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marathon. With some of the bigger horses you have to take the longer route because they’re not handy. But as big as he is, he is really handy and fast. He can’t do the little tiny routes; he won’t fi t. But he can do the small routes.” On the horizon, this CHP offi cer is heading for another

challenge. Injuries and two major surgeries have led her to consider retirement from the CHP. Her injuries were not sustained by horses, but instead during police training that left her with a torn rotator cuff tendon and a herniated disk in her neck, which was removed and replaced with a plate. “I’m 50 now and I can retire,” she adds. “I don’t want to go through any more surgeries and lose a year of work.” Fortunately, the physical demands of driving and riding

horses are not a problem. Driving helmets are lightweight in comparison to the heavy versions required by CHP, which are packed with radio equipment and two visors. “For me, riding and driving are my life. I ride all my

driving horses. A lot of driving horses aren’t even trained to ride. I think it’s important to teach them to use their rear ends and work over their backs, and for that you need the driving aids of a rider,” Leslie explains. “It’s nice, though, if the day comes that I can’t ride, I still can ‘saddle’ up my horse and drive away.”

CHP Memories She mentions that her multi-faceted job as a CHP has been a great career and remembers many rescue missions of animals and people, several of which are memorable but that she pre- fers not to relate. However, with her typical humor she tells of a husband, wife and child hiking in the El Dorado County hills with their dog that took off after something and couldn’t be found. Since the CHP search and rescue helicopter is the only game in town, the sheriff ’s department called in Leslie’s team. She continues to describe that, as they fl ew overhead, they

spotted the dog on a cliff over a river. “With the big rocks, we couldn’t land on that site. My partner landed ‘toe in,’ where only the toes of the helicopter skids touch the ground and the helicopter is actually still fl ying. When we were above the dog I thought, oh, it’s a little dog. I can get it and bring it over to the aircraft,” she says. “So I climbed up the rocks as the helicopter is basically hovering. But it turned out to be a big dog and there was no way I could lift it.” She also noticed that the dog was really dehydrated and

exhausted, and his paws were bloody. Plans changed, and they landed the helicopter across the river. Next they had to fi gure out a way to cross the river on foot. “My partner was a big outdoorsman—a young guy. As I walked up the river looking for a way to cross, he’s walking across the river. And he’s my ride,” she exclaims. When her partner reached the dog, the frightened dog

started to bark frantically. “I told him to take his hat off because dogs don’t like hats. He did, but the dog kept barking. This guy is really good looking and lifts weight. So then I said, ‘Take your uniform off —dogs don’t like uniforms,’” she laughs. “He looks at me and says ‘sorry, no deal.’” With his uniform

24 September/October 2012

Leslie and Travis during their fi rst competition together at Live Oak Inter- national in March 2010 during the cones phase of the event.

in place, he calmed the dog enough to carry him down to the river, hook a line around his middle and pull him across the river. “That dog would not have survived. It was wonderful to return him to his family—though a bit disappointing,” Leslie chuckles, thinking of the uniform.

World Championships in Sight For this year’s trip to the World Singles Championships in Portugal, Leslie is looking forward to a result that will hopefully outshine her experience of 2008 in Poland for the same championship. When heading through the cone phase starting gate, her Hackney Koopman’s Lightning Rod reared and spun around as if to take him, the carriage and Leslie for a drive in the opposite direction. “That’s something to blow your concentration. I call it the Hackney twirl,” she jests. This time, she expects it to be a special experience, both because of her relationship with Travis and because her boyfriend, three-time USEF National Singles Champion Scott Monroe, gave up his competition horse to navigate for her and support her with Travis. “We both have this passion for driving, but we couldn’t do it with both horses,” she remarks. Because of her CHP duties, Leslie will keep training Travis at home a few weeks longer than others on the team, who are competing in Holland before the fi nal championship. Both horse and driver fl y to Portugal at the end of August. It’s clear that this focused team will arrive in Europe ready to work—and ready to hopefully win the Singles World Championship.

Photo courtesy Driving Digest

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