In Their Boots

This is a new online series of articles that riders under 18 years of age will be writing to tell their stories! “In Their Boots” will cover all riding disciplines, all areas of NC and SC and hopefully introduce our readers to some fantastic young equestrians.

Hi, my name is Grace Lyons and I am 13 years old.  I live in Waxhaw, North Carolina and I have been riding ever since I was five years old. I have three horses of my own, Red, Charlie, and Yankee and I take care of two additional horses - Tough Times, and Grey Pilgrim.  Ever since I can remember I have loved horses.  I used to go and visit my Uncle Bobby a lot just to ride his horses.

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I started lessoning when I was around five, and I started out in vaulting.  I did Vaulting for a little while but I then realized that I wanted to really ride.  I started taking lessons at Thunder Bay Riding Academy when I was around six.  While I was riding at Thunder Bay I was living deep in Charlotte so it took us a while to get there.  After we moved to Waxhaw my dad got a job at Marvin Ridge Middle so I needed to look for an after school program. We found that Carolina Country Acres (CCA) had one.  CCA is where I really started riding. I trained with Coti Hausman and I had so much fun, Coti taught me how to half seat at the canter and she also taught me so much more about riding.  After about 3 years, Coti went to work at Robindale Farm, and so I started riding with Alicia Wilkinson for lessons and with Chelsea Dressler for IEA.

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One Christmas, I woke up and I went downstairs, saw my gifts from Santa and then went out to the barn to feed the horses that we were fostering at the time.  As I walked into the barn I saw Red, my favorite horse at CCA.  I was so happy to get my first horse, and Red is now 30 and still galloping and healthy.  He is the very best horse I’ve ever known and he receives a lot of attention when friends or family come over.  He is so safe and anyone can ride him. He deserves a relaxing life now that he is retired.

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After a little while I realized that it was time for me to lease a horse so that I could begin competing in larger horse shows.  Then I found Charlie, a 15 year old Chestnut Thoroughbred.  In doing so I found such a wonderful trainer, Valentina Timpone. I have been riding Charlie for the past nine months and I have done a lot of C shows with Charlie.  I have learned so much in a very short time from Valentina and it has resulted in some great shows and lots of ribbons!  Just recently, my very loving and supporting parents bought Charlie for me and I am so thankful for that.

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My dream is to one day ride on the University of Georgia Equestrian team. I had the opportunity to go to one of UGA’s riding competitions earlier this fall.  I met the coach of the equestrian team and she gave me some great tips on what I need to do as I move into high school to advance to that level of riding.  She explained that good grades are as important as improving my riding skills, so I have a lot of work to do!! But, it’s worth it!

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Hi, my name is Kelly Hicks and I am seventeen years old. I live in Waxhaw, North Carolina and I have been riding since I was five years old. I have three horses of my own named Elko, Ruthie, and Swish.

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Kelly and Elko

They all have taught me a lot over the years, but Swish was definitely a new challenge. I have been training Swish at Sugaree Ranch of Horsemanship with Will & Zoe Kupec. Over the summer I had a great opportunity to buy a colt and start it. I bought Swish outside of Asheville. When I first met him, he was very sweet but skittish. I had to learn how to take things much slower with him because everything was new to him. It was very tedious work with him by doing a lot of ground work. Trying to make him trust me so he knows that I will not hurt him. The next for him trusting me was putting the saddle on.

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Kelly and Swish take on the cows!

It definitely took me awhile because I’m used to throw a saddle on a broke horse and not think anything of it, but this time I had make sure I was much slower and show him that the saddle won’t hurt him. When I finally got the saddle on and tightened I let him lose in the round pen so he can feel the movement of the saddle on him. He did not like the saddle at all. He was a bucking bronco. After a few days of taking the saddle on and off and letting him get used to it, it was finally time for me to get on his back. It is not the easiest thing to do when you get on a thousand pound animal that has a mind of its own and has never had a person on its back. The first few rides were great. I had to get ponied around for the first few rides then we finally got comfortable with each that we started trotting and cantering ourselves. I have fallen off of him but it helped me what I needed to work on with him and I learned from my mistakes.

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Kelly and Swish working together!

The past few months we are cantering on the trails, herding cows, and going to shows. Sadly I’ll be selling him soon but I’m excited to see where his future goes. My other hobby is photography. I have always loved taking pictures but I really love taking pictures of horses. I try and capture the movement of horses and how they interact with one another. I’m hoping in my future I can have a business of training horses and photography. 

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Ruthie

My name is Celia Cram and I am twelve years old.  I live in Aiken, South Carolina and I have been riding since I was three years old, with my grandmother, Mary Ann Parmelee.  My very first pony’s name was Good Golly Miss Molly.  We keep our horses at home, and other than mucking and feeding, my sister and I do all our own horse care.  My first show pony was named Helicon Abbey Road, and I got her on my eighth birthday as a surprise.  My father purchased Abbey, along with her two-year-old foal, a carriage, and a trailer without telling my mother.  Since we were boarding three ponies at a friend’s farm, we realized it was time to bring the ponies home.

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That’s the Scoop  and Celia at Aiken Winter 2 in Aiken. We also ended up champion.

I competed successfully in the walk-trot and walk, trot, canter.  The Alder family from Tennessee, had a special pony named, Love Bug “Willie”, that I showed in the crossrails division and quickly moved to the regular small pony division. I qualified in 2013 and attended my first pony finals in Lexington, Kentucky.  He was fairly easy to ride but if you weren’t looking he would bite you.  The following year after Willie went back, my parents bought a green pony for my sister Elizabeth.  He was not ready for her so I got to train him.  We soon learned he was terrified of water bottles and one day when I was on him I drop my water bottle and he took off.   I fell and fractured my arm.  That didn’t stop me and several weeks later I showed him with a brace on my arm. From then on, Nate lived with water bottles in his stall.

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Love Bug and Celia at Blowing Rock Charity Horse Show in July 2013. We ended up champion.

In early 2014, my grandmother passed away and several professionals help me out until we stayed steady with Robin Greenwood.  Kate Cardalico sent us a sale pony named Rockport.  He was famous and got leased right away.  Robin was sad that Rockport left, so she sent me a pony named Foxmor Wigglesworth.  He was beautiful and fun to ride, but he had a really hard lead change.  My grandfather started helping me with his changes.  After five months of work his lead changes are now automatic. This year, he and I started out in the medium green pony division.  We were champion at our first show and now are qualified for pony finals.  I have also started showing a horse named Internet ll in the pre-children’s hunter.   Kate Cardalico asked me to ride another sale pony named, That’s The Scoop.

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Elizabeth and Celia at palmetto finals in Camden last year. My sister, Elizabeth, was seventh and I was first. My mom and dad are both in the picture.

I am currently showing her in the medium & green pony divisions.  The last two weekends I have shown her in the USEF pony medal and won the class both weeks.  Last weekend I was circuit champion on Foxmor Wigglesworth in the medium green pony division.  I was also circuit champion on Internet ll in the pre- children’s division.  Right now I am looking forward to the Aiken Horse Show.  An old fashioned horse show in the middle of Hitchcock Woods.  My favorite horse show of the year is the Blowing Rock Charity Horse Show. The best part is that it is in the mountains and every morning it is always foggy and cool.  I am so fortunate to have grown up in a horsey life in Aiken, South Carolina.  Aiken has so much to offer.  I have been able to ride show hunters, go cross country, ride sidesaddle, play polo, sort cattle, and drive a carriage.  My immediate dream is to win a ribbon at Pony Finals and eventually become a professional horseman.