Kelli Cruciotti-VanderVeen Teams Up With Essenar Crixus
Kelli Cruciotti-VanderVeen and Essenar Crixus jump the CSI3* WEF Challenge Cup in Wellington, FL. Photo by Catie Staszak Media, Inc.
Talented young professional Kelli Cruciotti-VanderVeen has taken the reins aboard the exciting Essenar Crixus, with the partnership beginning at the Winter Equestrian Festival in Wellington, FL. Cruciotti-VanderVeen and Elan Farm’s 11-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding (Luidam x VDL Douglas), formerly ridden by Jordan Coyle and Stella Manship, have stepped right into the international level; the pair jumped two clear rounds in the FEI U25 Team Competition during Week 4 of WEF and made their senior FEI debut in the venue’s three-star division this week. “I am super excited to start with him and grateful to Elan Farm, Jordan Coyle, Stella Manship and everyone that believed in me to give me this opportunity,” Cruciotti-VanderVeen said. Essenar Crixus caught eyes when topping the 2020 Holiday Finale Grand Prix with Coyle in Wellington, and the pair would go on to make the podium in five-star competition by season’s end. In the fall, Manship took the reins with success, but when the 2021 season got underway, an injury forced her to the sidelines. When deciding the next steps for her horse, Manship and Coyle turned to Cruciotti-VanderVeen. “I’ve always been a big fan of the horse,” said Cruciotti-VanderVeen, who contested her first Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ Final in 2019. “I watched him last year with Jordan and thought he was so cool. He’s one of the biggest horses I’ve ever seen, but he goes like a small horse; he has lots of blood and can jump a big jump. We’ve gotten a few lease horses from Stella and Jordan over the years, so I always stayed in touch with them about him. I was very taken aback by such a gracious opportunity, and I’m pinching myself.” With just a few weeks of partnership, Cruciotti-VanderVeen is excited to continue strengthening her relationship with her new mount; every day is a learning experience off which she’s eager to build. “His prep for the show is probably the easiest of any horse I’ve ever had,” Cruciotti-VanderVeen said. “We don’t jump him at home, and we go out on the canals every day. He’s an amazing horse.” Essenar Crixus and Cruciotti-VanderVeen contested CSI3* competition this week on the derby field at WEF, with future targets of the U25 Semi-Final under the lights in Wellington as well as the Great American $1 Million Grand Prix in Ocala, FL. The gelding remains in Elan Farm's care, making for an exciting collaborative effort. “We get along really well,” Cruciotti-VanderVeen said. “He’s a little bit quirky—he’s his own horse, which I like. I’ve only done three rounds on him, and past that, I’m still learning and sure I’ll be learning throughout these other classes, but I think we’re going to have a nice partnership.”