My partnership with Cylana is still relatively new; it’s really only been about nine months, and I don’t know her inside and out. I decided on the six strides, but as soon as I was in the line, doing it, I knew I’d been wrong. And we had a rail at the first vertical.
After I made that mistake, trust me, I’ve been practicing and practicing that kind of question with Katie. I won’t make that mistake again, I hope. In this process of the selection trials and the observation events, I’ve just learned so much about myself as a rider and about my horses. Normally, we wouldn’t get to do this many big tracks, and jumping these big tracks is how you learn to ride them.
A New Way Of Thinking
My mindset has definitely changed from what it was before the trials. I’ve really started to look at things more from a seasoned rider’s perspective. I’ve shown everyone I can do it; I’ve shown myself I can do it. So now, I expect myself to perform at that level every time.
With the way I was thinking before the trials, I would have come out of the ring with one down over that huge course on Sunday with Cylana, and I would have been like “Wow! That was huge and so much fun!” Now I came out and kind of kicked myself for making that mistake and having the rail.
Everyone keeps asking me what I think my chances are to make the team, but I can’t say. It’s kind of an unprecedented situation. I’m just going to try and do my part to the best of my ability and let the chips fall where they may.
I’ll be happy no matter whether I’m on the team, or an alternate, or I go just to watch. When we finished the trials, there was a U.S. Olympic Committee meeting the Monday after, and they gave a really inspiring speech about the mind frame you have to have as an Olympic candidate.
They stressed that no matter who the four on the team are, whether that includes you or not, you have to truly believe that the four are the best four and fully support them. Whether I’m part of that four or I’m not, I will be rooting for them, and I completely understand that those will be the best four.
I think it would be fantastic if I were at least the alternate, because I think it would be such a great experience to be there and learn it. I can’t even express how badly I want to be on the team, but I can’t worry about things that are out of my hands. I can’t change how old I am. All I can do is keep putting in good performances, do my best, do all my homework at home and deliver. If I’m not chosen because of something that’s beyond my control, then so be it.
Katie’s whole mantra for the next few months is to keep going as if it’s just our normal show schedule. I don’t want to get caught up and overdo or underdo. Mika and Cylana and the other horses showed at the Kentucky Spring Classic the week after the observation events.
Then, they went to their new home (see sidebar) to enjoy some nice turnout and go for some gallops in the huge fields. We head to Calgary [Alberta] in mid-June for the final observation event [June 13-17 at Spruce Meadows].
Fast Facts About Reed Kessler
Hometown: Kessler’s family owns a farm in Armonk, N.Y., but just bought a farm in Lexington, Ky., and will be moving their base there. They spend the winter at a farm in Wellington, Fla., and most of the summer showing in Europe. When in Europe, Reed is based out of Katie Prudent’s farm in Rosières aux Salines, France.
Age: 17, but she turns 18 on July 9.
Olympic Contenders: Cylana (birth name Cylana van de Ruitershoeve), a 10-year-old, chestnut Belgian Warmblood mare (Skippy II—Verona van de Ruiterhoeve, Darco), owned by Reed Kessler.
Mika, a 12-year-old, bay French-bred Selle Français gelding (Nidor Platiere—Faeva de Villiers, Rubis Rouge), owned by Reed Kessler.
“Cylana doesn’t have that much of a personality in the barn; she’s not a lovely and delicate little thing. But she’s all business in the ring,” Kessler said. “Mika is in general pretty nervous. We spoil the daylights out of him in order to get him cheeky and confident.”
Her Secret Weapon: Her parents, Murray and Teri Kessler. “My parents have been my biggest supporters forever. They have everything to do with the success I’ve had,” Reed said.
“Before my dad’s business took off, my mom and I had one or two ponies at home, and we’d take care of them ourselves. So, up until I was about 13, my mom and I did all the work ourselves.
“Things have changed a lot. Now, we have amazing grooms who take care of them, but it’s not Kessler to walk past a hook of dirty tack, or if the girls are struggling with the stalls, we’ll for sure pitch in. My mom is the superstar; every Monday morning she’s up first thing in the morning doing stalls,” Reed continued.
1T – USEF Selection Trials for the Show Jumping Team for the London Olympic Games, Cylana
3T – USEF Selection Trials for the Show Jumping Team for the London Olympic Games, Mika
2nd - $75,000 Commonwealth Grand Prix (Ky.) (USEF Olympic observation event), Mika
5th - $50,000 Hagyard Lexington Classic (Ky.) (USEF Olympic observation event), Mika
1st - $30,000 WEF Challenge Round VI (Fla.), Cylana
2nd - $32,000 Hagyard Classic (Ky.), Cylana
5th - $32,000 Hagyard Classic (Ky.), Mika