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Double Life of Leslie Berndl


By Patti Schofl er


adrenaline rushes and adventure both at “the offi ce” and at the (CHP) fl ight offi cer and as the number two ranked singles manages to juggle both careers – and keep her sense of humor.


In 2012 at Live Oak International, where Travis and


Leslie returned to the scene of their fi rst competition together, they not only won the FEI Single Horse class, but Travis was voted the best horse in the competition by the international judges in the ground jury and was presented with the Hanzi Award. Later in May the pair won the Florida Triple Crown of Driving, by earning the highest score at three events—the Live Oak International CDE, Sunshine State CDE and the Little Everglades CDE. “Neat thing for a West Coaster,” Leslie says. Travis has also learned about the less formal side of showing.


When Leslie competes, she doesn’t harness her horse in the stall, then take him out and hook him to the carriage, drive him to the arena, take him back, unhook and put him in the stall. “I want to be around my horse. The fi rst time I tied him to


the trailer with the big white awning, he was wide-eyed. Now his favorite place is to hang out at the horse trailer. He gets lots of treats. He’s particularly fond of the air mints and Frosted Mini-Wheats. I told Fritz that Travis will never be able to go back to him.”


Dual Careers A horsewoman most of her life, it was in fact horses that led Leslie to her CHP career. At one time she owned Quarter Horses that she showed hunter/jumper. At that time, she worked as an animal health technician.


“When one of my horses kicked me in the leg, I found


out quickly how bad my health insurance coverage was. My neighbor was a CHP offi cer who pointed out that he had good insurance and that in this job I could work outside and on my own. And here I had thought having any insurance was great, and I was happy making a little over minimum wage,” says the mother of two (Austin, 11 and Ashley, 13). Leslie was attracted to driving eleven years ago when


she taught her Quarter Horse how to drive, and they soon moved into open shows. “The people were really nice and my involvement blossomed.” In her CHP job Leslie is required to fl y the helicopter if the pilot is disabled. This type of challenge doesn’t faze her so it’s no surprise that Leslie was attracted to the challenge of driving. “With driving you’ve lost your seat and leg aids. All you have is reins, whip and voice. It’s addictive, especially combined driving,” she muses. While she gets a rush from the marathon phase of com-


bined driving, her special skill shines in the precision of the dressage phase and her sensitivity to the individual horse’s training style. “Travis is good in all three phases, but he likes the


Opposite: Early this year Leslie Berndl and Uminco (Travis) edged out their competitors and earned the highest score at FEI Singles at three events—the Live Oak International CDE, Sunshine State CDE and the Little Everglades CDE. This series known as the Triple Crown was sponsored by World Development Group. Above: California Highway Patrol Flight Offi cer Berndl.


Warmbloods Today 23


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