Amanda Phillips, owner of Inspired Equestrian and Parnell’s riding instructor, said that most competition riders work with their horses two or three days a week, but he regularly puts in six days riding, cleaning stalls, grooming horses and other tasks around the barn. The Christian-based riding school is a safe haven for Parnell and other students at the school.
“It is something he has worked hard for, and he has exceeded all my expections,” Phillips said of her student.
Parnell, who has been riding for about six years, is a softspoken young man who said his favorite part of working and riding at Inspired is “getting to bond with the horses and spend time with them.” Although, he admits, getting to travel to shows is also a great bonus.
This week, Parnell and Phillips will be traveling to Lexington, Va., to compete in the International Friesian Show Horse Association’s World and National Championship Horse Show. They will both be riding the stallion Cornelius, owned by Shirley Whirley, of Brooks Farms in Marbury, Ala., who is being trained at Inspired. The 5-year-old breeding stallion is not fully grown but already has three grand champion titles under his belt and is in the points lead going into the competition this week.
Phillips said this is the only competition that allows riders under 18 to compete on a stallion, but she still wouldn’t consider it if not for the horse’s good nature and model behavior. He is currently ranked as a “First Premie Star,” which Phillips said is a high rank for his age, and she is hopeful he will bring home a world title this week.
Imported from the Netherlands as a yearling, Phillips said Cornelius knows he’s special and makes sure everyone else knows it as well.
“He’s a little spoiled,” she laughed. She added that he is on a special diet, undergoes meticulous grooming and is worked and trained five or six days a week to ensure that he is in top form.
The competitions will begin Wednesday. Phillips will ride in Dressage, Western, Saddle Seat, Hunt Seat and Sport Horse. Parnell will compete in Youth Dressage and Fun and Costume Classes. According to Phillips, “dressage” is a type of equestrian competition where the horse and rider show off the horse’s training and form.
Upon returning from this show, the group, along with other riders from the school, will travel to Georgia to compete in the Feathered Horse Classic, where Cornelius will compete for his fourth national title.