Mia and Eva Haskins are clearly two teenagers in love. With their horses.
The feeling is mutual as the Hugo sisters and their steeds have collected many horsemanship honors and had some great times.
“My horse is named Ike. He is a super loving horse, and loves other horses. He tries to be friends with everyone,” said Mia, 14.
“He also has a very playful mindset. He has a lot of fun when we change up his routine a little and do something else. It gives him something else to work on.”
Ike is six years old, mostly chestnut in color, with “just enough white on his belly” to be considered an American Paint, which is his breed, Mia said.
Eva is 12, and her horse, Lulu, is just a year younger. Lulu is also chestnut, with a white face and legs and a splattering on the shoulders.
“Lulu is a super sweet and steady horse,” Eva said, “not afraid of anything.”
Eva adds, “Horses have always been my passion. Lulu teaches me lots. Horses have always been something that soothes me and makes me happy.”
The White Bear Lake students have been on horses practically since they were born, taking after their mother, Kelly.
“Me and Ike have a special bond,” Mia said. “We trust each other. I love him so much, but sometimes we have to be more businesslike, when we have to get something done.”
Like preparing for competitions, which the sisters do frequently.
Mia and Eva recently capped the 2019 season earning batches of ribbons at Western Saddle Clubs Association Champ Show during the State Fair.
Mia earned the title of High Point/Grand Champion, and a grand Dave Chavez saddle that goes to the rider earning the most points between the State Fair and WSCA Champ shows in late August and early September, both at the fairgrounds.
At the Champ Show, Mia and Eva placed in the top ten in every class they entered — each of which had 25 to 50 entrants who had placed first or second in the year’s previous competitions.
In showmanship (leading the horse in a pre-arranged pattern), Eva took second, Mia sixth. In English Pleasure (with English saddle and gear, judged on how the horse moves and behaves), Mia was fifth, Eva 10th. In English Equitation (the rider is judged on a pattern of maneuvers), Mia was first, Eva third.
In Western Pleasure (western saddle and attire, judged mainly on the horse comports itself), Mia was second, Eva seventh. In Western Horsemanship (same, except the rider is judged in a pattern of maneuvers), Mia was first and Eva second.
“The judges are always looking for a horse that doesn’t fight against his rider and is moving in a very calm and collected manner,” Mia explained. “Also, the rider has to show connection with the horse in the legs and the reins, and the rider has to show poise while they are riding with great leg position and great posture.
“It takes a lot of hard work, and dedication, to get to that point.”
Ike and Lulu are boarded at Exclusive Equine Center, seven miles from the family’s Hugo home, under the training guidance of Melissa Bertz. They ride three or four times a week. “We work on lot of different stuff and Lulu catches on so well,” said Eva.
Mia’s favorite event is English Equitation. Eva’s is Western Horsemanship.
Their main circuit in the summer is Minnesota Northstar Paint Horse Club, a series of three two-day shows in Hinckley’s Double F Arena, with horses registered with the American Paint Horse Association (APHA).
Mia was 13-and-under All-Around Champion. Eva won the 18-and-under Novice All Around Champion for the circuit.
They are daughters of Alan and Katie Haskins. Their mother was Katie Kelly when she captured a Minnesota High School Rodeo Association state title and earned a rodeo scholarship to a college in Utah. A CPA now, she taught riding lessons and trained horses for a time. Her mother owns Bunker Park Stables in Andover. The girls help their grandmother there on weekends.
Mia, a freshman, also plays varsity tennis, and Eva, seventh-grader, plays soccer on the C-1 team. Both are “A” students and involved in music, Eva with violin and Mia with trumpet. But while dedicated to these other pursuits as well, they can’t wait to get back to their first loves at the stables.