Copper Meadows team looks toward Olympics
By Joe Naiman
A Ramona horse and rider earned a silver medal in the three-day eventing competition during the Pan American Games.
James Atkinson rode Gustav during the Oct. 21-23 competition in Guadalajara, Mexico. Because Atkinson has only lived in Ramona for two years and still holds Canadian citizenship, he competed for the Canadian team, which placed second behind the United States in terms of team scores. Atkinson and Gustav placed seventh individually.
“We had a really good trip,” Atkinson said. “It went really well.”
Each country fielding a full team had five equestrian/horse combinations, and the three best individual scores for each country became the team score. The United States won the gold medal with 138.6 points while Canada’s 172.5 points
earned the silver medal.
“They just had a fantastic weekend. They would have been pretty much unbeatable,” Atkinson said of losing to the Americans. “It almost didn’t hurt too bad because they did such a great job.”
Brazil won the bronze medal after the three best Brazilian performances totaled 209.8 points. The three-day eventing consisted of dressage the first day, a 5,225-meter cross-country course the second day, and stadium jumping on the final day.
The top 25 scored individuals returned for an additional Oct. 23 jumping session to determine individual positions. All five horse/rider combinations of the Canadian team, including individual winner Jessica Phoenix and her horse Pavarotti, were among the top 13 prior to the additional jumping session.
“He really put in a great performance,” Atkinson said of Gustav. “I was really proud.”
Gustav is owned by Carolyn Hoffos, who boards Gustav at her Copper Meadows equestrian center in Ramona when the German riding horse isn’t out of town for competition.
“It was just an amazing experience, — chance of a lifetime,” Hoffos said.
The unscored competitors included American Shannon Lilley, who lives in Gilroy but frequents Copper Meadows and Canadian Hawley Bennett-Awad, who now lives in Temecula.
“It was kind of a cool West Coast thing,” Hoffos said. “It was awesome. It was a great time.”
Atkinson moved to Ramona after marrying Hoffos’ daughter. Gustav is now 12 years old and was 3 when Hoffos obtained him from an East Coast seller.
Atkinson, who is 34, was born in England and began three-day eventing in that country. He was 13 when he moved with his family to Canada in 1990.
Atkinson has been riding Gustav for just over a year. 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.
Atkinson expects his next competition to be in February at Galway Downs in Temecula. The equestrian team for the 2012 Olympic Games will be chosen in June.
“We’re looking on to the Olympics,” Atkinson said.