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Dani Latimer from Merietta, Oklahoma, isn’t your run-of-the-mill junior in college. She is a Southern Methodist University Division One athlete, whom competes on their equestrian team. Dani has a long line of accolades because of her love for the sport of reining.
Being an equestrian athlete for a university isn’t quite the same as showing your own horse at a horse show, “As competitors, have exactly 4 minutes and 40 seconds to get to know the horse that are randomly drawn and than sent into the show pen,” says Latimer. During the shows there are two college teams that meet and compete using the same five horses. “Each horse is to be shown by a girl on opposing teams. Whomever scores higher wins the point for the overall team score, or a tie results in no point for either team” says Latimer.
Dani was bred to have a love and appreciation for a horse, “My parents, Dean and Bunkey Latimer, met at a horse show, fell in love, bought a place and here we are today,” says Latimer. Her father, Dean Latimer originated from Canada where his parents were horse trainers. Dani’s Mom, Bunkey, came from West Virginia where she was showing horses.
Loving horses came easily for Dani. At the age of six she entered her first horse show and it hasn’t stoped. “Since that day, I have traveled across the country, flown overseas, and been recruited to a college equestrian program, all from the sport of reining,” says Latimer
“On September 1st of my Junior year of high school, I received my first phone call from a college coach,” says Latimer. It was then that she started her search to find the right school for her and her passion for reining. “I fell in love with the SMU campus, the setup of the team, and the administration completely dedicated to opening doors of success to student-athletes,” says Latimer.
Dani has had the opportunity to show many different places in her short career and because of it has had some serious success in the arena. “I have been a multiple aged event finalist at the National Reining Horse Association Futurity, Derby, and National Reining Breeders Classic. I have won countless Youth and Non Pro classes, at different shows! I won the 2016 and 2018 NRHA NAAC Youth 14-18 at the NRHA Futurity, on two horses that came from my dad’s training program. In 2018, at the AQHYA World Show, I placed bronze in the Level 2 reining, and 4th in the Level 3 Finals,” says Latimer.
But her most celebrated success was being apart of the 2017 and 2019 Olympics held in Switzerland. “I was selected to represent Team USA overseas at the FEI SVAG World Championships, in Switzerland. In 2019, we came home with Team Bronze in the Young Rider division,” says Latimer.
Currently Dani is studying marketing within sports management, and has hopes to pursue a career with a sports team after college. However, she does want to also use her degree in the western lifestyle as well “I am looking into marketing within the performance horse industry too,” says Latimer.
Dani in her two years at SMU has quite the spread sheet of achievements. “As a Freshman and Sophomore I was lucky enough to have these accolades: 2x All American (First Team 2021, Second Team 2020), NCEA Reining Rider of the Year, NCEA Nationals Reining Most outstanding player, NCEA All Championship Team Reining, NCEA Oct. Reining Rider of the Month, ECAC Reining Rider of the Year, ECAC Freshman Rider of the Year, 2x ECAC Reining Rider of the Month, 5x ECAC Reining Rider of the Week,” says Latimer.