Yesterday I met with two great young ladies from Florida who ride with McKenzie Watt and are both enjoying their first experience showing at the Appaloosa Youth World Championship show. Let’s meet them.
Hailey’s mother is an equestrian which means Hailey has been riding since before she was born! Her mother and Dawn Watt are friends, so she started riding at Dawn’s farm when she was a very young girl. When she was around 4 or 5, she rode in lead line classes on an Arabian that she describes as a “monster.” After lead line she graduated to a barn horse named Breezy. Breezy took care of everyone and many riders started their riding with him. She then started to ride Roger who was a western pony at the barn. She showed a horse named Harley in walk jog but returned to Roger when it was time to start to canter. Hailey showed Roger in 4-H, and she made it to the state horse show with Roger who proceeded to crow hop around the ring in her class. This is when she realized that showing was not for Roger!
When it was time to get more serious about loping and bump up her game, the family purchased a horse that was suitable for her to ride in the youth classes. At 25, he is now retired, living at home and giving lessons to young children. Hailey purchased a younger horse but said she is not ready yet so is showing her trainer’s horse, Zipposclassiccharlie at the Youth World Show.
Hailey said she always wanted to show at the Youth World Show since she was a little girl. She has known her trainer, McKenzie Watt, all her life and looks up to her. Due to COVID, she was unable to show at Youth World previously and looks forward to this experience.
How did she prepare? Lots of hard work. Hailey said she has been riding a lot of different horses to try to figure out her riding style and learn how she can apply that with each horse individually. She is working on adapting her riding for each horse’s needs.
Hailey is looking forward to just being here at the show. She knows the competition is hard, so she wants to represent her team well and ride well. Hailey is showing in the Youth 14-18 events.
In contrast to Hailey, Aria just began riding two years ago. It was the year COVID hit, and she needed something to do so she rode at Dawn Watt’s summer camp. She liked riding and her parents wanted her to continue so she started to take lessons regularly. She really enjoyed riding. Aria has very supportive parents who wanted her to keep going so they started to show at local shows.
Aria and the family recently purchased Truman, Hez Drinken Doubles, and they started to show at bigger shows. She has been showing horses for less than a year. Truman came to the family because he is a safe horse. He had previously won the Champion of Champions so they knew he would be a good all-around horse. Aria’s sister rides English and she mostly rides western, though she has started to ride both. They needed a horse that could ride both disciplines.
Aria said she wanted to come to the Youth World Show because she wanted to advance her riding skills and go to the next level. She has been preparing by doing summer riding camps and riding nearly every day. Aria is just looking forward to the experience. She knows there are a lot of really competitive riders here and she was just hoping to not get last place. Aria is showing in the Youth Walk Trot 11-18 events.
Both of these young riders are with McKenzie Watt Performance Horses in Coconut Creek, Florida.