Alkatop at the top of horse riding

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, June 9, 2004

Suffolk News-Herald

Alkatop stands six foot six, is riddled with bulging muscles, and is the proud owner of a near-40-inch vertical leap.

Then why, you may ask, isn’t the native of Germany tearing up the NBA? Just one reason – he’s a Holsteiner horse.

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&uot;It’s like being on top of a mountain,&uot; Billy Walck said of his trusty steed, who carried the King’s Fork Middle School student to a reserve championship (second place) in Children/Adult Hunter competition at the Nansemond Hunter Jumper’s Association event Sunday in Chuckatuck (Billy also won the Model Hunter title, with the help of the pony Done Dun it Again). &uot;It’s fantastic when he jumps, because he’s so smooth. It’s like being on a relaxing roller coaster.&uot;

That’s a journey that Cassie Sawyer is used to taking; with the help of her Dutch warmblood, Paint the Town – no tiny equine himself – she’s currently ranked among the state’s best in equitation by the Virginia Horse Show Association (equitation is an event in which horses first complete a series of jumps, then show their walking, trotting and cantering skills).

&uot;He takes care of me as long as I don’t pull on his mouth,&uot; Cassie says, indicating her rein attached to the bit in Town’s mouth. &uot;You can’t hold the reins too tight. He’s a really smooth ride; it doesn’t feel like he’s jumping.&uot; The pair took home the titles in Children/Adult Hunter and Junior Equitation.

&uot;You just have to sit up and not look down, or it changes your balance,&uot; she said. &uot;Horses go better when they stay balanced.&uot;

Other riders (and horses) who won their respective events Sunday were:

Open Pleasure: Haley Hedge (Lunmore Nala)

Short Stirrup: Megan Lunning (Lunmore Solitaire)

Green Pony Hunter: Haley Hedge (Lunmore Nala)

Open Hunter: Melanie Poole (Say No More)

Green Hunter: Betsy Burton (Kingdom Come)