Kelli Cruciotti riding Hadja van Orshof in GothenburgCredit : Scoopdyga
Tuesday 09 April - 10h54 | Ian Clayton
While some of her fellow American riders at the 2019 Longines FEI Jumping World Cup Final had a higher public profile, 22-year-old Kelli Cruciotti’s strong debut in the competition was a clear sign that the show jumper’s Olympic dreams are coming more and more into focus.
Course walk in GothenburgCredit : Scoopdyga
“What an unforgettable week!”, the Elizabeth, Colorado native commented after her 16th place finish overall in the global championship – one place above Georgina Bloomberg, one behind Eve Jobs and two behind Germany’s Christian Ahlmann. “There are so many people who put everything into making this happen. To my mom, who played two [roles] this week as trainer and groom. Auntie, Peter, Dad, Anne, Michael and Kelsey for all your help and support. Thank-you to the awesome Team USA and support staff for all your help and showing us the ropes. Hadja was truly incredible and I felt like as a team we learned so many things this week, finishing up 16th overall in our first World Cup Finals. Zoey was also an absolute champion stepping up and helping me get the nerves out in the earlier classes. I am so excited about the future and I feel so grateful for this once in a lifetime opportunity.”Hadja is Hadja van Orshof, a 12-year-old grey mare who was Cruciotti’s partner for the showdown in Scandinavia after she last rode her ‘best friend and horse of a lifetime’ Chamonix H in 2018. And Cruciotti’s family – particularly her mother Cindy, who owns and is head trainer at Serenity Farm in Colorado and Florida (pictured below) – is at the core of her career as an equestrian athlete. “My Mom has been a trainer for 30+ years, so I kind of grew up being a barn rat, and I’ve always had the dream of going on as far as I can,” she said on the program Colorado’s Best. And as part of that lifestyle, the 212th-ranked rider in the world in the sport has always been surrounded by equines at the family's home stables. “It’s very much a lifestyle, 24–7 with the horses,” she said, adding that being home-schooled has worked out fine for her: “At first I was a little bit worried that I wouldn’t have the social aspect of [going to school], but going to the different shows and meeting the people that I got to meet, I really found a nice community of friends.”In fact, given that support network and her own dedication, Cruciotti has had some excellent results in recent years, including a victory in the $100,000 Sapphire Grand Prix at the Devon Horse Show in Pennsylvania at the age of 17 with Chamonix H. And as she told The Legal Equestrian, her mother’s training vision has influenced and aided her at every step of the way.“My mother is a very strong supporter of the equitation and how it promotes the classic American style of riding and how it translates into the higher levels of the sport,” Cruciotti explained. “Since I was very young I always loved to compete in the equitation in hopes to further my skills for the jumper ring.”And another vision has been with the athlete for the same span of time: “My goal is to ride in the Olympics – it’s been a dream of mine since I was a little girl.” And as she works toward that Tokyo 2020 objective and beyond – as she suggested in the television interview – she will be respecting her better-known rivals (the young rider has in fact come out on top against riders like Beezie Madden in the past) but not be intimidated by anyone. “We all have advantages and disadvantages," she says, "and I find it to be a very level playing field.” Photo below: Serenity Farm.
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