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July 29, 2013

Horse, rider create success from respect

TRAVERSE CITY — Julia Boss is earning her spot among the best of the best in the highly-skilled equestrian sport of dressage, but the Traverse City horsewoman, 21, doesn’t let trophies, ribbons or recognition distract her from what brought her to the sport in the first place:

The mutual respect between horse and rider that only time and hard work can build.

Boss recently returned from the week-long North American Junior/Young Rider Team competition in Lexington, Ky., where she and her horse San Remo placed 22nd in a field of the best riders from across the U.S., Bermuda, Canada, Mexico, Puerto Rico and the Caribbean.

The pair currently ranks 12th in the nation to compete in the United States Equestrian Federation’s National Championship this fall.

“It was an incredible opportunity and an amazing thing to be able to represent the United States in such an event,” said Boss, who was one of four riders to represent the Region 2 states of Illinois, Wisconsin, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio and West Virginia and the only rider from Michigan.

“I’ve always enjoyed competing, and I prefer to try to beat my own best score rather than worry about the other riders,” she said. “I think that mindset has allowed me to progress in the sport.”

The word dressage comes from the French verb, dresseur, meaning “to train,” and some form of dressage is utilized in all types of riding, she said.

“It’s like horse dancing,” Boss said. “San Remo is a Hanoverian breed from Germany, and at 17.3 hands high and 1,500 pounds, he could blow me off any time he wanted to.”

Boss uses subtle, almost unnoticeable, movements of her hands, legs and feet to direct the horse as they work through their intricate choreography.

Boss boards and trains San Remo at Black Star Farms in Leelanau County. Her parents purchased the horse when Boss trained with Olympic Bronze Medalist Michelle Gibson in Florida.

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