by LIZ ONUFER | photos by Zeena Gregg Photography

Young Equestrian

faces_hodge3What began as a simple request at the age of three to ride a jumping horse has since transformed into a true passion for NiNi Hodge. This 10-year-old Poway resident has been showing horses competitively for the last three years and last year earned the Reserve World Champion at the 2015 Morgan Grand National and World Championship Horse Show.

The reserve champion award is the culmination of NiNi’s commitment and hard work, supported by her trainers and family. NiNi trains with her horse, Arboria Invictus (a.k.a. Henry), an 18-year-old bay Morgan gelding, before school and on the weekends at Miller Equestrian in Escondido. “The challenging part is getting up at 4 a.m. each day, then getting to school on time,” she admitted. Trainers Frank and Ann Miller have been working with the young equestrian since she was six. “They always give me confidence, and they are the hardest working people I know,” NiNi shared.


Name: NiNi Hodge (10)
School: Garden Road Elementary School
Grade: 4 – G.A.T.E. Program
Parents: Bill and Pam Hodge
Siblings: Ashley (26), Megan (20), Jana (15), Dyllon (12), Billy Jr. (8)
Favorite Place in 92064: In the Mix Yogurt, Round Table Pizza, Lake Poway, Get Air

faces_hodge4Support also comes from her school, Garden Road Elementary, and the Poway community. “I like that my school, my principal, Mrs. Jeanne Dickenson, and my teacher, Mrs. Embry, support and encourage my riding,” she said. NiNi achieved high academics this year. She also had the honor of March 1 being named NiNi Hodge Day by County Supervisor Dianne Jacobs.

On the board of the America’s Finest Morgan Horse Youth Club, NiNi serves as the creative officer, alongside her
best friend Lindsay. She also volunteers to help the homeless in downtown San Diego.

Naturally, NiNi’s long-term plans include horses and high honors. “My goal is that I want to be the number one equestrian in the world,” she said. “And I want to go to Cal Poly San Luis Obispo to study equine science.” Fortunately for NiNi’s future, riding, success, and fun are all found in the same place. “The most rewarding thing is that I get to spend all my spare time with my horse and my friends together,” she said.