Clarke Calvert's Gone From Ranch Work To The U.S. Dressage Finals

Nov 14, 2021 - 12:12 PM

When Jessica Calvert bought Clarke Calvert, she was expecting him to be a nice “husband horse” for her husband Ron Calvert, who was just learning to ride and wanted a “cowboy horse.”

The bay Quarter Horse gelding (Von Remin—IR Madonna’s Charm), now 11, had been competitive on the western circuit in ranch riding and seemed to have a nice, easygoing personality. Growing up in Michigan, Jessica had enjoyed the breed and a variety of other horses, and “Clarke” looked like fun.

But being a dressage rider, Jessica couldn’t ignore the gelding’s nice gaits.

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Clarke Calvert started his career as a western horse. Photos courtesy of Jessica Calvert

When Ron travelled for work, she started riding Clarke to keep him going, and before long, they’d entered a dressage show where they won all of their classes.

Despite a bout of laminitis and EPM in recent years, Clarke has continued to excel in dressage, and Jessica brought him to the U.S. Dressage Finals to compete in the adult amateur second level freestyle championship. They scored a 61.35 percent on Saturday. She also brought her 12-year-old Dutch Warmblood mare Ewilarda C to compete in the adult amateur third level championship.

“We had couple of expensive errors, but overall he was fabulous and tried to so hard. I’m super proud of him,” she said of Clarke.

“He loves [dressage],” said Jessica. “He’s one of the smartest horses that I’ve ever met. He sizes up the rider within 10 seconds, and he doesn’t do anything naughty, but he knows if you’re going to make him do something correctly or if he’s going to be able to do things his way—which is great because you can put anyone on him.

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Clarke Calvert (left) with Jessica Calvert and Ewilarda C.

“My trainer [Julia Julian] and I have a blast with him because he’s so trainable, and he tries so hard, and he picks things up so quickly,” she added. “He’s a showman for sure. He has a fan club wherever we go.”

Jessica recently retired after a career as an attorney, and she and Ron moved to Barrington, Illinois, right before the COVID-19 pandemic. They’ve since bought a farm to keep their horses.

She said that teaching Clarke dressage can be challenging due to his conformation, but his playful attitude makes him very trainable.

“He’s just a character-and-a-half. He’s a really funny guy,” she said. “I’ve met more people at horse shows because of Clarke. He sticks his head out and starts banging on the stall. He’ll stick his tongue out and start flapping his lips, then he starts swirling his tongue around in circles. It’s just kind of something to behold! People end up walking over to him.”

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Clarke Calvert has quite the personality.

While she didn’t have the test she wanted in her championship class, Jessica is just happy and proud to have made it to Finals with Clarke.

“It’s such an honor to be here on a horse who’s not necessarily built to excel in dressage,” she said. “I think every horse can do dressage, but I also understand how the scoring is based upon your gaits score and your basics and your modifiers and criteria, so if we have good scores, it’s because he’s done really well, and if the score’s not as good it’s usually because I haven’t ridden it as accurately or haven’t shown him to the full potential.”

Full results I COTH’s Coverage I Live Stream

Are you competing at the U.S. Dressage Finals on a horse or pony with a cool story? Email Lindsay at lberreth@coth.com for a chance to be featured.

The Chronicle is on site at the U.S. Dressage Finals in Lexington, Kentucky. Read all our coverage here.

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