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Enumclaw rider and Andalusian make perfect dance partners

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By Brenda Sexton-The Courier-Herald

The Andalusian horse breed is known for its athleticism, strength, beauty, temperament and its ability to bond with people.

As owner and breeder at Enumclaw’s Cedar Creek Farm, Linda deWilde-Petersen knows about all those traits, but it’s the special relationship she’s developed as owner, rider and performer with Selene - her 10-year-old pure Spanish Andalusian mare - that trumps them all.

“Selene is truly an amazing horse and an equine soulmate,” deWilde-Petersen said. “I’m so very blessed to have her in my life. I’m always, always told how bonded we are.”

Apparently others have taken notice too.

This year, with her fairy-tale good looks and steadfast devotion to deWilde-Petersen, Selene won five Canadian National Champion titles for halter/confirmation, dressage, hunt seat and English pleasure and three Canadian Reserve National Champion titles - Western pleasure, show and hack. She was also named the Canadian National High Point Andalusian Horse and Pacific Rim Year End High Point Champion out of four breed shows.

Her partner, deWilde-Petersen, won the Canadian National High Point Amateur Rider/Handler - with the emphasis, deWilde-Petersen likes to say on the amateur. A polo player for two decades, deWilde-Petersen has been taking dressage riding lessons so she can show Selene. She’s been competing with the professionals.

“She has made it an incredible journey for me,” deWilde-Petersen said of her partner. “She’s done well every year.”

There was a connection the minute the two set eyes on each other - deWilde-Petersen, after years of working with Thoroughbreds, looking for the perfect alternative, Selene a 3-year-old on a breeder’s farm in Yelm. Wash.

There are only about 8,000 Andalusians in the United States. Andalusians originated on the Iberian peninsula, known today as Spain and Portugal. The The traditions and culture of the breed have lasted centuries. Their agility and bravery made them masters at the bullfights, deWilde-Petersen said.

That Spanish tradition shows up in full color at competition. The shows keep deWilde-Petersen hopping, each different class involves a tack and outfit change. She added Western to the dance card this year.

Her favorite category is the one that involves Native costume and attire. She dons a red, Spanish dress with a long train that doesn’t seem to bother Selene one bit.

In addition to the breed shows, the duo compete in open dressage shows, against other breeds, at Third Level. During those contests, deWilde-Petersen said she enjoys musical freestyle performances to Spanish music.

DeWilde-Petersen chooses to compete in the Canandian Nationals because they are a four-hour drive from Enumclaw. The American Nationals take place in Texas.

And that keeps her closer to home, where she and husband Rob are building their Andalusian cache. With the birth of a foul this spring, they are now up to four.

Reach Brenda Sexton at bsexton@courierherald.com or 360-802-8206.

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