On the final morning of Desert Holiday, Lindsay Linford took top honors at Desert International Horse Park (DIHP) in the day’s feature event on the grass, the $10,000 Antares 1.40m Open Classic. Aboard Two Smoking Barrels UK, she was one of only two double-clear efforts to seal the deal.

Lindsay Linford and Two Smoking Barrels UK. Photo by Tori Bilas

“It’s pretty much brand new,” Linford, of Calgary, Alberta, said of her partnership with Two Smoking Barrels UK. “I got him a year and one month ago, but two weeks after I got him I found out I was pregnant! We got to come down here and show in the early part of my pregnancy last year. He was awesome, we got to get our feet wet as a team, and then we both went home and had the summer off.”

Since their partnership is just now getting going, Linford has been focusing more on putting all the pieces together at a higher fence height. “We’ve been legging up now. Even though we’re a year into it, this is the beginning of our relationship. He’s been phenomenal,” she said.

Holly Scapa and Madison. Photo by Tori Bilas

Linford travels to Thermal every winter from her home base in Canada, just moments away from Spruce Meadows. They spend between two and four months in the desert enjoying the sunshine and getting valuable miles in the show ring.

As for today’s course, set by Joey Rycroft, Linford’s plan was to “Be smart. It’s a friendly enough course but it’s big enough and we’re still getting into our relationship. It doesn’t matter what everyone else is doing, I just have to ride smart and take care of what I know this horse needs from me. Today was basically just making sure we found everything, got straight, and got our counts done. Now in the jump-offs I’m opening him up a bit, I’m tightening up the turns, and we’re coming together. He’s stepping up his game every time he steps in the ring.”

Paige Jardine and Crazy. Photo by Tori Bilas

Linford is new to balancing riding with motherhood, but she’s handling the balance beautifully, winning at both. “I have a wonderful team behind me,” she explained. “My husband came down for the first part of the circuit and then my mother came down, so she’s playing ‘granny nanny.’ I’ve adjusted to my lack of sleep schedule, but the way I see it, when you wake up to a cooing, smiling baby, there’s no better way to start your day so I’m off to a good start every morning.”

Second-place honors went to Holly Scapa and Madison, while Paige Jardine and Crazy took home third place.

Lindsay Linford and Two Smoking Barrels UK. Photo by Tori Bilas

Desert Holiday III concluded with a win for Nicky Galligan in the $5,000 FarmVet 1.35m Open Classic with Eames MZ. The pair sped around the track, besting three jump-off efforts for the top call.

Desert Circuit kicks off Wednesday, January 4, 2023. The whole team at DIHP thanks its competitors for an incredible 2022 and we wish everyone a happy holiday season.

Nicky Galligan and Eames MZ. Photo by Tori Bilas