BY DANI SCHNEIDER
In 2012, Faith McKay-Alicea began the process of becoming a USEF Licensed Official. “I love horses and I wanted to impact the industry, but I can’t afford to have an Amateur Owner horse and show every weekend, so being a steward is a way for me to still be involved,” she shared.
To become a steward applicants are required to apply through USEF, pass a background check, complete online training sessions, clinics and apprentice requirements as well as pass the measurement test and educational courses. “I gave myself two years to complete the process,” McKay-Alicea explained. “My mentors guided me through the process, and I completed more than what was required,” she said of becoming a licensed steward in 2014.
McKay-Alicea hopes to impact the industry through her actions, but also acknowledges being a steward has had a positive impact on herself. “Being a steward has taught me a lot about myself, the good and the bad,” she shared. “There are a lot of emotions involved with this sport and it can be difficult. It has helped me with my people skills, and I always try to put myself in the exhibitor or judge’s shoes.”
Travelling across the country to work different shows is something McKay-Alicea is fond of, “From Princeton, to Chagrin, to The American Royal, to this past Winter at Desert International Horse Park, no matter where you go or how big or small, you are always going to meet good people. You’re going to see great horsemanship, and you can always learn something.”
McKay-Alicea credits her success to her mentors, Beverly Bedard, Phil DeVita, Ralph Alfano, Mary Choate, and Peter Lane. “I am only as successful as the people around me. I really feel I am where I am today, because of my mentors so I really owe it to them,” McKay-Alicea shared.
Throughout her stewarding career, McKay-Alicea has noticed both positive and negative changes in the industry. “The sad thing that I have seen in the industry is the B and C rated horse shows have gone away. From a stewarding perspective, I think those shows are the best place for stewards to start, gain confidence, to build themselves up to becoming a great steward,” she noted.
When she isn’t at a show, McKay-Alicea is a mom, a business owner of two boxing fitness gyms, and a horse owner. Riding her Thoroughbred mare (who she will show in the Pre-Adults once shows resume), she continues to educate herself. “I am always taking a course, whether it be through USHJA or fitness courses. I am always learning.”
In her spare time, Faith enjoys writing, “I have a ton of platforms from fitness, to being a mom, to being a Christian woman, to a business owner,” she shared. “I am not a writer by any means, but I want to use my voice to educate others or share enough knowledge that can impact somebody in a positive way.”
“I think in life in general, and in the horse industry, we all need to help each other. It is a small world and we have to help each other,” McKay-Alicea noted.