Thermal, Calif. – Nov. 3, 2021 – Athletes returned to the Desert International Horse Park on Wednesday to kick off the season during the first week of the National Sunshine Series. The professional hunter divisions took center stage in Hunter 1. Shawn Casady and the Ashland Farms-owned Cassario 8 had a dominating performance in the Green 3’9” Hunters, winning both of the division’s over fences classes to start the week.

Shawn Casady and Cassario 8

The Green 3’9” Hunter division is sponsored by Pegasus Farm and features some of the West Coast’s top hunter combinations. Casady and Cassario 8 proved to be the best of the best, winning both the over fences class and the handy class to claim the early lead for the championship title heading into Thursday.

Casady last showed Cassario 8, a 9-year-old Holsteiner gelding by Cassin, during the 2021 International Hunter Derby Championships where they qualified for the Section A Handy Round with a top performance in the Classic Round. Casady, a top young professional who relocated to the West Coast in 2018, was pleased to have the talented gelding return to the show ring once again ready to perform.

Shawn Casady and Cassario 8

Cassario 8 demonstrated a beautiful round in Hunter 1 for the Green 3’9” Hunters and will return later this week with Zoe Wolf to compete in the Junior Hunter division. Wolf and Cassario 8 are also a formidable combination, most recently claiming the Large Junior 15 & Under 3’6” Hunter Championship at the Blenheim Fall Tournament and the International Jumping Festival.

Casady continued his winning ways later in the day in the Green Hunter divisions, winning a class in the Green 3’3” Hunters, sponsored by G2 Insurance, aboard Kimberly Gardiner’s Revere. He also earned the top honors in the Green 3’ Hunters, sponsored by Perfect Products, with Eloise Prevost’s Dauphin.

Shawn Casady and Revere. Photo by ESI Photography

Top hunters will be showcased throughout the National Sunshine Series, with the professional hunter division concluding on Thursday followed by the $5,000 USHJA Junior/Amateur National Hunter Derby, sponsored by Platinum Performance, and the $5,000 USHJA Open National Hunter Derby, sponsored by Ritz Carlton.


Shawn Casady – Green 3’9” Hunter Winner

On Cassario 8:
“He’s pretty simple. He’s very level headed; nothing much fazes him. He always jumps nice. We haven’t been here since March and I haven’t shown him since August, so he was perfect. He was third or fourth [this year] in the Green Incentive Championships and then made the second round [of International Hunter Derby Championships]. You know what to expect when he comes out of the stall. He’s brave and he’s pretty. He jumps very well very consistently. He’s the same horse every day and every jump.”

On returning to Desert International Horse Park:
“It’s great! What I like about it is there’s plenty of space to ride. If you want to go hack or do something else other than show, there’s plenty of room to do other things. The Grand Prix ring looks great right now. There’s very nice stabling and nice rings. For me, as a professional without my own farm it’s a great place because I can come here and enjoy myself and I can get a lot of horses ridden in a day.”

On basing himself on the west coast as a professional:
“I came out a few years ago to Thermal in 2018 and I spent a year out here riding and working. I started picking up some other rides, started picking up some other students, and a couple people wanted to start buying some horses and help me with my goals and my career. So it just worked out. For my stage right now, I want to create my own thing. I want to be responsible for myself, my results, and my future. California has allowed me a format where I can be a bit free but still be 100% involved.”

“I have lots of goals and aspirations in the sport, so for me it’s important for when I get off the horse I have something productive to do. I can go ride another one or I can go help somebody whether it’s teaching or riding a young one. I can apply myself and get the most out of every day.”