Less than a month into Allie Poovey’s freshman year of high school, she traveled to South Africa to represent the United States in an international competition as a part of the US Saddle Seat Equitation Young Riders team. This July, Poovey will be returning to South Africa on the United States Saddle Seat World Cup team and compete against riders from several other countries.
Poovey is an English saddle seat rider, which is a type of equitation that “conveys the impression of effective and easy control” of a horse and shows them well, according to the United States Equestrian Foundation.
Poovey, 15, began to have an interest in horses at a young age.
“I wanted a horse themed birthday party for my fourth birthday so my parents scheduled a birthday party at Cash Lovell Stables,” Poovey said. “Immediately when I got on a horse I fell in love with it.”
Now in her eleventh year of riding, Poovey has already received many world and national championships. Her first world championship that she won was in 2010 and several other world championships led her on to successfully making the Young Riders team and now the World Cup team. To make the Young Riders team, Poovey had to send in a video and application.
For the World Cup team, Poovey recently traveled to Missouri to try out in front of judges. Poovey only had several minutes to familiarize herself with a given horse, which is modeled after the international competitions Poovey competes in. Poovey’s trainer, Mary Jane Marcm Orr, was present when Poovey tried out.
“I knew she had prepared herself to the best of her abilities,” Orr said. “To watch a young woman that you have taught from the age of 4 is pretty moving. I wanted her to be strong and focused and she was. She is a true competitor.”
There are some distinct differences in international, regional and national saddle seat competitions.
“For normal competitions that I compete in, I use my own horse, but for international competitions on a team for the United States, we use the horses that are provided by that country,” Poovey said.
In the Saddle Seat World Cup, Poovey and her teammates will each draw two horses and have a couple of days to practice and familiarize themselves with the horses. Poovey and her teammates will “actually become a team” when they have their first practice in February.
“Competing (solo) at a competition is more focused on myself, I am doing what’s best for me,” Poovey said. “But with the team in South Africa we will make sure that we are all working as a team, building friendships.”
When not competing, Poovey trains at High Caliber Stables in Summerfield, North Carolina, where she practices two to three times a week on her horse, Henry Hudson. She enjoys it and is extremely dedicated, despite the difficulties that come with horseback riding.
“A horse is different every day. There’s always something new to learn. You just have to adapt to them,” she said.
Poovey has gained great admiration from her peers and trainers at High Caliber Stables.
“From the moment we met Allie we knew she was one of ‘those’ kids. If she fell off she would get back on. If she had a bad ride she would come back and ride harder,” said Mary Jane Marcm Orr, who is also the owner of High Caliber Stables. “It is just in her. We did not make that (passion in her) we just try to help her grow and achieve all of her dreams.”
Even though her training takes up most of her time, Poovey enjoys spending time with her friends and participating in various sports such as running, basketball and volleyball whenever she can.
Poovey is only at the junior level in her horseback riding career. The next level will be the amateur level once Poovey turns eighteen. Poovey has would be eligible to compete in the World Cup, which occurs every two years, if she chooses to.
“I see Allie possibly wanting to compete in World Cup again. I also see her taking advantage of showing any horse (well) that comes her way in any division,” Orr said. “She works hard and loves all aspects of this industry. I am so proud that she has as much fun brushing school horses as she does traveling the world to compete.”
Poovey has the same vision of the future as well.
“I can definitely see myself doing horseback riding through college – unless something happens in my life that I absolutely can’t do it – I’ll do it” Poovey said.
However, Poovey does not plan on professionally continuing horseback riding as a trainer or competitor and has an aspiration of being a pharmacist.
“I would keep my amateur status,” Poovey said. “I love being in the barn and dealing with them, but that’s not the lifestyle that I want. Those are very long hours.”
Horses will always remain in Poovey’s life, and at the moment, they are a pivotal part of it, but the competitions and awards aren’t why Poovey is in love with horseback riding.
“I can go to the barn and get my mind off of anything. I just have fun, I forget about school and what’s going on at home. It’s just a different mindset,” Poovey said.
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