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One passion ends, another begins: Delran teen rides to compete in national spotlight

Delran student – hampered by COVID – explores her other passion

Mya Milanese finds another passion in horseback riding. PHOTO COURTESY OF MYA MILANESE

For Delran High School senior Mya Milanese, COVID meant the end of a sport that became a passion: figure skating.

Milanese pursued the sport for about a decade before the pandemic – and serious family health issues – made that nearly impossible. So rather than ice rinks, Milanese ended up in the stables, where she rediscovered her love for riding horses.

“I enjoy just being at the barn,” she said. “I cannot express how much I love this sport and how hungry I am to be on top. What they wanted me to become for figure skating, I know that I want to be on top for equestrian. I want to be the best of the best.

“I want to learn more about the horses,” Milanese added. “I want to have a companion to be with me. I want the bond that I’m beginning with my horse right now.”

Milanese was just awarded her varsity letter by the United States Equestrian Foundation, the governing body for student athletes competing in equestrian. The NJSIAA (New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association) doesn’t recognize equestrian, so Milanese’s events are often sponsored by the national foundation.

Equestrian is a sport she very quickly took to heart, and she spends upwards of 20 hours a week training while taking care of horses.

“I’m so excited to learn more about the little details that not everyone knows,” she noted. “It was a lot to learn, definitely a big learning curve early on for me, but it taught me a lot. My trainer has taught me so much and I’m around her all of the time.”

Milanese initially got into equestrian while growing up with dyslexia, which stunted her academic advancement early on but also opened an avenue to what would become her sport. While the number of competing equestrians is small, Milanese has brought the sport some attention.

“The quick response thing with equestrian is a challenge, but Mya has been improving and she’s really loved the sport,” said her mother Wendy. “She’s helping to bring some more publicity to sports that don’t necessarily get a lot of coverage.”

Milanese also has another pursuit: She will perform in the high school’s spring musical, Chicago.

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