Here’s your chance to meet Tally Hart, one of the main characters in Show Strides. In this “interview,” The Plaid Horse Magazine catches up with the character to find out more about her. This book contains no major spoilers for Show Strides Book One: School Horses and Show Ponies, but will give you an idea of what it’s all about. Enjoy!

The Plaid Horse: Hi Tally! Thanks for chatting with us today. We heard you’re gearing up for your first A show and wanted to take the time to get to know you. When did you know you loved horses and wanted to learn how to ride?

Tally Hart: Hi! Thanks for having me. I always loved horses as a little kid and had a big collection of horse stuffed animals and figurines. Most of them are still in my room, to be honest! I probably started asking for lessons when I was five, and I actually started riding when I was seven.

TPH: Were you scared the first time you took a riding lesson?

TH: No, I was so excited. The rubber boots my dad bought me didn’t fit right so that was the only thing I remember not liking. Everything else was awesome. I loved learning how to groom, and how to make the pony walk and turn and halt.

TPH: It’s wonderful that your riding school teaches horse care like grooming! It helps us get to know the horses better. What is your favorite thing about riding at Quince Oaks?

TH: I don’t think I can pick just one thing! I love the people, I love the school horses and ponies. It really feels like a family and I’m friends with kids and adults of all ages. Going upstairs to the office to see who I’m riding for each lesson is always a little exciting. And I love the schooling show series we have at Oaks. It’s been great to horse show right at home (and no more rubber boots!)

TPH: Hooray to no more rubber boots! I think a lot of us can relate to that. One of my mentors says “we all put our first pair of rubber boots on one leg at a time.” Is there a horse you’re most excited to get to ride in the schooling shows?

TH: I love that quote. It was very nice to graduate to leather boots! Yes, my favorite horse at the barn is Sweetie and her show name is Sweet Talker. She’s a chestnut mare, a TB cross. She’s little but she loves to jump and I think we get along well together. I ride her in most of my lessons and she is so much fun to show. We’ve been doing a low hunter division and we are adding the Oaks equitation medal, too. I’m sooo excited about that.

TPH: That sounds like so much fun! Are you taking Sweetie to your A show?

TH: No, I started catch riding a pony for the new trainer at Oaks, Ryan McNeil. The pony’s name is Danny and his show name is Dance Party. He’s a sales pony and my first catch ride. I feel really lucky to get to ride both Sweetie and Danny. They are super different from each other.

TPH: How exciting to have your first catch ride! Are you nervous?

TH: Yes! My parents made the A show an early Christmas present. My really good friend from the barn, Mac, took me to one of her shows and so I got to see what the A-circuit is like a little bit. All the horses and ponies were so beautiful. Even the jumps were gorgeous! It was really fun to see it when I went with Mac and her pony and now to get to ride in one myself almost doesn’t feel real.

TPH: What is it like to have a friend on the A circuit?

TH: I’ve learned a lot from Mac and I love getting to tag along to watch her show and hear about what it’s like. But what really surprised me is that even though she has this gorgeous A-circuit pony she has to work just as hard as me with riding. Maybe harder! I guess I sort of assumed that those fancy ponies were easier than school horses but they’re not. They’re just harder in different ways. Mac is still pretty new to Oaks and it’s been so much fun having a friend my age and her pony Joey is super sweet.

TPH: I’m sure she loves having you there as a friend too. It’s good to have friends who can motivate and encourage each other.

TH: It’s the best!

TPH: Well all of us at The Plaid Horse are rooting for you! We’ll catch up with you again after the show to hear how it all went.

TH: Thank you!

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