Eliza Culbertson, eventing rider

Published 2:54 pm Friday, July 31, 2009

Eliza Culbertson was born in Columbia, S.C., and grew up in the Chapin area where her family lived on the shores of Lake Murray. Growing up around the lake and attending school, Culbertson says, helped her have a normal childhood with years of enjoyment and good academic studies with honors.

At age 10, Culbertson discovered her love for horses and began regularly visiting her aunt in Aiken, S.C. Aunt Holly Lewis had a farm and riding horses there fostered Culbertson&squo;s new love of riding. Culbertson joined the Pony Club in that tenth year and was able to learn valuable information and skills that prepared her for future horse ownership.

Within the next year her family purchased her first horse, Pekoe, an 18-year-old ex-race horse whose main career to that point had been spent as a polo pony. Pekoe and Culbertson learned together the art of classical dressage and jumping.

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&dquo;Pekoe was a real shining star when it came to polocrosse,&dquo; says Culbertson.

Culbertson has been concentrating on eventing and competing at shows at the local and recognized national shows also with the United States Equestrian Association.&bsp; She has made Pony Club a priority and earned a &dquo;B&dquo; rating.

She has also been jumping and attending the eventing competitions with the Inter Pacific Exchange. This is a show jumping and eventing competition between the U.S., Canada, New Zealand, Australia, Japan, and Hong Kong.

Four competitions represent each country. Culbertson was chosen to represent Canada and was selected as an alternate for the U.S. team. The 2009 Inter Pacific Exchange has now been postponed to 2010 and will be held in Hong Kong next summer. Culbertson will travel to Toronto next July in advance of the trip to Hong Kong for a training session with her teammates.

Culbertson says she enjoys working hard in her academic school career and perseveres in all her subjects.

&dquo;It&squo;s when I see progress that I feel I have been successful,&dquo; says Culbertson. &dquo;I like making good grades and keeping the barn in a five star rating ‐ neat, disciplined, organized and peaceful for the horses.&dquo;

Those who have influenced her riding and perfected her goals are Aunt Holly, Bernadette Halpin Cogdell, and Holly Van Zyl, she says. Through Pony Club, she has had access to clinics and lessons, including many United States Pony Club National Examiners. &bsp;

According to Culbertson, Jodi Lees and Beth Perkins in the upstate have been a great and sustaining help to Culbertson&squo;s success in eventing and dressage.

&dquo;I like learning from Beth Perkins and concentrate on show jumping and cross country,&uot; Culbertson says. &uot;I admire Beth&squo;s vast knowledge and vast experience, her great work ethic and determination. I like my dressage lessons with Jodi Lees and am thankful for her keen eye, firm direction, and encouragement. During my lessons, I like the fact that both instructors stick with an issue until it is resolved and corrected properly. And they are both willing to hop on my horse and teach it and me if necessary. I feel blessed and am so inspired to learn and improve with both of their teaching.&uot;

Culbertson is finishing her studies at Greenville Tech, where she is currently enrolled in classes to apply for the nursing program. She plans to earn her RN and pursue a nursing career. &bsp;

&dquo;I like living at home right now where I can attend college and care for my horses,&dquo; says Culbertson. &dquo;I still have old Pekoe. He&squo;s 25 this year and he&squo;s a great babysitter.&uot;

Culbertson also has three other horses that are off the track thoroughbreds that she is slowly bringing along. All of them are bay geldings. Her main competition horse is Time to Tango.

&uot;Last summer we won first place in the musical freestyle competition at the United States Pony Club Competition Championships in Virginia,&uot; Culbertson says. &uot;We also competed in Chicago last year at the United States Equestrian Association Championships. Our goal this year is to improve the quality of our training level movements in all eventing classes-jumping and dressage. I am hopeful that we can attend the 3 day Training Show in Ocala, Fla.&uot;

Culbertson&39;s other horses are Mambo King and One True Friend. Both show great promise, she says, and have much talent for the eventing discipline of equestrian careers.

&uot;I look forward to riding these fellows up the eventing competition ladder,&dquo; she says.

Culbertson says she values most in life her support system ‐ her loving family that helps make her dreams possible and Pony Club and all her friends who make it fun to ride and learn and have a team work ethic.

Culbertson says she is also grateful for her instructors who spur her on to greater accomplishments in classical riding and for living in a horse oriented community that cheers and supports young riders like herself, and that offers local competition opportunities.