By Megan Haverlah, HPU senior
BROWNWOOD – July 24, 2012 – Howard Payne University offers many extracurricular activities such as athletics, cheerleading and student organizations, but Hope D’Alessio, a sophomore from Brownwood, doesn’t stop there. Hope has a passion for horses and is pursuing a horse show career at the national level.
“I started riding when I was seven,” she said. “I went to a friend’s birthday party and we got pony rides and I’ve been hooked ever since. I remember thinking, ‘I have to do this. This is my calling in life.’”
Hope’s first horse was given to her by her grandfather. She now has eight horses. Chester is the main show horse Hope uses and Parker is her barrel horse.
She competes in two major shows and approximately 10-12 smaller shows annually. Hope enjoys participating in horsemanship, trail and showmanship. Showmanship is a pattern performed while leading a horse and horsemanship is a pattern performed while riding. According to Hope, trail is almost like an obstacle course.
Hope began by competing in the equivalent to 4-H and then, with the help of trainers, advanced to the state level.
“That started going really well and the next thing you know we were traveling all over the states,” said Hope. “It just started expanding and then I went to another trainer who has been known to produce world champion horses.”
Hope excelled at the Quarter Horse Congress, where she won the Amateur Equitation and Youth Horsemanship awards.
Winning the World Show is Hope’s next goal. To be eligible to participate, the American Quarter Horse Association will keep track of points earned throughout the year at different shows. When a competitor reaches a certain amount of points, he or she qualifies and a letter of invitation is sent to attend and compete in the World Show among the other qualifying horse riders.
Hope has already qualified for the world competition this year, which will be held in November in Oklahoma City at the state fair grounds.
“The Amateur World Show is a little more nerve-racking because it includes not just the top three to five riders in the state like the Youth World Show does,” said Hope. “It includes everyone who qualifies, but I’m excited!”
In addition to all of the training she has to do, and the out-of-state competitions in which she competes, Hope is pursuing a degree in communication.
“HPU has been really good at working with me,” said Hope. “Dr. Julie Welker (professor of communication) loves horses. I’ve gone to her house and ridden with her. She is definitely understanding of the fact that it’s not easy to have an extracurricular activity that the school doesn’t provide. You have to make your own schedule because you don’t have a team that helps out.”
Photo cutline: HPU sophomore Hope D’Alessio won the Amateur Equitation and Youth Horsemanship awards at the Quarter Horse Congress.