At 17 years old, Maci Finley of Amarillo, TX came into 2020 with 7 years of 4-H under her belt, 5 years of horse shows, and two State wins.
This year, with her eye on the prize, Maci focused on one event exclusively. “I only did Over Fences this year,” she explains, “I chose to put all my effort and energy in being 100% ready for Hunter Over Fences so I could secure that title. I work in my outdoor arena at home, and also with my awesome trainer Britney Caflisch at River Falls Equestrian Center. Every day I was making sure every footfall was where it needed to be.”
Maci’s current horse, Little Bit or Voodoos l’il Leaguer, has been with her for the past four years. “I got this mare when I was 11.” Maci explains “I had previously come off a powerful and not very trustworthy horse, which was a real challenge. But as my mare and I have grown together, our bond has grown immensely. It feels like she knows what I’m thinking and we are a very close-knit team. Sometimes, I even have to stay out of her way and let her do her job. She’s taken me to the top levels and we’ve grown so close. I would do anything in the world for her.”
This love definitely goes into her nutrition program. Maci says “We feed Hi-Pro Performance Feed to both of our performance horses. My mare has won the state championship title with me for the past three years, so she also gets supplements to keep her healthy as well as Alfa-Pro Elite. That has made a huge difference. She loves it so much and it has helped her perform and maintain her energy.”
Maci’s training and feeding programs have proven successful, with State wins for two years straight going into last year. However, 2020 presented many special challenges, and this winning combination of hard work and momentum ground to a halting stop with events being cancelled all season. Maci, with a will and positivity impressive for her age, refused to back down…or lose her smile.
“It has been a little sad not to compete as much as I would like, but I keep training and keep smiling.” She says “No matter what, I kept training just as hard. I made sure I was on a horse every day, because there’s never a day I can’t learn something new. I didn’t let the lack of shows get in the way so that, when there were shows, I would arrive 100% prepared.”
This strategy proved to be as successful as it is inspiring, with Maci winning Open Fences at the State competition in 2020. This was her third State win, but she was unfazed by nerves. “I had a competitor ask me this year at State what it feels like knowing you have been the champion for the past two years and that pressure.” She explains “But, for me, I walk into every show ring as if I’ve never won anything. I practice hard and I walk into every show ring knowing that the tides can change any time and every show is brand new. No matter how many times I’ve won, I go out as if I’ve never won anything in my life. I’m out there to compete and do the best I can with my mare.”
This bright and hard-working young lady has a bright future ahead. She graduates in the spring, and plans to attend college for an Ag Business degree, and definitely wants to give back to the 4-H community that has given her so much. “4-H opened up a whole new world for me. I definitely want to pay that back and help the next young generation realize that there is so much to this, that it’s a welcoming place, and everyone will always greet you with a beautiful welcoming smile.”
Wherever Maci Finley ends up, she will take all she has learned with her, especially the lessons earned during the trials of 2020. “I had to learn a much deeper patience” she says “I am now very truly grateful for what I have. We always go through rough patches as riders, and this year has really taught me to be as patient as I can and as grateful as I can. Not everyone is as lucky as I am to be able to ride and compete. I’m so thankful every time I get to get on my horse and jump some fences. It’s definitely taught me a true form of gratitude.”
We wish Maci good luck in her future endeavors and can’t wait to see what she gets up to next.
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