Effingham Daily News, Effingham, IL

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July 1, 2014

Dieterich teen a stand-up kind of gal

DIETERICH — There's a bit of good-natured debate in the Adams-Mahnke family about when Melody Mahnke began riding a horse.

"Mom (Diana Mahnke) says I was nine months old when I started riding," Melody said.

But grandmother Pam Adams says little Melody first rode a horse with her at the tender age of six months.

"We'd go trail riding and she'd fall asleep while she was riding with me," Adams recalled. "Then, one of the men on the ride would take her from me for awhile."

One thing there's no debate about is that Melody, a rising junior at Dieterich High School, knows her way around a horse. Friday, she's going to show spectators at the Dieterich Fourth of July parade just what she can do.

Melody plans to ride Ribbons, a 15-year-old registered mustang mare, in the parade while standing up. Both horse and rider will be decked out in patriotic colors for the parade.

Melody, who has ridden in the Dieterich parade for several years, said getting Ribbons to cooperate while she, Melody, is standing up has taken about a year.

"I started out riding her backwards to gain her trust," Melody said.

Then she began squatting atop the saddle, where she sits with her feet out of the stirrups. This spring, she began trying to stand atop Ribbons.

"The last couple of months, I've been able to stand up and let her walk around," Melody said.

Mom Diana wasn't so sure standing on a horse was a good idea.

"I held my breath and hoped for the best the first time I saw her do it," Diana said. "Now, I still hold my breath, but she does a lot better."

Melody said riding a horse standing up is enjoyable.

"I just think it's really fun," she said.

As previously mentioned, Melody first got on a horse with family members during her first year of life. By age 3, she was being led around on a pony. By the time she started school, she was already riding full-sized horses.

Melody, who participates in FFA, cross-country and basketball at DHS, hasn't made any definite plans for her future. But she did say she is considering going to veterinary school — and specializing in equine medicine.

Bill Grimes may be reached at 217-347-7151, ext. 132, at bill.grimes@effinghamdailynews.com, or via Twitter @EDNBGrimes.


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