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.