CP Profile: Writing about riding … from passion to profession

Sixth-generation horse enthusiast Alicia Harris is no stranger to the show ring. This senior science and agricultural journalism major has been showing horses since the age of 2 and carries this passion into her professional life.

Harris credits her passion for horses with helping shape her into the young woman she is today. The remainder of that credit, according to Harris, is owed to her parents who reside in Richmond, Mo.

“She was a good kid, very easy to raise,” said Alicia’s mother, Cathy Harris. “She is kind of a breath of fresh air.”

Harris is self-described as a “very common, simple person with a lot of off-the-wall characteristics.” Harris lives in a small home built upon an 18-foot trailer with her beloved Great Dane, Roscoe. Harris and her father constructed the home nearly a year ago themselves for practical reasons. Since her journalism background may require a lot of traveling, a house on wheels seemed to be the perfect fit.

“She is vivacious and loves life; she is definitely not afraid to try something new,” Cathy Harris said. “She is a hoot, that’s for sure. She will keep you on your toes.”

Harris discovered she enjoyed writing in a high school creative writing class. And watching a reporter on the job at one of her horse shows immediately sparked her interest in equine journalism.

“I had a knack for writing and ironically enough I had a knack for riding too,” Harris said.

From there, Harris began to pursue both of her passions: writing and horses. After deciding upon MU’s science and agricultural journalism program, she added an equine science minor from Stephen’s College to point her in the direction of her dreams.

As an underclassman, Harris was employed at Fox Run Horse Boarding and Equestrian Events where she worked for owner, Lora Blair, caring for horses and maintaining stalls.

“Her work ethic was one of the best I’ve ever seen,” Blair said. She always paid attention to detail and was willing to do anything extra. She loved her job as well as the journalism aspect of her major.”

Harris carried this self-motivated work ethic into her professional life as well. This past year she applied to work as a summer intern for the American Quarter Horse Association. Just a few days after the interview, she received the call saying she had been selected.

Although she credits gaining this opportunity to “sheer dumb luck,” Harris appeared to be exactly what the AQHA was looking for.

Upon the news of receiving the internship, work on her small home went into overdrive. Harris packed her belongings into the house and she, along with Roscoe, began their move to Amarillo, Texas.

“I was really lucky and so blessed,” Harris said. “That was probably the best summer of my life.”

The internship experience benefited Harris both personally and professionally. Her day-to-day activities included updating the AQHA youth Facebook page as well contributing to America’s Horse Daily, AQHA’s blog. She would balance these duties until she was given the chance to cover horse shows.

“Everybody’s got a story to tell, they’re just waiting for someone to ask the right questions,” Harris said. “I think that was the biggest personal lesson I learned through my internship.”

Now that Harris is back to school and the excitement has slowed down, she is eager graduate this May and begin working. Although she has a few future job opportunities in mind, she is open to whatever the future may bring.

— photo by Howard Schatzberg

Betty Thomas

About the Author Betty Thomas

Agriculture began to influence my life at a young age. My father is a sixth-generation farmer, so it only seems right to pass on the tradition. I’m from a small, rural community where a large portion of the local economy is centered around agriculture. I was born and raised on a farm outside of Oakford, Ill., and wouldn’t have had it any other way. A friend took a college visit to the University of Missouri one weekend, and I decided to tag along. I immediately fell in love with the hospitality and beauty of the campus. With such a strong agricultural school and journalism school it seemed to be the perfect fit. Looking back there is no place I would rather call home.