Winning combination

By Ryan Peterson - bio | email

TYLER, TEXAS (KLTV) - Every afternoon 14 year old Mary Lauren Shelton has a date.  His name is Teddy.

"He's just the best pony in the world and he's extremely loving and sweet," said Shelton.

Teddy's not sweet with everyone.  With Shelton, it was love at first sight.

"I was nervous when I first got on him," said Shelton.  "But as soon as I got on him I knew we liked each other."

Teddy nods in agreement. This beautiful friendship has turned into a winning combination.  Shelton and her pony are out jumping horses with more experienced riders.

"If you had told us a year and a half ago that she'd be top ranked in the country and win a national championship, we never would have believed it," said Mary Lauren's mother Cici Shelton.

"It was really special to go to nationals and get the national champion because of all the hard work together," said Mary Lauren.

Hard work would be an understatement.  No shopping, no movies, no homecoming.  Riding is life.

"About four hours a day," said Mary Lauren.  "So tons of hours a week and all weekend."

"She (Mary Lauren) started into it gradually with one lesson a week," said Cici Shelton.  "Then it was two lessons a week. We've just gotten used to it being all consuming for her."

Not everyone understands Shelton's love for the barn.

"I brought one friend out," said Shelton.  "She didn't last very long."