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Hays earns top-3 ranking

Newton County was well-represented in the 2015 National Cutting Horse Association (NCHA) World Finals $2,000 Limited Rider Division in Fort Worth, Texas at the Will Rogers Complex Watt Arena as Covington’s own Jessica “Jessie” Hays and her horse “Clever Hickory Mate” left the event officially ranking third in the world.

“I’d just like to thank my parents, Jamie and Julius Hays, and my trainer Trey Wilson,” Hays said proudly.

“It’s very accomplishing. It’s always been a dream of mine to finish in the world finals and it's like we’re finally here. It’s finally done, now we can move on to our next goal,” Hays said.

For her next goal, Jessie, who is currently a senior at Eastside, plans to attend Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College as Hays begins her journey toward becoming a veterinarian.

All her life, Jessie, has been around horses. “My whole family has done it like forever,” Hays said.

Hays’ grandfather used to train horses and that got her to start riding. She didn’t start competing until her freshman year of high school. This year she decided to make it to the World Finals. On her way to the final competition, Jessie competed against people from all over the country, but mainly the Southwest. She came up against competition from New Mexico, Texas, California and Montana among many others.

“It was a good year and we went all over the country trying to win the world as they say,” Jessie said.

Jessie ended up winning almost $10,000 over 53 shows to go along with her No. 3 ranking in the world. Now, she’ll compete to make into the top 15 in the Youth World Finals which stretches until May, where she is currently ranked 19th.