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SKILLED RIDERS SHOWCASE TALENT.

Byline: Heather MacDonald Staff Writer

VALENCIA - If Debra Hargett, 12, was shaken by a tumble from Maggie, a 1,000-pound chestnut-colored horse, she didn't show it.

Hargett dusted off her black-and-gold military-style uniform, assured her mother that she was fine and jumped back up on her horse.

``It didn't hurt,'' Hargett said after her troop's competition, still wearing the regulation riding helmet. ``I've fallen before.''

Hargett has been a member of the California Rangers for only six months, and Sunday's Fall Post Show was the first time she had ridden in competition. Hargett said she loves the two-hour riding lessons every Monday and couldn't wait to compete in December at what amounts to a championship competition against Rangers from the San Fernando Valley.

``It teaches self-respect,'' Hargett said, echoing one of the organization's founding principles. ``It makes me feel like I can do things.''

Dozens of parents and friends braved windy and cold conditions to watch the competition Sunday in San Francisquito Canyon, cheering on the troops, and admiring the precision footwork of the horses. Both individual and troop prizes were awarded.

``I've fallen twice,'' 9-year-old Gianna Herrera declared, proudly adding that she only cried a little after her second fall. ``I like cantering the best. It can be sort of scary, when you know you can fall, but it is more fun than scary.''

The California Rangers were founded during World War II as an offshoot of the California State Militia. During that war, high school age boys patrolled the shore, watching for enemy boats. After the war, it was turned into a nonprofit youth organization, dedicated to teaching kids and teens military science and riding techniques, said Col. Brian Rainwaters, who heads the organization.

``My daughter joined when she was 9 and really took to horses,'' Rainwaters said. ``After that, I kind of fell in love with the kids and the horses. Who wouldn't?''

CAPTION(S):

3 photos

Photo:

(1 -- 2 -- color) Brian Crabtree, above, takes control of his horse during Sunday's Fall Post Show competition in San Francisquito Canyon. Riders trot along, far right, during the event.

(3) Sarah Haney calms her horse during Sunday's Fall Post Show in San Francisquito Canyon.

Eric Grigorian/Special to the Daily News
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Copyright 2000, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Oct 23, 2000
Words:372
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