Marie Meyers Trots On to the Olympics

Times Staff Writer

The Southern California equestrian scene will not be without a presence in Seoul.

Marie Meyers of Canoga Park, who won the international Grand Prix test aboard her warmblood Dimitrius at the Olympic dressage screening trials at Coto de Caza in May, has been selected as first alternate for the U.S. Equestrian Team dressage squad in Seoul.

She edged out Southern California's only other hope, Bernie Traurig of San Marcos, who rode his talented Azurit to finish a close second at Coto de Caza.

The U.S. Olympic dressage team will consist of Belinda Baudin (riding Christopher), Robert Dover (Federlicht and Juvel), Lendon Gray (Later On) and Jessica Ranshousen (Orpheus). All are from the East Coast, although Dover, a former California resident, returned to Los Angeles this month to teach a riding clinic.

Should any of the short-listed riders or horses be unable to compete at Seoul, Meyers will be waiting in the wings to fill in. In a sport such as dressage, which is strenuous and demanding on a horse's muscles, there is always the possibility that one of the named team horses may not be sound enough to compete.

Meyers almost made it to the 1984 Olympics with Dimitrius, but family matters precluded her competing. Right after Meyers had a baby that year, she and Dimitrius were long-listed for the Los Angeles Games. "Between getting myself together and getting my horse together, it was a little tough" to try out for the Olympics, she says.

That may have been a blessing in disguise, however. Meyers feels that in the interim, Dimitrius has matured considerably and perfected the difficult grand prix movements. Now 14 years old, the Dutch warmblood is a seasoned international competitor.

"I feel it took us at least two years to become really confirmed in the grand prix," she says.

Now in his third season of grand prix competition, Dimitrius is clearly a world-class mover. He won the grand prix test in the Olympic trials at Coto de Caza, showing a beautifully cadenced passage that many horses lacked. Several weeks before, he had won the grand prix special at the Olympic qualifying trials in Los Angeles and finished second there in the grand prix.

Horsy hotel: Some hotels are less than thrilled when trucks with horse trailers in tow pull into the parking area and riders in dusty boots track into the lobby to register. But if you are heading north to any of this season's big horse shows at the Earl Warren Showgrounds in Santa Barbara, you will be welcome at the Best Western Pepper Tree Inn. The hotel is offering some unusual perks for the horsy set.

The Best Western Pepper Tree is 5 minutes from the show grounds, at 3850 State St., Santa Barbara, 93105. For more information, call the hotel at (805) 687-5511 or worldwide reservations at (800) 528-1234.

Darlene Sordillo, an author of two books on horse training and competition, covers equestrian events for The Times. Her column appears every Saturday. Readers may send horse-related news to her at Orange County Life, The Times, 1375 Sunflower Ave., Costa Mesa, Calif. 92626.

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