Team Wallace’s Parker Miller
This is my introduction blog for Team Wallace as one of the young riders riding with Coach Rick Wallace. My name is Parker Miller and I am an 11 year old sixth grader from Bainbridge, GA. I absolutely love riding!
Some background on my riding career to date!! I have tried hunters, jumpers, dressage, etc… but since Young Riders Camp last summer, I have fallen in love with Eventing. My first horse trial was last July when I entered the beginner novice division at Chattahoochee Hills in Fairburn, GA. I was a bit nervous with my first experience. My pony, Bippity Boppity Boo, a 13.1 hand Connemara Welsh cross is a fantastic jumper. He loves cross country and jumps everything with no problem. However, Boo and I had not had much training in dressage. So, I rode a friend’s pony for the trial. Note to self…never take a mount that you don’t know well enough to be able to predict. We did not have enough of a connection to act as a team. I left MY teammate at home and should have trusted him enough to carry us through.
After my poor finish at Chatt Hills, I knew if I was going to succeed in Eventing I had to make some changes. My parents and I sought the advice of a family friend, Imti Anees to try and find an Eventing coach in my area. Mr. Anees introduced us to Rick Wallace of Team Wallace South and we started to train with him at Cherry Hill Farm in Tallahassee, Florida.
When I arrived for my first lesson with my new Coach, we discussed the issues with Boo and his dressage. He did not like to make a connection with the bridle so to my surprise, Coach Rick jumped on Boo and did some adjustments and to my delight, Boo found contact!! We worked on how to create and maintain this new connection with me in the tack in our dressage lessons and during the jumping lessons. After that first lesson, I went home and worked on the exercises Coach Rick gave us and Boo began to understand what I was trying to get him to do. Boo loves me so much that he would try to please me no matter what and on top of that he would jump the moon if I asked him to!! We would drive down to TWS every chance I had to try and get ready for the Poplar Place Horse Trial in September 2012. I practiced at home A LOT.
September came pretty quickly. I wasn’t sure if Boo and I were ready. Of course the first phase is dressage. I was more than nervous, to say the least. Boo and I went out and did our best. He really seemed to understand more in the ring than he did at home. He often turns on the charm once at a show! Coach Wallace seemed pleased when we came out but I had no gauge as to how I had done. I was just happy I didn’t forget my test. I was walking with a friend when I heard my name on the speaker but was too far away to hear what they said. When I got back to the stall Coach Wallace told me I scored a 26. WOW, I guess all that hard work paid off. I was in first place. OH WOW, I was in first place!!! I really freaked out then!
Usually stadium and cross country are my stronger phases, but I guess the pressure got to me and Boo is a very reactive pony. If I am uptight, he is uptight. We dropped a rail in stadium and had time faults on cross country. So I dropped to third. The placement really didn’t disappoint me and I knew that Boo and I had accomplished something great at that show.
The one thing about owning a pony and is that we grow and the pony doesn’t. With my increasing height came the concern by my parents that I would be needing a “small horse” soon. My mom, one of my biggest fans right along side my Dad, was on the search for my next mount. To say she was on a mission was an understatement. After Poplar, Coach Wallace pointed out to my parents that Boo was going to be a good teacher and we had until the end of the 2013 Spring competition year before my time would be up on him.
My mom found many prospects and began consulting with Coach Wallace who kept on saying, “no that is not the right one” and mom would keep her search up and we even traveled to Virginia to look at a prospect. Coach Wallace then told my parents to be patient and something would come our way which would be the perfect match.
In December I was one lucky girl when Jon Holling agreed to let me “adopt” his former advanced horse, Jos Baco. The Holling’s are good friends with Coach Rick and after some discussions with Jenn Holling, they offered Jos Baco to us to try out. My first ride on him was magical and he was loaded up and shipped to Cherry Hill Farm to begin his new adopted life with me.
Baco is amazing! Plans for the 2013 began to be made and Coach Rick decided our first horse show should be at the Pensacola Hunter Jumper Show in early January 2013. What a blast I had showing Baco in the 3’3 jumpers and the 3’ equitation. To say I was nervous is an understatement!! We then entered Rocking Horse later in January and were fortunate enough to have our first win together. We won at Junior Beginner Novice.
With this win, Coach Rick and I were able to convince my parents to let me move up to Novice. We have now completed two Junior Novice horse trials and have placed fourth at both shows ending on my dressage score!! We are just back from Rocking Horse Winter II where I competed with my TWS teammates, Briggs Surratt and Taylor Dileo. It is a lot of fun having these two around and we all help each other and even learn things from each other.
I finished my second Novice in 4th and had I not walked early in my dressage test resulting in a minus 2, I would have finished 2nd. What I have learned is that this sport takes a lot of hard work and concentration. Coach Wallace is also teaching me how important the care of Baco and Boo is in order for them to be their best.
I know that I am a very fortunate girl to have such wonderful horses and people in my life. It is a little tough at school sometimes. None of my school friends ride. I am often asked when I come back to school after a competition, “did you win your race?” I have had such a blessed start to my riding career. Luckily we live in area where we are within driving distance to some exceptional clinics. I try and take advantage of as many as possible and I have ridden with Jimmy Wofford already!!!!! I would love one day to compete in the Olympics and so my in order to get there, I hope to be a part of the National Young Riders Competitions in the years to come. I only hope that my dedication, hard work and the wonderful people that I train with along the way will allow me to make it to the BIG O. If I do make it, it will be one wonderful ride….If I don’t make it there….it will still be one wonderful ride! I would love for you all to follow my journey. I hope to hear from anyone interested. Thanks to all…from Parker Miller!