Impressive duo have buckles to show

Published 10:03 am Friday, December 10, 2004

By By SPIROS GALLOS / Niles Daily Star
NILES - Brandywine Middle-High School senior Emily Harrison has a pretty impressive collection of belt buckles on display in the living room of her family's Niles home.
But the belt buckles aren't souvenirs from trips she's taken or gifts, Harrison has worked for every belt buckle she has on display.
The belt buckles are trophies from numerous horse shows Harrison has shown at and placed at.
Harrison has shown horses in the paint horse circuit for six years since she bought her first paint horse, Sly, in 1998.
Paint horses, Harrison explained, are stock horses which have a certain amount of white hair on their bodies.
Harrison bought Sly, or "Ready to Rock" as he was known at the horse shows, when he was two years old and began showing him at the age of three.
Harrison and Sly were ranked 15th in the nation by the American Paint Horse Association at the end of the 2000 season.
But parting is such sweet sorrow and when Harrison had decided she couldn't train Sly any more than she already had, she sold him at the age of six.
Harrison's love of horses blossomed at an early age. While living in England with her parents, Judith and Chris, Harrison had her first experience with a pony when she was one and a half years old.
Her family moved to Granger, Ind., when Harrison was about five and Harrison began showing horses at 4-H events in St. Joseph County when she was eight years old, showing her trainer's horse.
Harrison got her first horse, Hunter, the next year. Of course, Harrison has never thought small when it comes to her animals, she said.
Harrison showed at numerous 4-H events and placed at the state 4-H tournament as well.
Harrison began attending Brandywine Middle-High School when her family moved to Niles shortly before her freshman year.
After she sold Sly, Harrison bought her second paint horse, Jake. Unfortunately, Jake became ill with an eye infection and it was believed he had a parasite in his spine. Harrison sold Jake just one year after she had bought him.
In 2003, Harrison bought her current horse, Albert, who she has had much success with.
Harrison and Albert placed fifth in jumping in their division at the American Paint Horse World Championship Show held in Fort Worth, Texas, in June 2004. With the honor, Harrison received on her belt buckles.
More recently, in October, Harrison and Albert made the trip down to Wichita, Kan. for the World Wide Paint Horse Congress, the second most prestigious competition for paint horses behind the American Paint Horse World Championship Show.
At the congress, Harrison was named champion in the working hunter jumping class in the 18-and-under and open age divisions, and reserve champion in hunter-hack class of the 18-and-under and open age divisions.
Harrison and Albert also won the overall jumping category in the 18-and-under and open age divisions. She won another two belt buckles for her awards in the overall jumping categories.
Winning the overall jumping category was special for Harrison because she started training with Albert in jumping very late in the year, she said.
Her father and specialist trainer, M.J. Fowler of Lebanon, Ind. accompanied Harrison to Wichita, which Harrison said made the show even more special.
In her travels, Harrison and her family have travelled all over the United States. They're even trying to collect mementos from every state they've visited.
Harrison is captain of the equestrian team at Brandywine Middle-High School, where she went to the state competition her freshman and sophomore years.
Her junior and senior years, Harrison said the team focused on having fun, more than competing.
After graduation, Harrison said she is most likely planning to attend Michigan Tech University in Houghton to study engineering.
Harrison wants to follow in the footsteps of here father, who is a mechanical engineer and Harrison enjoys watching him work.
At school, Harrison works with her mother, who is an eighth grade teacher at the middle school. Harrison cadet teachers for her mother's math class.
Harrison is also tied in a friendly competition for the school valedictorian race with two of her friends, Kristin Bivens and Jordan Bruni. All three currently hold 4.0 grade point averages.
In addition to all that she already does, Harrison also competes on the school choir team and takes part in the school musicals.
Last month, she played the female lead "Lola" in the school's production of "Damn Yankees.
As for returning to her birth country of England, Harrison said she doesn't see herself ever moving back there, but she does try to travel there at least once every a year to visit relatives.
She already has plans to take a trip to England this year for spring break. But in the mean time, her grandmother is visiting Harrison and her family for the holidays.