Hanna Powers strides through the barn in riding britches and polished boots. She pats Arielle, one of the school horses at the Madeira School in McLean, where Hanna is a sophomore. With her soft muzzle, Arielle nudges the 15-year-old girl — hoping for a piece of carrot or a peppermint. In turn, Hanna pats the chestnut mare and promises her a treat.
“When I was little, every day I would beg my parents to let me ride a horse,” Hanna says. “When I was 6 years old, they . . . let me go to a riding camp. That was the happiest moment of my life. I loved it. Then I couldn’t stop.”
Hanna competes on her school’s equestrian team. She also competes at local horse shows on her pony, Raven, whom she got when she was 12.
“He was a huge challenge,” Hanna says. “He has taught me a lot about patience, like when you fall off at a horse show and have to . . . put a smile on your face, pat your pony and move on.”
This year, the young rider is the youth ambassador of the 2012 Washington International Horse Show, which continues through Sunday at Verizon Center.
As youth ambassador, Hanna leads the horse show’s junior committee (made up of 16 students from Maryland, Virginia and Washington) and works to make sure that kids in the community can experience the fun and beauty of a horse show.
“My main goal is to help provide the horse show staff with the younger perspective on everything,” Hanna says.
This week Hanna will keep busy presenting ribbons to winners in the show ring and hosting special events, including one to give daughters of military personnel a special tour of the show.
She’ll also help with one of her favorite parts of the show: Kids’ Day, a free rain or shine event on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. It includes pony rides, a pony-grooming station, horseshoe crafts, face-painting and plenty of cupcakes for kids 12 and younger. Kids also will get to try a course of jumps (including a wall that gets higher with every round) in a “horse-less horse show.”
For Hanna, being the horse show’s youth ambassador has been “a dream opportunity.” She feels the same way about having her own pony. “I’m so grateful to have Raven,” Hanna says. “After a hard day of school, it’s such a great feeling to go ride my pony.”