Each issue, MSEDA will highlight a member who is active in the organization to give other members a peek into their horse-loving lives. Interested in being featured? Email Sarah at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Sarah E Coleman
The MSEDA Pony Club Award is given each year at the awards banquet to the MSEDA member in good standing who accumulates the highest number of points and is also a member of a recognized Pony Club. The 2016 winner, Mckenna Ward, is a Keeneland Pony Club member who has set her sights high for the 2017 competition year with her OTTB, Snoopy. Read on to learn more about Mckenna’s goals and her horse’s quirky personality.
MSEDA: Where are you from?
Mckenna Miller: I am from Fort Thomas, KY.
MSEDA: When did you begin riding?
MM: I started riding 7 or 8 years ago at a horse camp, when I was 7 or 8.
MSEDA: What is your background in horses?
MM: Neither of my parents had horses, so when I first started riding, my parents thought it was just a phase. I started riding at a hunter/jumper facility before switching to a Pony Club Riding Center. I rode many different types of horses, from short Shetland ponies to big 17hh thoroughbreds. While riding at the Riding Center, I leased different horses at other facilities every year.
MSEDA: How long have you been competing?
MM: I have been competing for about 5 years, but eventing for about 2.
MSEDA: When did you get your first horse?
MM: I got my first horse 2 years ago.
MSEDA: What horses do you own now?
I have one fantastic off-the-track Thoroughbred named Snoopy.
MSEDA: How did you get him?
MM: My mother purchased Snoopy from a previous trainer 2 years ago.
MSEDA: What Pony Club are you in?
MM: I am currently a member of Keeneland Pony Club. I was a member of Green Acres Pony Club previously. Because Green Acres is a riding center, after I bought Snoopy, I moved to Keeneland.
MSEDA: What is your favorite part of Pony Club?
MM: My favorite part of Pony Club is the learning system that it provides. Pony Club makes sure you know how to care for your pony properly as you move up the levels.
MSEDA: Will you compete this year?
MM: Yes, I will hopefully compete a lot this year. I have plans to go to 2017 AECs in September as we qualified at the end of last year. I also plan to attend Pony Club Festival at the Kentucky Horse Park in July.
MSEDA: How long have you been a MSEDA member?
MM: I have been a MSEDA member for 2 years.
MSEDA: What is your favorite event? Why?
MM: I compete in eventing and my favorite part is cross country. Being able to ride at speed across the countryside jumping obstacles is so much fun.
MSEDA: What level do you compete?
MM: We competed last year at Novice. We will do one or two events at Novice and then hopefully move up to Training.
MSEDA: What are your horse's favorite treats?
MM: My horse loves carrots.
MSEDA: What is your favorite event? Why?
MM: My favorite event is Jump Start Horse Trials at the end of the year because it is a well-organized show that provides a great challenge for horse and rider. It is also organized by my Pony Club
MSEDA: Do you have any good luck rituals? What are they?
MM: Our good luck rituals consist of giving Snoopy lots of kisses on the nose and sharing carrots before we show.
MSEDA: What do you think you would like to do when you graduate college?
MM: I’m not sure of what I’d like to do after college yet, but I do have a dream of competing at Rolex one day.
MSEDA: What are your favorite equestrian brands?
MM: I’m a big fan of Kerrits, Smartpak, and Dover Saddlery. I love my CWD saddle.
MSEDA: What are your horse's quirks?
MM: One of Snoopy’s quirks is being a very picky eater. No carrots that aren’t organic; he’s not a fan of apples, but he’ll eat them in a treat form. If you give him a treat he doesn’t like, he won’t take a treat from you for the next hour or so.
MSEDA: What is your goal this year?
MM: My goal this year is to compete and finish a Training-level event. As well as finish on a number at the AEC’s.
MSEDA: Who do you ride with?
MM: I compete with Starfire Eventing.
MSEDA: Where do you ride?
MM: I ride at a beautiful, private farm in Burlington, Ky., called Mane Gait Farms.
MSEDA: What is your favorite part of your barn/trainer/boarding stable?
MM: My favorite part of my boarding stable is the support from the others who board there. The owners are great, also. They always ask how my shows went, always tell me good luck before I leave, and they are all just fun, friendly people. I can count on them for about anything.
MSEDA: What is the biggest obstacle you have overcome with your horse?
MM: So far, the biggest obstacle I have overcome is just figuring my horse out. Snoopy can be very tricky to ride, and is very different depending on the day. I’ve learned what days I can add more leg, and what days I need more half-halts.
MSEDA: Describe your horse in 10 words.
MM: Mr. Handsome Pants who knows how perfectly amazing he is.
MSEDA: What is your favorite memory?
MM: My favorite memory is my first recognized eventing show in Erie, Penn. Snoopy and I had a great weekend, finishing the event in second place on our dressage score!
MSEDA: What other animals do you own?
MM: I own two spoiled dogs, Annabelle and Ozzie.
MSEDA: Is there anything unusual about your horses now?
MM: Snoopy has a small patch of white in his mane just on top of his withers.