Ride Sharing at Region One

This aunt-niece team share the reins at the 2017 Merial AQHA Region One Championship.

The American Quarter Horse Journal

A Natural Dancer, Crysta Lombardi and Christine Hess pose with the Level 1 amateur walk-trot hunter under saddle buckle Christine and "Riley" won August 12. (Credit: Journal)

There's Airbnb for house sharing, Uber and Lyft for ride sharing. But what about horse sharing? That's an idea they'd like to trademark, joke Crysta Lombardi and aunt Christine Hess. In the meantime, they're sharing the reins at the 2017 Merial AQHA Region One Championship.

While she spent her childhood in the irons and rode off and on as an adult, it's been a while since Christine has stepped into the show pen. Horses aren't easy to come by in Juneau, Alaska, where Christine now calls home. 

Niece Crysta hails from Lakewood, Washington, where horses are more plentiful. Looking to get her aunt back in the show pen, Crysta offered up her own mount, A Natural Dancer, for the two of them to share at the Regional Championship in Monroe, Washington. 

"I like to share with her, and I think it's awesome we can do more family stuff," says Crysta, an AQHA director.

And "She's an excellent coach," Christine says of her niece.

But what about the leading man that they share? 

"He was a dream," Christine says of "Riley," a 2004 bay gelding by Natural Iron and out of Lets Dance All Night by All She Wrote (TB). "A lot of horses, if you're really nervous, they'll pick up on that. And I was really nervous. But he just took it all in stride." 

Of course, the nervousness was understandable.

"I've never done a pattern before," Christine admits, noting that she competed in Level 1 amateur walk-trot hunter under saddle and hunt seat equitation at the Region One Championship. "When I was a kid, in eq, sometimes if it was tied, they'd have you do ride-offs, but the common thing they had you do was drop your irons and ride with without irons. So I'd never done a pattern and I totally psyched myself out."

Her coach, or niece, says its Christine's background that set up for hit-riding success. 

"She had a really good foundation as a kid, and those are things that you never lose."