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Megan McDermott makes a memory in $32,000 Barnwalkers CSI3* 1.50m Speed

Friday, 16 February 2024
CSI3* Desert International Horse Park 2024

Photo © High Desert Sport Photo. Megan McDermott (USA) and Nintendo. Photo © High Desert Sport Photo.


Press release from Desert International Horse Park



Megan McDermott (USA) had a lot to smile about on Thursday of Desert Circuit 6, presented by IDA Development and Barnwalkers. She likes to smile regardless, but her heart horse, Nintendo, carried her to another big victory, this time in the $32,000 Barnwalkers CSI3* 1.50m Speed on the grass.

The day was hot in the desert, but the competition was hotter, with the time to beat just getting quicker and quicker. Several top athletes saw that leading position at some point, but McDermott, with a late draw, came in and blew them all away, coming in with a time of 55.87 seconds. She edged out Conor Swail (IRL) who took over the lead right before with Casturano (Castelan 3 x Canturo), and most thought he was going to top the podium. Even McDermott thought that as she walked in.

“I’m a huge Conor Swail fan,” she said of her competition in Thursday’s class. “He’s a wonderful human being and an incredible rider. He went two before me and he blew the leading time out of the water. I knew my horse was fast and I knew I had a different plan than Conor did, because he had a slower moving but big-strided horse, so I said, ‘Don’t try to beat Conor, just go and try to ride your plan as well as you can’. To come out and edge him out, it means a ton because he’s just so epic.”

Photo © High Desert Sport Photo. Megan McDermott (USA) and Nintendo in their winning presentation, pictured with Fabian Coulon of Barnwalkers. Photo © High Desert Sport Photo.

Swail took second on the leaderboard, while Oliver Lazarus (RSF) took third aboard Miss Paris (Messenger x Caspar).

Going into the week, McDermott had to adjust a few things about her partnership with Nintendo, a 10-year-old Oldenburg gelding (Nintender x Chaco Blue), but the win Thursday was proof her small adjustments are working.

“I love Nintendo so much. He’s the best horse in the whole world,” she gushed. “He’s very quirky and doing different things all the time. In a lot of ways he can be very random, but he’s the horse I’ve had in the barn the longest, so he’s my steady in a way. He’s the horse I feel most confident going in the ring on and especially trying to win. The past two weeks we worked out kinks and updated his program, so it was really nice today he came out and was able to start out with a win. We feel like we’re on the right track.”

The atmosphere is being mixed up again for week six, putting hunters in the spotlight in the Grand Prix Arena and moving FEI and National show jumping back to the grass field. It’s a change welcomed by the riders and McDermott is enjoying the setting.


“I love jumping on grass but it has to be really good grass,” she remarked. “I think it’s a phenomenal grass field. Even when we jumped last time the ground was a little wet and it was still perfect. Today it’s a sunny warm day and it’s also the same. It’s beautiful.”

McDermott takes every class as a learning opportunity, not just from her own riding but from all the spectacular talent surrounding her. This particular class she had a stellar learning opportunity from Swail, going just behind him in the order.

“He’s a great person if you need advice; he’s always there,” she reflected on being around Swail in a competition setting. “You feel like you’re learning just by being in the same class as him. In 2021 we were stabled next to him for two weeks and my horse was just not consistent. We were having nice rounds but just a few down and I asked Conor to watch a video. He said it was fine; to keep riding the same and it was fine. The next show we went to, I won the five-star grand prix and we didn’t change anything. He’s always good for a course walk; he’s always so honest and forthcoming.”

As Desert Circuit continues into the second half, McDermott knows she’ll continue to up her competitive nature and that the groundwork has been laid for even more success.

“The first half [of Circuit] has been great,” she reflected. “All of my horses have won classes. They’ve all been consistent in building up. We came here after a long break and we used the first half a little bit to get back in the ring and work out the kinks. For the second half of the season we know exactly what we have, so we’re looking to be more competitive and use them to win more than to learn.”


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