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Theo Boris is Artful with Van Gogh at the LAEC Opener

Burbank, California. After studying the artist, Van Gogh, in school, fourteen year old Theo Boris knew what he wanted to name his new horse. “I really liked the name and wanted something special for my horse,” said Boris of his five year old gelding that trainer DiAnn Langer found for him.

The LAEC Opener (January 19-21) kicks off the show season in Southern California, and along with being the start of the show season, it is also the start of something new for many riders. Boris is starting the new year with a keen focus on both equitation and jumpers. “I love equitation because it gives you a really solid foundation,” said Boris. “And I love the jumpers because it is such a big challenge.” This year he will concentrate on equitation with Van Gogh, and they started off the year with a bang. Boris won one of his Equitation Over Fences classes for riders 12-13 and his solid ribbons in the other two classes earned him the reserve show championship behind Ali Ohringer. “I was so excited when I heard I was reserve champion. It was the first time I won a championship in equitation.” There is no doubt that the championship will not be his last.

He rides in the 1.20 meter jumpers on Marley. “I hope we can qualify for Spruce Meadows,” said Boris of one of his goals. He also hopes to qualify for the various 14 and under medal finals, like the Rosewood and the CPHA Foundation.

“He is such a talented, natural rider,” stated Boris’ trainer DiAnn Langer. “He is very dedicated and has such a great feel on a horse. Theo is an outstanding individual and a great talent on a horse.” Langer is quite confident that Boris’ talent, intelligence, and dedication will lead him to great success in any pursuit he chooses. Boris is equally positive about Langer. “She has such a wide range and is a great teacher. She knows hunters, jumpers and equitation. I think the world of her.”

Boris had no idea when he fell in love with the movie, “National Velvet” that it would lead to his passion. “I started riding when I was five and I really loved it. I wanted to do more.” A few years ago he started riding with Langer and got his own horse. Since then, Boris has never looked back. “I made a deal with my dad that if I got straight As I could ride. I work really hard at school, and in my free time I like to jog and hike with my friends.” Although no one else in Boris’ family rides, they support their young equestrian talent. “My parents don’t know why I like horses so much, but they are supportive. They think it is great that I have a passion.”

Melissa Sklenar also considers riding her passion, and she squeezes in as much riding time as possible given her demanding career. She kicked off the show season with a clean sweep in the Junior/Amateur Owner Jumper section aboard her eight year old Casablanca. With help from trainer Mark Purcell, Sklenar has made the big, bay gelding a competitive jumper. The LAEC Opener gave her a boost before heading to the HITS Desert Circuit for two weeks.

Lucy Davis also wanted to get a jump on the year, and she did so in a big way. She piloted Harmony to the Large Junior Hunter Championship and Galatea to the Small Junior Hunter reserve championship. Davis also earned valuable points toward year end medal finals by winning the WCE Junior/Amateur, LAHJA Junior, and the ASPCA Maclay. Archie Cox coaches the talented young rider.

Laura Mormann, in her first year as an amateur, won all three Amateur Equitation classes for riders 18-35. Then she captured the USEF Adult and the Foxfield medal classes. Under Betsy Woods’ watchful eye Mormann put in consistent, polished rounds that will make her a force to reckon with in the amateur age group.

Junior rider Sarah Robbins moved up from the Children’s Hunters to the Junior Hunters and finished with the reserve championship in the Large Junior Hunters. Trainer Mark Purcell piloted the stunning mare to the First Year Green championship. Jennifer Weeks also changed her focus. After several years in the hunter ring, Weeks decided she wanted to focus on equitation. She won the Junior Equitation on the Flat for riders 16-17 and then earned the reserve championship after earning ribbons over fences.

Last year, Paige Kirwin was tough to beat in the Children’s Jumpers aboard Gangster. This year she made the move to the Junior/ Amateur Owner Jumpers, where she finished third in the final class. She also rode her young horse, Pamina to the championship in the 1.0 meter jumpers. Shari Rose coaches Kirwin and describes her as a hard worker.

With sunny skies and mild temperatures, riders at the LAEC Opener did not have to deal with any of the freezing weather common around much of the country in January. With ribbons fluttering in the breezes, riders looked forward to the new year, set plans, and began their work to realize their goals.


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