Green River Star -

By Stephanie Thompson
People Editor 

Girl feels free while riding her horse


For Abby Smith riding is just a way of life. She has been around horses for as long as she can remember.

However, this year was different. She needed to learn a new side of horse riding -- the competitive side.

Ten-year-old Smith of Green River wasn’t the only one in her family who needed training, her black-and-white quarter horse she calls “Taffy” also needed training.

For the past year, Smith has been riding with her trainer in the hopes of becoming good enough to compete. While Smith was learning what to do on another horse, Taffy was sent to a training facility in Utah so the 8-year-old mare would know what Smith wanted her to do.

Both the rider and the horse had to learn a new way to communicate with each other for the competitions Smith is hoping to attend.

“We’ve had horses, but she’s never ridden by herself before. This type of riding is new to her,” Delaina Smith, Abby’s mother, said.

As Abby’s training progressed, her trainer introduced her to the world of 4-H. Abby then joined the local 4-H group called Freedom Reins.

Abby just started competing this summer; and her first competition was in Big Piney, but she didn’t compete with her horse Taffy. Taffy wasn’t quite ready to compete yet. Abby took fourth, third and second place at the Big Piney competition on her trainer’s horse.

“I was really proud because most people don’t place second in their first show,” Abby said.

Shortly after this competition, Abby got Taffy back from the trainers; and since then has been working with her.

Abby said Taffy has responded well to her and her commands.

“It makes me feel really good because I can ride my horse now. I don’t have to ride with my parents. I can ride my myself,” Abby said.

For Abby, riding Taffy isn’t just about competitions, it’s about the enjoyment of it.

“If I’m having a bad day, it will make me feel better,” she said. “This year has kind of been hard because I lost my brother in December.”

Abby said her 20-year-old brother was killed in a car accident and she has had a tough time coping with losing him. She said whenever she is having a bad day or feeling sad, she just rides Taffy and thinks about the good times she and her brother had and she doesn’t feel so sad anymore.

Another reason she likes riding Taffy is it gives her a whole new perspective; and it is a view she likes.

“I am taller on my horse,” she said.

This vantage point allows Abby to see the world in a different way. Despite the rough times, Abby was trying to focus on her first competition with Taffy.

“The fair will be her first show on Taffy,” Delaina said.

Prior to Wyoming’s Big Show 4-H competition, Abby felt nervous and excited. She was hoping Taffy would respond well to all of the verbal commands and leg pressure-point training they both learned.

After her first day of competition, Abby was more relaxed. She received a second-place and reserve grand champion ribbon in walk and trot open class.

In her 4-H division, Abby received grand champion and first place in showmanship and second place and reserve grand champion in halter, and grand champion and first place in walk and trot.


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