Twins don’t horse around when it comes to competition

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, September 7, 2005

In August 2004 at the National Vaulting Champ-ionships in Lexington, Alexis Albright, 9, won the Trot women’s competition, a contest for beginning vaulters. Two places behind was her twin sister Jamee (Alexis is older by 15 minutes).

&uot;I thought it was fun,&uot; said Alexis, who along with Jamee has been riding since age four and vaulting (gymnastics on horseback) for the past year and a half. &uot;I was happy, but kind of sad (that Jamee didn’t win).&uot;

For the next year, the Southwestern Elementary School students kept training several times a week at the Blue Star stables. With Jamee riding Prince, a Perchon thoroughbred, and Alexis atop an Oldenburg named Duke, they attended monthly clinics and a summer camp.

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When the Championship came back around Aug. 10-14, the girls were ready to go again. But they had a bit more of a drive to get there than before – the 2005 events were in Denver. Alexis didn’t have her usual partner, as Duke had been injured shortly beforehand.

Alexis, who moved up to copper, the second level of competition, borrowed a horse named Sergeant, and was allowed a few practice rides to get ready. Then she took on the other 49 participants, who ranged in age from 10-18.

&uot;I was kind of nervous,&uot; she said. &uot;(Everyone else) had probably been vaulting longer than I had.&uot;

Still, she made it through compulsories, in which the participants were put through a series of predetermined movements atop their equines, such as seats, flags and scissors, in riding jargon. In the freestyle event, contestants could pick their own motions.

&uot;I did a handstand and some back rolls,&uot; she said. &uot;It was faster than (the year before), and it was hard to keep my balance.&uot;

Soon after, Jamee battled the rest of the Trot ladies, 39 in all. After her own compulsories, she and Prince pranced to salsa music, as Jamee did a handstand and bridge and finished with a cartwheel off the horse’s back.

&uot;I was happy I got through it,&uot; she said.

The next evening, the scores were posted near the arena, and the girls ran to check their finishings. Alexis hurried to the copper numbers – and found she’d repeated.

&uot;I was so happy,&uot; she said. &uot;I just told everybody.&uot;

When she met Jamee, her sister had some news of her own – she’d won her own title.

&uot;I went and told my mom and dad,&uot; Jamee said. The girls won trophies and medals. Fellow Blue Star competitor Lindsay Bagley was second in Preliminary Trot (the level below Jamee).

With school back in session, the girls still intend to practice several times a week at Blue Star, and they’re already looking forward to next year’s event, which will be held in Los Angeles.

&uot;I can’t wait,&uot; Jamee said. &uot;I’ll be in a different level.&uot; With her in copper, Alexis will be in bronze competition, on her way up through silver and gold to take on the finest in America.