Tara Proulx is running out of room on her trophy shelf.
The Central Catholic junior is considered one of the top equestrian riders in the Northeast, with awards rolling in left and right in dressage competitions throughout New England and the East coast.
In 2009, she was named Junior Rider of the Year and won championships in champion dressage at the annual Southern New Hampshire Dressage and Combined Training awards banquet.
Her accomplishments include championships in training level dressage, pre-elementary dressage and elementary dressage.
She has trained on her horse, March of Freedom, for the past four years.
In fact, she has done the training herself since the thoroughbred was two years old.
Originally, Proulx says that she intended to enter jumping competitions with the then three-year-old "off the track" thoroughbred. But, she was too green to compete so, while training, Proulx entered dressage competitions.
That's where she found her passion.
"I love Freedom," she said. "I knew from the second we rode that we were meant for each other.
"She was going to be a racer. That's the type of horse she is. But we started training together right from the start and it's been great."
She has been training Freedom while taking training tips from her instructors, Crystal LeBlanc and Tom Friedrich.
"Usually I will have instruction with my trainers," Proulx said, "and then whatever we learn during that session I'll repeat with Freedom throughout the week until the next session."
Training takes patience and dedication.
It involves endless hours at the barn — she trains with Atkinson Riding Academy — and a lot of repetition.
"You have to be dedicated," said the 17-year-old who lives in Haverhill. "It's a lot of hard work. There is a lot of time and you have to be patient. But I wouldn't trade my time training for anything."
It's also balancing schoolwork, where Proulx is an honor roll student with a 3.7 GPA.
"It can be difficult," she said. "Sometimes I don't get home until 8 or 9 o'cloc and then it's homework."
Riding isn't something Proulx sees herself stopping.
In fact, she has already explored opportunities to ride in college.
"I'd love to ride at school," she said. "There are a lot of great riding colleges. I've already looked at one down in Virginia and it's something I'd love to do."
Riding, she hopes, is something she'll be doing long into the future.
"I don't think I'll ever not be involved," she said. "I love it. I'm sure this is something I'll be able to be a part of for a long time."
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