Haley Franc: "Hard Work Always Pays Off"
Interviewed by Ceileidh Sager
She’s only 14 years old, but Haley Franc of Prince Albert, Saskatchewan, has already made a name for herself in the international reining arena. This past summer, the talented teen rode her Quarter Horse gelding, Jacs Shy Boy, to a gold medal finish and helped secure team silver for the Canadian Junior Reining Team, at the Junior Riders Individual Reining Final at the 2012 North American Junior and Young Rider Championships (NAJYRC) in Lexington, Kentucky.
“Haley has been a very poised and focused young lady,” commented Wendy Dyer, chef d’equipe for the Canadian Reining Team at NAJYRC. “I had a feeling she was more than capable of winning the gold medal.”
Hardworking and dedicated, Haley spends all her spare time caring for, riding, and showing her horses with the goal of someday turning pro. When I recently had the chance to ask Haley about life in the reining world and her plans for the future, here’s what she had to say…
Horse Journals: When did you start riding? Have you always been horse crazy?
Haley Franc: I have always loved to be around horses and started riding when I was six years old. I started out with our local 4-H club and competed in Western pleasure. I am most crazy about showing and competing. It is so much fun preparing for shows and trying to get better.
Photo: Waltenberry, Inc.
Chef d'equipe for the Canadian reiners at NAJYRC, Wendy Dyer, praised Haley for her focus and poise.
What led you to specialize in reining?
I started to do reining when I was nine. My parents and I started lessons together, and I loved the challenge. It has been a lot fun being working toward the precision that is required to improve the maneuvers and patterns. It can be quite difficult.
Can you tell us about your horse, Jacs Shy Boy?
Shy is my second reining horse. He is an eight-year-old Quarter Horse gelding sired by Jacs Main Sail. He has proven to be such a great partner. I’ve shown him for three years and we have been a pretty good team right from the start. Shy has so much heart and just always wants to do a good job. His strongest maneuver is the stop - he is a strong, deep stopper and I can always count on him to do his part. He is also very intelligent, has a lot of personality, and loves attention.
Do you have any other horses you’re currently working with?
My parents and sister also ride and we currently have four horses that we try to show. To keep learning, I try to ride as much as I can and as many horses as I can. I showed a second horse this year named Drip Dry. He is a black overo cow-bred Paint horse. This was his first year showing and even though he’s not as far along as Shy, he is sure fun to run circles on. I will try to show at least two horses each show season. I am also looking for another horse to work with over the winter months and to show next year.
What was your experience like at NAJYRC, competing alongside so many other top young riders? Were you intimidated at first?
When we first arrived at Kentucky Horse Park I was a bit intimidated but overall it was a great experience, and such a great feeling to be competing at an international level. I was very proud to be part of Team Canada and I wanted to represent my country and show off my horse. All of the competitors were treated very well.
Photo courtesy of Tracey Franc
"We worked hard and proved that determination and hard work pay off," says Haley of her individual gold medal at the 2012 NAJYRC.
What did it feel like to win that gold medal?
I was so excited to win a gold medal at this event. We worked hard and proved that determination and hard work pay off. It was a great win. There were a lot of great riders and horses there and the competition was tough. Everyone was there for one reason – to ride our butts off! My run was to the song “Canadian Girl” on my Canadian-bred horse. I loved it. The raising of our Canadian flag and hearing our national anthem play with everyone cheering was the greatest feeling.
Do you ever get nervous before a competition?
I always get nervous before a competition, but I think it’s a good thing. I think if you are nervous that means you care about what you are doing and you want to do well. I am so lucky to be able to do the things I do, and I always want to do my best.
How do you balance riding with the rest of your life (i.e. school, friends, family, etc.)?
That’s funny - riding is my life. I usually only have time for my chores, homework, and riding. Lots of my friends ride horses, and it’s easy to spend time with my family because we’re all horse crazy.
What is your number one tip for other junior riders who want to be competitive in their chosen discipline?
Always try your best at whatever you are doing and never give up. Sometimes it doesn’t always go as planned but as long as you are seeing improvements, you are getting better. Hard work always pays off, but you’ve got to have fun and love what you are doing.
What are your plans, riding and otherwise, for the future?
I hope to qualify for the NRHA North American Affiliate Finals again in Oklahoma City this fall, so I am currently preparing for that competition. I hope to have another horse to work with this winter so I can give Shy a much needed and well deserved break. I want to compete again next year for the NAJYRC and will need to attend some qualifiers for that. I also want to continue to compete in international reining competitions and look forward to training and working toward becoming a professional in the sport of reining.
Is there anything else you’d like our readers to know about you?
I have so much support and want to thank everyone – my trainer and coaches, Locke and Deb Duce, my family, and all of my horses - especially Shy.
Main Article Photo: Courtesy of Tracey Franc - Haley credits Jacs Shy Boy, her eight-year-old Quarter Horse gelding, with intelligence, tons of personality, and a great stop.