She shares initials with George Morris, plays competitive soccer, and her riding is turning heads across the country. Read to find out more about talented Colorado rider Grace McReynolds, and her horses Kalvin and Cookie.
By: HH Contributor Kristina McCombie
HH: Who is Grace? Tell us a little about yourself.
GM: I am 16 years old and currently a sophomore at Rampart High School in Colorado Springs. I have been riding for 10 years at Hunter Run Farm. Outside of riding I play competitive soccer. When I have free time you’ll find me hanging out with my best friends.
HH: What horse(s) do you have right now and what are you working on?
GM: My family has four horses at the moment. One being a pony who is leased out to my trainers daughter, another that we are currently trying to lease out and two that I show as my hunter and equitation horses. The two horses I currently show are Kalvin (Kabaltic) and Cookie (Finnegan). Kalvin is a 7 year old Belgian warmblood who I show in equitation and medals. We got Kalvin a little over a year ago and he has been the best addition to our family. Cookie is an 13 year old Irish sport horse that I’ll show in the 3’3″ junior hunters this year. We got cookie about 3 years ago for my sister. When she went off to college I began riding him and after our first show he unfortunately got hurt and had surgery last year in February. He returned to the show ring in September and I can’t wait for this year with him! Right now I am really focusing on my position and keeping my lower leg still over the fences. Both my horses have their own challenges and I’m working on changing my mindset and ride when switching from one to the other.
Grace and Kalvin
HH: What were some of your accomplishments this past year and what are your future goals?
GM: I wasn’t able to show Cookie until the end of the show year, but he has done very well at the two shows he’s shown in and we are hoping to qualify for the 3’3″ Junior Hunter Finals in Del Mar this year. When we first got Kalvin he was a jumper and had never shown in the US, let alone in a hunter or equitation ring. He has exceeded all my expectations; some of the highlights being: winning the National CHJA Junior Medal, competing at Junior Hunter Finals, 3’3″ Maclay finals, 3’6″ Maclay Regionals, and Kalvin being year end champion in every single division he competed in. This year I am hoping to compete at 3’6″ Junior Hunter Finals and the Hunterdon cup on Kalvin. I hope to be able to qualify for the Taylor Harris, Maclay, and Dover/USEF Medals as well.
HH: Who do you idolize in the sport?
GM: It’s very hard for me to pick a specific person. There are so many big names who everyone looks up to but I look up to anyone who rides at any level who is respectful and kind to not only their horses but others in the show ring.
Grace and Cookie
HH: Who have you ridden with and what have you taken from each trainer?
GM: I train with Lorelei Cudney, Susan Winston, Frances Nix, and Amberlee Wentz. I have always trained with Lorelei and she has taught me so much not only about horses but also about being a good person. She has taken me from short stirrup to where I am today. But more importantly has taught me to always be kind to others, to relish in my accomplishments as well as others. I owe everything to her and there is no way I could ever pay her back. Susan started to train me a couple of years ago. She has taught me that every horse has their own issues. She is always looking for new exercises to help each specific horse and myself, making us both more confident. Frances has taught me that not everything is about the height and having a good foundation is the key. She has helped me improve my position in equitation this year. Finally Amberlee helps train my horses. I can’t imagine where I’d be without her putting training rides on both my horses. Even when she’s about to walk in the ring on another horse, she always finds time to give me little tips to help with my horses that day. She has been essential on developing Kalvin since he is so young.
HH: If your horse(s) was/were a person who do you think he/she would be like?
GM: Kalvin would be “The Rock” (Dwayne Johnson). He’s big and muscular and likes to show off but at the same time he has the sweetest heart and can act like a little kid when he wants. Cookie would be quite similar to Ashton Kutcher. He is very handsome, but has a quirky personality. He would be the practical joker in the horse world.
HH: What is always in your tack trunk?
GM: I always have all the necessities like spurs, gloves, brushes, etc. But the one thing I always try to have in my tack trunk is a hair tie. A lot of the times I’ll forget one at home or in the car so it’s always nice to know I’ll have an extra for the times I do forget.
HH: What’s your favorite show and why?
GM: My favorite show would definitely have to be Del Mar. I love the fact that you can show and then drive five minutes and be on the beach. I look forward to going to this show every year and being able to show on the grass. Showing on the grass just makes the experience so much better.
HH: Do you have any good luck charms or are you superstitious about anything?
GM: I have never been one to be superstitious or have good luck charms.
Grace and Kabaltic at The Colorado Horse Park
HH: If you weren’t riding and showing what do you think you’d be doing?
GM: I am fortunate enough to be able to play two sports at a very high level, so if I weren’t riding I would definitely be playing soccer.
Pictures for this article courtesy of Quintessence Photography