Jeff TullyWhen Kristina Harrison-Nanese walked into her...

Jeff Tully

When Kristina Harrison-Nanese walked into her bank looking for a

loan, she realized the item she intended to purchase was a little



While most loan officers are used to seeing requests for financing

on high-ticket items like houses and cars, Harrison-Nanese needed

money for a different kind of horsepower, and something she could

ride on, instead of live in.


“I guess getting a loan to buy a horse is a little different,”

Harrison-Nanese said. “Not too many people are looking to get money

to purchase something like that.”

Not a rich woman by any means, Harrison-Nanese works as a riding

trainer for Angele Farms stables at the Los Angeles Equestrian Center

in Burbank. In between her instructing lessons, she has also found

time to train in the equestrian discipline of dressage.

It was while she was training with for the sport with instructor


Carol Plough that Harrison-Nanese was presented with an offer she

couldn’t pass up.

“Carol found me and I had only been riding with her a couple of

months when this all started,” said Harrison-Nanese, 31, a married

mother of one who lives in the Rancho District. “She went to Holland

to train and she called me and said ‘I have a horse for you. You have

to buy this horse.’

“I told her that I didn’t have the money to buy a horse. I’m not


buying this horse. But Carol told me ‘You don’t understand, this is

your horse. You have to buy this horse.’

“I don’t know what got into me. I had never done anything like

this before. But I went to the bank, I got a loan, and I bought the

horse, sight unseen. I never even saw him until after I owned him and

he landed.”

The house, Kantor -- or affectionately known as Scooby -- has

turned out to be a winning investment for Harrison-Nanese.

Thursday, Harrison-Nanese and some of the best dressage

competitors in the nation will be in Gladstone, N.J. taking part in

the United States Equestrian Team Intermediaire I Championship, which

runs through Sunday.

The event is part of the 2003 USET Festival of Champions, and the

dressage competition will determine which rider/horse combinations

will represent the U.S. in the 2003 Pan American Games Aug. 7-10 in

Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic.

Along with Harrison-Nanese, four other rider/horse teams from

Southern California will be taking part. The field also includes

Kathleen Raine from Murrieta and her horse Lord Glendale. Raine is a

former U.S. Olympic alternate.

To qualify for the selection trials, rider/horse combinations had

to compete in a series of qualifying events held throughout the

country from September to June.

Although Harrison-Nanese expects the competition to be tough, she

said she is feeling confident and relaxed heading into the event.

“I’m feeling surprisingly good,” she said. “I actually feel really


“I have been working with Carol in Riverside, and she has helped

me a great deal.”

Harrison-Nanese said if it wasn’t for Plough’s persistence, she

might not have found a horse that is accomplished and talented as


“Carol knew this was the horse for me,” she said. Every now and

again you see a horse and you say ‘That horse is special.’ [Kantor]

can be a handful, but Carol just knew it was a match.

“It is a financial struggle to maintain a horse at this level,

certainly, with the training and everything else involved. But I

wouldn’t take it back for the world. Buying the horse is probably one

of the best things I have ever done. Sometimes you just have to take

a chance.”


Along with the talent and ability of the rider, much of dressage

is focused on the horse. In competition, a rider will put the horse

through a series of moves and those moves are scored by a panel of


Harrison-Nanese said Kantor -- along with having a playful

personality -- is a hard worker who loves to compete.

“He is a worker and is happiest when he’s working,” she said about

the 11-year-old whom she has had for more than three years. “He is

geldedly and is very stud-like, like a stallion. He will grab your

arm or he will try and kick you, but he doesn’t really mean anything

bad by it. But he is a lot of fun.

“It’s funny because he and I are a little ying and yang. He will

act up and I will walk away and he will stop what he was doing. But

when I come back, he will start doing his whole thing again. He’s

definitely a character.”

Harrison-Nanese said she has been fortunate not only to find a

good horse, but to also have a strong group of people supporting her.

With the help of her family, Harrison-Nanese has also received

financial support from a group of her riding clients.

“They have been so good to me, helping me out financially,” said

Harrison-Nanese, who estimates it will cost more than $11,000 just to

send Kantor to New Jersey for the dressage competition. “Without

their help, and the help of my family and friends, I would never have

the funds to compete in an event like this.”

Although it has been difficult for Harrison-Nanese to juggle her

family life, her competition schedule and her teaching activities,

she said working with horses is something she has grown to love.

“I have been around horses since I was a little girl,” she said.

“I can’t think of anything that I would like to do more. This is

where I really enjoy being.”