The USEF has named the 2015 Eventing 25 riders, and we’re excited to get to know each of them with a series of profiles on EN. These young riders are the future of our sport in the U.S., so remember their names and join us in giving them the recognition they deserve. Keep checking back for new profiles. Go Eventing 25!
Calvin Ramsay was surprised to find his name on the Eventing 25 list. At 17, he thought he was too young and inexperienced to be chosen. Now, he can’t wait for his first training session with Leslie Law next week in Ocala, Florida.
“I was able to train with him a bit before Young Riders in the summer,” Calvin said. “I really like his instruction. He understands the horses well. I felt like I learned a lot when I was lessoning with him. I’m pumped for that.”
Calvin has three active competition horses: Hoodwink (2*), Flintstar (2*), and MacGilly Cuddy (Prelim). He has decided to take Hoodwink, an experienced 14-year-old Thoroughbred cross that he’s been competing since 2012, to the training sessions. Calvin describes him as “extremely ADD,” and is hoping Leslie will be able to help him channel “Hoodie’s” energy a bit better, especially on the flat.
“I need help getting my dressage to look more like my warm up. It kind of falls apart, and it’s a combination of Hoodwink getting nervous when he goes away from the horses and me not exactly knowing how to deal with that.”
Hoodie may be tough on the flat, but his jumping has always made up for it. “He’s a solid jumper, loves his job and is full of life,” Calvin said. “He’s one of the funnest horses to jump that I’ve ever sat on.”
Coming Over to ‘the Dark Side’
Calvin’s parents, Court and Kylie Ramsay, founded Pharview Stables when Calvin was just a toddler. So while he’s been around horses for as long as he can remember, he didn’t always event. “My dad wanted me to start in the hunter world so I could get a good eye and learn the basics of counting strides.”
When he did eventually do his first event around age 12, he didn’t take to it right away as many of us do. “For a while I hated cross country because the pony I had was a hunter jumper queen,” Calvin laughed. “She didn’t want to go through water and logs were not okay.”
Once he paired up with a pony that had some eventing experience and showed him how fun cross country can be, Calvin gave the “hunter jumper queen” to his little sister and never looked back.
Calvin’s first big eventing win was when he was just 14. He and Landmark’s Miss Liberty, an Irish Sport Horse mare, won the Junior Novice division at the 2011 American Eventing Championships.
Please enjoy this most adorable video of his post-win interview with me:
“Liberty was a great horse. She really taught me to not commit with my shoulders because the second I did that there was no chance she would jump. She taught me a lot.”
But his best career moment so far, he said, was riding for Area III at the 2014 NAJYRC,where he won an individual silver and team gold medal in the two-star.
“That was the first time I’d ever been part of a team. I wasn’t riding for myself, so if I screwed up it was not just me that would be bummed out,” Calvin said. “At first I was so mad at myself because my dressage was horrible. Nicole Doolittle told me to chill, that we’re all in this together.”
Getting in Sync
Calvin was riding Flintstar, a horse with international team experience. Even though they were 15th after dressage, they were ultimately the only pair in the division to finish on their dressage score, vaulting them into second place and solidifying the gold for the team.
Flintstar and Calvin met during the Thanksgiving holiday in 2013. While they eventually found success at Young Riders the following summer, as Calvin recounted the time it took for them to “get in sync,” it was clear the horse made him work for it.
“Of course he’s experienced much more than I have,” Calvin said. “We had this attitude with each other: you’re not going to listen to me and I’m not going to listen to you. Over time I was able to be more quiet with my aids which really helped. The slightest movement of my hand was an aid in his book.
“Our dressage can get better of course. He loves show jumping and cross country and I do too. We do pretty good at that.”
Calvin would really like to go Advanced this summer but said it depends on the progress he makes in dressage.
“I know Hoodwink has the scope to jump Advanced. We’ve jumped Advanced before at home, but we’re working out the lead changes. That’s kind of been the big block in between Intermediate and Advanced.
“I know Flint can do it, but it is a matter of can he and I do it? Probably, if I work hard.”
Long term, Calvin doesn’t have any plans. He’s spent most of his teenage years actively competing on multiple horses. As a high school junior, it’s now time to start thinking about college. “I want to go as far as I can go before college,” he said. “The big question is if I want to buckle down and do college and get a job or if I want to juggle college with a riding career.”
Whatever route he chooses to take, we wish him the very best!