The Enos make competing a family affair

English Thursday Run date: Thursday June ??, 2002 Title: The Enos making competing a family affair Author: Cindy Hale Photo: kristeneno.jpg Cutline: kristeneno: Kristen Eno's success in the show ring is due to her family's commitment to the horse world. Young Kristen Eno downplays the anxiousness she feels the day of a show. "I'm nervous in the morning, but by the time I'm grooming my horse, Oliver, I'm okay." Now fourteen, the soft-spoken junior rarely displays much emotion while competing. "My mom says I get that from my dad, that I put on a 'game face' and keep my feelings to myself."English Thursday Run date: Thursday June ??, 2002 Title: The Enos making competing a family affair Author: Cindy Hale Photo: kristeneno.jpg Cutline: kristeneno: Kristen Eno's success in the show ring is due to her family's commitment to the horse world. Young Kristen Eno downplays the anxiousness she feels the day of a show. "I'm nervous in the morning, but by the time I'm grooming my horse, Oliver, I'm okay." Now fourteen, the soft-spoken junior rarely displays much emotion while competing. "My mom says I get that from my dad, that I put on a 'game face' and keep my feelings to myself."

Story originally posted by: Cindy Hale

Young Kristen Eno downplays the anxiousness she feels the day of a show. "I’m nervous in the morning, but by the time I’m grooming my horse, Oliver, I’m okay." Now fourteen, the soft-spoken junior rarely displays much emotion while competing. "My mom says I get that from my dad, that I put on a ‘game face’ and keep my feelings to myself."

In fact, it’s very much a family affair with Kristen. Not only does her father contribute insight about competitive performances, but her mother has helped her identify her riding goals. And then there’s Kristen’s grandmother, who put her on a horse in the first place. All of this support has helped the southern California junior start on a winning track in the hunter and equitation divisions. Though she’s only been riding at county-rated and USAEquestrian shows for a couple of years, she earned a mid-circuit award in the equitation division at Indio in 2002.

After her initial rides on her grandmother’s old Quarter horse, Kristen was hooked on horses. Lessons at a local trainer’s barn got her going on the flat. But Michelle, Kristen’s mother, realized her daughter had reached a plateau. "She enjoyed riding on the flat, but I finally had to take her aside and tell her she needed a plan, a goal. I couldn’t see continuing to walk, trot, and canter endlessly. There had to be more than that."

Kristen’s initial goal was to learn to jump and to attend some small shows. But when she arrived on the doorstep of Cornerstone Equestrian Center, her new trainer told Kristen she needed to think even grander. Not only did the long-legged girl learn to jump, but she got her first English-type horse, a Thoroughbred named Jason. The two of them learned a lot together, not the least of which was flying lead changes. Although Jason picked them up quickly because he was in full training, Kristen had to learn how to set him up for the movement.

"That was one of the hardest things I’ve learned," she said. "He really took advantage of me because I was still kind of small. I learned I had to work really hard if I wanted to get those changes. But it also taught me how to cue a horse for a change, so I became a better rider."

But just as she was beginning to win ribbons on Jason, the gelding developed a rare, incurable disease and was retired. So while Kristen had bought herself a fancy new saddle, thanks to money she’d earned doing chores around the stable, she now had no horse to show. This dilemma was a jolt of reality to the Eno family.

"Equestrian sports are so expensive," Michelle said. "It’s not like, well, you need to go buy another soccer ball. It costs a lot to replace a horse. And you can’t ride or compete without one."

Once more the extended Eno family rallied support. Though it took some time, Kristen’s trainer located an Oldenburg gelding that just needed some fine-tuning and show ring miles. Oliver was a perfect fit to escort the growing young teen into the bigger equitation and hunter classes. "I like him because he’s so sweet, plus he’s predictable and consistent," Kristen said of the big bay.

As for her current goals, Kristen says she just wants to keep improving and attend more A-rated shows. But she keeps her successes and disappointments in perspective. That, too, is a family trait.

"We try to teach our kids that what’s important is to do one’s very best. That’s why practicing your skills is so important. Putting forth your best effort is what matters," Michelle explained.

Such an attitude helps buoy Kristen’s spirits on those days when a blue ribbon is out of reach regardless of how badly she wants one. On one particular Saturday, when she emerged from an equitation class without a ribbon despite a great performance, she smiled and shrugged her shoulders and said, "I did the very best I could, but the judge just liked other riders better than me."

Now that’s a winning attitude!