We love sharing stories from eventing’s young riders chronicling their myriad paths to the 2018 FEI North American Youth Championships (NAYC) for Eventing, which will return to the Event at Rebecca Farm, July 18-22, in Kalispell, Montana, with a Junior One-Star Championship (CH-J1*) and a Two-Star Young Rider Nations Cup (CICOY-2*).
Today we share a submission from Callia Englund, a 15-year-old from Enumclaw, Washington, who has been working hard to chase a dream of representing Area VII at the 2018 NAYC. She is a sophomore at Enumclaw High School who rides out of her own barn called Chateau Rodeo and trains with Anni Grandia and Kaili Lawrence. Best of luck, Callia!
Have a “Road to NAYC” submission to share? Email it to [email protected]
All of us have goals and dreams. All of us work as hard as we can to achieve those goals. We have many supporters along the way but also have people who do the opposite. But in the end it doesn’t matter what everyone else thinks, you are what matters.
Xyder, my trusty steed, is a 7-year-old, 15.1-hand Cheval Canadien gelding. The Cheval Canadian is also known as the Canadian Horse but whenever I tell people that they look at me like I don’t know what I’m talking about and why can’t I just answer the question completely, but it is actually its own breed. The Cheval Canadien or Canadian horse can trace its roots back to the stable of King Louis XIV of France. I got Xyder when I was 12 years old and Xyder was a 4-year-old, from Storybook Horse Farm in Yoncalla, OR.
Together, we taught each other the ropes of eventing. We both did our first Beginner Novice at a recognized event together in May of 2015. Throughout the years we have achieved many things. From winning Jr. Novice at Rebecca Farms, to completing the Training Three-Day there a year later, to getting reserved in Jr Training Championships at the Area VII Championships, to ending the 2017 season with the move up to Preliminary in 3rd place.
That move up was something a lot of people weren’t sure that we were going to be able to pull off. I always had the smallest horse in the divisions — he is stockier and has a pony stride. But Xyder has the biggest heart of any horse I have ever met and he can make those little legs move. After completing our first Preliminary with only a little bit of time penalties added to our dressage score in 3rd place, I had a new goal in mind: the North American Junior Young Rider Championships (NAJYRC).
To qualify we had to complete a CCI1* with a dressage score below 45.0, no cross country jump penalties, and no more than four rails. But the first problem was the closest CCI1* to us was at Twin Rivers Ranch in Paso Robles, California, plus it was in April and I only had one MER. So after talking to my amazing trainer, Anni Grandia, who got me around my first Preliminary, we had figured a solution. I was going to go down to California for about nine weeks to compete and qualify for NAJYRC. I was going to temporarily join the Next Level Eventing team in Temecula, California, and train with international four-star event rider Tamie Smith.
Tamie was so kind to let me and Xyder come live down there for a few months to train and learn from some of the best. While I was down there I was also a working student which taught me so much valuable information. I had to ability to also work with top riders like Heather Morris, Nick Cwick, and Phillip Dutton. Our plan was to do Fresno County HT, Twin Rivers HT, Copper Meadows HT, Galway Downs HT, then the CCI1* at Twin Rivers. It was hard to start our season so early especially with not much preliminary experience. But after weeks of hard work we finally qualified for the one star at Galway Downs where we ended in 5th, only adding 0.8 time penalties to our dressage score.
Finally the weekend that all of this had to been leading up to was here. Xyder passed his first jog and we went onto dressage and were able to trot down the centerline for the first time in a shadbelly! After dressage was over it was back to focusing on that cross country course like it was the only thing that mattered. This was by far the hardest course we had ever be asked to do. But Saturday morning we left the startbox and came back across the finish line 8 minutes and 6 seconds later, only 3 seconds above optimum time. That was one of the best moments of my entire life coming over that finish line and having tons of support at the vet box as well.
The competition was not over yet though, we still had show jumping. Sunday morning we got up and passed our second jog and were now heading into show jumping in 14th. We walked into that ring just focusing on finishing the day. Landing off the final jump on the course, I had the biggest smile on my face after just jumping double clear, finishing my first one star, and qualifying for NAJYRC. And what a bonus it was to finish in 6th out of 27 and being the highest placed young rider!
This journey taught me so much, but there is still so much more to learn and experience and I can’t wait for every minute of it. I definitely had my doubts along the way, and it got hard when so many people questioned if Xyder and I could do it. But it is such an amazing feeling when you’re reaching your goals, knowing all your hard work is paying off and knowing it was on your self made horse. I couldn’t be where I am today if it wasn’t for so many amazing people and trainers that have helped me along the way. Also thank you to Area VII Young Riders for running such a great program. Keep on chasing your dreams!