Portland Press Herald
Both Win National Awards
Young Maine rider, horse making hay

Lauren Leavitt, 15, and her gelding laser rise to the top of Eventing, a sport dominated by other states.

By Glenn Jordan (Staff Writer)

Her award is nice, says Lauren Leavitt, but the one that matters most is going to laser –beam, her mount.

That is Leavitt’s take on today’s proceedings at the annual United States Eventing Association convention in San Francisco, where the Falmouth High School sophomore will receive a national Junior Training Rider of the Year award for her equestrian skills.

“It’s pretty cool,” she said. “But I’m just really proud of my horse. He’s the one who takes care of me.”

laserbeam is a 9-year-old Andalusian/paint gelding who was born, raised, and boarded at Kent’s Stables in Gorham. The USEA is honoring laser, as Leavitt calls him, as its national Training Horse of the Year.

Together, Leavitt and laser won eight competitions this year in Eventing, a three-pronged discipline that included dressage, cross-country, and show jumping. “Training” refers to one of give competitive categories, above Novice and below Preliminary.

Last year, Leavitt finished second nationally as a Novice. Now 15, she competes against riders 18 and younger.

laser, on the other hand, beat out horses with riders from all age and ability levels.

“She’s got a fabulous horse,” said Lisa Kent, who coaches Leavitt and owns the stallion (George) and mare (Beamer) who produced laser. George is an Andalusian who has marched in the Rose Bowl Parade. Beamer is a thoroughbred/paint cross used in competition by Kent, a nationally rank rider herself.

As a student, Lauren “is very focused,” Kent said. “She’s very disciplined. And her parents are very supportive. It’s not a cheap sport.”

Leavitt and laser are believed to be the first rider and horse from Maine to win national awards in a sport dominated by those from states such as Kentucky, Virginia, Florida, Texas, and California.

“She’s happier that her horse won,” said Larry Leavitt, Lauren’s father. “He’s kind of an anomaly in the Eventing world because of his breed. There’s not a lot of Andalusians in the United States.”

Larry and Sheri Leavitt had no experience with horses until Lauren, as a 4-year-old, visited Kent’s Stables as part of her day-care program. She was 6 when laser was born, and quickly became attached to the foal.

Three years later, the Leavitts bought laser. He and Lauren began competing in 2001 and entered their first nationally sanctioned horse trial in 2002. Lauren rides him daily and summer and three times a week in winter.

“He’s pretty much relaxed, laid back, he likes to eat his hay,” Lauren said. “But when he goes in the show ring, he’s full focused. He has this attitude – he wants to win.”

Last March and April, the Leavitts trailered laser from Gorham to Scarborough each Sunday so Lauren could gallop him from Pint Point to Old Orchard Beach and back, building his endurance for the demanding cross-country competition.

“IT was so cold, we couldn’t wear enough clothes,” Larry Leavitt said. “She worked very hard to get where she did riding hills, riding on the beach. Watching them galloping into the fog, it felt like we were Rocky (the boxer) in the meat plant, getting ready for ht competition.”

Lauren also played tennis last spring at Falmouth, but has accepted an offer to train seven weeks this winter with Olympic medallist Karen O’Connor in Ocala, Fla. The Leavitts, who have another daughter in second grade, will alternate as Lauren’s Chaperone.

All four members of the family traveled to San Francisco this weekend.

“Lauren’s the first horse person in our family, “Larry Leavitt said. “She kind of got into it on her own, and now we’re all going along for the ride.”

USEA Nutrena Training High Score Leaderboard
Top 10 Junior Training Riders
1. Lauren Leavitt (ME) 52
2. Alysssa Huggins (MA) 44
3. Marisa Metzger (CA) 37
4. Kate Shoemaker (ID) 35
5. Leah Kramkowski (PA)

33

6. Samantha Hazen (PA) 30
7. Valerie Becker (TX) 29
8. Jimmie Holotik (TX) 28
9. Dagmar Carmello (MD) 27
10. Andrea Bettag (OR) 26
10. Laura Sappenfield (NC) 26
Top 10 Training Horses
1. laserbeam / Lauren H. Leavitt (ME) 52
2. Alongaboutdaybreak / Victoria Frey (OH) 43
2. Kabor / Amanda Glueck (KY) 43
4. Tzigane / Kimberly A. Hunter (TX) 35
5. Sweepea Dean / John L. Williams (VA) 30
6. Caan's Gray Heir / Angela Gottier (AL) 29
7. RyanAir / Nancy Thomas (TX) 28
8. Valentyno / Rumsey Keefe (MD) 27
9. FInal Design / Linda Fohl (FL) 26
9. Razzmatazz III / Andrea Bettag (OR) 26

Congratulations laserbream

* 2004 USEA Training Level Horse of the Year *

2004 Accomplishments: (With rider Lauren Leavitt)

United States Eventing Association Jr. Training Level Rider of the Year
United States Eventing Association Area 1 Jr. Training Champion

1st Place Finishes at recognized USEA Events:

  • Hitching Post Farm Horse Trails
  • Huntington Farm Horse Trials
  • Snowfields Horse Trails
  • GMHA August Horse Trials
  • Millbrook Horse Trials II
  • UNH Fall Horse Trials
  • CDCTA Fall Horse Trials

The entire Leavitt family thanks laser for his work ethic and big heart, and also wish to express their appreciation to the following people who contributed to laser's success in 2004:

Lisa Kent - Trainer
Dr. Deme Erickson - Rochester Equine Clinic
Dr. Sharon Doolittle - Chiropractic
Brent Brown - Farrier
The O'Connor Event Team - Clinicians
Dr. Cynthia Reynolds - Chiropractic

Kent's Stable's Staff
Dr. Denise McNitt & Dr. Nina Morris - Blackstrap Hill Veterinary Clinic
Deb Moynihan
Liz Race & Trudy Race Ayers - Over the Hill Farm
Melissa Bailey, Ally Goodrich, & Caitlin Donahue

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