven I decided it was time to ask the question. ‘Can I have riding lessons?’ and after weeks of asking, my parents finally yielded, and so my adventure through the equestrian world began. I started small, as all beginners do, with simply walking and trotting, but as each year passed I grew more and more advanced, working my way up to cantering and jumping. After years of riding, my parents soon determined that it was time for us to start searching for a horse of my own.
The first horse we visited was a fifteen-year-old Canadian sport horse named Pink, who would teach me numerous invaluable lessons and is the reason why I’m the rider I am today. A few months after buying Pink, I took him to my first show. Throughout the whole day, my mom was at my side encouraging me and giving me helpful advice, and, now that I think about it, she is the reason I’m so confident in the show ring today. As my years with Pink passed by, I began to outgrow him and soon I would be looking for another horse, though my love and appreciation for him would never diminish.
After months of searching for my next horse, and many failed trials, we went to look at a 5-year-old Oldenburg named Jimmy, who is the sweetest horse I know, and who has taken me farther into the showing world than I could have ever imagined. He helped me qualify for Mass and Downeast Medal Finals, and working with him is the reason I won my Downeast Medal Finals class. He gives me confidence in situations where, without him, I would experience hesitation and uncertainty and we have bonded as our time together has grown.
I owe all my success to my horses, trainers, and parents who offer me endless encouragement and who, I hope, will always be there to support me. Although I won my class at Downeast, there is, and will always be, room to improve and Jimmy and my trainers at Bluestandard Show Stables are helping me every inch of the way to do just that.
Looking forward to the 2021 show season!"