Ramona rider, horse on track for Pan American games — and possibly 2012 Olympics
by Joe Naiman
A Ramona horse and rider could be representing Canada in three-day eventing at October’s Pan American Games and possibly at the 2012 Olympic Games.
James Atkinson has ridden Gustav, a German riding horse owned by Carolyn Hoffos of Ramona’s Copper Meadows equestrian center, to two wins on two-star courses since June. The Canadian national team has a roster of horses, and Gustav is one of eight on the top list.
Four horse-rider combinations and one individual horse will be selected to compete in the Pan American Games in Guadalajara, Mexico, so Gustav must survive one of the three cuts.
“He’s going very, very well,” Atkinson said.
“It’s pretty exciting for us,” Hoffos said. “It’s the beginning of something. It’s pretty amazing.”
Although a horse at the Olympic Games or the world championships must be at least co-owned by a citizen of the rider’s country, no such requirement exists for the Pan American Games. The selection of the horses for the Pan American Games will also evaluate consistency at the national level.
Atkinson has been riding Gustav for just over a year and participated in a one-star national event in November.
“He’s been pretty successful at the national level as well,” Atkinson said.
The world championships are a four-star event and the Olympics are between a three-star and four-star course. The Pan American Games are at the two-star level and are not open to horses who have competed in four-star competition. Atkinson contemplated utilizing the three-star course at Kalispell during the July 21-24 competition but rode Gustav on the two-star course to maintain their Pan American Games eligibility.
“Definitely a good result. Very favorable there,” he said.
Atkinson and Gustav also won a June 3-5 three-day eventing competition in Parker, Colo.
Gustav is 12 years old and was 3 when Hoffos obtained him from an East Coast seller.
“I just bought him as a prospect,” Hoffos said.
Atkinson moved to Ramona two years ago when he married Hoffos’ daughter. He was born in England and began three-day eventing in that country.
“It’s a little less unusual to do it there,” he said.
Atkinson, 34, was 13 when he moved with his family to Canada in 1990. He competed for Canada in the 1999 Pan American Games and in the 2002 world championship.
Atkinson met his wife Taren at a horse show in San Francisco.
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