The equestrian's credo: If you fall off your horse, get right back on.
The same holds true if the steed falls on you.
"Two years ago, my horse was at a full gallop going up for a jumpand slipped on a cow patty," recalls Danny Slovis, a junior at Severn School. "She fell right on my leg, but I didn't break anything."
Danny, 15, laughs when retelling the story of his most serious mishap in nine years of riding. His time spent in the saddle has been mostly filled with triumph, not trauma.
The Severna Park resident returned last week from the International Pony Club Games in Vancouver, where he was one of only five riders from throughout the country chosen to the team.
Danny, two other riders from Maryland and one each from Virginia and New York were selected after an April tryout session in Massachusetts.
"I was thrilled for him," says Danny's mother,Carol Slovis. "He was very excited. He really didn't think he was going to make it, and he was absolutely outstanding out there."
Competing for the Prince Phillip Cup, the United States finished last in a four-team field that also included Canada, Australia and victoriousGreat Britain. But placement wasn't of upmost importance, Danny says, when compared to the challenge of easing into a friendly relationship with riders from other countries.
"It seemed like everybody wasreal shy at first," Danny says. "I was the only one meeting everybody the first couple days. But after a while, they weren't as tense.
"The people who got first (place), the next day it was like, 'Big deal.' Nobody really cared what place they got. The next day was a new day."
Wednesday marked a typical afternoon for Danny, with hours spent at the Countryside Stables in Pasadena with horses "Fanny" and "Summer." The sweltering heat and foul odors weren't a deterrent. Theynever are to Danny.
He rides every day after school, "and in the summer, he lives here," his mother says.
"There's a certain freedom to it," Danny says. "You can do whatever you want up there. You cango as fast as you want. You can let the horse take off, go jumping, whatever."
Danny, a member of the St. Margaret's Pony Club, did a little of everything at the International Games, which are challenging tests of skill on horseback open to anyone having been named to a national team, as he was in 1986.
His favorite event, "combined training," mixes stadium jumping, cross country jumping and dressage -- the latter an exhibition of horsemanship where the steps and gaits ofthe steed are controlled by the rider's movements.
The International Games literally were a once-in-a-lifetime happening for Danny, who says a rider cannot return to the team. But he has plenty of other ventures to occupy his time.
Danny left Thursday for Culpepper, Va., and the United States Pony Club East Coast Nationals, where he wasinvited to attend, but will not compete. Then, in the first week of November, comes a national horse show in the Meadowlands in New Jersey.
Next year, he'll try out for the Mounted Games Association Team. If he makes it, he'll travel to Sweden and represent the United States against seven other countries.
And there's always the friendlyrivalry with older brother Nathan, 20, who is competing in Virginia.
"I've beaten Nathan by a point the last two times," Danny says.
"It's not an ugly rivalry," his mother says. "It's a good-natured thing. But it is a rivalry. They love it when they beat each other."