BY BRIAN DAVIS
Franklin-Simpson High School senior Ally Jones became the first student athlete to sign a letter of intent this school year. Last Tuesday morning, Jones signed her letter of intent to the University of Georgia as part of the Equestrian Team.
"I've been showing horses since I was seven to eight years old," Ally Jones said. "My mom got me into it and fell in love with the sport of equestrian."
Equestrian is a year round sport where individuals show horse both recreational and competitive riders, handlers, and drivers. Equestrian includes all disciplines or activities participated in whilst mounted on the horse, as well as unmounted disciplines or activities. It is the partnership of horse and human and, in some disciplines, horse to horse.
Ally has shown horses all over the United States. Last year, she won a world championship on her own horse named Jose and placed third in the world on her mom's horse named Tornado.
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"Judges look for the way an individual shows and control their horse. Other sports judges on how you perform with your horse," Jones said. "My part is how you get the horse to do what you ask for them to do without having to demand it. Everything has to be gentle and light and the horse goes with the cues that you give it and doesn't fight against you."
Ally got the call from the Bulldogs' head coach Sara Parr to come and ride for their equestrian team. She didn't even have to think about the offer and she immediately jumped on the offer to become part of their equestrian team.
Ally toured the school and their facilities and met Parr along with the English and Western coaches and the Athletic Director. The English coach deals with jumping the horses in the shows while the Western coach deals with the horsemanship and the reigning part of the horses. According to Jones, there are 50 horses with 60 girls on the team with most of them working with the English coach but Jones will be working with the Western coach.
"The facility is beautiful," Jones said. "They have a huge barn with a bunch of pasture and just got a new clubhouse that is absolutely stunning. It is quite amazing and blown away. It's pretty there."
"She has a great opportunity to go to college and equestrian is hard. She is not only doing what other female student athletes are doing
but she has to control horses that have minds of their own," Jones' personal riding coach Shannon Fabacz said. "The opportunity to go to any Division One school that has a program that is really deep in tradition is huge. Ally will be a great asset to their team and her ability to show horses that are a little bit tougher will help her a ton. She is a great team player and gets along with her peers. I am very proud of her."
Jones is looking to head to Athens in the middle of July and her family is beyond excited about her going to Athens.
"My parents are super stoked about this," Jones said. "My mom was sitting beside me when Coach Parr called me and was in awe, excited and cried a little bit. Typical mom thing and my dad was super proud and is very excited for me."
Jones plans to double major in computer science and genetics.