• High school senior tackles, beats number of obstacles to the national championship
By Naomi Klouda
One of the first challenges on Alicia Hall’s way to the national pony championships in Kentucky was navigating her horse across a flooding roadway.
The Homer High School senior, along with her dad and mustang, Sugar ‘n’ Spice, departed for Nationals during a strong Alaska coastal storm that raised the Portage River to flood stage and blocked the road.
“It had started raining and we hooked our truck to the trailer and pulled it across. It was a swift current and covered the tires,” Hall said. “Once we got that, I went back and rode the horse across the river. The water came up to her neck.”
The Halls made the 5,000-mile trip in a small motor home, towing the horse trailer. A road trip that long meant Hall would have to keep a regime of exercising the pony on parts of the AlCan Highway to stay in good shape for the competition ahead.
“Instead of finding a field and having my dad sit there and wait, I would go for a five mile or so stretch along the highway and he would catch up with me,” she said.
Such are the tribulations — and obstacles — of an Alaskan with so far to travel to compete in the largest equestrian contest in the country for this division. Hall managed all those obstacles, as well as 14-19 official ones at the 2010 USEF Pony Jumper Finals and Championships in Lexington to win the silver medal.
Show jumping is about speed and accuracy. Words like “clean” are used to describe a run with no mistakes on the Olympic-style course.
“Half of the (48) finalists don’t make it past the first night,” Hall explained.
She said the three-day event requires rider and horse to use precision to make perfect passes around numerous obstacles and complete pristine jumps.
Hall, daughter of Henry and Ruth Hall, trains at her father’s farm in Portage and has competed in riding events since she was 11 years old. By now, she is well-known on the national scene as a top rider.
“I was four years old when I got my first pony, then I started competing in 2004,” Hall said of her qualifications for nationals. “I’ve been going every since.”
Hall has one more year to compete in the pony competitions. After that, she will move up to the adult division, but said she intends to enter one more level next summer.
As she makes college plans, Hall is considering those closest to the Lexington Horse Park area and summer riding circuits.
And, she’s trying to fit some kind of major into the plan that matches her interest in horses. “My dad thinks I would make a good attorney,” she said. “I’m thinking maybe I will do that, be an attorney in the equestrian business.”
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