One year when she was 5 and a half she stood in front of the dollar store like she did every year and watched two horses come over the hill. Before she could even hear the sounds of their hooves approaching she noticed something different these horses were smaller, different colors, and they had people on top of them, perched on their backs like little blue jays resting on a tree. She had never seen anything like it, it was crazy, weird, and a new source of questions that would drive her parents crazy for years to come.
As the horses got closer the numbers grew from 2 to 4 to 8! Her eyes grew wide and she started to shiver in excitement. She listened as her mother read a sign that one girl was holding “MVA Summer Camps”, that little girl looked up at her mother and had only one word that came to mind “please”. Her and her mother walked down to a small area after the parade where people were lining up to sit on these horses. Without even second guessing herself that girl jumped in line, her mother rushing behind her to catch up.
They waited for 5 minutes and when they got to the front of the line her mother talked to the lady about these summer camps as her daughter was drooling over the horses coming towards her. A big yellow horse approached and a girl was lifted off her back, a man came up behind the girl and lifted her onto that same horses back. The man told her the horses name was Whitey and he led them on, that man had no idea he was the beginning of that little girls newest, biggest, dream. Good morning Judges, Parents and fellow 4H members.
My name is Riley McNeice and I am that little girl. People often ask me how I got involved with horses since I live in a town that never had them I never know how to answer that question so I usually say, “it just happened. ” I did go to that summer camp, for 8 years! I rode horses and ponies from ages 3 to 22, horses with names that had to do with their color to names that were constellations in the sky. I learnt so much from that summer camp, how to clean a horse, how to tack a horse and how to ride. I was so lucky!
I have such great relationships with people I met there and people I worked with there. Although doing the same thing for 8 years is fun, it does get boring. I had grown as a person and a rider and I felt that I had grew as much as I could there. I knew on my 8th year it was my last and it was heart breaking, but I also knew that I was moving to greener pastures. And I did, I met the beautiful Hamer/Ziegler family almost a year ago, I felt like I was welcomed with open arms. I was some random girl who showed up in rubber boots and in a huge sweater just asking for an opportunity.
They never even batted an eye. I truly believe that I wouldn’t be standing here doing what I am doing without them. I think I have developed as a rider and a person because of them. That summer I spent it at their farm, I helped with daily chores and rode amazing horses from the day school ended till the day before school started. I still work there and hope to be saying that for a while longer. When I think back to that question, I now see that it wasn’t the horses that drew me in but it was the people that helped me realize who I am.