Wednesday, August 22, 2012
Felicia Harrison just turned 16 in June, but don't let her young years fool you. She's already an accomplished horsewoman with an impressive collection of medals and buckles. Her passion for riding and love of riding and horses, however, is even more impressive.
Felicia lives in Washington State in a small community that sits on the northern bank of the Columbia River, in an area described as “the crossroads to discovery” in the Pacific Northwest. It took me a few tries before I was able to get Felicia on the phone, because she's a teenager more dedicated to her horses and riding than she is to her cell phone!
In April, Felicia's family bought a 17 year old horse, Hollie Mae, from a friend. Hollie had been living in a cramped paddock (a small enclosure used for pasturing or exercising). When they brought her home, Hollie was hyper and wore herself down quickly. Her muscle tone was poor and she was sluggish when she ran. She hadn't been getting very much exercise.
Diet plays such an important role in temperament and physical health for humans and animals. Weighing only 990 pounds, Hollie was 160 pounds underweight. To add on pounds and give Hollie a healthier diet, Felicia started her on the CANIDAE Pet Foods line of horse feed, EQUIDAE, a few months ago. I asked Felicia if she noticed a difference when they switched Hollie to EQUIDAE. “It's actually a lot. Now she has much more energy. We can tell a big difference between the grain we were feeding her and the EQUIDAE. On the other feed, she was hyper and when we switched, her attitude became mellow. On a trail ride, she would be prancing or dancing in place, and now she walks with her head down, she looks around, and she's very serious.”
Felicia also said that her horse “has more muscle tone in her butt and neck, and her flanks have gotten a lot more muscular. Now she is kinda like a mini tank – she's gained about 150 pounds and her coat is very shiny and soft! Before it was really long and shaggy, and she had a dull look to her and appeared sad and miserable all the time. Now she's perky and happy! Her previous feed had a lot of molasses in high concentrations to quickly put weight on her. It was more like feeding her coffee and the EQUIDAE is like feeding her a tea; she doesn't get hyper eating it. It has a lot of natural ingredients and she doesn't have to eat as much to get full.”
Felicia is on the Washington State High School Equestrian Team and has been doing very well. She rides Hollie or one of her other horses and is looking forward to this year's events. She hopes to do even better than she did last year. Felicia also competes in speed running events across the state of Washington. She and Hollie have to be in tiptop shape because they compete against the clock. “On the Equestrian team, I compete against about 40 people. I also do open shows, were you show up by yourself and it's only you competing. You're not with a team representing anybody except yourself.”
She went on to say, “I've been working really hard for the 1st place because everyone said you can't do it, your class is just too hard. You can't do it.” Apparently, the naysayers missed the “can do” attitude of a 16 year old who believes in herself and her horse. Felicia's grandpa always says, “Make every ride count.” Felicia’s motto is “Every champion walks with a challenger.”
A champion is born with a drive to do great things, but it takes a family to help fine tune that desire to excel. Felicia rode her first horse, Smokem, with her mom when she was just three years old. I asked Felicia what she loved about riding. “I love partnerships that you can build with the horse and that can never be taken away from you. You put in so much time with an animal and once you build a bond, compete, and ride them, it’s like you become one and you're invincible. Nothing stands in your way. It's the closest I have to flying because I feel free when I'm on a horse.”
Felicia's mom also competes, and her father is all-around handy man and supporter for both of them when they are competing. Felicia is a young girl with a definite goal she's working towards, and has the right attitude, support from her family, a good horse, and good work ethic to make it happen.
Felicia may be young, but she understands the value of a quality horse feed, like EQUIDAE. She saw firsthand how EQUIDAE changed a hyper, temperamental horse into a mellow and capable equestrian/rodeo horse. “When I first started riding Hollie, she was consistently on the muscle, but when she competed, there was always sluggish momentum. With time, her temperament has become very calm and she's willing to do anything. I compete on her almost every weekend, and she has increased her speed with every stride. Every competition, we have decreased our times, placing us higher and higher. I am winning money, medals, and buckles now in the 15 to 26 age group, all thanks to EQUIDAE!”
Read more articles by Linda Cole