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Youth reiner scores in NRHA competition

Canada09 005While at the recent Canadian National Appaloosa Show in Brandon, Manitoba, I had the good fortune to meet Melia Blakely. She’s a 17-year-old AYA member from Coldwater, Ontario, and she’s a delightful ambassador for our breed. More accurately, she and her colorful mare Neon Cola Sign are a public relations team for Appaloosas.

The six-year-old leopard mare is sired by High Sign Nugget and out of Candy Cola, a daughter of Me Gold Two. Melia and Cola have not only been a fixture at Appaloosa shows, they have been highly competitive among the National Reining Horse Association ranks. In fact, the real reason for this writing is to brag about the fact that they finished the 2008 season ranked fifth overall in the 14-18 division of NRHA. That’s a huge accomplishment made so much better for all of us because Cola is such a colorful, pretty horse.

“I started riding horses at age seven and decided to try reining by the time I was 13,” Melia says. “One of the trainers in the barn where I rode was into reining and it looked like fun.” After gaining some experience and connecting with ApHC trainer and judge Harvey Stevens, the search was on for a “good” reining horse. The one they found “just happened to be an Appaloosa.”

“I love Cola,” a smiling Melia explains. “She’s gorgeous and so sweet, plus she’s laid back – like me. Harvey decided she was the horse for me, so we purchased Cola from Wilburn Archer.”

Another highlight of the Melia-Cola resume is qualifying for the provincial young rider team chosen to participate in the FEI North American Junior and Young Rider Championships in Kentucky. Melia says it was awesome to qualify, but she opted for the ApHCC show to try for a Canadian championship. Turns out she did that. At the Canadian National Show she and Cola won the youth reining.

Where to from here? Melia says one of her goals is to make the Top Ten at the Quarter Horse Congress show. She’ll also be focusing on her 12th grade year in school and making plans for college.

In the meantime, we tip our hat to a young lady with personality-plus who happens to be providing invaluable promotion for the Appaloosa breed with her colorful partner, Cola. Nice to meet you both.

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