Ramona horse, rider selected for Pan American Games

By Joe Naiman

Rider James Atkinson and Carolyn Hoffos’ horse, Gustav, have been selected to represent Canada in the Pam American Games for the three-day eventing competition Oct. 21-23.

“We’re just thrilled,” said Hoffos, who boards Gustav at her Copper Meadows equestrian center in Ramona when the German riding horse isn’t out of town for competition. “I’m ecstatic. We have the whole family going down.”

Atkinson has lived in Ramona since marrying Hoffos’ daughter two years ago and is still a Canadian citizen.

More than a dozen family members, friends and equestrians who train at Copper Meadows will be making the trip to Guadalajara, Mexico, for the Pan American Games.

“It’s really exciting,” Atkinson said. “I’m really happy for the horse and for Robin (Hoffos’ husband) and Carolyn.”

Atkinson knows that a healthy horse will be the key to a successful competition and is aware that problems could arise.

“I’m trying to keep my excitement in check,” he said.

The equine health issue will determine whether Atkinson and Gustav compete as a team or individually.

Five horse/rider combinations were selected to compete at the Pan American Games. Four will be on the team and one will compete individually. That selection will not be made until after the horses and riders arrive in Guadalajara.

Atkinson and Gustav left Ramona on Sept. 20 and spent last weekend at a competition in Parker, Colo., where the Colorado Horse Park is located.

“You’ve got to keep them fit,” Atkinson said of the competition before the Pan American Games.

Atkinson and Gustav traveled to the training center in Ocala, Fla., and expected to spend 10 days in Ocala before leaving for Mexico on Oct. 15.

Gustav is 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. His brother, Matthew, still lives in Manitoba and will be Gustav’s groom at the Pan American Games.

Hoffos and her husband will not be in the stables at Guadalajara.

“We’re going as the owners just to enjoy and have fun,” Hoffos said.

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.

“We’re enjoying it,” Hoffos said. “We’re really proud of him and proud of Gus.”

   
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