2019 Junior Gallery

Jul 11, 2019 - 7:18 AM

The Forgotten Horses

Savannah Schulze, age 17

Shelby, North Carolina

The forgotten horses. My mother and I have a knack for collecting forgotten horses. The kid-safe pony thrown away because of a stifle injury. The OTTB who had been passed around to more homes than you can count. Ex-barrel racers, ex-hunter jumper, ex-husband horse. You know the ones.

We never plan to take on another forgotten horse, they always tend to find their way to us. Some of them stay for years and others only a couple of months. It’s been like this since I was five years old and we moved into a house that had ten acres of land and a barn.

I, like many other passionate horse girls, had big, shiny dreams. At ten years old I wanted to go to the Olympics. Then at twelve I wanted to go to the American Eventing Championships. My family, however, did not have the ideal income for Grand Prix and WEF. I wanted to be up there with the famous riders.

Through all the horses coming and going, the lessons, schooling shows, and trail rides, I realized that I didn’t need to have crowds applauding when I rode into a ring. My place wasn’t up there on the podium with a gold medal. It’s sitting in the pasture for hours just to gain the trust of a timid gelding. Kissing the nose of a horse who had seen horrors you or I could never begin to imagine. Letting a little gelding know that rocks would no longer be thrown at him. Showing the ex-barrel racer that he could be good at something else. My place is finding loving families for these throwaways.

Horses come to us too scared to step into a stall and leave knowing that there are kind souls in this world. The one they wouldn’t dare put children on went on to become a blue ribbon lesson pony. The hunter jumper who associated jumps with broken bones found a love for dancing in the dressage ring. A worn out show pony became the best trail explorer you’ve ever seen.

And I know now that though I may not be a four-star eventer, I am making a difference in the small places. I am remembering the forgotten ones.


That Feeling

By Nalina Atamian, Age 12

Wellesley, Massachusetts

 

That feeling

You’re doing so good

In that ring

You want to pinch yourself

So hard it stings

You soar

Over every fence

But as you near the end

You get that sense

If you mess up now

You know how

The lecture afterward will be intense

You focus on the task at hand

Everyone is on edge in the stands

Then you land

His hooves hit the sand

The silence

Then you hear

“Number 2416,

First Place”

Then, they’re cheering

What a show you’re stealing

That’s the feeling


Sutton Smith, Age 7

Campobello, South Carolina

A round pony
Eating so much grass
Just so chubby
And so happy
He feels amazing
Then, seeing me-
Runs away.


The Small Tiny Treat

By Madeleine Piersol, Age 15

Wyomissing, Pennsylvania

 

Hello there! How are you today?

Ohhh!

What is it you have there?

I see it in your hand.

Is that thing for me?

I don’t know what I’m saying.

Why would you bring something here that was not a gift for moi-

your loyal companion,

ferocious protector,

and loving friend-

so please hand it over as soon as you can.

 

Oh, I know what is holding you up.

You’re upset because of yesterday

when I took a nibble of your thumb.

I can explain.

You see,

I was hungry.

The three servings of hay

and two meals of grain

are just not enough to sustain an athlete like me.

Your finger was close,

and I thought I’d just try something new.

It wasn’t very good,

just so you know.

 

Do you see where I’m coming from?

Don’t you pity me for having

to go to such extremes to satisfy

my grumbling tummy?

No?

I haven’t convinced you yet?

 

Please! I’m begging you-

feed me the small tiny treat.

I want it so much!

Can’t you see?

I promise if you feed it to me

I won’t ask for another…

 

I know that sound!

The crinkling of plastic.

My favorite noise to hear!

It’s coming- my treat!

So sweet and delicious

Oh thank you so much!

I’ll love you forever!

 

Wait a minute…

This isn’t the soft kind!


Armenia: A Growing Equestrian Destination

By Lauren Volkodav, Age 14

Allentown, Pennsylvania

At the mention of Armenia, most people may vaguely remember the genocide that took place there or has simply never heard of the eastern European country at all. Armenia is an ever-growing nation with a growing attraction to millennials with its scenic nature, hip breweries, upscale hotels, and foodie culture. Now, Armenia is slowly climbing up on the equestrian radar with its top-notch international coaches and athletes all training in new ultramodern equestrian centers.

At the pinnacle of this ever-growing equestrian community is the Hovik Hayrapetyan Equestrian Center. The state of the art center boasts a 1,800 meter-long horse racing hippodrome, and one outdoor as well as an indoor area for international competitions. After hearing glowing reviews and praise for the traditional riding technique taught at the center, I decided I must visit it myself.

As a result, I traveled to Yerevan, one of the oldest cities in the world, to train with Armenia’s former National Equestrian coach, Nori Stephanian. The center, located conveniently twenty minutes outside of downtown Yerevan, is unlike anything I had ever seen before.

Early Monday morning I awoke just as the first rays of sunlight streamed through my hotel window. Outside I had a view of the glorious Armenian sunrise. After getting dressed in riding apparel, I walked outside into the quiet, cool crisp morning. Outside, sat an array of cab drivers sipping coffee offered by the hotel to them. Immediately one offered to drive me away to my destination. My cab driver spoke broken English but knew of the equestrian center. As we arrived at the club’s driveway, perfumed rose bushes line the road along with herds of horses munching on them!

Later, asking Coach Stephanian about it, he laughed and answered, the stable and fields belong to the horses, we are here for them, so they may do as they please. This was one of my favorite philosophies I had learned during my trip to Yerevan. The horses take priority here at the center and the athletes, trainers, and grooms do everything to make sure they are happy and healthy so they can train up to their full athletic potential.

Inside the stable, held an immaculate tack room, a tastefully decorated office, and of course, horses. Once I meet the coach I would be working with, Nori Stephianian, he introduced me to his bay Dutch Warmblood mare, the horse I would train on, who had just returned from training in Moscow.

Begging my first training session with Coach Stephanian, I started my journey to correct bad habits, and practice the fundamental riding technique. Coach Stephanian, an international showjumper, with decades of experience showing and training, believes in teaching the Russian fundamental riding technique. After spending several weeks training with him, my jump seat had considerably strengthened, and I had the opportunity to ride some of Eastern Europe and Russia’s top sports horses.

But, my experience training did not just involve horses. The equestrian centers in Armenia offer a luxury experience right at the stable. The equestrian center I trained at had an onsight restaurant that many riders would go to relax after a lesson and relax with a cup of coffee or traditional Armenian pastry all with the glorious view of Mount Ararat.

My experience at this world-class equestrian center was unparalleled to anything I have experienced in the United States and indicates the rising equestrian community to Eastern Europe and Armenia.

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