Upper Marlboro, Md.—Sept. 27
As Kelli Cruciotti’s horse Darius was walking away from the ring after the awards ceremony, he was spooked by his championship ribbons from his victory in the Private Tutoring Services North American Junior Equitation Championships. A fairly green horse, the 7-year-old warmblood of unrecorded breeding hadn’t had a lot of experience with the equitation division. So, coming into the medal final, Cruciotti was hoping to gain experience for her new mount, and was surprised to come away with the win.
“We purchased him in July, to be an equitation prospect,” said Cruciotti. “This is really his third show that we’ve done with him. We just thought, we don’t know what’s going to happen but mileage can’t hurt. Everything we asked of him he just, he was incredible, I can’t even believe it; he was unbelievable.”
Cruciotti and her young horse bested a field of class of more than 100 competitors, riding over 2 phases of jumping and a testing portion. Leading going into the second round, she dropped to third for the testing portion, when the judges called back the top three riders to showcase their talents over a shortened course which included a trot fence and a hand gallop to the last jump. Going first had its advantages as Cruciotti wowed the judges with a slick inside turn towards the trot jump. Katherine Strauss ended the day in second, while Ashton Alexander took third.
This was Cruciotti’s first big medal win, and consistency was key throughout her rounds, as she posted scores of 90.60, 90.70, and 90.80 to finish on a 272.10. The 18-year-old has a whirlwind week—she came into town on Friday after taking second in the $25,000 U.S. Open Under-25 Grand Prix at the Rolex Central Park Horse Show with Chamonix H.
Looking ahead, Cruciotti is preparing for the Platinum Performance/USEF Show Jumping Talent Search Finals—East (N.J.) on Wednesday with her other equitation horse, Monterrey, but looks forward to possibily competing with Darius at the Washington International Horse Show (D.C.) in October.
Just Ride Smart
Coming into the second round of the Taylor Harris Insurance Services National Children’s Medal Final with a top score, Catalina Peralta had a plan.
“Just ride smart.”
While most riders opted to take an inside turn from a bending line to the bounce in the middle of the ring, Peralta chose to go to the outside, resulting in a smooth line to bounces.
She didn’t need to take the risk either. After the first round she had nearly a 3-point lead, and her smooth conservative second round lengthened that lead to a 5-point margin for the win without the optional final testing round. Elli Yeager of Westlake Village, Calif., took second and Natalie Templeton of Silverado, Calif., rounded out the top three.
For the Final she tacked up Cornello, a 13-year-old Hosteiner. The gelding is a veteran of the equitation, having previously shown with Samantha Ramsay and Megan MacPherson in the big eq. Peralta paired up with him this summer after his previous rider Kathryn Hoagland left for college.
So what is Peralta going to do to celebrate?
“I don’t know; maybe we’ll have a big dinner at the airport,” she said. The 12-year-old heads back to Geneva, Fla., tonight so that she can go back to Lawton Chiles Middle School, where she’s a seventh grader.
“It’ll be really fun because I have to do all my homework on the plane,” she joked.
Next up for the young rider is the Pennsylvania National where she’ll compete in the Pessoa USEF Medal Final.
Doing Her Homework
There won’t be a ton of celebrating for Rachel Boggus tonight; she’s got a pile of working waiting for her on the plane ride home to Indianapolis. But for a few moments before she gets to the airport, she’s going to savior her win in the North American Adult Amateur Equitation Championships.
Boggus has been chasing this win for a while—finishing second the past two years—and she finally got her due.
“[My trainer Abby Blankenship] said, ‘No more Susan Lucci this year,’ ” Boggus joked.
She accomplished her goal with a good friend, Papillon 136, with whom she won the Ariat National Adult Medal last year.
“I will never in my entire life have a horse like him,” said Boggus. “He has taught me so much about being smooth and about being subtle, and he knows what he needs to do before I’ve even asked him to do it, and he understands what I don’t really think a horse should know.
“It’s an incredible feeling because no matter what the course is, Abby and I are like, I’m just on the best horse possible. There is not a better horse that I could ever ask for,” she finished.
Boggus knew that if she was going to go for the win this year, she was going to have to buckle down, so she and Blankenship did their homework. While she had the technical parts down, her ride was missing the style that would boost her to the top of the standings.
“We watched the juniors go—we looked at different riders styles and things that I could do to be more smooth around the course,” she said. “Like if I need to make an adjustment it needs to be done invisibly and not so obvious, so that’s really what we’ve been working on. That’s what we really focused on today is that when I had to make adjustments it was all smooth and using the track in all the broken lines to make the pace consistent, so it wouldn’t look choppy.”
Want more action from Capital Challenge? The Chronicle will be on site at the Prince Georges Equestrian Center for all of the WCHR action happening next week. For in-depth coverage, pick up the October 18 issue.