Students saddle up for future careers

Faith Wages, Reporter

All the hard work was paid off. The lights shined bright into the arena, almost blinding her. The horse muffles from anxiousness, sensing the competition in the air. She eased him by rubbing his neck, attempting to calm his nerves, but who was to calm her own? The stadium is quiet, and the speaker booms over the night air. Thick with tension, she prepares for the speed. As soon as the trigger is pulled, he takes off; facing whatever shall be their fate. Not all riders own their own horses. “My step-dad knew a guy named Ivan,” junior Bailey Swearingen said. “And he owned his own horses, so I got to ride them.” Dealing with horses can become a part of everyday life. “I’ve loved horses all my life.” Swearingen said. “I’ve always wanted to figure out a way to deal with horses like my brother did with football, and my mom brought up 4-H; that’s how it all started.” Competing may be something temporary; not everything in life stays the same. It may also start at a very young age. “From [age] 12 until I graduated from high school,” Class of 2014, Rikki Shade said. “Then I fell out of the competing scene. I just didn’t want to do it anymore.” On the other hand, it may be something that is continued. “I’ve competed for seven years now, going onto eight.” Swearingen said. Names for horses can be specially chosen. From treasured parts in life, to things that were just a season. “Larrow was named after a car,” Shade said. “And Bell was named after my dog.” Reasons for the competing scene may vary between the rider’s’ perspective. “That’s where all the speed and action happens,” Swearingen said. “Where the most eye-catching things happen.” There is also a downside to competing. “It’s costly- competing wise,” Shade said. “But just doing it for fun is amazing.” To balance riding with other things may be a hard thing to do also. “It’s hard on me, cause I don’t have internet.” Swearingen said. “If I had internet, it’d be very much easier, but because I don’t, I have to balance my schoolwork with horse riding to practice for 4-H.” Overcoming the fear, or even the discouragement is a stage in riding. “You feel really discouraged at first,” Swearingen said. “Like if the horse doesn’t act right, or if you fall off, just keep going, cause you build that trust with that horse, and you get a lot of responsibility out of it.” Cool experiences may come from riding, not just competing. “When I was at the fair one year, we did an interview for the radio.” Shade said. “And I’ve rode them in a few parades; they were in the Moonlight Parade recently.” Experiences like this allow pride to grow for the riders. “My horses; I love them,” Swearingen said. “I love to give them the praise they deserve.” To some, it’s the main thing that seems fun to them. “It’s like the only thing that’s fun to me,” Swearingen said. “Other than playing video games or hanging out with friends.” This can come from an experience made from a young age. “[I] began riding, like full on riding, around 2011; which I was 10 years old,” Swearingen said. “But my first time ever riding a horse was probably around six years old.” Riding can be dangerous, if not treated correctly. “It was all muddy and still water everywhere, and we were going down a very steep hill, and Reba was trying to get antsy to catch back up,” Swearingen said. “So she reared up, her butt hit the ground and she slid. Her right back leg got caught around a tree, snapped in half [the tree], and I heard the tree starting to fall. I thought it was going to fall on us, but it didn’t; it fell right next to us. She finally got back up, jumped down, jumped across the creek, and we were safe. But I got off and had to walk. I had to switch horses for a little bit, before I could get back on her.” Support during such experiences are much needed. “I have other friends that help me when it gets like that.” Shade said. Horses can be scared easily, and the effects can be dangerous. “Last year I got kicked in the face,” Shade said. “Because I was trimming his legs for fair, and he just happened to spook.” The bond between horse and rider can grow stronger and stronger. “I have shown her [Reba] for four years now,” Swearingen said. “I can look at her and do a kissing noise and she will look at me and follow. I don’t have to have a lead rope on her, she’ll just follow me.” But when that bond breaks it can be devastating on that rider. “I also have one that has passed away, Tanner,” Swearingen said. “It really took me down hard, but it made my other relationships with my other horses stronger. So don’t let that discourage you either, cause there’s something better ahead.”