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Atwood girl wins at state horse show

by RACHEL JONES news@indianagazette.net on August 10, 2014 1:49 AM

A bond between a horse and his owner cannot be broken. This is especially true for Mariah Wilson, 14, and her horse Joey. They won at state level at the Penn State Junior Horse Championship Show on July 26 and 27.

Her horse — American Warmblood Joey, Corporal McCullough when competing — won two neck ribbons, and Mariah won a state championship jacket in the two-day competition that included showing and riding.

“The first day was the halter class or in-hand class where I showed Joey,” she said. “The next day was the riding class.”

Mariah has more riding competitions lined up for her future including states in October in Harrisburg.

In the meantime, she takes lessons at the Winterfield Farms in White Township with Connie Winters.

“I want to compete in as many shows as I can,” Mariah said.

She also is a part of riding organizations such as the Mountaineer Hunter Jumper Association, United States Equestrian Federation, High School Athletic Equestrian Federation and Young Russ Riders 4-H Club.

“The High School Athletic Equestrian Federation re-cords hours, including shows, and puts them in your program,” Mariah said.

“You can get up to four stars and be recognized as an equestrian athlete.”

Her passion for riding is generational. Her late grandfather, Ronald McCullough, from whom her horse’s show name originates, was her motivation behind riding and competing.

“My grandfather was the one that really got me into riding and has always been my inspiration,” she said.

Mariah has loved horses her entire life and began riding when she was young.

“I started riding when I was 6,” she said. “I was 7 when I started to get into it.”

Mariah lives with her parents, Susan and James Wilson, in Atwood. Joey lives on her grandparents’ farm “right over the hill.”

She said she feels that competing has taught her many important things that she plans on taking into her future.

“My dream is to someday qualify for the Olympics,” she said. “So this is something I plan on doing for the rest of my life.”

Mariah has also learned the importance of developing a strong bond with Joey.

“He is so gentle and has a nice disposition,” she said. “He’s always there to tell your secrets to, and he never tells anyone.”

As she continues toward her dreams, Mariah fondly remembers the impact her grandfather had on her. Even now, he’s still her inspiration.

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