Kentucky Mountain Saddle Horse News

March/April 2007

Cover Story


Cover Girl

by: Mary Marshall

Many little girls dream of becoming a cover girl, but not necessarily for a horse magazine. However that was Haley Whittington’s dream, and her grandparents Douglas and Carmella Dent helped to make that dream a reality for the talented nine-year-old rider.

Douglas and Carmella, who own and operate Mountain View Stables, have fostered Haley’s love for horses with riding lessons, guidance, and a blooming stable of show horses that includes three Kentucky Mountain Saddle Horses and a Tennessee Walker. Douglas trains the show string, and Haley rides all of them including her buckskin cover mount Thunder Warrior.

"Haley has an amazing bond with horses," said her mother Tara Whittington, of Winfield, West Virginia. "Warrior is a mellow horse on the ground, but once you get in the saddle he’s ready to go. Haley will stand in a stall for hours looking into their eyes and bonding with them. Her Uncle Dougie calls her the horse whisperer. She rides anything, even the young, newly broken horses. It’s like they respond to her kindness. She has a magical way with them."

At the tender age of nine, Haley is not a newcomer to the horse world. She has been riding since the age of five, and accumulated an impressive 32 blue ribbons last show season. This will be her first show season riding Thunder Warrior.

Riding and show are not the only areas in life where Haley excels. She is also a straight-A third grade student, an avid reader (especially horse books), and enjoys playing softball when she isn’t riding. Although, as her mother admits, there isn’t much time for hobbies when you ride horses five days a week.

"It’s all about the horses with Haley," said Whittington, laughing. "She’s somewhat of a tomboy, and would rather be in the saddle than at the mall. If she’s not in the saddle or out in the barn, she’s in the stall with one of them working her magic."