By Elizabeth Kolling
An exotic breed that was originally isolated in the ancient deserts of the Middle East, Arabian horses are now found all over the world. Known for their incredible endurance, intelligence, and gentle temperament, these amazing creatures are shown in competitive events, displaying both athletic and disciplinary talents in both English and Western styles.
Freshman Hannah Feldman has discovered her love and passion for both this breed of horse and the sport. She is a highly decorated rider, and in her career as a young shower, has earned dozens upon dozens of medals and ribbons that display her talent.
Although the sport of showing Arabian horses is very popular, some may think of it as a peculiar and unique activity and wonder, “How in the world do kids get involved in something like that?” As many young children began to join soccer teams, dance ballet, and play t-ball, Feldman started on another path.
“My grandfather bred Arabians when he was younger…and gave me my first horse when I was five. I’ve been riding ever since,” said Feldman.
“My first lessons were at Apple Creek Training Center. I rode there until I was 7 and then I went to ride with my current trainer, Donna Waggoner at the Buona Vista Arabians boarding facility. I moved from Apple Creek because I wanted to not only start showing in the Arabian circuit instead of all-breed schooling shows, but I wanted to become a more serious shower,” stated Feldman.
To date, Feldman has competed in some 35 shows and has accumulated numerous awards, including four national championships and three reserve national championships (second place), all in the five years that she has attended Youth Nationals.
She competes in four major events including Hunter-Pleasure, Sidesaddle, Country-English, and Saddle Seat Equitation, and has received multiple awards from all categories.
“You are not only judged on how you work and control your horse during the different gaits (walk, trot, canter), but how your horse behaves, the relationship between the horse and the rider, and the rider herself. In order to do this, a lot of concentration is required of you and your horse, and though it was not easy, I believe I’ve mastered this with my horses,” said Feldman.
Though Feldman is talented, this kind of success doesn’t come to her without a lot of practice and discipline.
“Although the showing season begins in February and ends in July, I ride year-round. I practice twice a week during pre-season in the fall and winter and up to four times a week in the spring and summer. It’s a lot of work, but you really have to be passionate about the sport if you want to be successful, and that’s something that I am, passionate,” said Feldman.
Though it requires a lot of time, energy, and skill, the art of Arabian Showing has allowed many people to find a place that challenges, inspires, and motivates them. They are allowed to express themselves just as an artist does in painting, an actor through a monologue, or a musician with an instrument.
“I love working with my horses and connecting with them on an emotional level. When you go out there in the arena, it’s just you and your horse, you’re a team,” said Feldman. “You are one with your horse and your horse is one with you, and nothing else matters. I also treasure the social aspect of the sport, as I have met a lot of people over the years who have become some of my closest friends.”