July 5, 2008
Dryden 11-year-old top rider at horse show
Girl wins competition in barrel racing at Pinto World Championships in Tulsa, Okla.
Bob Ellis/staff photographer
Daniele Card, 11, of Dryden, spends time with her pinto-paint horse “Dee” in their backyard stable. Card has been riding horses since she was 5 and recently won an event at the Pinto World Championships in Tulsa, Okla.
DRYDEN — Asked what she enjoys most about riding competitions, Daniele Card of Dryden paused to think before answering.
“I enjoy making friends and traveling,” Daniele said. Her mother, Annmarie, brought a broad smile to the 11-year-old girl’s face by adding, “and winning.”
Six years ago Daniele Card began riding. Five years ago she entered her first show. Now the 11-year-old horse enthusiast has placed first in the “Walk/Trot-Barrel Racing” class at the Pinto World Championships in Tulsa, Okla.
The Pinto World Championships is a competition put on by the Pinto Horse Association of America. The association is a nonprofit organization that maintains a registry for the pinto horse breed.
Daniele said she first got into riding because a friend in kindergarten owned a horse. She told her parents she wanted lessons for her fifth birthday, so they called up family friend Jody Caufield, who had a retired champion pinto mare. Caufield said Daniele could test-ride the horse before deciding on lessons.
In a letter to the Pinto Association, Daniele described her encounter with the first horse, Lucy, as “love at first sight” and her passion for riding hasn’t let up since. For the past three years she has ridden on current horse “Dee,” whose show name is Ima Spot Of Delight and is owned by the Cards.
“She’s forgiving a lot, “ Daniele said. “She has a happy personality.”
Daniele has won honors in New York and has also placed first or second at shows in states including Connecticut and Ohio. Steve Card, Daniele’s father, explained they went to closer competitions to get a feel of where Daniele stood before deciding to make the 1,300-mile drive to Oklahoma.
“It was an interest and we try to follow those.” Annmarie said the family has been dedicated to the interest Daniele has shown since she first asked for riding lessons. Neither Annmarie nor Steve Card said they get nervous when their daughter rides.
Daniele has been traveling to Whitney Point for 2 1/2 years for lessons from Joan Schaefer, who said Daniele’s greatest strength is, “Her ability to feel the horse, which is a natural ability.”
Schaefer, who trains about a dozen students at a time, said Daniele’s success has been a product of her dedication. “It’s definitely well deserved because she does the work. It’s the true description of hard work paying off.”
Schaefer listed family involvement that spanned three generations as another key to Daniele’s growth as a rider, saying that Daniele’s grandmother helped make show outfits, cooked, groomed the horse and helped drive. Schaefer added that in the end the main credit goes to Daniele.
“It takes a few to get them in the ring but Dani has to do the work,” Schaefer said
Daniele, who hopes to be a horse trainer when she grows up, said the most satisfying part of riding is learning new things. Her favorite class of competition is called “discipline rail,” in which horse and rider follow along with issued commands.
Though competitors from around North America traveled for the show in Oklahoma, Daniele was the only youth from New York state who went to the event. The family said they met participants who had come from Michigan to California to British Columbia. An entrance fee is required, but getting into the competition does not require qualifying.
“If you think you’re good enough you can make the trip and compete, “ Steve Card said.
An average of 47 children participated in Daniele’s age group. She competed in 13 classes and achieved four top-10 finishes besides the one first-place finish. She received a belt buckle and ribbon as awards.
The competition lasted 12 days with different classes within youth, amateur and open age divisions. The barrel racing class involves completing a preset pattern marked by barrels in the fastest time possible.
Hanging out at the event was fun, Annmarie Card said, with different themed days such as Mardi Gras Day and Hawaiian Day, which Daniele said they decorated the horse stalls for. Other attractions included a dog show, ice cream social and charity auction.
For Steve Card, an employee for the town of Dryden Highway Department, and Annmarie Card, a teacher for Headstart, having to put together an area on their own property for the horse from scratch was an educational experience.
“It took us all a little bit to learn, “ Annmarie said, citing the logistics of building a barn, such as stall size and number of stalls.
Steve Card said he grew up on a farm with animals and that helped to keep bringing a horse into the family from being overwhelming. Annmarie’s family had a horse when she was young, though she said it was kept mainly as a pet, so she had some experience in horse care as well.
The Cards usually go to some sort of event at least every other week, Steve Card said, often at Maine Mavericks at the Broome County Fairgrounds at Whitney Point.
Other plans for the near future include going to the Chemung County Fair Show in August and the New York State All-Pinto Horse Show at the State Fairgrounds in Syracuse in September.
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