Wilmington, Ohio – This week’s Wilmington Sunday Spotlight shines on 17-year-old show-jumping athlete Emma Paley. Paley, of Villa Hills, Kentucky, rides and trains out of Avalon at Cherry Knoll Farm in Lexington, Kentucky. The talented, dedicated young rider has successfully been managing her busy high school schedule and her two horses on the show circuit. Paley has worked her way up all the way from the ground poles to the $10,000 Futures Prix at WEC Ohio and took time in between classes to tell us more about her riding journey.
WEC: Where do you ride now and how did you get started?
I ride at Avalon at Cherry Knoll Farm in Lexington, Kentucky now. I train with Liz Hutchison and Jeannie Scalise. I’ve been riding since I was three. My grandpa rode, and my dad rode. So they got me into it when I was really young! I started in the hunters and worked my way into the jumpers as I got older.
WEC: How have you juggled riding and school throughout your riding career?
It’s definitely been hard. Especially because my school is not always the best like to work with but we have figured out how to make it work out. I have to miss a lot for shows, but I’ve never fallen behind on any assignments so, it doesn’t really affect my schoolwork that much. The rule has always been that I have to continue doing well in school if I want to keep riding!
WEC: Tell us about your current horses.
I have Ace and his show name is Venturo 9. We got him from Sarah Meier at Punchestown Stables. He used to do the grands prix with Shane Sweetnam and then Sarah got him, and now he is 17 years old. When we found him, we started leasing him from her. I have moved all the way up on him to the 1.30m. Yesterday was actually my first 1.30 class with him and I am doing the Futures Prix today! Ace is very full of himself. He is fiery and he will jump straight up in the air. You have to really adjust your eye with him because he is so up and down and has weird striding. But he is so confident and will always take care of you because he is so seasoned.
My other horse is Havana, and her show name is Havana Ad. We bought her this past summer and she is only nine years old now. She is pretty green, so we are just working her up. We are going to put her back into the 1.20m soon. We bought her from Mathias Ekeroth, he had just moved to Lexington from California, and he imported her. She is a bit quirky, if you don’t set her up right, she has a stop but she has gotten a lot better. But she is so fast and amazing to ride.
WEC: What are your plans for college?
I haven’t decided where I am going yet! It will either be the University of Kentucky or the University of Tennessee. I definitely want to keep riding in school. If I go to Kentucky, I am already in their equine program. So, that will sort of set me up to continue with the horses! I am in the Animal Science/Pre-Veterinary program at Tennessee, but I am not sure yet what my plan will be with my horses if I go down there. I definitely want to stay within the horses and I would love to go professional, but I think my goal is to eventually do what my trainer Jeannie does and sell horses and train and ride.
WEC: How has WEC Ohio played a role in your riding career?
I’ve been showing here since the Sanctuary warm-up arena was the main hunter arena! It’s my main show place and it has definitely gotten me in the ring and gotten me lots of experience. Without this, I don’t think I would have shown as much as I did. It is only an hour from my house and there are so many shows. It has improved so much so you can show here year-round and never have to travel super far. I’ve moved all the way up here from the ground poles now to the Futures Prix, so it is definitely really special!
WEC: What is your 2023 show plan?
Our lease with Ace is up in April and I don’t think that we will renew it since he is a bit older and I am going off to school. We are trying to get Havana moving up, so I would really like to continue progressing with her.
WEC: Tell us one short-term girl and one long-term goal.
One long-term riding goal would definitely be to get back into the hunters and do some more of that. I would love to keep moving up and move back into that. A short-term goal would be to get Havana back into the 1.30m and do as much learning on Ace as I can before he goes back.
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