by Ruby Tevis
A familiar young face around the Kentucky Dressage Association is studying in Europe! Callie Jones, at age 20, is following her dreams in a big way. She is part of the recently launched USEF/USDF Discover Dressage Emerging Athlete Program. Under the guidance of Charlotte Bredhal and George Williams, Callie is traveling throughout Europe for six weeks, competing at three CDIs and studying among Europe’s top young competitors.
Callie got her start in riding as a jumper, but transitioned to dressage when she began training with Angela Jackson. While training with Angela, Callie was encouraged to participate in the FEI NAJYRC. Unfortunately, she did not make the team with her lease mare, so she decided to buy Don Philippo (affectionately known as Phil) from Germany in 2016. That July, they successfully made the team. Now, at 10-years-old, Phil is competing at Intermediate 1.
“It has been a dream of mine to compete in Europe ever since I got Phil,” says Callie, who spent the winter in Wellington, Florida to train with George Williams and compete at CDIs. In order to be selected for the European Young Rider Tour, the horse and rider team must receive a 68% or higher at two CDIs in the Young Rider Test, as well as two scores in the Young Rider Freestyle.
Callie will be in Europe for a total of six weeks, competing at CDIs in Compiegne, France; Aachen, Germany; and Hagen, Germany. “Basically, everything is as “normal” as it can get compared to being at home. We are at the barn early in the morning taking care of our horses, we get our lessons with George, then we do it all over again the next day!” Callie says.
Despite the pressure that many riders her age may feel, Callie believes her biggest challenge will be herself. “I am extremely hard on myself, especially when I know that I could have done something better,” Callie says. “While I am here, I honestly do not have high expectations” she says, “I just want this to be a great experience.”
Callie believes that her participation in this program will help her achieve her goals of competing in the U25 Division with Phil, and someday riding in the World Equestrian Games and Olympics. “I think this experience will help me achieve these goals in many ways. The caliber of riding over here is extremely high, so I think it will be important to see exactly where I stand compared to these top riders.”
“In order for the United States to reach the caliber of riding that we see in Europe, the youth programs that we currently have should continue,” Callie says. “I think that the new USEF/USDF Discover Dressage Emerging Athlete Program is a great program that will continue to grow and help youth be successful at the FEI level.” In addition, Callie believes in the value of working hard to achieve your dreams. She recommends going to clinics to watch others and take notes. Also, she suggests it is important to make yourself known, but remain humble in doing so. Her favorite quote is by entrepreneur Mark Cuban: “Work like there is someone working 24 hours a day trying to take it away from you.”
The Kentucky Dressage Association wishes her luck as she completes her final weeks in Europe!