It was just about nine years ago when Emilie Hernandez first placed her foot in a stirrup. Since then, the large majority of her free time has been spent in the saddle.
Now, all her hard work and dedication as a rider has paid off. Hernandez placed as a finalist at the recent All American Quarter Horse Congress show in Columbus Ohio, the largest single breed show in the United States. Her mount for this prestigious feat; her young, five year-old quarter horse “Ms. Merry,” appropriately named since she was the Hernadez’s Christmas present last year.
“Both her father and I are so proud of her,” explains Jill Hernadez, Emilie’s mother. “She is a kid that really works hard and it is so nice to see her get recognized for all her effort.”
She adds, “Emilie had been asking for a horse for about three years now. First we started with one lesson a week, then two, then a half lease, then a full lease and since we saw how hard she working and she was getting good grades we finally did it.”
It’s obvious that this was the right choice, since both Emilie and “Ms. Merry,” have excelled has a team. In addition to her conquests in the saddle, Emilie also makes high honors at Portland High School as a sophomore and was part of this year’s Shoreline Conference Winning girls’ soccer team, who made it to state finals.
Emilie, who is a having a great year all around, says of her recent riding honor, “It was awesome!”
She adds, “This really makes all the hard work worth it and I am so proud of my horse, she did a great job.”
The pair spent five days at the show event and competed against over 100 others in their class of youth hunt seat equitation for 12 to 14 year-olds. The class is a pattern class with rail work.
“Emilie has amazing strength and patience as well as a great work ethic,” praises her trainer Amy Radar of White Birch Farm in East Hampton, where Emilie has been riding since she began this sport.
“She is here at least four times a week. She is always helpful, always tries hard and she never says no,” says Radar of her student. “Emilie truly is a rare gem!”
Emilie, who also thinks very highly of Radar laughs about her pre-show inspirational speech which went, “Emilie, just don’t fall off!”
Thanking her parents for their constant support, as well as the initial push from her grandmother, who got Emilie into riding, this young teen is very excited about her recent win and says, “…this is very encouraging and definitely pushes me to keep on doing my best in the future.”
Jill explains, “I think that having her own horse has made Emilie work even harder at riding and at school, she has handled this responsibility very well and she has learned a great deal of discipline.”
Radar, who also made the finals at the Ohio show, is an experienced instructor who teaches both English and Western, specializing in youth under 18 as well as “select” riders, which are over 50 years-old. She teaches lessons, Monday through Saturday and has an indoor and outdoor ring with a herd of five lesson horses at her full service riding facility, which sits on five acres, with ample turnouts and 18 permanent stalls.
“We are very family orientated here and we love working with all ages and all experience levels,” shares Radar.
Having transformed a childhood hobby into a young adult competitive sport, Emilie encourages others to also go for whatever they are interested in, “You don’t know what you will end up liking until you try it.”
For more information about White Birch Farm, call 860-267-8972.