Horses have been a part of Julia Becker’s entire life, a tradition and passion the Amherst teenager said has been in her family for many years.
“They got me my first pony before I was born so I’ve been riding horses on the farm,” said Julia, 17, referring to her parents. “I was born into it and that’s where the love came from.”
Following in the footsteps of her mother, Jerilyn, she’s competed in horse competitions and breed shows. With her Arabian pony, BC Sadiki +++ /, also known as Junior, Julia will compete this month in the Sport Horse National Arabian and Half-Arabian Championship Horse Show in Wilmington, Ohio.
Jerilyn said the marks in the 13-year-old pony’s registered name represent achievements and points in competitions within the Arabian registry. The highest level of achievement, once reached, would bring another + and/mark, she said.
“His name, Sadiki, means ‘friend’ in Arabic, which is very fitting as they are absolutely best friends,” Jerilyn said. “Junior will do anything in the world for his person, and his person is 100% Julia.”
Julia regularly rides on her family farm off U.S. 60 West in Amherst and has had Junior since spring 2017. The duo has formed a tight bond and is known as Team J&J.
“When I got him, no one else could do anything with him,” Julia said. “He will do anything for me. I love that horse so much. He’s my baby. We just clicked the very first day.”
Julia said she’s been competing with Junior since 2018 and it takes much dedication and discipline to gain a horse’s trust.
“It definitely takes a ton of work,” Julia said. “I believe it’s one of the hardest sports.”
There’s no offseason as she works all year on getting better and taking part in regional shows and competitions.
“I’m definitely progressing each time. Everything is coming together well,” said Julia of perfecting aspects of the competitions. “You’ve got to keep pushing through and working at it and it all comes together.”
Julia is a senior at Abeka Academy, an online program, and is taking early college courses with Pensacola Christian College. She enjoys traveling to compete and said Junior likes it too.
“He’s probably one of the best travelers we’ve had,” Julia said. “He knows his job. He knows what he has to do and what’s expected out of him.”
Jerilyn said she’s Team J&J’s biggest cheerleader.
“I can’t express how proud I am of them,” she said. “Julia has persevered through many ups and downs; the journey has not always been easy. But instead of seeing setbacks, she took those opportunities to learn and grow along the way.”
Jerilyn said her daughter has grown into a very mature, hard-working, dedicated horsewoman and constantly is learning and educating herself about her pony’s health, welfare and safety.
“She understands that having an athlete like Junior requires knowledge far beyond the saddle, so she has researched everything related to his overall health including nutrition, proper fitting equipment, allergy testing, skin care, hoof care, general health and wellness and monitoring for any changes in his appearance,” Jerilyn said. “Julia truly embodies the meaning of a well-rounded, knowledgeable horsewoman.”
She said Julia is humble and inspires other young riders without realizing it.
“Being on their journey and witnessing their bond is truly an honor,” Jerilyn said. “As a horsewoman myself, I’m constantly learning from them. They inspire me daily. I think I would say if you love something and are passionate about it, never give up on your dreams. It takes hard work, dedication and patience, but it’s so rewarding and worth it.”
Julia said her love for horses will continue throughout her lifetime.
“I couldn’t imagine my life without horses,” she said. “Whether competing or not, I always want that.”