Dalan Laughlin, a junior at Carmel High School, is one of the best junior hunter, jumper and equitation equestrians in the state.
According to the Pacific Coast Horse Shows Association, Laughlin and her horse, Babiole, were ranked third in jumpers, with a total of 25.50 points as of Dec. 1.
Hunter, jumper and equitation are all disciplines of equestrian and are judged differently. Hunter is based on the horse’s appearance and obedience. Jumper is based on how fast an equestrian with its horse can go around the course without hitting down jumps. Finally, equitation is based on the equestrian’s appearance and accuracy.
Laughlin currently lives her passion. She tries to attend competitions twice a month, which she admits is often.
“What I do specifically, is I jump 1.35 meters… and I’m basically going for time to see how fast I can get around the course while also keeping all the rails up and making sure none of the jumps fall down because if they do, then it’s pointed against me,” Laughlin explains.
In order to prepare for the competitions, Laughlin practices for two hours each day, and on the weekends she is not competing, she trailers her horses to train with her and her trainer outside of Sacramento.
“The ultimate goal [of an equestrian] and over the year is trying to [improve] your California ranking,” Laughlin says.
Although Laughlin is ranked third in the state, she admits to being too scared to check her ranking for the United States. However, two years ago, Laughlin was the winner of a team competition of the Children’s and Adult Amateur Jumper West Regional Championships.
When asked how she began, the junior explains, “I started when I was two and was raised into it. [My mom] put me on [the horse] and walked me around. I was raised with horses, so I’ve always been around them.”
When discussing her future, Laughlin admits to wanting to go to a university where she’ll be able to continue doing equestrian. In order to succeed college-wise, Laughlin says it’s difficult. Managing school, equestrian practice, family friends and sleep is tough, but she seems to find a healthy balance.
As for her horse, Laughlin explains that as the equestrian improves, a new horse is bought.
“I just got a new horse and she came from Germany… her name is Babz.” The story behind the unique horse name is that it came with a hard to pronounce German name, but her show name is Babiole, so Babz just seemed to be the perfect replacement.
Laughlin adds, “I really enjoy [competing], but to me, I would be perfectly happy just riding my horse and not showing it at all because I love my horse and my horse is awesome.”