Devotion Bonds Teen And Her Horse

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Brittany Normand has a special fondness for a 16-year-old gelding Holsteiner she calls "Artist."

"My horse is really cool," she said. "He is the horse of my dreams."

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Brittney Normand and her horse, Artist, clear an obstacle while practicing in Star Valley.

The relationship between the teenager and horse has been nurtured during daily one-hour practices at the Patterson Ranch in Star Valley and in equestrian competitions around the state.

"We've competed in Flagstaff, Phoenix and in Chandler," she said.

Normand's favorite equestrian events are three-day rows in which the first day consists of competitions in an arena. The second day features cross country task and the third is stadium jumping.

Normand explains arena as "individual movements in which we have to memorize the patterns we are to ride."

In cross-country, the horse and rider must leap solid jumps and negotiate a series of natural-looking obstacles and water.

On the third day, the judges time the horse and rider over a series of standards and poles.

Normand and Artist have been among the most successful teams on the equestrian circuit. She attributes much of her success to Artist's trainer, Shari Patterson.

"She took a horse that could only be ridden by a grown man and trained him so a 14-year-old girl could compete on him," she said.

Olympic rider Hap Hansen originally owned Artist, Normand said.

Normand will be a freshman at Payson High School next year.

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