Mia and her horse Remy.
This article was previously published and is being featured as one of many of our top stories for 2023.
By Agrippina Fadel
A heart horse is what riders call a “once-in-a-lifetime equine” that becomes their soul mate and changes their life.
Not every rider is lucky enough to find their heart horse early in their career or at all, yet Mia, a 7th grader at Lyons Creek Middle School in Coconut Creek, met her heart horse Remy when she was just ten.
Now Mia and Remy, her 14-year-old horse from Argentina, are climbing the ranks in jumping competitions and hope to one day compete in the Olympics.
They recently qualified for the 2023 Markel/USHJA Zone Jumper Team Championship, set to run in Mill Springs, North Carolina, on July 18 – 23, where Mia, 11, will be one of the youngest riders in her division. If they do well, Mia and Remy will compete against the country’s top riders at the National Championship in Las Vegas in November.
Mia’s parents, Catina and Rich Farah are North Creek residents; she is a travel agent, and he works for Salesforce. Catina, who grew up on Cape Cod, Massachusetts, started riding horses as a child, first exploring the trails around picturesque Brewster and eventually taking classes and competing.
She is pleased that Mia is following in her footsteps. “It is amazing how far she’s come in such a short time, and it warms my heart that this is what she decided to do and is good at it and loves it as much as I do,” Catina said.
Mia’s love for horseback riding started when she first got on the horse at three. “There was definitely a moment when we realized she would go far in this sport. She was seven and just getting acquainted with her horse. She was out riding one day, and her trainer at the time, Loraine Royal from Acts 2 Acres, turned to me and said, “Do you see what I see?”
Catina said that in that instance, they saw Mia’s true talent and potential. Remy, who the family bought last year, made a big difference in her progress, and Mia started riding daily. “He loves her and takes really good care of her,” she said.
Mia is now training with January Magee, owner of Ascent Equestrian at Spitfire Farm in Coconut Creek.
Getting qualified for the zone competition is a huge accomplishment, especially at a young age. Mia is one of 64 kids who made it to the zones for accumulating points jumping the meter height.
“She has great trainers and a support system, but she did the work. She is at the barn, training five days a week, taking care of the horse, taking lessons, and doing what she needs to do,” Catina said.
When Mia is not riding, she is grooming Remy, taking him out to graze, preventing injuries, and caring for them when they happen.
“That’s something I’ve been able to share with her and use my knowledge and show her how to care for her horse,” Catina added. On quiet days Mia sits in the chair in front of Remy’s stall and reads.
Catina said Mia hopes to keep growing and start jumping higher, eventually becoming a Grand Prix rider, the highest level of showjumping. Yet, her parents are worried if they will be able to support her dreams.
“Horseback riding and competing is one of the most expensive sports for kids, and we never realized how much it really took to make these levels and help a child grow in this sport until Mia started to do really well: it takes $100K horses and traveling around the country,” said Catina. “We are a middle-class family, but it is unattainable unless you are a millionaire or a child of a celebrity.”
She said the sport is only accessible to the wealthy; even talented kids like Mia can’t make it up the ranks without being rich.
Mia’s parents hope a horseback riding-related company will discover her and decide to sponsor her career. Catina reached out to a few brands, including Tommy Hilfiger. Rich is managing Mia’s social media channels, hoping to get her in front of the brands interested in collaborating with a young rider.
“This is a tough sport because it is not based on ability and talent only. There are also no scholarships or grants for the kids, like in other sports. I would love to find a company that sees how amazing Mia is,” Catina said.
- Agrippina Fadel grew up in Siberia and received her master's in journalism from Tyumen State University. Agrippina is also a writer and editor at Draftsy.net. She has been a US resident for over ten years and speaks English and Russian.
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