Junior saddles up on road to success

December 18, 2009 — by Grishma Athavale

Junior Ashely Pollack excels in competitive horseback riding: She has won five world championships and two world grand championships in the past 10 years. World championships pit horses from all over the world show against each other in different divisions, while a world grand championship matches the best of world champions in smaller classes with divisions combined.

To prepare for such competitions, Pollack devotes her weekends to practicing on her ranch in Morgan Hill. She shows horses, which is riding a horse in a class around a ring against other people in a certain division.

She annually attends The Celebration, a Tennessee Walking Horse competition, which takes place in the town of Shelbyvile. She said The Celebration is equivalent to the Olympics for the Tennessee Walking Horse industry. It is the most important competition in the walking horse world. Every trainer, owner, exhibitor and fan works year round for the 10-day event.

“The celebration is what I look forward to most all year,” said Pollack. “I get to go to Tennessee, stay in our house there, and ride and show all my best horses, and see all my friends from around the country.”

Although she said she has “won way too many awards too count,” Pollack points to victories at The Celebration as her proudest achievements. She has captured wins there in 2004, 2006, 2007 and 2009.

Pollack has been growing up with horses since age 3, and her family has owned and shown horses for decades. She loves the feeling she gets after coming from her horseback riding practice.

“When I ride horses on trail rides I feel free, like there’s nothing else going,” said Pollack. “But when I show horses I usually feel a rush and get anxious and aggressive during a competition.”

Pollack has no plans so far pursuing her competitive horseback riding in college.

“After college, I will most likely still be riding horses at least every once in a while,” said Pollack. “It will depend on where my life takes me at that point in time.”

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