Franklin sisters serious about horses

Published 9:24 am Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Katie Britt, left, poses with Polar Bear, while Michaela Britt poses with Lucky. The sisters are both working to achieve an "A" rating within the United States Pony Club. -- Dale Liesch | Tidewater News

FRANKLIN—Who wouldn’t want to ride horses with names like Polar Bear, Lucky, Merlin and Unicorn Cabot Cove?

For sisters and Franklin residents Michaela, 16, and Katie Britt, 13, it’s more than just fun; it’s a passion.

Their mother, Maura Britt, said it was a passion that began with pony rides at the fair at a young age. Michaela started lessons at around age 4 and Katie followed at 6.

“They’ve both been riding for a long time,” Maura Britt said. “They had weekly lessons. It’s like football, or soccer; if you don’t practice, you don’t get good.”

The two have been members of the U.S. Pony Club — Camp Henry Pony Club of Virginia Beach — since they moved here from Georgia in 2006. Both are serious when it comes to horses.

Michaela is working toward a C-2 Over Fences rating with the club, meaning she will have to complete a jump of 3 feet, 3 inches with her horse.

As members go through the club’s rating system, they gain knowledge of horsemanship, which includes proper health care of a horse and riding skills, Michaela said.

“I’m shooting for an ‘A’ rating,” she said. “An ‘A’ rating is equivalent to two years of vet school.”

Katie is working toward a C-2 Horse Management rating. As part of that rating, Katie has to properly lunge and exercise a horse and give safety checks to younger pony club members.

Katie said the transition of pony club rating from a D-3 to the C level signifies the transition from casual rider to serious rider.

“It’s a lot of work, but it’s worth it in the end,” Katie said. “It helps you get into college. It helps with scholarships.”

The sisters attend Appomattox Regional Governor’s School in Petersburg. Michaela is a dance major and Katie is a literary arts major.

The girls also help their mother at Ballyshannon Equestrian Center, which is next to their home on Camp Parkway. The center offers horseback riding and education to all ages and hosts scouting events, clinics, birthday parties and field trips.

The center has seven horses and 20 acres on which visitors can ride.