Estacada High freshman is a member of the schools equestrian team

by: CONTRIBUTED PHOTO - Courtney Helgeson poses with Stoney, her mini horse.Almost every girl grows up wanting to be a princess. But 14-year-old Estacada High School freshman Courtney Helgeson will get that chance in just a few weeks when she is crowned princess of the Oregon Pinto Horse Association.

Helgeson, a member of the EHS equestrian team, has been riding horses since she was 3 years old. The crowning will officially take place Saturday, Jan. 26, at the Spring Hill Country Club in Albany.

“It’s really an honor,” Helgeson said. “I’ve always looked up to the princesses for guidance on how I wanted to act around people and treat other people. I love helping other people and teaching them if they need help. I’m really excited to be able to do that.”

The Helgesons have five horses. Some are kept at their home and at least one is being boarded at Hanging Hearts Ranch in Colton.

“My mom and dad are really into horses,” Helgeson said. “It’s in the family. I’ve ridden horses my whole life.”

To qualify for the princess title, Helgeson had to fill out an application and have judges observe her as she rode her horse and interacted with audience members at a show. She even had to give a speech before a board of directors.

Courtney’s mini horse, Stoney, is 2 years old. Another horse, Fancy, is trotted out specifically for shows.

On a typical day, Courtney comes home from school, at which point her mom drives her to Colton so she can ride Fancy for an hour or two. Courtney is practicing patterns for upcoming equestrian team events, and does so regardless of weather conditions.

The real work begins once Courtney has been crowned. She’ll then be charged with giving speeches at banquets and other formal events, handing out prizes at shows and attending parades.

Though her hands will be plenty full with her newfound princess duties, she's already looking to the future. After she graduates from EHS, she plans to attend Oregon State University and participate in its equestrian team. Her long-term career ambition is to be a teacher.

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