Riding With Faith: East Texas Equestrians heading to Nationals

There's a little barn in Hallsville that just qualified for the Interscholastic Equestrian Association National Finals Hunt Seat Championship.

"We know that this is a big deal and this is an awesome opportunity for us," said Makailyn Steele, a 14-year-old rider.

Comprised of four riders ranging from 12 to 14 years of age, these young ladies have leaped over their opponents without breaking a sweat.

"The first five shows told us a lot, we did really well. Regional and Zones went way better than I expected them to. We have all grown as a team. We've all grown as riders," said Ally Graves, another 14-year-old rider.

"We have fun, but they're serious. They know this is serious and when we go to a competition they're in ... they're focused, they're ready to go," said Anne Kroeger, riding coach.

The girls have been working with horses like Miss M for more than three years, but when they go to the national competition they will have to ride horses they've never worked with before. Making it all a lot more challenging.

"We get this little description of the horse that's like one or two sentences and we just have to go off that. Then as soon as we get on the horse, in jumping we get a short warm up, so we have to figure the horse out in about two minutes," said Julia Hollwarth, a 12-year-old rider.

It might sound crazy to compete with a random horse, but it's something these girls have trained for at Triple Creek Ranch.

Plus, as their team name 'Riding With Faith' will remind people, it's not about making themselves look good.

"We're just trying to ride to the best of our ability, but we know that those abilities were given to us by God. He has blessed us with an amazing team, amazing coaches, and this amazing opportunity to go and compete. We are just hoping to honor him through everything that we do," Steele said.

"I'm very excited for them. They have all grown and developed so much. They've become amazing horse people, and people. I couldn't be more happy with them," said Kristen Casey, the team's co-coach.

People that, as humble as they may be, can still get excited about what they could accomplish in the near future.

"It would be incredible. I don't even know what it would feel like because I wouldn't believe it. It would just be a really proud moment to be able to come back and say we did it," said Meredith Muirhead, a 14-year-old rider.

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