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The making of champions

by Jo Rafferty

Cari Thompson began her business, Cari Thompson Training, after she and her husband Trep Thompson moved back to her native Gardnerville in 2001.

Since then, the 30-year-old horse trainer, who already won a national championship in 2000, trained and rode two horses to championship once again at the U.S. Arabian Nationals in Albuquerque, N.M., in October.

“It’s the highest Arabian show circuit in the country,” said Cari Thompson. “It’s basically the biggest competition of the year.

“This is a big accomplishment for us in our business. Something we’ve been working for all year.”

Thompson, who grew up in Douglas County, moved to the Bay Area for six years before returning in 2001. She rode two horses in the U.S. Arabian Nationals: Errall Flynn C.F., a 6-year-old Arabian gelding, earning the title U.S. National Champion Purebred Arabian Hunter; and R.O.L. Cymply Hot, a 5-year-old half-Arabian gelding, who earned the title U.S. National Champion half-Arabian Hunter Pleasure Junior Horse.

“This was the height of his career,” said Thompson of Cymply Hot, whom she has been training for a few years.

Thompson specializes in training purebred- and half-Arabian show horses. She gives beginner lessons, taking amateur Class A riders to the national level. She is also a trainer-instructor for children (junior riders) and has open classes for all ages.

Thompson trains at the couple’s horse facility they built in 2002 on East Valley Road in Gardnerville, but spends much of her time on the road, traveling to horse shows where she rides horses that the owners pay her to train and show.

Errall Flynn and Cymply Hot are two of those horses. Errall Flynn is owned by Lindsay Smith, of Reno, who rode the horse in a past U.S. National where the horse achieved the U.S. National Reserve Champion Hunter Pleasure Adult Amateur Owner To Ride award for ages 18-35. R.O.L. Cymply Hot is owned by Mary Sullivan of Alameda, Calif. This was the horse’s first year of competing in the “Open,” according to Thompson.

More than 1,950 horses, including the two chestnut color horses Thompson trained, competed in 109 classes in the 2005 U.S. Arabian Nationals for $1 million in prizes.

“It’s the fiercest competition,” said Thompson. “It’s like Hollywood. Certain horses are famous. Now these horses are famous.

“You’re numb, almost in disbelief when they call your name for an award. It’s very exciting.”

Cari Thompson Training features Arabian or half-Arabian show horse training for owners, amateurs or youth competitors in hunter pleasure, Western pleasure and English pleasure, lesson and lesson packages, breeding, marketing, sales and leases.

To reach Cari Thompson Training, call 782-1171.