The trumpet sounds and junior Camille Talkington and Teddy, her chestnut horse, are off. 20 minutes full of series of jumps and steps pass. The performance ends. Talkington and her horse wait a couple of minutes, that feel like hours, for the performance results. The pair are awarded 3rd place at Nationals with riders from all over the country.
Talkington has been proving her dedication to riding and being an equestrian by driving up to R&R Stables in Lee Summit three to four times a week for the past six years. From Wisconsin to Kentucky, Talkington is always traveling for riding, causing her to transfer to online school due to the weeks worth of school missed. Whether it’s an early Sunday morning or late Friday night, Talkington always seems to find herself at the stables.
And if you know Talkington, you wouldn’t be surprised to find framed photos of horses, horseshoes and horse sculptures upon entering her house.
But that passion goes beyond decoration. Now Talkington is enrolled in online school, to focus on her main goal: qualifying for the 2020 United States World Cup team in South Africa.
According to Talkington, she plans to spend a lot of time training outside of the barn since in the competition you perform an individual workout. In this division of equestrian, the rider is in the ring all alone and must complete a sequence of tasks, which Talkington has never done before.
Anyone under 21 can qualify for the team and must send in a video application. If you smile big and the judges like the video, the rider will go to William Woods College in Missouri to perform according to Talkington. From there, the members of the team are selected.
But Talkington won’t qualify on her own. Her horse of two years, Teddy, is always by her side and together they won the 2017 National Championship. But before sending her video to the United States World Cup team, Talkington will continue to train and compete with Teddy.
Camille’s mother, Sherlyn Talkington, has seen Camille continue to sacrifice family dinners and shopping with friends to go to the barn.
“She just has a passion for [horseback riding],” Sherlyn Talkington said. “A love for it. A love for the animals. A love for the sport.”
Growing up Talkington would visit her cousin in Texas and was always fascinated by the grace of the horses and from there became, as she refers to herself, “that super weird horse girl in elementary school.”
After years of playing with her My Little Ponies and dressing her American Girl Dolls in cowgirl hats and riding boots, Talkington’s grandma bought her a set of lessons for her 11th birthday and six years later, Talkington is still continuing lessons.
Along with the trophies, riding horses brought the stress of missing weeks worth of Honors Algebra 2 tests and English deadlines. For her junior year Talkington joined Sterling Academy, an online private school based out of Florida so she could pursue her riding career further.
Now that she transferred to online school, she only spends three to four hours a day on school work and is able to complete assignments in the airport or at the hotel during horse shows. Talkington spends six hours at the barn grooming different horses and helping give lessons. She only spends about 45 minutes riding Teddy, that way he doesn’t get too exhausted.
According to Talkington she tries to ride him as much as possible without wearing him out because with every ride their bond gets stronger. She says she’s ridden Teddy so much that he completes tasks before she gets a chance to ask him because he feels the way her body moves before a high gallop.
When thinking about horse shows most people imagine horses racing and jumping through hoops although Talkington and her horse are strictly a performance pair. Rather than tricks, Teddy earns points by trotting high and keeping his tail over his back.
Talkington’s friend from school, junior Paige Ceule, says she can tell Talkington is passionate by the way she talks about horses, praising the animal.
“There’s a video of her and she’s riding and she has the biggest smile on her face and it’s so cute. She’s always smiling when she’s on her horse,” Ceule said.
After placing 4th at Nationals when she was 14 years old with a pony from Stephens College, the college coach told her that if she becomes a student there, she is welcome to ride with the college girls while pursuing a major outside of equestrian.
Other than performing in the Olympics, Talkington says the only way to pursue riding horses after high school is becoming a trainer and she says she’s not interested in doing the “dirty work” of cleaning and training horses.
Talkington says that horseback riders are simply enhancing a horse’s natural ability and recognition is tied more to the horse than the rider. But Talkington is a rider to watch for in the 2020 United States World Cup team.