All it took was a free riding lesson at horse camp when she was 9 years old for Ella Sorvelli to fall in love.
“October 2020 was her first ride,” said Ella’s mom, Sasha Sorvelli. “She participated in her first barn show that winter and fell in love with the ‘show’ part of it. She showed … with a leased horse in the spring and summer of 2021.
“She started off riding with a local stable that built a solid foundation of riding and a genuine love of horses,” said Sasha. “She recently moved to a new training facility to gain further knowledge and hone her skills.”
Now 12, and a sixth grader at Beaty Warren Middle School, Ella recently competed in the Grand National & World Championship Morgan Horse Show in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.
Ella and “Scooby” placed:
Second in the Grand National Walk-Trot Saddleseat Classic Equitation 10 & 11 (age group);
Second in the Grand National Walk-Trot Classic Pleasure Saddle 10 & 11;
Reserve Grand National and World Champion in 10 & 11 Walk-Trot Classic Pleasure Saddle, and;
Reserve Grand National and World Champion in 10 & 11 Walk-Trot Saddle Seat Classic Equitation.
“These all were in very competitive classes of six riders each,” said Sasha.
“I love that I get to show who I am,” said Ella, who lives in Russell with her parents, Dan and Sasha, and older sister, Jade.
“This is a me-versus-me sport,” said Ella. “The competition part of it is only against myself, and my last showing.”
Ella added: “My favorite part of showing is when I get to hear my name along with my horse after completing our class. Knowing we just put our best effort into that ring.
Any and every horse has given me an ear when I needed it, a warm body to hug, and someone that depends on me. They bring me so much peace.”
Horses are completely new to the Sorvelli family.
“We now own a horse,” said Sasha. “We purchased her first horse, Agent’s Noble Image CH (Scooby) in the fall of 2021 as a surprise. He treated her so well and was an amazing first horse. We recently just sold him for him to continue teaching the younger students and purchased Muy Bien CH (Big Hoss).”
This newfound passion has brought Sasha and Ella closer.
“We spend so much one-on-one time with each other,” said Sasha. “We’ve traveled a ton to different cities, found new food we like, and made so many relationships in so many different states. I am her biggest cheerleader; dad, too! We talk a lot! I think way more than most mothers (and) preteen daughters. She has taught me some horse knowledge, and I have taught her some life lessons that maybe she wouldn’t have learned so early on. Show riding isn’t for the faint of heart; it’s tough. And so, with that always comes a confidence pep talk. Every. Single. Show.
“We are most proud her work ethic,” said Sasha. “She fundraised while in Oklahoma. She had flyers printed and posted to social media that advertised stall and tack cleaning along with horse feeding and care. I was amazed at how much she worked at that show, while showing herself. She even made enough money to pay for some of the things we needed for the show. I’m amazed at the way she can market herself at such a young age, and she doesn’t even know what she is doing. She thinks she is just making friends and truly wants just that.
“We enjoy watching her,” added mom. “Her smile, her love, and the sincere gratitude with whatever place she gets, each and every time. I always ask, ‘did you do your best?’ because that’s all we ever can ask of her. We’ve also met some of the most amazing people across the country. Competitors that will help you out even in the last minutes.”
There are no off days, if you ask Ella.
“Horses are her world,” said her mom. “When she isn’t on one, she is thinking of being on one. She requires a videographer (Sasha) at every lesson so she can replay them to study. We have a rocking horse from Mom’s childhood that has an old saddle and she practices leg and rein position. She studies every video of other riders she can find, and is always watching social media for the next big equine star to follow. When she isn’t able to be around horses, she is either swimming recreationally at home, is riding her side-by-side around our property, or talking someone’s ear off — usually dad’s or the neighbor’s.
“After Worlds, we go right back to training,” said Sasha. “There are no off-days. Ella will be learning new skills this winter and bonding with her new horse, “Big Hoss.” Ella is training with Champion Hill Farms in Akron, New York, under the direction of Josh and Olivia Piatt.”
Oklahoma City is the farthest she’s ever traveled. It’s obvious, she’s hooked.
“I’d say!” said mom. “This year was her last competing in Walk-Trot. She has now aged out, and will be competing in Junior Exhibitor with new skills to showcase.
“She is (already) actively looking at the best-suited colleges and wants to make a business geared around the equine industry.”