Fairbanks High School student Cadence Eger is pictured on “Ray Ray” during a Western equestrian show. (Photo submitted)
What began as a young child’s wish has turned into a college opportunity for Cadence Eger.
The Fairbanks High School junior recently accepted an equestrian scholarship to the University of Georgia.
Just when did she become involved with riding horses?
“I was four years old and I wanted to take riding lessons,” said Eger, 16. “I told that to my grandparents and they got me lessons for my birthday.
“I guess it’s every little girl’s dream to one day have a pony.”
Those lessons, which continue to this day, turned into not only ownership of several horses, but also numerous awards earned at shows around the country, including the annual Ohio Quarterhorse Congress that’s held each fall in Columbus.
Eger competes in Western riding through the Inner Scholastic Equestrian Association.
That’s essentially the equivalent of the Ohio High School Athletic Association for other sports.
She competes in the category of reining, which she explains.
“In reining, you spin and circle the horse, come to a sliding stop and then back up your horse,” said Eger. “Each competition lasts approximately five minutes.”
Eger competes in the non-pro category in the youth 14-18 age division.
The show season runs from February until the end of November.
She’s won top honors in states as far west as Oklahoma and as far south as Florida, along with the Quarterhorse Congress.
She’s also earned between $7,000-$,9000, which she turns around and invests in the purchase of other horses.
“Right now, we have five horses at our house,” Eger said. “However, the two horses I’ve recently been riding in shows – Melody and Ray Ray – stay with my trainer who lives in Danville.”
One of the first horses she rode in past competitions is named “20/20.”
“We named him that because he only has one eye,” said Eger. “He’s 30 years old now and continues to live at our place.”
Ray Ray is Eger’s current horse of choice.
However, you won’t hear him called that in the show ring.
That’s because he goes by the stage name of “Boom Shine Boom.”
Ray Ray’s father was named “Boom Sherric” and his mother was “Shining Little Peach.”
From those two names came Ray Ray’s show moniker.
Eger has ridden Ray Ray, who is eight, for the past couple of years.
“I can probably ride him in shows until he’s 15 or 16,” she said.
Another horse she rode during the Quarterhorse Congress has the unique name of “Elena’s Chocolate Chick.”
The University of Georgia was not the only school Eger looked at to further her education and riding careers.
“I had also looked at South Carolina, Baylor, Texas A&M and SMU,” she said. “Georgia felt like home to me.”
There was also a connection already waiting for her in Athens, Georgia.
“The University of Georgia coach is McKenzie Lance,” said Eger. “Her father, Matt, was one of my trainers in Michigan.
“McKenzie told me she wanted me on her team.”
There is scholarship money available for those involved with equestrian programs.
“You can get anything from a partial to full ride scholarship,” said Eger. “It depends on the school and the number of seniors who are leaving its program.
“It also takes in how talented of a rider you are and your grades.”
Eger admitted her reigning career has caused her to miss a number of school days. However, she’s catching up with her studies through the virtual method.
Eger said her grades are pretty good as she hopes to study either business or photography at the Southeastern Conference institution.
Eger said NCAA rules prohibited her from discussing the details of her scholarship.