Sixteen-year-old Aly Hart started riding horses at age eight when her family moved to eastern Delaware County.
She said her parents probably thought she would trot around their acreage and eventually lose interest in riding. Hart didn’t lose interest in riding, and she does trot around, but probably a little faster than her parents first anticipated.
At age 11 Hart began barrel racing.
Five years of work since have paid off. Hart competed with her pony Pocahontas at the Sept. 30 to Oct. 2 National Barrel Horse Association State Championship at Champion Center in Springfield, posted a 17.752, and came home with the Youth 3D Champion trophy.
“Winning the National Barrel Horse Association State Championship was crazy,” Hart said. “It’s been the biggest accomplishment so far with my horse. It was great, but at the same time it was a humbling feeling.”
Hart, a Big Walnut High School junior and member of Silver Spurs 4-H Club, was also the contesting high-point winner at this summer’s Hartford Independent Fair.
Asked if she competes in other equestrian events Hart said no; that barrel racing and the other speed events is where she gets her thrills — that’s all she wants to do in the arena.
“There’s so much adrenaline in barrel racing,” Hart said. “You’re breathing just as much as your horse is breathing, but I love it, and my pony loves it. I can feel her heart beat, she gets really hyped up, then she calms back down.”
Anyone who rides understands that you don’t just keep a horse in the stable and take it out when you’re ready to compete in the arena.
“I work with Pocahontas two-to-four hours each day,” Hart said. “We do a lot of slow work. That helps get her mind in the right place.”
Hart also works with Morrow County trainer Nancy Adkins. She said Adkins helps a lot of young riders learn to ride the right way.
Hart said she would like to compete in some larger events. She’s looking at events in Missouri and Oklahoma, but the family hasn’t decided yet if they would attend those events.
For college, Hart said she would like to go south and attend a college with a rodeo team.
“Rodeo is basically what I’ve always done,” Hart said. “In the future I would like to own my own equestrian facility, do boarding, and train younger riders who are just starting out barrel racing.”
Reporter Lenny C. Lepola can be reached at 614-266-6093.