odie has been riding for as long as she can remember. She has lived in Destin, Florida where she was born in 1983. She
was 2 years old when she got her first pony, Little Joe. At that time, Jodie spent her riding days at her family’s private 5 stall barn at their house in Destin, Florida.
Jodie acquired her love for horses from her mother, Laurie Kelly, who kept her horses at their barn at home for many years.
As Jodie got older and more serious about riding, her family built their current boarding and training barn, Southern Cross
Equestrian Centre. Jodie moved on to two remarkable ponies, first Good Boy Chip and a few years later, to Savannah Cross.
Jodie’s pony years allowed her to explore the possibilities in the riding world. From galloping wildly, bareback through
the woods, to the finer aspects of dressage, the technical challenges of pony jumpers and combining it all in one weekend at
three-day events Jodie had a blast at every discipline. She was involved in her local 4-H and Pony Club where she competed at
local, regional and state championships with both ponies.
When she finally grew out of the pony world, she was leaning more and more towards dressage. Her first horse basically fell in
her lap through a family friend getting out of the horse business. It was a beautiful gray mare, Lolita, which would
completely submerge Jodie in the world of dressage. When Jodie’s focus turned to strictly dressage, a whole new world
opened up to her.
In 1994, Jodie’s parents took her to the World Equestrian Games in The Hague, Netherlands. This trip not only proved to
be her first experience at seeing true world class horses, but would also begin a friendship that would open the door to
Europe for Jodie. Jodie and her family were introduced to Toine and Ingrid Hoefs by her Dutch trainer at the time, Jos Sevriens,
who resides in the United States. Toine, a breeder, judge, and dealer from Holland was at The Hague with his recently approved
young stallion Juventus.
He and his wife were planning a trip to the U.S. to go to the beach somewhere for R&R when the Kelly’s suggested the
beautiful Destin beaches. The Hoefs accepted the invitation and spent two weeks in Destin Toine spent one day at the beach and
the rest of his trip at the barn watching Jodie ride. He attempted to offer his advice, but he spoke no English and Jodie spoke
no Dutch, but by the end of his trip, they had come to an understanding and the horses had improved. They reciprocated the
invite and Jodie and her mom visited their farm in Holland the next summer.
That summer of 1995 Jodie spent several weeks living with Toine and Ingrid, riding Toine’s young horses. That was also
when Jodie was introduced to Anky van Grunsven. Juventus was in training with her and Toine was there on a regular basis
watching the progress of his stallion.
Those visits turned to Jodie spending every morning at Anky’s while she was in Holland. Toine lived in the same town,
so he would drop her off every morning and pick her up around lunchtime. In that time, Jodie would do everything from warm
horses up for Anky, groom, or simply sit on the bench and roll wraps while soaking up every bit of information she could.
After that first summer, Jodie spent every summer from when she was 12-18, in Holland for 4-8 weeks. She lived with Toine and
Ingrid, spent mornings at Anky’s, and rode Toine’s horses in the afternoon.
Meanwhile, in the states, Jodie was making great progress with her horses. She continued riding with Jos, and Toine began
making regular trips to Destin to help Jodie as well. Her local and Regional shows led to national rankings in the JR/YR
Jodie’s first major competition came when she was 15 when she qualified for the Cosequin Jr. Championships held in
Los Angeles, California on Reagan, a horse that came to Jodie as a four year old. The pair flew FedEX to the West Coast where
they came home with both the team and individual Gold medal.
The next year, Reagan would prove to be Jodie’s first Young Rider’s horse as well. She and Reagan rode for Region 3
at the North American Young Rider’s Championships where their team would come home with the Gold Medal.
Jodie went on to ride for Region 3 four times coming home with top individual placings and a team gold medal three times and
finally ending her Young Rider's career with an individual bronze medal.
Jodie still spends most of the year at home in Destin, Florida riding and training from Southern Cross. In the winter months of most years, she heads to the Wellington, FL area, home of the
Winter Equestrian Festival. While she is in South Florida, she trains with Courtney King-Dye. During the rest of the year, Jodie has many phone and email lessons with Courtney.
Betsy Steiner has also been a huge influence in Jodie’s life, taking Jodie “under her wing” her first few years in Wellington.
Because Destin is such a remote place for horses, Jodie has spent her whole life training herself between clinics. She enjoys
the training time she has alone to “digest” things she has learned. She is always open to riding with a new person
and from this feels that she has really been able to develop her riding by taking valuable things from each person she rides
with. Over the years she has had the pleasure of participating in clinics with experts such as Klaus Balkenhal, Conrad Schumacher,
Debbie McDonald, Jan Brink, Steffen Peters, Oded Shimoni, Charles DeKunffy, Courtney King-Dye, Scott Hassler and Anne Gribbons.
Jodie has now graduated from the young rider division and is competing two of her horses in the small tour. She has a string
of young horses that are coming along nicely as well. Jodie is proud of the fact that with the exception of her very first
dressage horse, she has trained all of the horses she competes from their very first days under saddle.
Her first young purchase was her horse, Manhattan, at the age of 2 1/2 when Jodie was 13. In 2007, Jodie and
Manhattan competed in the I2 division at the Brentina Cup at Gladstone and had a great showing, finishing third. At
13 years-old, Manhattan and Jodie started their first Grand Prix season together in 2008.
The pair worked its way into the top 20 USEF
Grand Prix national
rankings early in 2008 and finished the year in the top 250 FEI
Jodie and Manhattan captured the Grand Prix and Grand Prix Freestyle Championships in the Open Division at the 2011 USDF
Dressage Championships. Her goal is to continue to compete him on the big tour and hopefully take him back to Europe to compete.