Trick Rider, 7, From Bethesda Makes It Look Easy
Seven-year-old Eme Martin has been riding since the age of 2 and trick riding since November.
On Wednesday, she will perform on horseback with her teacher, Shadow Montag, during the Belmont County Fair.
From 4-6 p.m., they will visit the West Texas Roadhouse with Montag’s horses, Thunder and Blitz, for a chance to meet and greet. The performance then will be at 7 p.m.
Montag, of Columbus but a native of the village of Belmont, said beginning to ride at a young age is common among people who grow up around horses. Montag’s father owns Rafter M Rodeo, and he has been a rider all his life.
“I just fell into it,” he said.
The same is true for Eme, said her mother, Sarah.
“My grandparents had a farm and we all rode horses,” she said. “We all road and she got to right.”
Montag’s family has been longtime friends with the Martins, and Montag’s trick riding has served as Eme’s inspiration because she loved watching Montag’s exploits on horseback.
“Last year she said, ‘I’m going on the road with Shadow,'” said Sarah. “She said ‘I’m going to go and take care of the horses next year, and go to all the shows with him.’ And now she’s trick riding.”
“I wanted to ride like Shadow,” said Eme who also said she remembers watching him perform during a Relay for Life fundraiser in 2013. “I thought it was amazing. Since I started watching, I just thought, ‘I want to do that.'”
Eme said one of the tricks that stuck strongly in her mind was watching Montag execute the Death Drag. A few years later, she would be performing that stunt in the Hippodrome.
“That’s when she stands up on top the horse, running full speed,” Montag said.
Eme rides Blitz, a 17-year-old female former bucking horse. Montag said he was immediately impressed.
“I have trained several kids, and when Eme came on board, she had a natural talent,” he said. “She had a natural ability and a gift just to be a great trick rider. She had no fear. She was fearless. She’s had the want to learn. The want to be a trick rider.”
Montag said Eme is one of the youngest people to be recognized with an International Pro-Rodeo Association Card, and the youngest rider currently in the organization.
“She’s a trick rider in the arena and outside of the arena,” he said. “She works, grooming the horses, anywhere we need help, she’s always willing to help to be around horses.
“We had to take stepping stones and building blocks,” Montag said. “We learn one trick at a time, inside out. We do a lot of tricks standing still on the horse. Once you familiarize yourself with the saddle we start going on a walk, then a trot, then a lope.”
Eme debuted at the Hoosier Horse Fair horse convention at the Indiana State Fairgrounds in April.
“I was kind of nervous, but it was fun,” said Eme who also said everything went according to plan.
Montag has since taken her to perform in shows in Kentucky, Indiana, Ohio and Missouri.
“She has caught the attention of so many producers and stock contractors,” he said. “She has been to three different states with me this year and she has done several international Pro-Rodeo Association rodeos. At least a dozen shows.”
Among her first lessons is the right way to fall. In pictures from some of Eme’s shows, she can be seen sporting a cast on one arm after taking a tumble from a pony’s back.
“I was trying to do the Hippodrome on my pony with no straps or anything and my foot slipped, and I fell on the ground and broke my elbow,” she said. “I just got my cast off.”
None of that has slowed her down. She performed in four shows in a full arm cast.
“She got it on and did a show the next day, and she got it off and did a show the next day,” Sarah said.
Montag said the performance in the fair will have special significance for him.
“We are dedicating our Belmont County performance to the (The Arc of OHIO),” which specializes in autism and special needs children of the Ohio Valley.”
Montag said 100 percents of their proceeds for T-shirt sales go to the foundation.
In 2012, Montag suffered a traumatic brain injury because of an accident.
“I was scheduled to do a performance for autism awareness in April,” he said, adding that he had been scheduled ride for the School of Hope in St. Clairsville on behalf of Union Local School District.
“I wasn’t able to perform because of my injury, and this is my first time back to the Ohio Valley and have the opportunity to perform…I wanted to fulfill my promise of raising money for autism,” he said. “I have performed for thousands and thousands of people. Over 5,000 people in one night, and I’ve probably never been this nervous or anxious than for my hometown fair.”
The weekend before the fair, they will perform in Georgia at the World Championship Rodeo. After the Belmont County fair, they go to the Westminster rodeo in South Carolina.
“This summer we’ve probably done over 30 shows,” Montag said.
He said teaching Eme has been a rewarding experience.
“I just think we ought to pass the torch to the next generation,” he said.
“That’s the thing that’s so rewarding to me,” Montag said. “Seeing her go out there and trick ride is the most uplifting feeling.”