Hinsdale girl consistently powers forward
Thea Merlo as been riding Saddlebred for over four years and for the first time will be riding in the 107-year-old World Championship Horse Show in Kentucky this August.
Name: Thea Merlo
Favorite food: Sushi
Movie: “The Horse Whisperer?
Song: “Call me maybe.”
Holiday: My birthday!
Updated: August 20, 2012 6:22AM
HINSDALE — Thea Merlo is a 9-year old girl from Hinsdale with a big passion for riding horses.
Thea has been riding Saddlebred for over four years and for the first time will be riding in the 107-year-old World Championship Horse Show in Kentucky this August.
“We have gone to watch the competition before,” said Lesa Merlo, Thea’s mother. “It truly is extraordinary, horses from all around the world come. One fantastic horse after another.”
Merlo said Thea has always had an overwhelming fascination with horses.
“Since Thea could talk she has been talking about horses. I knew one day we would have to get her riding. I ride horses and my mother did as well. My major concern was safety so I did a lot of research before deciding on Northern Tradition Farm in Minooka,” Merlo said.
Tom Thorpe and Robert Griffin, owners of Northern Tradition Farm have trained Thea. Thea rides once or twice a week and also works at the barn cleaning and learning the logistics of barn upkeep.
“Northern Tradition is second family to us,” Merlo said. “It is a great environment for a little girl, they’re are great role models there. I trust Thorpe and Griffin, they are wonderful at judging horses. They would never put Thea on a horse that wasn’t right for her.”
Thea has competed in over 13 competitions.
“We compete in the Midwest district, so we have to travel quite a bit for competitions. We have fun traveling though, it is a great mother daughter bonding experience,” Merlo said.
Thea will be riding Hank, a horse owned by Bonnie Kegley in Homer Glen, when she competes in August.
“Every year a horse communicator comes and talks to the horses,” Thea said. “Hank told the communicator that he wanted a little kid to ride him since he had been working hard for the past seven years.”
Riding in the World Championship Horse Show is a huge opportunity.
“Thea makes it look so easy,” Merlo said. “She is judged on much more than just her horse, she is judged on her posture, her leg position, and her control. She is judged on her ability to display what she has worked so hard to accomplish. Her hard work, dedication and perseverence has taken her to many competitions,”
Thea is sponsored by national brands Dove and Sharpie, and local sponsors CHT Orthodontics and MB Financial Private Banking.
“In this day and age everything is competitive to almost a negative point,” Merlo said. “But riding is different and Thea takes such pride in riding because it has taken hard work to get to the competing level.”
Thea’s goal for the World Championships is to have a good ride and have fun.
“I like to do my own thing. I don’t like being like everyone else,” Thea said. “That’s boring.”