EQUESTRIAN RIDES HIGH.
Adrianne Potwora of Eugene knows how to win.
An accomplished equestrian, Potwora, 37, has collected many prizes at horse shows, including three within the past year.
But her victories were always at local or Northwest competitions. Early this summer, she reached another level. On July 4, she and her horse, Henry, won top honors in their classification at the American Paint Horse Association championship, held in Fort Worth, Texas.
For Potwora, the trophy represents a highlight of her competitive career, one that dates to her childhood as a 4-H member.
"It was a great present for me for Independence Day," she said.
The American Paint Horse Association has 104,000 members. Potwora and Henry won the association's Junior Horse Hunter Hack championship. In the competition, horses are required to jump fences and move gracefully around a ring.
"He has to clear the jumps very pretty, and he also has to behave well around the rails," Potwora said.
Potwora, with a business degree from the University of the Pacific in Stockton, Calif., is a relationship manager with ING Investment Management.
She said it's rewarding and relaxing to work with horses.
"It's fun to train a horse and teach them what to do, and to be rewarded by doing well for all your hard work," she said.
"It's very therapeutic," she added. "It's my down time, just to love animals."
Potwora's experience shows how being an equestrian can become a lifestyle, taking substantial amounts of time, effort and money.
"Here's a warning for anyone who is dating or contemplating marrying anyone who has a horse," said her husband, Joe, who manages Washington Mutual Home Loan offices in central and southern Oregon.
`They never quite tell you the full story of what is involved. You may attend a few horse shows, feed the horses some carrots, and you think, `That's cute, that's fun.' And the next thing you know, you own two horses and you have a big horse training bill."
The world of competitive horsemanship has its own culture, he said.
"I play golf, and in four hours I am done," he said. "The horse hobby is almost integrated into people's lives. It's almost surreal the commitment that these people make."
At her husband's urging, Potwora wrote a manuscript for a book that she hopes to publish someday.
In the manuscript, titled "Saddle Up," Potwora tells humorous stories from the horse show circuit, including a time when an inexperienced rider tries to propose to his girlfriend by riding a horse into an arena dressed in a suit of knight's armor.
But his pointed metal boots and sword poke his horse in the side, causing it to gallop into the arena. That frightens the other horses there, causing bedlam. Potwora writes that as she is holding onto her frightened horse, `I look over at the knight, who is still holding on.'
Potwora hails from one of Lane County's best-known and politically active families. Her grandfather was the late timber baron, state legislator and philanthropist, L.L. "Stub" Stewart of Cottage Grove. Her sister, Jennifer Solomon, is a west Eugene City Councilor. A cousin, Faye Stewart, is the East Lane County commissioner.
Growing up in Cottage Grove, Adrianne got her first horse from her parents, "Bud" and Sandy Stewart, when she was 8. But she kept falling off the steed, aptly named "Jinx." He was a barrel racer who liked to run fast and "spin around as if he was running around a barrel," she recalled.
Other easier-to-ride horses followed. She joined 4-H and learned a lot about horses, much of it from competing in horse shows.
"The 4-H system taught me how to win and lose gracefully," she said. "It taught me how to take care of my horse, how to clean and feed it and how to clean out the stall. When I got out of college, I had to foot the bills myself, which made me appreciate my parents even more because horses are expensive pets."
Taking care of a horse is a big responsibility. So before they buy a horse, Potwora advises parents to arrange for their children to take riding lessons. Many stables allow youngsters to care for the animals.
When buying a horse, Potwora said, parents should make sure the animal's temperament is a good match for their child. She suggests that parents don't push their children to compete.
"I see a lot of parents that are really driven to have their kids compete," she said. "If a child wants to compete that is one thing, but it's like anything else where you see parents wanting to live vicariously through their children. It's really sad."
Potwora has introduced horses to her two young children, Justin, 5, and Jacqueline, 3. But Potwora said she doesn't want to force them into the sport.
For now, Justin participates in lead line classes, where he sits with perfect posture on a horse while Potwora leads the horse around a ring.
Soon after winning the American Paint Horse Association title in July, Potwora sold Henry to a California rider.
Potwora said she was sad to part with Henry, but she felt the new owner could take advantage of Henry's jumping ability.
"Henry is far better than my skill in the jumping area," she said. "I had a quandary: Do I keep him and try and get better, or let someone who specializes in jumping take him to his full potential?"
Potwora thinks Henry can have a great career. "I expect to see him in the winner's circle many times," she said.
She will resume competing in the spring with her other paint horse, Wilma.
"She is a bit more user friendly for my kids, so I am going to let them be around her a lot this winter and see if they like horses as much as I do," Potwora said. "And if we find (Wilma) is peaking, and good enough, we'll head again to Texas and the world show."
Accomplishment: In July, Potwora, an equestrian from Eugene, and her horse took top honors in the American Paint Horse Association's Junior Horse Hunter Hack competition.
Horse names: Her horse, which she has since sold, formally was named Kiss Me At Midnight. His barn name: Henry.
Quote: "My husband, Joe, doesn't go to many of the horse shows, but he humors me by letting me have my horse habit."
Adrianne Potwora of Eugene visits her 5-year-old paint horse named Wilma. Potwora has won many prizes at horse shows, including three within the past year. "It's fun to train a horse and teach them what to do, and to be rewarded by doing well for all your hard work," Potwora says. A belt buckle proclaims Potwora's big win with another horse, Henry, July 4 in Texas.
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|Title Annotation:||Animals; A dedicated competitor, Adrianne Potwora won top honors in July at a national paint horse championship|
|Publication:||The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)|
|Date:||Sep 12, 2005|
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