A twist of fate has landed an Iron Station equestrian on the cover of a national magazine.
Appaloosa Horse Journalâ€™s September issue features East Lincoln High School senior Mariah Bell and her horse, Dovie.
â€œOf course I donâ€™t have the cutest look on my face, but I was jumping a 3-9 fence at the time,â€ said Mariah.
Equine photographer Pan Murray took the picture while Mariah rode at Rose Hill in Dallas.
Murray posted the shots on her Web site and soon a call came in from the magazine. Mariah signed the release and the magazine is on stands now.
For Mariah, who rode in her first horse show at the age of 3, the magazine cover is no big deal.
â€œI didnâ€™t do anything that spectacular,â€ she said.
Her friends agree with her â€” most of the comments sheâ€™s received are along the lines of â€œHa ha! Look at your face!â€
Itâ€™s all in good fun, however, and Mariah has been known to create some trouble of her own.
â€œI pretty much like to stir up controversy at school,â€ she said.
The thing she enjoys most about the cover shot is the attention it gives Dovie.
â€œSheâ€™s such a talented horse and she deserves the recognition,â€ she said.
Riding has become second nature to Mariah, who was raised on Dartland Farms in Iron Station. Sheâ€™s been involved with horses all her life and currently trains in Charlotte.
â€œItâ€™s really cool to be able to control something like that and for an animal of that size to let you,â€ she said.
Sheâ€™s participated in national competitions in recent years, even during her technicolor hair and facial piercing phase.
At the old age of 18, her look has â€œmellowedâ€ a bit, which pleases her mom.
When not riding horses, Mariah spends time golfing or hanging out with friends in her â€œpretend band,â€ which plays â€œchaos-punk-thrashâ€ music.
She has plans of attending the University of North Carolina or Meredith College next year (even though she refers to the latter as â€œBarbie Doll Collegeâ€).
Art school is also a possibility, but the competition is fierce. Also, â€œI donâ€™t want to starve to death.â€
So for now, plans seem to be heading toward becoming a lobbyist, journalist or teacher.
She already knows she enjoys teaching. There are usually â€œ20,000â€ kids running around Dartland Farms, and Mariah gives some of those â€œ20,000â€ riding lessons.
She makes sure to make the lessons interesting and not to yell. Thatâ€™s the way she would want to be taught.
She also keeps up with her private lessons and daily horse maintenance. Horses, you see, are her thing. Itâ€™s been that way since her first show.
â€œSince then, itâ€™s just gone crazy,â€ she said. â€œThatâ€™s all I want to do.â€
Of course, sometimes sheâ€™s not quite so enthusiastic.
â€œThis morning it was a different story when I had to wake up at 5 a.m. to go feed them,â€ she said.
by Sarah Grano