No horsing around for young Parkite
July 18, 2007
Ten-year-old Hailey Falk of Park City has always been a determined kid. When she was a small child, she demanded her family call her "T" and often wouldn’t respond to her given name.
Last week, she took that same determination and earned her first world championship at the World Championship Paint Horse Show in Fort Worth, Texas, in the Ages 5-9 Walk/Trot Division.
Now carrying the moniker, "T-Bird," Falk took her horse, Caught ya Zippin Scotch, nicknamed "Rascal," and lasted through a week worth of competitions to win the title.
"I didn’t think I was going to win, but it felt great, Falk said.
The funny thing is, this was not the first time Falk found herself posing for pictures next to the world-championship trophy. Ten summers ago, as an infant, her mother, Kresta, held her up as she posed with her own championship crown at the same competition.
Falk is no stranger to the world of horses. She is the granddaughter of Mike and Peggy Marty, who run Silver Creek Ranch in Woodland, Utah. She has grown up around horses and horse competitions, and performing in horse shows is almost her birthright. Falk trains and shows horses in both Western and English saddle competitions.
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"It’s a family thing," said grandmother Peggy. "When Kresta was young, we did this. I did this. We all show now."
With at least eight competitions in Utah and the West, Falk travels year round with her family and Rascal entering events. Her favorite travel mate is her brother, Cody, who she says is her biggest fan. The Parleys Park Elementary School fifth-grader has missed a fair amount of school, and has a tutor to help her keep up with her studies and continue competing. Hailey says she likes the road. She has her own room in the family horse trailer that’s a bit of a glorified RV, complete with living quarters for all of the horses and the humans.
Falk and Rascal have been together for a year and a half and she spends countless hours working with the horse. Tips are made to Ogden twice and three times-a-week to work with her trainers, Marty and Chelsea Simper. Although Utah is typically not thought of as a "horse state" like Texas and Oklahoma, Kresta says that Utah is one of the most competitive places to show a horse.
A lot of people come to show here," she said.
The disciplines that Falk had to compete in to win at the World Show included, showmanship, hunt-seat equitation, western horsemanship and trail. According to Peggy, horsemanship requires horse and rider to execute a series of maneuvers in a specific pattern and order. It must be executed in a seemingly effortless manner between horse and rider in perfect unison. It took five judges what seemed like an eternity to place the young competitors, said Peggy. Finally when Hailey was the last kid left in the arena, she knew she had won the title.
"I thought I was third" said Hailey. "Then I knew I’d won! It felt really good."
Falk competed against 22 other kids to claim the win. Next year, she will move up to the 13-and-under division and compete against much more skilled youth. Peggy isn’t worried. She says Hailey’s competitive drive and focus have always he earned her respect, whether it was unofficially changing her name or taming a horse.
She has taught Rascal a few tricks. He can smile, bow and count with his hoof.
Falk isn’t finished now that she is a champion. The non-stop training continues and she is preparing for a horse show in her own backyard. Oakley will host the Utah Paint Horse Double State Points Show July 28-29 at the Oakley Recreation Complex.