For many little girls, every birthday is filled with the same question: “Can I have a pony?” This question is usually answered with a resounding “no,” or a laugh. And with age, these girls, who longed to ride horses everyday, realize that their dreams lie elsewhere, and leave the passion behind. This is not the case for senior Marissa Mahajan, who recently took this dream to the next level, winning Del Mar Circuit Champion in horse riding, and she sees no end in sight.
“I won first in all my classes under both judges at the competition, so then I was unanimously the winner of circuit champion,” Mahajan said.
While there are many types of horse riding, Mahajan has her specialty: ranch riding.
“Although I work for a professional reining trainer [a type of riding], I do not ride reining,” Mahajan said. “I do ranch riding, which is actually really new compared to other types of riding.”
There are many specifics needed to know in order to accomplish ranch riding, and Mahajan has been working hard in order to be prepared for the competition.
“Ranch riding is pattern riding,” Mahajan said. “So you get a pattern the day before the show that tells you which pattern you will be riding for the competition, and then you must accomplish the pattern during the show.”
Although it may not be the most well known of horse riding types, Mahajan is passionate about teaching others the rules of ranch riding, and continuing to learn the craft.
“The point of ranch riding is to exhibit the working ability of ranch horses in a show setting,” Mahajan said. “That’s why I really like it, because a lot of horse showings are about how pretty you look, or even political, but ranch riding is about how natural your horse can move, and I love that.”
This most recent win was a surprise for Mahajan, whose first show was only last February.
“It’s a big deal for me, because even though I’ve been riding for eight years, I have never shown at this level before,” Mahajan said.
Showing has been a step that Mahajan has been excited to reach for sometime, but her passion remains working with horses.
“I’d like to continue showing, and I’d love to work with animals in the future,” Mahajan said. “I work for a trainer right now, and it is great because I get to ride one of her horses in shows, Nic.”
Nic, the horse the Mahajan won the award on, has been given a new life by Mahajan choosing to ride him.
“Nic is pretty old,” Mahajan said. “It is actually great that I get to ride him because a couple years ago, he was almost put down. But the trainer I work for bought him back and rehabilitated him, and now I get to ride him in shows, which I think it’s really cool because it is like his second life.”
This win for Mahajan is a big step in her horse riding career, and has given her the confidence to move forward and try new things, which will one day include riding her own horse in future shows, Anya.
“I got Anya in October of 2014, and she had no training at all,” Mahajan said. “I’ve trained her from the ground up, so I’d still like to work on some stuff before I show with her.”
Mahajan’s future goals with Anya are similar to what she is doing now – continuing her passion of working with horses and further growing her show repertoire.
“I plan on doing with Anya what I’m doing with Nic now,” Mahajan said. “Nic is giving me the confidence to be prepared for when I am ready to show with Anya. I’d love to continue showing, and I’d love to work with animals in the future, beyond showing.”
This win has opened up a world of opportunities for the young rider, and she cannot wait to gallop into her future.