After hearing his name called over the speakers, he shakes out his nerves and climbs onto his horse. As if a switch is flipped, he begins to focus on the course ahead of him and the subtle positioning of his body on the saddle. Approaching the first jump, junior Cameron Culver brings his knees in slightly more and the horse responds to the movement and leaps into the air.
Culver and his zone 7 team won silver in the U.S. National Equestrian Pony Finals with his jumping horse, Kyra. He competed Aug 10 through 15 in Lexington, KY.
“It was amazing because it was my first time at pony jumper finals with Kyra and it’s not easy to get second place,” Culver said. “It was really cool.”
Photos By Kylie Hester
Culver began riding four years ago while he was trying to find a sport to play. Kimberly Brunson, Culver’s mom and trainer, works with him on equitation, how a rider holds themselves on a horse.
“It’s important that the rider knows which buttons to push on the horse,” Brunson said. “We also teach so that you’re out of the way of the horse so the horse can perform.”
He started by participating in the 18” Welch hunters and Interscholastic Equestrian Association competitions. Leading to the nationals event, Culver took part in pony hunter/jumper, dressage, stadium jumping, and cross country events.
“Cameron is very natural,” Brunson said. ”He has a God-given talent for horses and they like him. They give him all their heart because he’s very kind and he stays out of their way but still communicates and tells them what to do.”
Photo By: Shawn McMillen (https://shawnmcmillen.com/) Published With Permission of US Equestrian
For training, Kyra and Culver also qualified for pony jumper classes to specifically help them in competitions. The pair practice every day.
“Riding a horse is an everyday thing,” Brunson said. “It’s a lot of work and time to be put in so you have to be very dedicated to be successful.”
During nationals, Culver and Kyra competed several times on the jumping courses and their overall performance won second place. Culver hopes to make it to the Olympics in his future.
“It was very nerve wracking, but also very exciting too,” Culver said. “I am very thankful for all the people who have helped me get to this position in the equestrian industry.”