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Grit and Determination Get Two Girls to the USHJA National Championships

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By Allyssa Baird

 

The 2023 USHJA National Championships were held in Las Vegas, Nevada, from November 13 to 19. The show is a USEF-sanctioned horse show open to all breeds. This year, Genesis Equestrian, owned and operated by Elizabeth Lacroix, made the trip South to compete with two Arabians. 

 

Elizabeth has always been a hunter/jumper rider, competing on the open USEF level when she was very young. At 11, she became acquainted with the neighbor’s Arabian horses and fell in love. She showed them throughout her teenage years until she turned 18 and set aside riding to join the United States Marine Corps for four years. She found her way back to all-breed jumpers and eventually back to the Arabian with the ever-growing sport horse divisions. 

 

Both horses Elizabeth brought to the National Championships were for youth riders.  The first was Signified (Signal Bey++++// x Jockey Club registered mare, Paint The Dancer), a tall, dark, 5-year-old mare donning just a star on her forehead. 11-Year-Old Emma Smith sits atop her strong mount, nicknamed Karma, as they fly over the jumps with ease in Las Vegas.

Emma and Signified

Emma’s mom reached out to Elizabeth to enroll Emma in the Genesis Equestrian camp. She instantly fell in love with horses and riding. A year and a half later, she even decided to homeschool to be at the barn full time, continuing her education, her ability with horses, and her jumping career. When she started to outgrow her 21-year-old Arabian gelding, they gave Elizabeth the task of finding a new mount. Emma recalls, “There were two characteristics we knew we didn’t want: A mare and a young horse. Karma was both, but Elizabeth urged us to purchase her. This was the best decision of my life; we just didn’t know it at the time.”


“Karma was known at her Breeder’s, Laura Wood in Brooksville, Florida, for jumping out of any enclosure she lived in. She was always finding her way into mischief and certainly needed a job,” Elizabeth laughs. “The day she arrived in Nevada, she took a five-hour nap in her shavings immediately. Then, she got up and promptly jumped her pen’s 5-foot fence to take a stroll. She has become one of the most trainable horses I have sat on, and her kind spirit makes her a barn favorite.”

The second exhibitor Elizabeth brought to the show was her 17-year-old daughter, Cadence, and 8-year-old 14 hand Straight Egyptian Arabian mare, Pearl of Lebinon (Lebinon Al Shaqab x Simeon Shai+ daughter, My Shai Princess+++/). “We got Pearl from Janice Dawson as an unbroke four-year-old. Cadence was 14 at the time and decided to make the untouched diva mare her project,” Elizabeth says. “She is just as stubborn and strong-willed as Pearl, and once that mare chose her, it was all over. When we say these are war horses at heart, this team defines that bond. Pearl wants nothing to do with anyone who is not her girl. She asks, and Pearl delivers because they are a team.” 

 

Cadence adds, “Showing at the national champions was meaningful for me as I did all of the training and riding on Pearl. We have an amazing partnership and bond, and I am grateful for the opportunity to bring her.”

Cadence and Pearl

Time and time again, kids and Arabian horses prove to have special partnerships that also teach lifelong lessons. In just a year, Emma and Karma have created an incredible bond. “My favorite thing about horses is when I’m having a bad day, I hang out with Karma, and she makes me feel better about everything,” Emma says. “Taking her to the national championships was a goal that I have had for a couple of years, but I haven’t had the right mount until now. It is a competitive show, and I learned how to be a good sport when things don’t go right for me and never to give up.”

 

“I’m always proud of my students, especially when they make it to the top tiers of competition,” Elizabeth states. “Both girls spent countless hands-on hours working with unbroke horses, developing them into competitive show horses and their best friends. Emma had just cantered Karma for the first time in February and has now competed in the largest championship in the country.

Cadence and 8-year-old Pearl of Lebinon (Lebinon Al Shaqab x My Shai Princess+++/).
Emma and 5-year-old Signified (Signal Bey++++// x Paint The Dancer).

“Cadence’s work with Pearl has been very valuable in her teenage years. The time and dedication spent teaching her horse how to do everything from clipping to bathing, then lunging to saddling, has been incredible. She has only asked me for advice a few times as she has learned from watching over many years.”

 

Dedication to the sport and her horse hasn’t gone unnoticed. “Cadence worked very hard to qualify for the national championships, and even fundraised to get herself there. They came out with two third-place finishes in large classes,” Elizabeth proudly says. “Even more than that, she came out with the pride in knowing she did the work herself, and the partnership she built with her pony is unshakable. Thank you, Janice, for the gift of this incredible mare. She is my daughter’s best friend and for that, I owe you everything.”

 

Both girls have competed successfully at the local open shows and Region 3 Arabian Horse Championships. They hope to attend Sport Horse Nationals with their horses if the show comes back to the West Coast. Until then, they will compete at all breed competitions and the Region 3 Championships. Additionally, Karma will be bred to Elizabeth’s KWPN stallion in hopes of a foal who can take Emma even higher in the future.

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