Saturday, Jun. 1, 2024

Behind The Stall Door With: Monterrey

It takes a pretty special horse to win a major equitation final, and if you talk to Pessoa/USEF Medal Final winners Kelli Cruciotti, Monterrey is one of the most special horses around.

“He is incredible. There's nothing about him that isn't amazing,” Cruciotti said about “Rey.”



It takes a pretty special horse to win a major equitation final, and if you talk to Pessoa/USEF Medal Final winners Kelli Cruciotti, Monterrey is one of the most special horses around.

“He is incredible. There’s nothing about him that isn’t amazing,” Cruciotti said about “Rey.”

“He’s got the real personality to be a winner, he’s got quality and it’s a real pleasure to ride him. You know if you put it down, he’s going to come through for you every single time. He’s like my comfort blanket, because I can know he’s going to take care of it. I completely think he’s the best horse I’ll ever ride,” Cruciotti said.

On Oct. 11, Cruciotti rode Rey to the top of the Medal final, and they then followed that up with seventh place in the ASPCA Maclay Final on Oct. 31-Nov. 1. (In 2013, they placed second in the ASPCA Maclay Final.)

But Rey isn’t a one-trick pony. Earlier in the year, he and Cruciotti were in the top six in three USHJA International Hunter Derbies and then placed 12th in the USHJA International Hunter Derby Championships (Ky.) Monterrey has done double duty in the derbies and equitation since 2012, when former owner Lillie Keenan rode him in the equitation division and placed sixth at that year’s USHJA international Hunter Derby Championships.

Kelli Cruciotti and Monterrey

He’s handsome. He knows how to win. But here’s what you might not know about Monterrey:



  • His original name was Uriam, and he was bred in the Netherlands (Calvados—Garciana, Wolfgang). He competed in the jumpers with Mexican rider Javier Berganza under the name Uriam, including in the 2009 North American Young Rider Championships.
  • Rey made his equitation debut in the summer of 2011 with Michael Murphy and in fact showed in his first Pessoa/USEF Medal and ASPCA Maclay finals that year with Murphy. Keenan bought him after that and began showing him in January 2012.



  • Cruciotti made a bold decision at the Medal finals to not jump Rey in the warm-up class. “I always did a warm-up class and he’d be so good in the warm-up and then in the actual class, he’d be a little over it. So I decided to just skip the warm-up classes and just do the class straight off the bat,” she said. “Actually, the Medal was the first time I really tried that. It could have gone either way, but it turned out great!”
  • Rey’s mane is not his braider’s favorite. “It’s so thick. He has like a lion’s mane—it goes everywhere,” Cruciotti said. “It’ll be on both sides of his neck, flopping all over the place. The braiders tease me that it’s a good thing they only have to braid him once a week.”



  • Rey is no wallflower. “He thinks he’s the king of the barn—he definitely has an ego! He has the corner stall, so he can see everything going on,” Cruciotti said.
  • “I think his spirit animal is a lion—he’s very mellow and chill, but he knows that when it’s time, he has to come to the occasion,” Cruciotti said.




  • When they’re at home in Elizabeth, Colo., Rey’s life is pretty low-key. “We do a lot of trail riding to try and get the horses out of the ring as much as possible,” Cruciotti said. “I ride him in a hackamore and bareback at home, just to play around.”

    At the shows, Rey usually doesn’t show much—sometimes in just one class. “We pick the most important one, and we use all week to get him ready,” Cruciotti said. “We do a little bit every day with him, whether it’s trail riding or hacking. I’ll have a lesson and do some gymnastics, then later take him for a little trail ride. We try to switch it up so he doesn’t get bored.”

  • He doesn’t always play nice with friends. “He used to go out in the field with two miniature donkeys, but he started to be mean to them, so his donkey privileges got revoked!” Cruciotti said.



  • He’s a treat hound. “He’s a total ham. He loves treats, and his nickname is Lion because he won’t bite you, but your whole hand will get engulfed in his mouth if you’re not careful!” said Cruciotti. “Anything you’ll feed him, he’ll eat, people food included, like potato chips, which are probably not the best for him, but he loves them.”
  • He’s a pretty good traveler, so you know if he stops eating that you have a problem. He eats a lot and drinks a lot when he’s traveling. He loves to drink Gatorade, so he’ll drink that.
  • Rey likes his people. “I like to think I’m his favorite person. I think we have a special bond,” Cruciotti said. “In the morning, before a class, my mom [Cindy] rides him. And he loves her. If I get on him in the morning, he’ll look back like, ‘Why are you up there? This is not what we do.’ But she gets on him and gallops him around to warm him up, and when I get on, he knows it’s time to show. So we try to keep that routine.”


Monterrey’s big-hair tail.



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