Sixteen-year-old Uvalde High School cheerleader Ariana Reyes has participated in the Palomino Fest parade every year since she was 3 years old, and always with a good friend in tow – her horse.
She’s a trail rider who loves animals, nature and the outdoors.
“I like riding on trail rides and parades because it keeps me busy and because I can see the amazingly beautiful world that God created for us to enjoy,” said Ariana.
When she was 3, she had a brown and white paint quarter horse named Chata.
“She was great. I made so many memories with her before she passed,” Ariana reflected.
These days, when she rides in parades, she said she will usually ride an 8-year-old white gelding quarter horse named Smokey.
“He is so mellow and will do whatever you need, whenever you need it done,” she said. “I don’t even have to put a saddle or bridle or anything on him when I ride him.”
Ariana says her favorite part about riding in parades is the small children. She loves to see their faces light up when they see her horse, and she often will stop and give them rides.
“Once upon a time I was that little girl, amazed when I saw someone riding a beautiful, strong animal like a horse,” said Ariana.
When asked about her favorite parade memory, Ariana said one doesn’t stand out.
“I really don’t have a favorite memory because they all mean so much to me, and every memory has its own special place in my heart.”
When she goes trail riding, she’ll usually ride Blossy, a 14-year-old Paso Fino mustang cross.
“She can be a bit crazy, and I’m the only person who can ride her,” said Ariana. “I feel like Speedy Gonzales when I’m on her – it’s like I’m flying through the air.”
Ariana said she believes that the horses’ purpose is to be there for people, to help when we humans need it.
“They can sense when you are happy and when you are sad or upset,” Ariana said. “They know just what do to comfort you or to make you laugh.”
When she’s not riding horses, Ariana is busy with cross-country, cheer, track, soccer, powerlifting and mariachi.
She hopes to attend college, continue with cheer, and be a large animal veterinarian. She’s eyeing Stephen F. Austin State University, Texas A&M-Kingsville or Texas A&M University in College Station.
“As I get older, I hope to continue having horses as a big part of my life and to make them an even bigger part of me than they already are,” said Ariana.
“They are who I am.”
Like so many other children, Ariana loves to go to the Palomino Fest carnival every year.
“I ride all of them, but my favorite is probably either the Fireball or The Zipper,” said Ariana. “Everyone in my family says I’m crazy, but I love it.”
Ariana is the daughter of Gina Garza and Rudy Reyes. She has four brothers, and one sister, and is a middle child.
Her advice for a youngster that might be interested in riding horses is, “Don’t be afraid.”
“They are loyal and loving, and for all the young children or not-so-young children who wish to ride a horse or are interested in horses – don’t be afraid to get to know a horse, because I promise you, once you do, you won’t regret it. Horses are gentle giants, and they would love for you to get on them so they can take you for a ride.”