Hanington completes final year at Big E

13 years ago

    Editor’s note: This piece was written by Briana Hanington as she completed her last trip to the Big E as a 4-H representative on the Maine State 4-H Equestrian Team.
    Eastern States Exposition (ESE) has been one of the greatest and most rewarding experiences of my life.  If you were to tell the people who know me now, that I was once a shy, wouldn’t talk to anyone, had no intentions of ever leaving my small town, type of girl, they would tell you that you were crazy and were talking about a totally different person. In a way they are right, I am a new person. I have learned to be outgoing and put myself out there to help others, to give that boost of confidence when it’s needed, and take advantage of all the opportunities that are offered to me.
    The people that I have met through ESE have helped shape me into the person that I am today. A few have become like second parents to me that I don’t know what I would do without, others have become the best friends that a girl can ask for. They taught me to believe in myself and to follow my dreams and to never look back, and to take chances in life. Sometimes you fail and your heart breaks, but that’s the strong foundation to success as I’ve been taught through showing at The Big E.
    As my last year there, I wanted to make the most of it, and go out with a bang. My horse Bailey and I couldn’t have been more prepared, and we did really well. We placed first in Fitting and Showmanship and first in Western Equitation, thus qualifying me for the Championship Equitation Class.
    Over the past six years, Bailey and I have developed a strong bond and I know when something isn’t right with him. After our warm up for the Championship Class, I knew he didn’t feel well. He just wasn’t himself. He tried his hardest, but his shoulder was really bothering him. I was devastated with it being our last year to compete. I thought we were done for the week after our first day of competition, but I thought back to all that we had accomplished and where we had risen from. His health was more important to me and if that meant pulling out of our remaining classes, I’d be OK with it. Yes, it would break my heart and tears would be shed, but you have to learn what’s important in life, a lesson taught to me by so many people at The Big E, not just from Maine, but from the other New England states as well.
    I got lucky though. With some very good massages and a lot of help from my teammates, he felt well enough to finish our classes. They weren’t our best performances but we finished seventh in Western Pleasure and fourth in Western Handiness.
    The most rewarding award that I received at ESE would be the prestigious Mac MacDonald Memorial Award. This award recognizes an outstanding New England 4H Horse Show delegate and is based on scores of Fitting and Showmanship, General Knowledge Test and Horse Judging. I had won this last year and when they announced that I was the first person to ever win this award twice, I was overwhelmed. This was one of the proudest moments in my six years of competing as a 4H delegate at The Big E.
    As a six-year veteran, it’s my responsibility to show the new team members the ropes and make sure that they take full advantage of all that The Big E has to offer. Paying it forward as it had been done for me. Many people are really reserved and nervous as it’s their first year but if just one person takes the time to talk to them, help them see that it’s just another show, and it’s just them and their horse in that ring, they start to relax and begin to enjoy themselves. It’s all about being part of a team, being there for one another and most important, to have fun!
    I just want to say thank you to our county and community for being so supportive.