Happy to Take Up the Reins
The Hoofbeats page represents the heart and soul of Sandhills equestrian news. I remember first seeing the page in 2003, at age 9. It was the earliest memory I have of actually wanting to read the newspaper.
Sue Smithson was The Pilot’s equestrian correspondent at the time, a position she held for almost 20 years. She wrote up wonderful reports of shows and events, from horse trials to wine tastings to the annual historic Stoneybrook Steeplechase. Seeing my name scrawled in the eighth paragraph of a 2004 schooling show results article, which I still have in hard copy, was one of the most exciting moments of my childhood — for that, Sue, I thank you.
Sue and Patricia Smith, who took over after Sue retired, also did countless profiles of professional and amateur horse people in the area. Sue’s columns in particular — such as those detailing the dramatic adventures she often enjoyed with her horse, Broadway — seldom failed to get a laugh from me.
There have been several letters written to The Pilot recently from members of the horse community who are upset with the lack of coverage the local equestrian scene has been getting over the past few months. But I’m declaring the Hoofbeats hiatus officially over.
I’m no stranger to the area horse scene. At age 8, after finishing my third year of ballet class at Terpsichore dance studio, my mom gave me a choice: continue ballet or start riding lessons. I chose the latter. Best decision I ever made.
In late 2006, I became a working student at Foxtrack Training Center under the tutelage of local professional Mel Wyatt. I spent nearly every day at the barn for the next five years — not only riding, but also cleaning tack, teaching beginners, feeding, mucking and all the other glorious grunt work one enjoys in the equestrian business. Don’t get me wrong; I loved every minute of it.
I competed in multiple horse trials and hunter shows, hunted with the Moore County Hounds for four seasons, became an avid volunteer at the Carolina Horse Park, and also got involved in the carriage driving community, riding on the carriage in several combined driving events as a groom for my friend and fellow local horsewoman Brianna Ek.
I’m currently studying journalism at UNC-Chapel Hill and writing for The Daily Tar Heel while at school.
Starting with this week’s spread on the Carriage Classic in the Pines, I’d like to start covering people, places, competitions, events and any other horse-related happenings you all can shoot my way. Brianna will be helping out with photography. Together, we’re embarking on a quest to put Hoofbeats back on the map.
Although I’ll be heading back to UNC in mid-August to start my sophomore year of college, I want to do as much as I can this summer to get Hoofbeats running full speed ahead. Then I’ll pass the reins off to a worthy successor.
You can contact me anytime at (910) 638-5994 or via email at sbrown@the pilot.com. Or just stop by The Pilot office; anyone who’d like to talk, I’m all ears. Just look for the desk with the pony on it.
But for now, I’ll sign off. May the horse be with you.
Contact Sarah Brown at email@example.com.
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