Extraordinary Traveling Companions
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Monday, September 12, 2016
By Gina Economou
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As road trips go, Gina Economou's are, well, interesting. Her companions both have four legs and a good bit of fur. One's named Hank (he rides shotgun).

The other is Leo. The big, white trailer he's standing beside... those are his wheels.

You see, Leo AKA Calidore, is a nine-year-old Dutch gelding. As for Gina Economou, she's a professional equestrian/trainer.

Currently, Gina, Leo and Hank are on the road trip of a lifetime. A cross-country one, in fact. And we mean that in more ways than one.

They're heading to the east coast for two competitions. From September 15 through 18, Gina and Leo will be competing at the CIC*** at Plantation Field International in Unionville, Pennsylvania, then more on to the CCI*** Fair Hill International in Elkton, Maryland from October 12 through 16. Their goal: hitting a four-star level, the top in her sport.

Recently, we caught up with Gina to learn about both the trip and what adventures come with four-legged traveling companions.

Under the keen eye of Coach Shauna Pennell of Silver Crest Stables, Gina and Leo were out at Day Creek Ranch in Simi Valley, California practicing show jumps, mere days before hitting the road and heading for Kennett Square, Pennsylvania.You'll see footage from that day below. It's 360 video, so scroll around to see Gina and Leo taking the jumps from all angles.-- BW

Horses are a bit like big dogs. They're wonderful creatures. The fact that I get to work with them as my job... Well, just being around them is enough

Then, there's competing. That takes things to a whole other level that's even more exciting.

Traveling with a horse is a little more difficult than a standard road trip. You have to plan based on how many hours they can be in the trailer. Then there are considerations like weather, where you're going to stop for layovers, stabling... and the packing list!

And, of course, there's Hank. He's sort of like my security blanket.

 

I've been competing in horse shows since I was a little kid. I remember one show when my trailer fell through. I had to ride my pony down the Pacific Coast Highway because I didn't have any transportation. Technically, that would probably be the first time I "transported" my own horse.

Things have progressed over the years. For example, back in 2003, my last horse and I flew to Maryland together. He flew cargo. I flew in a jump seat in cargo. It was kinda crazy.

This trip with Leo, and Hank will take six weeks start to finish.

Getting to show a lot gives you a different perspective.

Living in Los Angeles, well, we're not really horse country, so our events are kind of barren. Don't get me wrong, the events are amazing and prep us in a wonderful manner, but getting to go to somewhere like Rebecca Farm in Montana where you compete on this gorgeous, giant field -- it's just completely different than being in LA.

And then there's Maryland. I ran Fair Hill International a million years ago, so I know what's in store for Leo. In California, he sits in a dry pen for five hours a day. In Maryland, he'll be out in the pasture half the day, able to graze and "be a horse."

It'll be kind of like a vacation for him. As much as he's going to work hard, it's going to be a nice break for him to be there and experience that himself -- have a little downtime while he's working.

Courtesy of Gina Economou

This experience I'm going back east for is unbelievable. I want to ride at the four-star level, and this is the preparation for accomplishing that. Leo's been pretty damn fantastic. I can't say it's going to absolutely happen, but he sure is hell is on track to do it.

 

Gina Economou & Leo

Stay tuned as we follow Gina, Leo, and Hank's travels!

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