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- Photo by Howard Schatzberg
Nora Wade’s love for English riding pushes her to great heights.
In many ways, Nora Wade is your typical 14-year-old Columbian. She is sweet and bubbly like most teenage girls, but unlike most girls, she loves spending time in competitions with animals that can weigh over 1,000 pounds.
At 10 years old, Nora had tried multiple sports, but always ended up quitting because she didn’t feel passionate enough about them. It wasn’t until she went to a horseback riding summer camp that she discovered that her true passion was English riding.
Nora credits her close friend, and fellow rider, Grace Markel, with getting her interested in riding at the summer camp.
“Grace said I should come out to the barn and ride sometime,” Nora says. “It kind of went from there. I have her to thank.”
Nora later attended High Spirits Farm, a local training facility for English riders. She entered multiple English riding competitions and her hard work paid off this last August. As a first-timer to the World’s Championship Horseman Show in Louisville, Kentucky, the super bowl of the sport, Nora and her horse, Perfect Elizabeth, won a reserve world championship in her division. Grace and her horse, Feather, won a reserve championship as well.
Concerning the prestigious competition, Nora says, “Just getting to be there is such an experience.”
However, Nora adds that while winning competitions is great, it is not why she rides. For Nora, competing is all about “having a good ride.”
Though Nora loves English riding, it is not without its difficulties. She often gets up at six in the morning to get in a practice ride or stays until midnight at a riding competition to support her friends.
“I’m riding, I’m doing tours, anything that gets me around horses to prepare for competitions. I ride Elizabeth every week or two weeks. I get the kind of practice I need from riding other horses. I ride a bunch of different horses because if you get used to one horse and learn how the one horse works, you don’t get anything,” she says.
Despite the hard work, Nora believes it is worth it for her riding passion.
“If you truly love [English riding], you don’t care if you have to put poop in a bucket or fill up water buckets,” she says. “Horses are beautiful animals. They fought our wars. They’ve done amazing things for our country and people. You watch a historical documentary and chances are there’s a horse in it. They’re so sweet, and they will do anything for you as long as you do anything for them.”
Nora knows that there are people who don’t share her passion for horses because they are anxious around them. To these people, Nora encouragingly says, “[For] people who get on a horse [and] are nervous, the horse knows. You have to trust that your horse knows what they are doing. You have to help them, and they have to help you.”
Nora is a young lady with an inspiring passion for horses, and as far as her future in competing in English riding is concerned, Nora says, “I’m 12 feet deep in the deep end right now. I can do this until I’m dead.”