Friday, January 26, 2024

Champion quarter horse rider proud of achievements

By Matt Pascarella

Windham Christian Academy sixth grader Elsa Pearson is a very active athlete and she’s been riding horses since before she can remember. On Jan. 13 at the Silver Heels Riding Club Show Series in New Hampshire, Pearson received several awards to celebrate the total points she earned for a series of six quarter horse shows that she competed in during 2023.

Windham sixth grader Elsa  Pearson takes a
moment with her quarter horse Sugar in
New Hampshire in 2023.
Besides riding, Pearson plays soccer and basketball and regularly volunteers at the food pantry in Casco. She cares for her quarter horse, Sugar, 365 days a year, often in subzero temperatures.

“I have been riding since before I was born,” said Pearson. “I’ve never known a day without a horse to care for; I love them, it’s a part of me. The horses and the lifestyle make me want to do this for the rest of my life. I plan to go to college to be an equine veterinarian.”

Of the top 10 riders in the Silver Heels Riding Club, Pearson was ranked first this year – which included adults and professionals of all levels. She showed in at least 16 classes at each show in three different rings, all in different divisions including pattern and obstacle classes and many different styles of riding. She earned a total of 721 points for the season; the highest number of points for the 2023 season.

Dedication and hard work manifests in many aspects of Elsa Pearson’s life, especially outside the ring. She has maintained the highest academic honors since First Grade and plays the trumpet in the school band.

Pearson says that she is very proud of her achievements and her family who helped her get here. She set a goal last year and did all she needed to get there but said that she could not have done it without her horse, Sugar.

Her mother, Meghan Pearson, began riding at the age of 9 and helps Elsa train Sugar. When Meghan Pearson was pregnant with Elsa, she was riding. Now, along with being responsible for the horse’s daily care and vetting, Elsa rides five days a week.

“Before she could even sit on her own, she was in the barn in a stroller or being held in the saddle,” said Meghan Pearson. “Sugar is a very high level and technical horse, a horse that needs clear, calm, and fair leadership. She has been shown all over the country and knows her job. She is a very serious-type horse, but she and Elsa have a strong and steadfast bond. I cannot wait to see what they do.”

Family friend and fellow rider Tammy Marchand is the Silver Heels Riding Club president where Elsa Pearson shows Sugar. Marchand began taking riding lessons 12 years ago and that’s where she first met Meghan Pearson. They rode at the same barn and on occasion rode at the same time. As a family oriented club, educating youth by example is a major component to their mission.

In 2019, Marchand became a part of Elsa Pearson’s show family and cheering team. They both competed together in their respective divisions.

“I had the pleasure of watching Elsa at each of our five shows this year. She is one determined and ambitious young lady,” said Marchand. “During the season I have witnessed the growth in Elsa’s riding and horsemanship. Among other things, showing has taught Elsa sportsmanship. Elsa could always be found on the sideline watching and cheering on the other riders. She learned how to manage her time in between classes and being ready for her next class. She learned humility when things didn’t go as planned. All these experiences helped her gain so much confidence in herself and her riding. She learned that hard work, dedication, and perseverance do pay off. Elsa is an amazing young lady with an amazing family and support system. Watching her grow into the horsewoman she is today has been a great privilege.”

Meghan Pearson said she is most proud of her daughter’s moral compass and character. Elsa Pearson works very hard in school, on the court or field, as well as in the ring, and is a wonderfully kind, helpful, loving, and supportive person. There aren’t many kids that show the grit she does to make her dreams come true and she considers herself incredibly lucky to be her mom.

Elsa Pearson rides with precision and finesse of a much more seasoned rider and said that she is always open to learning and is looking forward to turning it up a gear as she and Sugar set their sights on the New York Reining Horse Circuits for 2024.

“I like getting to know my horse better each day,” said Elsa Pearson. “I like completing challenges with them, things I never could do without them. A horse needs to be happy and healthy to be able to compete. You have to put in a lot of time practicing. I try to set goals each year that are reasonable. I am grateful to be able to compete and be successful.” <

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