BY TYLER BUI
Keira Nygaard and her off-track Thoroughbred, Latitude, captured the top spot in The Carousel Derby sponsored by The Plaid Horse at LA January. Nygaard is trained by Amy Hess of Avanti Equestrian in Lake View Terrace, CA.
“I’m so excited for Latitude and Keira. Latitude was homebred by Keria’s parents, so this win meant a lot for them. Keira is such a good kid, she works so hard, she has a passion for doing what’s right for the animals, and I love working with kids like that,” says Hess. “Latitude is a lot of fun to work with. His sire is Forestry, and I’ve had several other [horses by Forestry], and they’ve all turned out to be quite nice hunter types and are very pretty to look at and easy to work with. He’s willing, he jumps anything, he’s quite a bit of fun.”
Thoroughbreds are no stranger to Hess. As a child, Hess was introduced to horses through many different disciplines. Her family was involved in the racing industry, her mother showed hunters and jumpers, and her father and sister rode cutting horses. During her junior years, Hess had two Thoroughbreds that she showed in the junior jumpers.
“I’ve always been affiliated in some shape or form with the racetrack,” she says. “I was married to a racehorse trainer, I galloped on the race track for 15 years. Thoroughbreds are fun to work with—they’re different, they’re very smart.”
Today, Hess continues to work with off-track Thoroughbreds and develop them into successful hunter/jumper mounts alongside her other horses at Avanti Equestrian.
“It’s nice to see the judges in the last several years appreciate the comeback of Thoroughbreds in the hunter/jumper world,” says Hess. “It’s been great that I’ve been able to do what I can to help these horses have second careers because I do believe that they’re special.”
Hess says she always enjoys attending West Palms horse shows, and appreciates the types of classes they offer.
“I think West Palms does a great job. I love the special classes that they offer, like having the 2’6” derbies for the lower levels and the younger horses. They’re doing unique things like that, and it makes their horse shows a lot of fun,” says Hess.