LIMINGTON, Maine — Few High School graduates know exactly the path they want their future to take, even fewer are well on their way to accomplishing their goals. Seventeen-year-old Alicia Flanigan knows where she wants to be, how to get there, and has devoted the last five years to the long road ahead.
Most days you can find the recent High School grad, in her barn at the family-owned farm, Fire & Ice in Limington where she admittedly spends long days training her horses and teaching other riders.
The farm is home to five Icelandic horses and one donkey. Icelandic Horses are a breed developed in Iceland, known for their extremely laid-back temperaments and unique strides. Icelandics have two gaits in addition to the typical walk, trot, and gallop that most breeds possess. And they are a smaller breed, at times pony-sized.
"I started young on Icelandic horses and I just fell in love with a breed," Alicia says. She started riding when she was 8-years-old and was introduced to Icelandics a couple of years later. Two years ago, Alicia traded in public school for a homeschool experience so that she could put in more hours with her horses.
"They're powerful. They're great in competition. They have these beautiful, supple movements. They have all this power that they'll offer you and speed but you could put your grandmother or your child on them and they're very calm," Alicia explains of the breed of horse that has become her passion and life's work.
She has competed for the U.S. Team across the U.S. and in the Netherlands, Sweden, and Iceland. Icelandic Horse competitions take place on oval tracks and on straight tracks where speed is tested. In just the last few years, Alicia has earned 32 first place medals and has made a name for herself in the Icelandic Horse riding world. Alicia is the first to admit that although competitions are fun, they are not lucrative.
"There is a lot of money into the training and equipment but you don't recoup that from competitions," Alicia explains. Competitions are a place, Alicia says, instead, to make a name for yourself. Something Alicia is doing quite well.
The teenager spends months on end in Iceland where the competitions are more fierce and common. In her spare time in Iceland, she works with horses and trains with world-renowned teachers.
"I knew I wanted to spend all my hours' training and riding. I never get sick of it so what better way to make your passion your job."
Like anyone who veers from a traditional path, Alicia is faced with many questions from her peers and friends about what she does and why. She hopes to attend a college in Iceland in a couple of years to earn a degree in equine studies and become a master rider but right now she is currently living her dream.