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Ready for the ride of her life

Burbank resident and equestrian athlete Rison Harrison, 14, has overcome obstacles in earning her way to a national dressage competition.

August 19, 2011|By Jeff Tully, jeff.tully@latimes.com
(Cheryl A. Guerrero/Staff…)

LOS ANGELES — Kristina Harrison received a gift from her daughter prior to the biggest competition of her life.

Taking part in the dressage equestrian event at the 2003 Pan American Games as a member of the Team U.S.A., Harrison carried with her a special silver dollar that she kept tucked away in the pocket of her riding jacket.

The good-luck memento was given to her by her 6-year-old daughter, Rison, who received two silver dollars a few days before from the tooth fairy. The youngster decided to give one of her dollars to her mother to help her at the games in Santo Domingo,Dominican Republic.

Aboard her 11-year-old black gelding Kantor, Kristina Harrison helped the United States Equestrian Team win a gold medal in the Prix St. Georges Dressage Team competition.

Fast forward eight years, and now it's Rison who is in the saddle.

"She has been riding since she was 4 going on 5," said Kristina, who won a national title at the prestigious Federation Equestre Internationale Prix St. Georges at the Bayer/United States Equestrian Team Festival of Champions in 2003. "But I wanted her to ride not because I did, but because she really wanted to. I guess she wore me down."

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Kristina is now giving back to Rison, serving as her daughter's riding coach at the Paddock Riding Club in Los Feliz. And Rison is showing that she indeed has inherited some of her mother's equestrian genes, as she is preparing to take part in a national competition next week.

Rison, 14, a Burbank resident and freshman at Westridge School in Pasadena, has earned a spot in the 2011 United States Equestrian Federation Dressage Seat Medal Finals, to be held Thursday through Aug. 27 at Dressage at Lamplight in Wayne, Ill., near Chicago.

Rison will be competing in the 13-and-under division after placing among the top two finishers in a regional qualifier last October. She will be going against 10 other athletes from across the nation, including riders from New York, Colorado, Alabama, Texas, Idaho and Nebraska.

"I'm really not that nervous about the finals," said Rison, who has grown up in Burbank. "I don't get nervous much at all. You have to focus, especially in big competitions, and if you don't focus you forget what you're supposed to be doing. There's just no time to be nervous."

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