SHS junior captures second in national riding competition

By Lynn R. Parks

For the first time, Terri Faison was unable to attend a horse show in which her daughter was competing. But when it was announced that 16-year-old Brittany Abbott had placed second, Faison heard the good news over a cell phone. “It was around midnight, but I was still up, waiting for the phone call,” said Faison, Seaford. “Her trainer called to say that she had just gone top 10. Then they said that she was reserve champion. We just went crazy.” Abbott was competing in the Canadian National Arabian and Half-Arabian Horse Show in Regina, Saskatchewan. At the end of the show, held Aug. 19 - 24, she was national reserve champion in the hunt seat equitation class for ages 14 to 17. “I was very excited,” said Abbott, a junior at Seaford High School. “I had been working so hard at it all year.” This was not Abbott’s first experience in national competition. In 2000 and 2001, she placed in the top 10 in the western pleasure class at the Canadian nationals. In 1999, she placed in the top 10 in three classes at the US Nationals: western pleasure, hunter pleasure and hunt seat equitation. In 1998, she was in the top 10 at the US nationals in western pleasure. And in 1997, at age 11 and in her first national competition, she was the US national champion in hunt seat equitation. “That just shocked us all,” said Faison. “All along, we said we were just going out for fun. That show is what hooked us. After that, we got very serious.” Abbott trains with Jody Gray, Georgetown, and with Steve Dady, Gettysburg, Pa., traveling to Gettysburg every two to three weeks. She also rides at home, where she has five horses to choose from for her regular workout. Abbott was introduced to horses as a baby by her mother, who participated in local and regional competitions as a child. Faison’s father, Donald Booth, Seaford, had a horse farm where he raised and trained horses for show. “We traveled across country, participating in regional championships,” Faison said. “But I never went to nationals. I didn’t go as far as Brittany has.” Faison said that she believes much of her daughter’s skill on a horse simply comes naturally. “She just conforms to the horse and has good posture,” she said. In equitation classes, riders are judged on the way they sit and the way they hold their hands and feet as well as on how well they can maneuver the horse. One of the biggest challenges is finding the right horse, Abbott said, a horse with a smooth gait that at the same time is well-mannered and attractive. She found that in Rosanna Rosanna Jama, the 7-year-old half-Arabian mare she rode in this year’s Canadian nationals. She had planned to ride Templ of Doom, a gelding at Dady’s stables in Gettysburg. But when she got to Gettysburg just two days before the competition, Dady told her that he had a new horse. “He said that she would be great to take to nationals,” Abbott said. “Normally, it takes a long time for the rider to bond with a horse. But Rosanna and I got along right away. We took a chance on riding her, but it worked.” Now that the show season is over, Abbott will turn her attention to her studies — she is an honor student — to racing go-karts with the Delmar US 13 Kart Club and to playing soccer. She is a member of the Seaford girls’ soccer team. But come next spring, she expects to be working hard toward another Canadian national title. “I will go back to Canada, and I hope to do even better,” she said. And this time, her mother will be there. “I won’t miss another one,” said Faison. “I won’t do that.”

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