Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

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March 15, 2014

A girl and her horse

Local horse show enthusiast demonstrates dedication in and outside the ring

TAZEWELL, Va. — A girl and her horse are an unbreakable bond. After three show seasons together the team continues to move up the ladder in the American Saddlebred Horse Association.

Morghan Alley, 13, the daughter of Chris and Melissa Alley, of Tazewell, Va., and her horse CH. A Starless Nite (aka Nitey) have won numerous titles over the past couple years.

Alley began riding when she was just 5 years old, and it has become a passion that she hopes to follow for the rest of her life.

“My mom took me to the animal shelter to adopt a cat and we ran into a lady who was a trainer and mentioned riding horses. Just a week later I had my first lesson on my first day of Kindergarten. The trainer made me ride a barrel with a saddle on it to practice my balance,” Alley said.

Alley rides at Andre Fourie Stables in Bluefield where she takes lessons at least once a week and sometimes more during the show season, which runs from the end of March through October.

Alley competes in shows all over Virginia and surrounding states. Alley and her horse, Nitey, won the 2013 American Saddlebred Horse Association of Virginia High Point Horse of the Year. During shows Alley competes, in she earns points depending on how she places in her class. At the end of the year Alley and Nitey had the most combined points, making them winner of the high point horse of the year.

“It’s all about the challenge,” Alley said. “Every time I ride I never know what to expect because every time I get on the horse it’s never the same thing. My horse could spook or anything and I just have to be prepared. I just love everything about riding and showing.”

In addition to riding and keeping up with her school work, Alley dances at Bluefield Dance Theatre, enjoys playing soccer and basketball, and has participated in the Girl Scouts. Alley volunteers at a food pantry in Tazewell, is part of the youth group at Tazewell Baptist Church and also helps out with horse camps during the summer at the barn.

According to Alley’s mother, she is extremely dedicated and trains hard.

“Morghan will give up other things just to ride; horse lessons and horse shows come first. When other kids are going to cheerleading and school dances, Morghan would rather be at the barn riding her horse or doing chores around the barn. Riding and competing has taught her so much responsibility and teamwork. Everyone helps everyone out and helps get horses ready for shows,” Melissa Alley said.

“We don’t plan horse shows around other activities, we plan our lives around horse shows and lessons,” her mother said.

Alley has owned her horse, Nitey, for about four years, but just after three show seasons the team has excelled to the top. Alley and Nitey have won the American Saddlebred Horse Association National Champion, three-gaited Jr. Exhibitor show pleasure two years in a row, and Region 9 and 11 Champion three-gaited Jr. Exhibitor show pleasure two years in a row along with many other American Saddlebred Horse Association Championship awards, including Saddle and Bridle “Best of Breed” show pleasure overall performance.

In 2013, Alley competed in 11 horse shows and brought home nine championships along with earning the title of High Point Horse of the Year for the American Saddlebred Horse Association of Virginia.

This is not very typical for someone Alley’s age to excel so quickly up the Championship ladder, her mother said.

She and her horse work as a team and have become extremely talented.

“Morghan just has a natural talent for it. She works hard and makes a lot of scarifies but she really enjoys it,” her mother said.

Alley’s younger siblings Brock Alley, 8, and Maddi Alley, 10, also both ride and have the high point horses for their age divisions.

An unknown author once said, “All horses deserve, at least once in their lives, to be loved by a little girl.” This is very true when watching Alley and horse Nitey interact with each other; Alley’s personality is brought out through her horse.

“I want to be a trainer when I get older. I just love everything about being at the barn and interacting with the horses,” Alley said.

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