Macy Beach is on top of the world when she's in the saddle.
With a picture-perfect position, she has ridden her 10-year-old Thoroughbred through a string of successes, culminating over the summer with the Junior Olympics. "I was so happy how we ended up," said Macy.
The duo was part of a group of riders from the Mid-Atlantic area who qualified for the Junior Olympics held in Montana. Individually, she placed 16 out of 25, but she couldn't be prouder of Chasing Moonlight's performance. "We went in as underdogs and he gave it his all, and he fit in with the other horses that have much more experience," she said.
Not bad for a horse fresh off the track four years ago.
Standing more than 17 hands tall, Chasing Moonlight – Chase for short – has an impressive pedigree with bloodlines tracing back to Secretariat. His racing career was just as impressive with $165,000 in earnings before an injury cut short his racing days.
In 2015, Macy was in the market for a new horse when she found him for sale on Facebook. The dark bay caught her eye, and she brought him home to her mother's Millsboro-area farm, Winswept Stables. There, she has taught him everything about the world of eventing. "He was tough to ride because he stuck his head in the air," she said. "And he had never jumped. I taught him the ropes for that."
Although only 17, Macy has the experience of a veteran horseman. She began riding as soon as she could sit up and has ridden more horses and ponies than she can count. Both her mother, Dawn Beach, and her brother, Chase Beach, are competitive riders who introduced her to eventing – also known as three-day events, in which horse and rider compete in three riding disciplines: dressage, cross country jumping and stadium jumping.
At age 5, Macy said, she remembers riding her pony while her mom led them over cross country jumps. Now long and lean, Macy has the experience to face fences more than 3-feet high at a full gallop, landing in water for some or climbing banks for others.
She said Chase is in his element on the cross-country course. "He loves to jump," she said. "Cross country is his calling."
The Harbeson farm has a selection of fences to train on, but the duo travels to Maryland to train on water and bank obstacles. For dressage, a discipline in which horse and rider perform a combination of movements in a ring, the two work with an instructor near Preston, Md.
The Junior Olympics behind them, Macy is all smiles as she talks about her next goal. "I want to go to some preliminary shows and then bump him up to intermediate," she said.
Intermediate is one level below advanced, which is the world-class, Olympic level of competition. Fences at the intermediate level are 3-feet-9-inches high with a higher degree of difficulty. "The fences are higher, wider and the course is faster," said Dawn Beach.
Macy, a rising senior at Cape Henlopen High School, said she's confident Chase is up to it.
But for now he has earned his rest. After a whirlwind summer, he's content eating hay in his comfy stall. Macy beams with pride as she checks in on him.
"He's a real champ," she said.