Big opportunity for local rider
Published 12:42 am Saturday, August 31, 2019
By KEVIN ECKLEBERRY
She’s ready to test herself, as well as her faithful horse, against the best in the world.
Kimberly Loutzenheiser, who lives in Troup County and is a junior at Heard County High, has qualified for the FEI Endurance World Championship for Young Riders.
The elite competition, which features more than 100 riders and their horses competing on a 75-mile course, will be held in September in Italy.
Loutzenheiser is one of five riders from the United States from the ages of 16 to 21 who will take part in the competition.
Loutzenheiser, who at the age of 16 is the youngest member of the United States team, will ride DM Michaelangelo, who is owned by Rae Shumate-Tysor.
Earlier this year, Loutzenheiser participated in a competition in Montana, and she had a time of seven hours, 36 minutes on the 75-mile course.
Loutzenheiser has, in fact, won all three of her competitions this year, and now she’ll get an opportunity to perform on the biggest stage the sport has to offer.
“It’s such a humbling experience and I am so excited,” Loutzenheiser said. “I am very thankful for all of the people that have helped me so much. A lot of people don’t understand the sport that well and many people think it is crazy to ride so fast and so far on a horse but it is just awesome to be out there in nature and viewing God’s beautiful creation.”
For Loutzenheiser, endurance racing satisfies her competitive desires nicely.
“I tried dressage, but that was boring for me,” she said. “I wanted to go fast. And so I found that sport, and I stuck with it.”
Loutzenheiser began with races featuring shorter distances, and as she became acclimated to the sport and the challenges it offers, she spread her horizons.
“When I first started, 25 miles felt like the whole entire day,” she said. “Now, 25 feels like nothing, and 75 feels like half a day. You just have to get used to how long it is, and it’s really fun.”
That’s not to say it’s easy.
At the race in Montana earlier this year, Loutzenheiser and her horse were on the course for more than seven hours.
There are scheduled stops for mandatory veterinarian checks and to give the horses a break, but it’s still a grind.
“The most challenging part would be persevering, because it can get really tiring,” she said. “One run we do in Talladega, Ala., it’s in the middle of the woods, and it’s so hot, and you just want to stop and lay down. It gets really hard.”
It helps that Loutzenheiser is able to ride a horse that she trusts and is entirely comfortable with.
“She’s very smart, she’s very athletic,” Loutzenheiser said. “She’s trained those horses so well.”
Loutzenheiser has proven herself proficient in the sport, and she’s excited for this next challenge.
“I was very fortunate to make the USA team,” she said. “I’m ready.”