Last year, Kelli Cruciotti clinched a win in the Pessoa/US Medal Finals. She has since gone pro and is fully focused on developing herself further in the jumpers with a huge ultimate goal for 6 years down the road. Kelli was kind enough to do an interview with The Legal Equestrian, and we caught up with her about riding, aging out, what she’s been up to since Medal Finals, and some non-horse-related things.
How long have you been riding?: Ever since I remember I have been riding, I believe I did my first leadline class in Indio when I was 3 years old.
How did you get started?: Since my mother … has always had a very large training stable, I have been involved [with] horses my entire life.
What drew you to the equitation?: 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. Since I was very young I always loved to compete in the equitation in hopes to further my skills for the jumper ring.
What do you plan on doing now that you’ve aged out?: I am currently working for my mother at our stable Serenity Farm. I plan on further building our business while continuing to develop myself as a professional.
What was aging out like for you?: For me it was not difficult at all, I was taught that the equitation is a necessary stepping stone to other things, not just something you do for your junior career and then you have nothing after. This helped not put so much pressure on my “last junior year” as I was already thinking about what I would do next.
How did you prepare for equitation finals this year?: I did not prepare for this equitation final any differently than I had any of the other years[.] [Y]ou want you and your horse to be ready for anything but you really don’t know exactly what will be asked of you on that particular day. The only thing that I had done differently was not ride Monterrey in the warm-up class before the finals. I always thought his best class was the first one he did, so I took a bit of a chance and thankfully it [paid] off!
With whom do you train?: For the equitation and the hunters I train with my mother, Cindy Cruciotti, and for the jumpers I train with Peter Lutz.
What are your must have equestrian products?: My Ariat Monaco stretch boots. With being so busy and being on your feet all day it is so nice to have a boot that is so functional and looks great. I could not go to a show without them!
What are your must have products for your horse?: My horses are very spoiled and cannot live without their treats after they come out of the arena.
Tell us about your horse(s).: At the moment I have some very exciting horses: I have Monterrey, my equitation horse. [We] won the finals and now compete in the International Hunter Derbies. Then I have Chamonix H, who is my most seasoned horse that I compete in the Grand Prix [classes with] and [the] Under 25 classes. I recently bought two very nice 9 yr old horses and a 7 yr old to develop for the future.
Are you going to college? If so, where?: No right now I am focusing completely on my riding and training career.
If not, do you plan on going professional?: Yes I turned professional as soon as I aged out, I am really looking forward to the future!
What has been your most memorable riding experience?: Getting to share the Medal Finals win with my family. We all work so hard and for everyone to get to share the moment together was something very special for me.
What has been your biggest riding accomplishment?: Winning the Sapphire Grand Prix of Devon with Chamonix. This was a class that I didn’t expect to place in, let alone win, and I will remember it for the rest of my life.
What have you struggled with in riding?: Being brave, I have a very shy personality and sometimes that would translate into my riding. I had to learn to get a little tougher and be more outgoing.
What comes easy to you in riding?: I have always felt like I had a good connection with the horses, whether I am riding or taking care of them. I really just love being around them.
How do you unwind?: I love watching TV shows such as Criminal Minds and Law and Order to help me unwind from the busy days.
How often do you ride?: Six days a week.
What is your favorite band?: I don’t really have a favorite band, but I do really enjoy country music.
What is your favorite food?: I love Italian food, anything to do with bread and pasta I could eat everyday!
Dream person to clinic with?: I f I had to pick someone that I would like to clinic with I would say Hap Hansen. I have always admired his riding style and how effortless he makes everything appear.
Dream horse to ride?: My dream horse to ride would be Glock’s London.
Ultimate goal for your riding.: My ultimate goal for my riding is to compete in the 2020 Olympic Games for the United States.
Kelli can be found on Instagram.