Taylor Cawley & Oki D’Eclipse Take Top Honors Twice

Hagerty, Merna and Dominguez also clinch first-place wins at WIHS Equitation Classic and Platinum Performance/USEF Show Jumping Talent Search

Taylor Cawley and Oki D’Eclipse celebrated a double dose of victory on Thursday at the 2024 Devon Horse Show, claiming first-place finishes in the Washington International Horse Show Equitation Classic (Jumper Phase) and the Platinum Performance/USEF Show Jumping Talent Search. This was the 16-year-old horsewoman’s third consecutive year to compete in equitation at Devon.

“To win with so many amazing horses and riders in this class means so much to me. I was thrilled with our performance today,” she said. “It’s a big deal to go in that ring and show off your work. I look forward to Devon every year. It has so much ambience. I was very happy to go in there today and have everything go according to plan.”

Taylor Cawley and Oki D’Eclipse claimed first-place finishes at the WIHS Equitation Classic and the Platinum Performance/USEF Show Jumping Talent Search. @ Amy K. Dragoo

With 109 competitors entered in the WIHS Equitation Classic, the class was pinned in three sections. Kate Hagerty riding G Balou and Reese Merna riding Castlefield Spartacus also came out on top with first-place finishes in their sections on Thursday.

Continuing to describe her round, Cawley said her bay Belgium Warmblood gelding can be quite the character and is an absolute blast to ride with his enormous stride and scope.

“He has so much personality and charisma. And he has an absolutely infectious presence,” she said. “Any time you ask a question, he tries to execute it as well as he can. He’s also a goofball. He can be in like 18 different places at once. He loves food and attention and is just so much fun to be around.”

Devon 101: Keeping Show Nerves at Bay

Cawley utilizes several methods to keep her nerves at bay when showing at a competition of this size. If her round is later in the class, she tends to watch the first 10 to 15 rounds and then busies herself with other tasks to stave off any anxiety that might creep in.

“I usually go back to the barn area, polish my boots, check my tack and make sure my horse is ready. This helps take my mind off my nerves. Watching too many rounds sometimes psyches me out, so I find it best to distract myself,” Cawley said. “And of course here at Devon, I also find that having a Lemon Stick really helps take the edge off.”

Lemon Sticks—half a legit lemon paired with a lemon candy-flavored straw—are a longtime popular confection among Devon riders and enthusiasts. Following her mental break and lemon treat, Cawley said she then gets serious about her focus.

“I make sure I’m in the zone and that I’m clear on my plan. And I make sure there aren’t any question marks in my plan,” she said. “I just keep reminding myself to breathe, stay calm and remember my plan.”

Cawley said her bay Belgium Warmblood gelding can be quite the character and is an absolute blast to ride with his enormous stride and scope. @ Amy K. Dragoo

Cawley is looking forward to the finals this season and plans to continue training and competing and hopefully get on a Young Riders’ team.

“Down the road, I would love to go to Europe and work and train there and maybe do a Nations Cup team if I can,” she said. “I know my future will involve horses and riding in some way.”

Comeback Kids

Christian Dominguez and his Dutch Warmblood gelding Iwan also clinched a first-place finish in a second section of the Platinum Performance/USEF Show Jumping Talent Search after a stellar jumping round and flat phase. The class had 65 competitors entered and was pinned in two sections.

Dominguez competed at Devon the last two years, but said he didn’t have the best performances of his riding career at those shows.

“Overall, I’m super happy. I think it’s all about sticking to your plan, and as long as you do, the results will follow,” he said. “I’m super grateful to even be here. I never thought I’d compete at this level in the first place. There are so many wonderful people behind me. It truly takes a village.”

Dominguez said that Iwan has exceptional bravery, perhaps due to his former job as a cross-country horse.

Christian Dominguez and Iwan also clinched a first-place finish in the Platinum Performance/USEF Show Jumping Talent Search after a stellar jumping round and flat class. @ Amy K. Dragoo.

“I think he is the bravest horse I’ve ever ridden. He does anything I ask him to,” the young horseman said. “He answers all the questions beautifully. I’ve had him for four years now, and we’ve really established a partnership together. I trust him, and he trusts me.”

Dominguez advises fellow young riders who aspire to compete at Devon some day to focus on the basics. “Get out there every single day and do the stuff you don’t want to do. Go back to the basics and work on your position—and that will [carry over] into your course,” he said. “I find that more than anything, improvement comes from repetition. Everyone has disappointments and bad rides. But just try your best every day and the rest will come.”

More Results

A third equitation class was held at Devon—the Dover Saddlery/USEF Hunter Seat Medal, which was split into three sections. Section A winner was Reese Merna riding Castlefield Spartacus. Section B winner was Quinn Hunter riding Con Capitano. Section C winner was Isabelle Ehman riding Yung Gravy. Junior Hunter classes were also held throughout the day.

For complete results of the first day Junior Weekend at Devon, click here.

Thanks to Mane ‘n Tail Equine for our coverage of the 2024 Devon Horse Show. Coverage continues Friday with the ASPCA Maclay Final Championship.

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