by Lenny Megliola
Globe Correspondent - November 6, 2011
EASTON, Mass. - Cassandra Lorusso began taking riding lessons when she was 7. One day, the Wrentham resident was thrown by the horse.
"Something spooked him,'' she recalled. "I was scared. But it was pretty cool too. I've fallen off more times than I can count.''
She has broken her right arm twice, at ages 12 and 13; when she was 10, and again at 12, she broke her right leg.
"I've rode with broken bones a lot,'' said Lorusso, a junior at Stonehill College in Easton. "I've had a horse fall on me at a camp in Western Mass.''
It just made her more determined, she said, because "riding is pretty much my life.''
She did have to make one concession for the broken arms, adjusting her riding style and saddle.
"I took a break from English and took up Western because I could ride with just one hand,'' she said.
Competing for Stonehill's equestrian team, Lorusso won three blue ribbons last weekend at two competitions, one a Boston University show held in Hanover, the second a home event.
"My goal is to make it to the Olympics,'' she said.
Her interest in horses began when she was around 6 or 7 and the family vacationed in Falmouth. A horse farm was nearby.
"We'd drive by the farm every day and I'd say to my mother, 'I want to ride horses! I want to ride horse!' ''
Her mother, Leslie, signed up Cassandra and her older sister, Allie, for lessons. Leslie took lessons too.
"I'm the only one still at it,'' said Lorusso. "Horses are beautiful, interesting animals. They provide the challenge I wanted.''
Lorusso started competing in small shows when she was 10. When she was in the eighth grade at the Dana Hall School in Wellesley, she met trainer Paul Valliere, who boarded horses in Plainville.
"He rocketed my riding career,'' she said. "He gave me the confidence I needed. He helped me find my first horse, Nathan. I tried to ride every day. I still do. I kept Nathan at our house so I could ride him even more.''
The horse was also stabled at Valliere's farm a few miles away.
In 10th grade, in need of a faster horse able to compete as a jumper and clear 3 feet, Lorusso sold Nathan and bought Calypso, which she describes as "really an awesome horse.''
Last year, Lorusso finished second on the Winter Equestrian Festival circuit in the low-adult division.
Even though she has the reins, the horse is clearly the boss, Lorusso said. Calypso understands her mood swings.
"He knows just how you're feeling,'' she said. "If I'm riding him and I'm in a bad mood, he knows. He'll tell me in a certain way. He'll make it difficult for me to ride.''
She is also working with a new horse, Addie, prepping her for higher jumps.
Lorusso captained the equestrian team her last two years at Dana Hall.
Williams captures equestrian laurels
Hopkinton's Miranda Williams is also making an impact on the equestrian team at Stonehill, taking first in intermediate fences at the team's home competition last weekend, and a first in an event at Mount Ida College in Newton.
Growing up, the sophomore Williams said, "I'd done gymnastics and dancing. But a friend had been riding at the Carriage Hill camp in Hopkinton. I went with her. It was amazing just being on a horse. Nothing compared to riding.'' She put the dancing shoes away.
Williams has competed in New England and New York. In 2008 she finished third in the country in a jumping competition for younger riders. She's also competed in dressage on a horse named Solitaire.
"He didn't know anything about it,'' she said. "I taught him.''
Williams, who is studying to be a doctor, said she would also like to train horses after college.