Four years ago I was just a 12-year-old girl with big dreams. I had done schooling shows on my pony who didn’t really like jumping so it was time to buy my first event horse. We found Xyder, a 4-year-old, 15.1 hand, inexperienced, Cheval Canadien (a breed we had never heard of), gelding located in Yoncolla, Oregon at Storybook Horse Farm.
I instantly fell in love with Xyder as soon as I met him and had to have him as soon as I rode him. Back home, a lot of people thought my mom was kind of crazy for buying her 12-year-old daughter a 4-year-old horse, but Xyder has been the chillest horse since the day we brought him home.
Callia Englund and Xyder representing Area VII at the 2018 FEI North American Youth Championships at Rebecca Farm. USEA/Leslie Mintz Photo.
Since then, Xyder and I have reached milestones I never thought we would have achieved. We started out by doing our first recognized event at the Equestrians Institute Horse Trials in May 2015 and finished on our dressage score! From there he proved to be a solid citizen who loved his job. A few months after that we moved up to Novice and in July 2016 we won a recognized for the first time at Rebecca Farm! At this point everyone around us had been questioning if Xyder could really go any further but I believed he could.
After that we moved up to Training level and completed the USEA Classic Series Training Three-Day at Rebecca Farm the following year with success! No one thought we could go any further since he was short and stocky and not like the “normal” event horse, but in September 2017 at the Equestrians Institute Horse Trials we proved them all wrong with a successful move up to Preliminary with only some cross-country time faults added to our dressage score!
I felt that now Xyder and I were unstoppable, and I had new aspirations for a CCI*. With help from my trainer, Anni Grandia, Xyder and I were able to go south to Temecula, California where I was a working student for Tamie Smith and Next Level Eventing for a few months. It started out a little rough with the change of difficulty of courses from Area VII to Area VI, but it didn’t take long for Xyder to get the hang of it and we qualified for a CCI*!
Callia Englund and Xyder at the 2018 Twin Rivers Three-Day Event. MGO Photography Photo courtesy of Callia Englund.
Xyder and I did our first CCI* at Twin Rivers Horse Trials in April 2018. There we placed sixth and I was the highest placing Young Rider, only adding 1.2 time penalties to our dressage score. Not only was this Xyder and my first CCI*, it’s where we got our AEC qualification!
Xyder and I were lucky enough to be able to compete at the FEI North American Youth Championships for Area VII at Rebecca Farm this year and are we are super excited to make the trip to Colorado to compete in the Junior/Young Rider Preliminary Championship. I’m very excited to be able to make this trip and continue competing at new venues with Xyder!
In this time of uncertainty, it can be difficult to know what steps to take next. Now that the spring season has been cut short, how do we adjust our goals for the fall season? And in the meantime, how do we manage the anxiety of not knowing what tomorrow will bring?
So far this year, three USEA Young Event Horse (YEH) competitions have taken place. From those three competitions, nine horses have earned qualifying scores for The Dutta Corp. USEA YEH Championships in October 2020. Out of the nine qualified horses, there are seven 5-year-old horses and two 4-year-old horses.
And just like that the spring season was gone . . . All the plans. All the excitement. All the goals. The calendar now has scratch marks on the days we were meant to travel and nothing more for the rest of the season can be filled in yet.
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