This October, eventer Danica Moore is headed for Guadalajara, Mexico. But she won’t be on vacation.
Moore, 25, and her 10-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding Utah B, or “Socket,” are bound for the Pan Am Games as members of the Canadian Eventing Team.
At the Games, scheduled for Oct. 21 to 23, Moore and Socket will compete in three demanding tests: dressage, stadium jumping and cross-country.
Each test ridden by the rider and horse is scored individually but added together for the final result. The rider and horse with the fewest penalty points over the three days wins the competition.
“It was pretty exciting to find out that the whole year’s work paid off,” said Moore, who applied to attend the Games in the spring. This is her first time competing at the Pan Am Games.
“Going to the Games was Plan A. Usually you don’t stick to a plan 110 per cent because things happen, but this worked out.”
Moore expects the atmosphere in Mexico to be the biggest challenge.
“It’ll be a first for my horse and myself. There will be all the spectators and meeting other riders of that calibre. Everything will be a big deal.”
To get used to the heat, Moore and Socket will head to Ocala, Fla. shortly before the games to train at coach David O’Connor’s farm.
Despite the challenges, Moore remains “very focused” on performing well.
“Canada has a pretty excellent shot at gold or silver this year.”
Moore has been a member of the eventing team since 2005, when she relocated to the U.S. to be close to top riders and high-level competitions.
For more than a year, she worked and trained with another Salmon Arm local and team member Rebecca Howard, also bound for the Pan Am Games.
“Rebecca taught me everything I know, from the basics right up to finding sponsors and starting your own business, running a barn and dealing with clients and multiple horses,” said Moore, who has since relocated to Culpepper, Va. where she operates Meyerhoff Show Horses.
Being in Virginia allows the rider to be near other high level competitors.
“This is the eventing hot spot. Being close to all the top riders keeps your competitive drive very strong.”
During the summer, Moore makes weekly trips to Florida to take lessons at O’Connor’s farm. In the winter, she and other team members ride at winter training camps.
Moore has always loved horses and belonged to both 4H and Pony Club as a youngster in Salmon Arm. She has been eventing since age 15.
Being a professional rider is all Moore has ever wanted to do, she explained, “ever since I was a kid and all through high school.”
“The sport is so complex and so difficult. I love the challenge and I love working with the horses. It’s 24/7.”
Socket’s “goofy, outgoing personality,” said Moore, helps to keep her from getting too serious.
“He’s the barn jokester. He always makes me laugh.”
Moore plans to continue riding at top-level events.
“It would be great to continue on this path we’re on, and get to more team events and maybe the World Games in a couple of years.”
The unity of horse and rider is what attracted Moore to the sport of eventing.
“I love the one-on-one that you feel with your horse when you are out there.
Of course, there’s the thrill of riding cross-country, too. It’s the easiest phase for me,” said Moore. “It’s my natural place.”