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U.S. nets gold at Pan Am Games

Jeff Tully

Kristina Harrison-Naness had a distincte advantage over the other

competitors in the dressage equestrian event at the 2003 Pan American

Games.

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Tucked into the pocket of her riding jacket was a silver dollar

given to her for luck by her 6-year-old daughter, Rison.

Rison received two silver dollars recently by the tooth fairy, and

she decided to give one to her mother to help her at the Games in

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Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic.

With her good-luck charm in place, Harrison-Naness rode well and

helped the United States Equestrian Team win a gold medal in the Prix

St. Georges Dressage Team competition Thursday.

“I think the good-luck charm really helped me,” the 32-year-old

Harrison-Naness said. “The silver dollar has a 1971 date on it, the

year I was born. It is something that I always carry with me now in

competition.

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“Before I went to the Games, Rison took her two silver dollars and

rubbed them together for luck. So I took one to the competition and

she kept the other one.”

Harrison-Naness said the support of her family -- especially her

husband Howard -- has helped her succeed in a sport that is both

expensive and time-consuming.

“I even had my 86-year-old grandmother and her 81-year-old sister

come to [Santo Domingo] to see me compete,” she said. “That was very

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special.

“The whole experience is just a dream come true to me.”

Dressage is an ancient sport that made its Olympic debut at the

1912 Stockholm Games. 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 judges. The

competitors are given a score based on percentage.

The U.S. successfully defended its title from the 1999 Games by

narrowly defeating Canada for the top finish in the event. The

Americans placed first with a combined score of 206.550, the

Canadians had 206.300 and Mexico won the bronze medal with 194.850.

The U.S. bested nine other nations, the largest equestrian

contingent in the history of the Pan Am Games, for the top honor.

The squad consisted of Jan Ebeling of Moorpark riding Feleciano,

Pierre St. Jacques of Boscawen, N.H. on Lucky Tiger, Carol Lavell of

Loxahatchee, Fla. on Much Ado and Harrison-Naness aboard Kantor.

The Dressage team competition took place over two days, but it all

came down to the last rider on the final day. The fourth U.S. rider

-- Ebeling -- impressed the judges and scored a 70.400%, forcing

Leslie Reid of Canada, riding Mark, to have to come up with a big

effort.

As the anchor rider, Reid came through with the best effort of the

Games, as she scored 72.150%. However, the score was just short of

pushing Canada over the top for the gold.

At the conclusion of the event, the Americans and Canadians waited

for the results to be tabulated, wondering which team had earned the

gold medal.

The top 25 riders moved onto the next round of competition, the

Intermediaire I test, which took place on Friday. All four of the

U.S. rider-horse combinations qualified for the individual event.

On Sunday, the top 15 moved on to the final test, the

Intermediaire Freestyle, which determined the individual medals.

Harrison-Naness didn’t finish among the top 10.

Although the Americans did well, the U.S. horse-rider combinations

finished out of medal contention.

Reid won the gold medal for Canada with a score of 222.100.

Bernadette Pujals of Mexico and Vincent moved up from the third spot

with an outstanding test to win the silver medal with 213.400. The

bronze went to the hometown favorite, Yvonne Losos de Muniz of the

Dominican Republic, riding Inatana Las Marismas, who scored 212.000.

The top U.S. finisher was Ebeling, who rode Feleciano to a

fifth-place finish with a 206.750 score. St. Jacques took sixth with

203.700 and Lavell moved up from 10 to finish sixth with 202.900.

Harrison-Naness earned a spot on the U.S. team by putting together

a championship performance in June in Gladstone, N.J. She was the

overall winner at the Federation Equestre Internationale Prix St.

Georges at the Bayer/United States Equestrian Team Festival of

Champions.

A resident of the Rancho District, Harrison-Naness -- who is a

private riding instructor -- trains at the Los Angeles Equestrian

Center in Burbank and works for Angele Farms.


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