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Champion 2nd Year Green Working Hunters 2006, WIHS Reserve Champion 2nd Year Green Working Hunters 2006, PNHS Champion Large Junior Hunter 2008, PNHS Grand Large Junior Hunter 2008, PNHS Overall Grand Junior Hunter 2008, Devon Reserve Champion Amateur Owner Hunters 18-35 2010, and Blowing Rock USHJA International Hunter Derby Reserve Champion 2010. “Every show helps me continue on day by day, and then I look forward to the next one to keep me going. I truly believe that each time we win, it’s for my mom and Tyler knows it…he’s a very special horse.” 2009 was also a transitional year for Sarah since she

was no longer a junior. Moving into the Amateur Owner levels for hunters and jumpers was challenging, especially while she struggled with her mother’s death. In 2010, Sarah did well enough on Isaac to be winning in the Zone and with Onassis she is third in the Zone and second nationally.

Fighting the Good Fight “I should never try to be a normal kid,” the current USC sophomore exclaims with a laugh as she relays the story of her attempts to make friends by joining a flag football team. Although she did manage to make some new friends, her brief flag football career managed to land her a torn ACL and meniscus in her knee, jeopardizing everything she and her family had worked so hard for all these years. “I’ve always had to fight for my wins…my riding career has not been easy…but now I have to fight harder than ever,” Sarah says, noting that her late start as a young rider forced her to work harder to catch up with her peers. In fact, this most recent fight began with Sarah having to work overtime to convince her father and her trainer to allow her to continue riding with the torn ligament. It’s no surprise that determined Sarah won the battle. Undaunted, Sarah continues to fight the good fight,

one show at a time. After doing well in Aiken, in her recent trip to the Washington International Horse Show

in D.C. and riding with the torn ACL, Sarah and Tyler won the Amateur Owner Handy Hunter Class. “Tyler gave me everything he had and he makes it easier to ride through the pain,” beams a proud but exhausted Sarah. After next showing at the Atlanta Fall Classic II, the 20

year old is now preparing for surgery on her right knee to be performed by an orthopedic surgeon at the Emory Sports Medicine Center in Atlanta. After her surgery, Sarah will spend about six months in recovery and physical therapy but promises to be back in the saddle by Devon. And who could doubt her!

Never Alone Even now, her mother Diane continues to influence Sarah’s life in different ways. “My mom’s death has helped me become closer to my dad and sister. And it’s given my sister the opportunity to be a part of my show career.” Sarah’s sister, Mallory, a recent graduate of George Washington University, is now her “new horse show mom,” attending the November WISH, standing in for their mom by supporting and encouraging Sarah as she and Tyler rode to victory. “I even convinced my sister to ride one of the Grand

Prix horses in a lunge line class,” Sarah says exuberantly. “She was riding with really little kids but she had fun and it is a memory we’ll never forget.” Sarah’s will to overcome tragedy and setbacks are

inspiring. Mature beyond her age, Sarah is humble, shying from the credit for her efforts and accomplishments. She points to the horses, her family, her trainers, and friends for how far she has come in a relatively short amount of time. With Happy, Moose and other horses retired at her

family farm in Georgia, and her current big competition horses, Onassis (Tyler) and Isaac, Sarah can’t help but feel blessed by her horses. “I feel lucky to have the horses and the people who support me.” Her mom may never walk her to the show ring again or hug her after winning in the finals, but Sarah knows she is there and is thankful for her dad, Mallory and her extended family at Finally Farm. “I definitely couldn’t do this alone,

but knowing my mom loved the horses, that the horses work so hard for me and that my mom loved to watch me ride my horses keeps me coming back for more.” Look for Sarah at Devon and other major amateur hunter events across the east coast. She may be the only one riding in the ring, but if you look somewhere behind the determination in her eyes, you’ll see Diane, a glowing mother saying, “You can do this Sarah; you are not alone.”

52 January/February 2011

LEFT: Sarah competing Onassis (Tyler) at the Aiken Horse Show.

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