I first met my horse, Nike aka "Fallo e Basta," just hours after she was born in August of 2014. At the time, I was taken with Nike’s bright red color, and she was so tiny! She was curious and spunky and so fun to hang out with. I was only 9 years old at the time and I had no idea that someday she would be my horse, the greatest partner I could ever possibly ask for, and we would be teaming up for the USEA American Eventing Championships together.
As a 12-year-old, this achievement came as a huge surprise. Maybe my horse Cody isn’t the perfect dressage horse, but he sure can jump. And he takes care of me. He has taught me so much over these past four years and we have learned so much together.
I can honestly say I never thought I would compete at the AEC. I started my eventing career as a hunter reject with a little quarter horse named Hendrix, who I was told was too ugly to be a hunter. After never feeling like I really fit in in the hunter world, I moved barns and found my safe haven, eventing.
My name is Molly Hunt and I am 13 years old from Area II. I have qualified for the American Eventing Championships at Beginner Novice with my 19-year-old mare, Lena. She is an American Paint Quarter horse. We have had a tough road to the AEC.
My name is Lacey Messick, I event out of Area IV, and am an adult amateur living the dream in Springfield, Missouri. I was randomly scrolling through Facebook in early June of 2017 and came across a Canter Illinois posting of a gorgeous (too slow) 2014 gray Thoroughbred mare named Classy Empress. I was immediately smitten. Did I mention I’m a mare girl?
Two years ago, at the AEC held at Tryon, I competed on my first horse in the Junior Beginner Novice 14 and Under division. It was my third ever recognized event and I was very nervous because my stall was placed conveniently next to the massive cross-country fences.
In 2017, I started what was a year-long search to find that perfect eventing horse. I stumbled upon a sale ad for a beautiful (what looked like an Irish Sport Horse) eventer who had successfully competed through Training level. This horse was only about four hours from home and was also well-known by many people in our area. The next thing I knew, on October 27, I was traveling down to Elizabeth, Illinois to have a test ride on “The Chief.”
I am a competitor from Wisconsin who grew up in the Racine County Pony Club. I bought my horse Ninjutsu in 2013 as a second horse to bring to my A level Pony Club certification. At that time, Ninja only had six months of under saddle training, but he was showing in the jumpers with a Grand Prix rider from our area.
As a parent and not a rider, I cannot fully understand the amount of work, time, effort, and sacrifice that goes into preparing for less than 15 minutes of actual competition. The dedication of these kids at such a young age is impressive. The most accomplished of riders give up a lot achieve their dreams.
Do you believe in fate, or karma? Well, I don’t think I did before, but that has changed. August of 2017 my horse Harlequin underwent colic surgery. Recovery went perfectly, so we started to bring him back into work only to discover he had severe knee arthritis and had to be retired.
When you think of the ideal sport horse, it’s usually not a 16.3 hand Shire Thoroughbred cross with feet the size of dinner plates and a head that barely fits into oversized bridles. But that didn’t stop my 17-year-old self from falling in love with a big, uncoordinated, gangly, barely-4-year-old mare named Willow.