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Published October 03 2013

Area student named Rider of the Year

MOORHEAD - Annise Montplaisir was that little girl who had “all sorts of toy horses.”

She got a pony when she was 8 years old. And she thought the “The Black Stallion” was “just the coolest thing ever.

“I had a cousin who used to tell me, ‘Ah, you’ll grow up someday, and you’ll just grow out of horses; you won’t like them anymore,’” said the 18-year-old North Dakota State University freshman. “I was like, ‘No, that’s not going to happen.’”

And it hasn’t.

That love of horses has paid off —Montplaiser recently was named one of the 2013 Jockey Club Thoroughbred Incentive Program Young Rider of the Year Award winners. The award recognizes a rider age 18 or younger who owns or leases a thoroughbred for use in 4-H, Pony Club or other activities. Montplaisir shared the award with three other riders.

The Jockey Club is the breed registry for thoroughbred horses in the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico.

“It’s a really big honor,” said Montplaisir, who lives with her family at their home north of Moorhead. “I was really surprised that I got it because it’s a nationwide award.”

“Well, of course, you’re proud as a parent,” said Annette Montplaisir, Annise’s mother. “I felt like she was deserving of it because of the fact that she really does try to promote off-the-track thoroughbreds and horse racing. I know that it’s a passion of hers, so in winning the award, it was a good representation of who Annise is.”

Montplaisir’s thoroughbred, Cyclone Larry (just Larry for short), is a 7-year-old who trained as a racehorse but never raced.

“He didn’t show a whole lot of promise as a racehorse because he’s so laid-back. He doesn’t really have a whole lot of the spunk and drive to win,” Montplaisir said. “He loves life. We call him Life-Is-Good Larry.”

And while he may not have had the makings of a Triple Crown winner, he does have some star power. Larry played famous racehorse Secretariat in the 2010 Disney movie of the same name.

Montplaisir first got to know Larry while she was working as volunteer racehorse ambassador at the North Dakota Horse Park. Larry’s owner eventually gave the horse to Montplaisir. And she has no plans of ever giving him up.

“He’s not going anywhere,” said Montplaisir, who is majoring in journalism and minoring in public relations and Spanish.

The award is just one of Montplaisir’s equine-related activities. For example, she created a presentation called “From Racehorse to Your Horse,” which earned first place at the Minnesota 4-H State Horse Show in 2012.

“It’s a very big transition taking a horse from the racetrack to kind of turning it into a regular riding horse,” she said.

She went on to earn sixth place at the Eastern National 4-H Horse Roundup in Louisville, Ky.

This weekend, Montplaisir and Larry will participate in the Thoroughbred Makeover and National Symposium in Baltimore.

The award came with a $1,000 scholarship, which Montplaisir will put toward her education at NDSU.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Shane Mercer at (701) 451-5734