Wellington, Fla. – March 4, 2022 – When Colorado-native Dominic Gibbs was 14 years old, his trainer brought him to Wellington for a week where he got to meet Katie Monahan-Prudent and Henri Prudent at Plain Bay Farm at the Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF). Katie introduced Dominic to Stacia Klein Madden, owner and lead trainer of Beacon Hill Show Stables, and he got to experience the WEF behind the scenes, experiencing what goes into being a part of a high-performance equitation, hunter and show jumping team. Three years later, he earned multiple top equitation results competing with the Beacon Hill Show Stables team, including earning the coveted 2020 ASPCA Maclay National Championship title and winning the 2021 Washington Equitation Final. He credits his visit to WEF as the opening door to his flourishing junior equitation and show jumping career with Beacon Hill and Plain Bay Farm. After receiving a car for his win in the 2021 WEC Premier Equitation Cup Championship, Dominic decided to sell the car and use the funds to create a grant for another young athlete to get the same experience he was gifted. He partnered with his hometown’s Colorado Hunter Jumper Association (CHJA) who agreed to facilitate the application process and present the grant to one lucky recipient.
After putting ideas to paper, the Mountain King Ranch Equitation Grant, presented by CHJA, was formed. Applications for the grant were sent to Sarah Watson, a CHJA board member, who removed all identifying information and then sent the applications to the selection committee, composed of six non-affiliated board members. The committee agreed on three applicants and sent their choices back to Watson, who then added back identifying information and then forwarded them to Madden for the final decision. The entire CHJA board put a lot of effort into the selection process in order to keep it as fair and unbiased as possible.
Maggie Lawrence submitted an application thinking she had nothing to lose, and never expected to earn the opportunity to experience WEF for a week. Lawrence is currently a freshman in high school and has been riding for about 10 years under the tutelage of Laurie Jueneman at Snowfield Farm. She has had top placing in the junior hunter division on her trainer’s horse Cavito 2, including third place overall at Junior Hunter Finals-West and earning top ribbons at the Capital Challenge Horse Show.
After going through the application process, the decision was made to offer Maggie the grant out of over 50 applicants. When she heard the news, she was most eager to learn all about what it was like at a large show facility during the intense winter season. She stated, “I was so excited to soak up every piece of information I could. I had also never been to WEF, so just being there and getting to see all of the amazing barns and the show was something I was really looking forward to. I was excited to meet everyone and most excited to just ride, and get feedback from the Beacon Hill team.”
As a supporting partner of the inaugural grant, Madden donated a horse, Indiana Jones, for Lawrence to ride and show during the week, allowing her the chance to not only experience WEF as a spectator but as an exhibitor as well. Though she had never visited the WEF showgrounds, she has been keeping up with the circuit for years.
Lawrence exclaimed, “There were a lot of people that I had been watching over the years from afar, that I was able to watch in person, and some I even got to set jumps for with Stacia. I learned how much work goes into that level of the sport, and how much time and effort people put into keeping the horses and riders in tip top shape.”
Lawrence admitted that it was a bigger level of competition than any past experience she had, but she found Madden’s training to be both helpful and encouraging. She explained “Competing with the Beacon Hill team was both eye opening and reassuring. Stacia is so technical in her guidance, and I was really able to soak that up. But in a way, it was hearing familiar ideas said in a different way which was reassuring and has really built my confidence.”
Lawrence also got to spend time with some of the other junior riders at Beacon Hill, including Dominic’s younger sister Jordan Gibbs. Jordan was thrilled to spend time with Lawrence saying, “Because I am a student at Beacon Hill, I could spend a lot of time with Maggie. The week was so much fun because I could introduce her to my barn friends and we could ride in some lessons together. I really enjoyed connecting with someone my age from home and sharing my WEF week with her! We are all so lucky to be here.”
The Gibbs family was thrilled to award Lawrence the grant experience. Erin Gibbs said, “The week far exceeded my expectations! It was fabulous that Maggie, her mom and her trainer Laurie Jueneman could join in. Having both at her side made Maggie brave, but also sent her home with shared memories and experiences that they can reflect on together!”
Now working and competing for Plain Bay Farm, Dominic was also able to work with Lawrence during the week as she walked show jumping courses with him and his trainer Monahan-Prudent. Dominic made time to watch Lawrence compete as well. He was impressed with her work ethic and said, “Maggie was very adaptable and open minded. She was very serious and businesslike to her riding. She was so attentive and always tried hard in every exercise. I know how hard it is to learn a new horse in a new environment with a new trainer and new peers – that’s pressure. I thought she handled it all so well!”
Maggie Lawrence’s mom, Pam Lawrence, rode horses growing up but never competed at WEF, so to see Maggie in the ring was a dream come true. Pam said, “To see her step in the ring at WEF looking so sharp and ready was almost surreal! I think I rode every turn and every fence with her. And I was just so grateful for her to have the experience and the feeling that she belonged there among all those top riders and horses. Coming from Colorado where we have a robust but smaller show scene, it was incredible to see her meet the moment and not get rattled by the bigness of it all. And she came home with some great ribbons which were icing on the cake!”
Maggie ended her week with top placings in the 15-17 Equitation and the THIS National Children’s Medal 15-17 on Indiana Jones, having had her first lesson with him in the beginning of the week at Beacon Hill’s Wellington farm. She was able to take what she learned throughout the week and show her talent as she improved in both her riding and results as the week went on.
The Mountain King Ranch Equitation Grant will continue in 2023. For inquiries about being a part of the future of the grant as a sponsor or donating to the experience, please contact Erin Gibbs at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Gibbs Family would like to thank the following people and organizations who helped make the inaugural Mountain King Ranch Equitation Grant a success!
Dominic Gibbs and Mountain King Ranch, LLC | Stacia Klein Madden and Beacon Hill Show Stables | Colorado Hunter Jumper Association | American Vein & Vascular Institute | Voltaire Design | Rider’s Boutique | Kunkle Gloves | HorseScents | Phelps Media Group
Score Academy | Rice Show Stables | The Westfall Family