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The spritely Indiana Jones as a colt. Photo

by Sheri Scott

amazed at how I could perform when I was riding and away from the glitz and glamour of a salon and clients. Performing dressage with my horse was when I was happiest. I was fulfilling my life-long dream.” Orlando’s bond with horses and riding began early

in life as it does for many in the equestrian world. “I started riding when I was six years old. I was completely hooked,” he remembers. “But my mom made it very clear that as much as she supported my love of riding, if I wanted a horse, I’d have to buy it myself.” That wasn’t going to be an obstacle for him even at this young age. “I cleaned stalls at age eleven so that I could continue riding and save my money.” Orlando’s smile is still warm and charming as he remembers, “I bought my first horse, Classy, for $300 all by myself. I was in heaven…I was an owner of a horse!” As Orlando grew up and began to establish a career,

he maintained ownership of horses and continued riding, even as adult responsibilities took over more of his time. When working with trainers on the west coast, he began to become more serious about his riding. Orlando purchased a six-month-old stallion prospect by the Oldenburg Idol out of a Hanoverian mare called A la Mode. He named him Indiana Jones and eventually put him in a serious riding and training program aiming to try out for the Olympic Equestrian team. In addition to “Indy,” he had three more horses: an Irish Warmblood, a half- Polish/half-Egyptian Arabian stallion, and a Paruvian Paso mare. “I still was working my career to pay the bills, but I wanted to focus on training and running my boarding stable,” Orlando recounts. “By 1997, my Granite Bay stable consisted of about 65 horses, with half of them hunter- jumpers and half dressage. My main horse, which I loved to ride, was Indiana Jones.”

Devastation Strikes

All that changed quickly and dramatically one day in early fall of 1997. Being bitten by a mosquito—lots of them—is not unusual for anyone around horses in late summer or fall. But this one bite was different, not because of the usual welt that surfaced, but from the damage that was being done as it spread a virus throughout Orlando’s blood stream that afternoon. Feeling flu-like, Orlando had to be driven home from work where he thought he would just rest. But by the time they reached his house, he was nearly unconscious. Rushed to the hospital, he was sent into emergency where his condition continued to deteriorate at an astounding rate. By evening, he could no longer speak. The loud whoosh and beeps of machines filled the air in his hospital room as he drifted in and out of consciousness. Then the moment came that was forever blazed into his swollen brain. “I heard someone say, ‘I don’t think he’ll make it. He needs a priest to give him the Last Rites.’” Retelling the story, Orlando looks horrified. “Can you imagine?! I was scream- ing in my brain, ‘No! I’m going to live. I’m going to make it,’ but I was helpless. I couldn’t compose any words.” The priest was summoned and Last Rites were administered as his family and friends kept their vigil. Orlando was diagnosed

with the West Nile virus— something equestrians fear that their

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