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No Horsing Around Here

January 08, 2006|DINAH ENG

Equestrian competitions may not dominate the sports pages, but for those who train vigorously to compete in horse shows, there's nothing more rewarding than scoring well for sitting tall and clearing the rails in the ring. We visited the Los Angeles National Hunter/Jumper Show at the Los Angeles Equestrian Center in Burbank recently to talk with some riders about what keeps them in the saddle.

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Anne Marie Wotkyns, 39

Elementary school teacher

Northridge

(With Roman Holiday)

What event are you competing in?

The amateur owner hunters competition.

How did you get into riding?

I got started on pony rides at the fair and had a backyard pony as a child. In first grade, I cleaned the corral and watched for the school bus at the same time.

What is Roman Holiday like?

He came with the barn name Ollie, which fits him to a T. He's a little goofy and makes you laugh like Oliver Hardy.

How does he communicate

with you?

He will push me with his nose. He'll stretch his head out of the stall to get my attention. Tilting his head says, "Give me a cookie."

Do horses have emotions?

Definitely. Mine exhibits fear or guilt or remorse when he's done something wrong, like kicking a rail down in the jump.

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Nick Haness, 17

Student

Coto de Caza

(With Ramon)

What event are you competing in?

Junior hunters. I compete in 30 to 40 shows a year.

How did you get into riding?

I've always loved horses. They were my favorite toy. I started riding when I was 4.

How do you communicate with your horse?

Lots of nice riding and slow communication. I tell him "good" when he's good, and if he's not, he misses the treats that day.

Worst thing that's happened to you with a horse?

I buy and sell horses for investments, and it's hard to let go of them.

How does your horse communicate with you?

I can tell if he's in mode for competition. If he's jittery, I know he'll be good. Our personalities are similar. We like to compete.

If you win, how will you celebrate?

I go get a bunch of ice cream.

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Marnye Langer, 42

Chief financial officer

Burbank

(With D'Anconia Copper)

What event are you competing in?

The jumpers and the hunters. The hunters is a jumping competition, and the horse is judged on style, form and athleticism. The jumpers are higher. You jump around the first course without knocking anything down. Then you go for time and to jump clean. It fulfills my need for speed.

How did you get into riding?

There's a horse gene, and some of us are born with it.

What did you name your horse, and why?

I have two horses. I named one D'Anconia Copper after the business described in "Atlas Shrugged," by Ayn Rand. The other one, Carlo Carlando, came with that name and I kept it. D'Anconia's personality is laid back, and Carlo Carlando's is get up and go.

Do horses have souls?

You're talking to an atheist. They have wonderful spirits.

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Ali Ohringer, 12

Student

Thousand Oaks

(With Spotlight)

What event are you competing in?

The Onondarka Medal Finals. You get judged on how you sit and other things. The rider is judged rather than the horse.

How did you get into riding?

I went to a camp when I was 8 and loved the horses. I love their willingness to cooperate with what you say. When you're riding, you're like the coach to the horse.

Funniest riding experience?

A year ago when I was cleaning up my stuff, the trainer came over to talk about strategies. The horse took the hat off the trainer's head and wouldn't give it back for a couple of days.

How does your horse communicate with you?

If I'm doing something wrong,

he'll pin his ears back like,

"What are you doing?"

Do horses have personalities?

Yes. They have minds of their own.

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