By Intern Mackenzie Shuman
While it is always fun to read and learn about those riders in the sport of horseback riding where success seems to be a given, Audrey Smith, 18, of Gleneagle, Colo., has an interesting story of her own. Starting at just age two, Audrey and her mom, Julie Smith, have been in love with horses and the sport of horseback riding. However, it has never been easy. Never quite finding success going straight into the sport, Audrey struggled for years in different sports.
“I never got put on the highest soccer team or dance team or figure-skating team,” and for years, Audrey found it difficult to find her feet in the world. When she found trainer Francis Nix a few years ago though, Audrey had something to strive for again. She began to get back into the sport and before long was hooked, finally finding the missing puzzle piece in her life. When she transferred to Hunter Run Farm with Lorelei Cudney in early 2014, Audrey began her search for the long awaited horse.
Months went by when finally one of Lorelei’s good friends in the business, Molly Rinedollar of Helicon Show Stables, found Audrey’s horse. A nine-year-old gelding by the name Arel Sea, he was certainly a handful.
Telling me a bit about how Arel Sea taught her to become a better rider and person, Audrey said, “he definitely taught me a lot about myself and what I was capable of handling and how I would react in different and difficult situations, so it was a very cool experience with him.”
Arel Sea was certainly no push-button horse, nor one that someone could take into the show ring at any show in the world. He was a young, green horse who taught Audrey not only how to ride incredibly, but also to take things with a grain of salt, and know that sometimes your horse is learning just as much as you are.
Soon though, it came time for Audrey to find a new horse. A girl at Hunter Run Farm was going to college and would soon not be able to manage both horses and school at the same time, so she let Audrey sit on her horse, Orlando Noyers, a few times. “I have always loved [Orlando] since the first time that she let me ride him, he’s such a cool horse with a lot of potential,” but Audrey wasn’t blessed with the first choice on this horse. Soon, she was back to where she started: forever in that search for the horse that could take her to new places in the sport.
Months passed, and she was able to get a lease and horse show on Julie Walker’s horse, Smoke and Mirrors or Smokey. Smokey built Audrey’s confidence up, as he was a very experienced show horse that made any rider feel amazing. However, he was not a permanent solution, and soon, Audrey was, once again, looking for a horse.
Setback after setback Audrey stayed positive. “Horseback riding teaches you things about yourself that you couldn’t really learn out of a textbook or playing other sports, and you’re trusting a thousand pound animal that will test you at any second, it just teaches me things about myself that I would have never known” she said when describing what keeps her in the sport.
Now, Audrey has a half-lease on Orlando. He, like Arel Sea, is a difficult ride, but Audrey knows that she will learn more from him than any other horse. Planning to go to the radiology school at Memorial Hospital in Colorado Springs, Audrey is definitely looking towards a bright future. Though both of her parents’ full time jobs make it difficult for them to make time to watch Audrey in the sport she loves, they have tried their hardest to support her. Audrey herself also has a job alongside being a senior at Air Academy High School.
Through busy schedules, difficult times, and struggles in the horse industry, Audrey has stayed positive. She always greats with a smile and leaves with a smile, no matter what she has gone through. While her definition of success, simply being happy with what comes her way, may not be ribbons and trophies, Audrey has certainly succeeded and is looking forward to even more triumphs in the future.