For Parris Collins (Devon Gibson, trainer), riding has always been in her blood.
“I’ve been riding since I was probably three or four. My mother had a little backyard operation so I was drawn to it,” Parris recounted. “My mom tells this story about how I followed her to the barn one day and said ‘I want to ride.’ She was busy doing barn chores, so she said no, and apparently I held my breath until I turned blue. After that, she relented and started teaching me to ride one of the ponies.” Parris was hooked from then on. “I did take a break from riding when I had my two kids, but I still would always find ways to ride here and there. I couldn’t stay away from it and I never really completely stopped riding.”
Today, Parris gets to ride her horse, Uno Mas, on a regular basis. She and Uno have been together for about three years since she found him while browsing for horses on the Internet.
“When I got him, he was completely green. He had no power steering and I could barely get him to canter twice around the ring,” Parris remembered with a laugh. “He has come such a long way and is a really good A/O horse now. I can put my daughter on him for leadline, compete with him in the derbies, and ride him on the trail. He absolutely loves trail rides and he’s the only horse I know who will actually stop and turn around when he realizes we are heading back to the barn! He’s quite the character.”
Despite being a character outside of the ring, Uno is all business once he enters the hunter ring. The pair had a fantastic show season in 2019, earning a red ribbon at the prestigious Devon Horse Show, winning the championship in the USHJA HOTY Amateur Owner Hunter, 36 and Over section, and competing in their first International Derby in the $25,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby at the Upperville Colt & Horse Show.
“I was really proud of him at Devon because he hadn’t even been doing 3’6” for a whole year and he marched around like ‘I’ve got this.’ He went around like an old pro at Devon and at Upperville. Though why I chose Upperville to be my first derby ever, I still don’t know! Obviously I wasn’t thinking straight; thankfully, Uno really handled it well,” Parris shared. “But I think the accomplishment I’m most proud of was being ranked first in Zone 10 and top ten in the nation last year. I have to balance taking care of my family with horse showing, so I only average about one show a month. I am very fortunate to have Uno – he is such a good horse and so much fun to own.”
Pictured: Parris Collins and her horse Uno Mas compete in the 2019 AON/USHJA National Championships. Parris shared: "I love this photo because it shows the groom, Goalie, who is my right hand man! He always has a smile to share and is the best. This candid moment also catches me waving to my girlfriends, my mom, and husband who all came to watch and support me."