A Bismarck woman is taking another step toward her international goals.
Mimi Stanley has trained with horses her entire life. She returned to Bismarck on Sept. 28 from the national competition in Kentucky.
At the Arabian Sport Horse Nationals, she won the National Imediare II and the Grand Prix Freestyle with her horse Cygnus. Stanley mainly competes in dressage style riding.
"Dressage is very technical, similar to ballet or figure skating. There needs to be a pair of eyes on the ground," said Amy Larson, one of Stanley's coaches from Topeka, Kan.
Dressage is an old English style of riding that is becoming one of the most popular equestrian sports. The goal is for the horse to understand the rider and have the ability to perform tasks.
Competitors in dressage are judged on ease of movement, handling gaits and acceptance of bridle with little resistance.
"What I would like to do for a long range goal is to compete internationally," said Stanley.
The events that Stanley won at nationals are right at or one below the Olympic level.
"She is very driven to her craft," said Larson.
"Some people just have an understanding of the rhythm and mechanics of this sport, she has an innate sense of these."
In Bismarck Stanley trains at the Prairie Rose Training Center, a business her family has run for more than 30 years.
"I am more of a coach now instead of a trainer," said Mimi's mother, Karla.
Karla Stanley has supported her daughter throughout her career. Mimi Stanley works with other coaches throughout the country.
"She is very close to (the Olympic level) now," said her mother.
This summer Stanley traveled to Sauk Center, Minn., to Huron and Rapid City, S.D., to compete.
In past years, Stanley has received the USDF Gold Medal and Cygnus has received USDF Junior Rider Grand Prix Horse of the year.
"In this sport there is a teammate that doesn't speak any of the same languages, you have to find common ground. This combined with the technical sport is my favorite part," said Stanley.
Stanley is planning to continue training with Cygnus. She also is enrolled at Bismarck State College where she is working on a business degree.
"When you do well it proves your practicing, it's a moment that that makes us want to continue on," said Stanley.
(Jordan Kalk is a student at Century High School. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.)