BY DEBRA GASKILL Special Correspondent
January 9, 2014
SUGARCREEK TOWNSHIP — A Sugarcreek Township resident has been chosen to ride with the U.S. Saddle Seat World Cup team, competing July 2014.
Aleia Brown, 16, daughter of Dennis and Beth Brown of Centerville has been riding since she was 5 years old at Cape Cod Farms, 3187 Centerville Road. Brown is a Centerville High School sophomore.
“I wanted to ride forever,” Brown said. Since her parents didn’t want her jumping, she began with saddle seat competition with instructor Erin Richey. “I ended up rally liking it and just stayed with it.”
In saddle seat equitation classes, riders need to convey the impression of effective and easy control of their horse, according to the United States Equestrian Federation.
World Cup competition takes place every two years.
In “open” equitation classes, which are not breed restricted, only the rider is being judged, so any horse that is suitable for a particular style of riding and is capable of performing the required class routine is acceptable.
In the ring, female riders wear tuxedo-type jackets with matching jodhpurs, a formal shirt, bow tie, vest or cummerbund, and matching top hats.
“Aleia was blessed with a lot of talent,” said Richey. “But she works really hard, too. She’s a good kid and an absolute role model.”
Richey was the captain of the first World Cup Team, which began in the early 1980s with an informal exchange of saddle seat athletes in the US and South Africa.
Teams from as many as five nations now compete for World Cup titles.
“I’m really proud she’s followed in my footsteps,” she said.
Brown has a “gracefulness on a horse,” Richey said, with an “amazing ability” to get a horse to do what it needs to do.
But when it comes to competition, Brown can shut out the outside world, Richey said, to get the job done.
“When it comes to competition, she’s got ice water in her veins,” Richey said.
While Brown competes throughout the year on her own horse, Thomas Madeira’s Fame (she calls him Thomas), World Cup rules dictate that horses are assigned to riders through the draw of a hat.
Competitors then have seven minutes before they enter the ring to get to know the horse. Instructors are not allowed to coach from the sidelines.
This is Brown’s second time to try out for the team. She last tried out in 2012, when she was 14.
Riders are chosen to try out through submitted videos. There were 60 applicants, Brown said, out of which 20 were chosen to try out.
Of those 20, three were riders from Cape Cod Farm, Richey said.
Brown was chosen as the second rider in the competition.
“I never felt so comfortable watching some one (ride),” Richey said. “I had tears in my eyes.”
Try-outs were held Dec. 6-7 at William Woods University in Fulton, Mo.
Brown rides an average of three to four times a week on Cape Cod Farm horses and her own horse Thomas during the school year and nearly every day in the summer.
During school, she played tennis for Centerville High School and danced for 13 years before she was sidelined with a foot injury. But horses are her first love.
“I love being around horses,” Brown said. “I love just taking Thomas on a ride on a trail out back.”
The U.S. Saddle Seat World Cup will be held July 22-26, 2014 at the Blue Ridge Class Horse Show in Asheville, N.C.