Caelan Hunter - Michigan Nomination by Joni Hunter Photography by Mary Kerkes Photography Issue 60 of Inspiring Teens Magazine
Nomination: Caelan is inspiring because of her work ethic. The love and hard work she put into her passions is beyond amazing. Caelan is a competitive dancer and has been danicing for 15 years and she is also completive equestrian and has been riding for 7 years. She is either at the dance studio or the barn with her horse 7 days a week and still finds time for her family and friends and excels in school.
Photography by Mary Kerkes Photography
What would you most like to talk about? I would like to talk about how I have been dancing since I was 3 years old and what it has taught me in life as well as riding horses and how working and becoming a riding partner with my horse has helped me become a dedicated person to the things I love and how to work as a team.
What did you love about it when you were little vs what you love about it now? In dance as I started, I loved being part of a group and making new friends. I loved the challenge of learning new dance moves and progressing my love for dance. Now that I’m in my senior year of dance I still love the challenge of learning new dance moves. I enjoy learning and showing how I can use my body to express emotions and feelings. I also enjoy working with my team to create a beautiful piece of art on the stage.
What types of dances do you study? Which is your favorite and why? For dance I study Ballet, Pointe, Tap, Jazz, lyrical, modern, contemporary, musical theater, and for my senior year I added Pom. I have a few favorites. First tap, I love the sounds that come from my feet and making music with it to match the music we dance too. Tap is always so fun and upbeat. My next favorite is contemporary, because with this type of dance and music you express emotion through body movement. Finally, pointe ballet because it is so beautiful and takes a lot of strength in your feet to stay up on your toes.
What is the hardest thing about dance that people may not realize? The hardest part about dance I would say is dancing to the emotion of the music when you are not feeling the emotion. It’s hard sometimes to step away from your real emotions you are feeling and step into the emotions of the dance and music. It can be challenging to let go and be part of the dance.
Photography by Mary Kerkes Photography
When did you start riding and what is your first memory of it? My first memory was being excited and scared at the same time. For a long time, I did not want to canter on a horse because it was fast, and I was afraid I would fall off. Finally, after a couple months of lessons I just went for it and cantered and it was so freeing and I was so proud of myself for moving past the fear of falling of trusting my horse to take care of me.
Tell us about your horse and your relationship. My horse Ivy and myself I feel are the same. We have the same anxieties about going into the show ring even though we have done it 100s of times together and performing well. We feed off each other’s emotions, and I trust her with my life and well-being. She is my partner. It is hard to explain the bond you build with a horse. There is so much trust that these animals put in you and same goes for me as well, I trust her. Ivy has taught me to be the rider I am today and continues to build my passion for the sport. She tries me at times and makes me work hard as well, but I love her just the way she is.
What has riding horses taught you? Horse-back riding in the beginning taught me so much about challenging myself to step out of my comfort zone and trust this animal with everything I have. This type of teamwork with this animal takes time, patience, and trust. It can take up to year to build a good relationship with horses. I still love having this amazing animal trust me to guide her and this relationship we have built over the past 4 years. When riding I feel free to let go and become one with my horse. There is no love and trust like you have with a horse I feel. Tell us about your horse and your relationship.
What has it taught you about them? Riding horses has taught me that they are animals firsts and they do not have to listen to you. They have taught me to step out of my comfort zone and try new things. They have taught me to trust as well, because you never know when a horse will not “BLOW UP”. Horses have taught me to communicate with body language since they can not tell us how they feel. Horse have taught me patience, how to control my emotions, how to be responsible, and finally the value of working hard.
What is your favorite accomplishment on horseback? My favorite accomplishment in horseback riding happened this year. I’m part of a western riding team that prepares the riders for riding in college called IEA. With this type of riding, you do not have to have a horse or bring a horse and it is draw type riding and you don’t know what horse you will ride until a couple hours before you ride. The riders get a little paragraph on the horse and you do not ride until you are about to go in a show. With type of showing I made it to nationals and placed 5th in the nation in western horsemanship. It was one of the highlights of my riding career!
Image by Joni Hunter
What inspiring things about you does your nomination not cover? I inspire my teammates to work hard for the things they love and cherish and that will make your passion for it all worth it. I inspire my teammates that even on the hardest days of trainings and practices that you still can come out on top because you have learned how to push through it.
How did you find and why did you choose Mary Kerkes Photography for your senior photographer? Many of my dance teammates have done their pictures with Mary and she does such an amazing job and the first time I saw her pictures I wanted to have her do mine!
What was your experience like? What did you love most about it? Mary is so fun to do pictures with. With went to many different places and Mary was excited to do pictures with my horse. I loved that I felt very comfortable with her and she is able to capture the real me.
If you were to present a topic to a group of your peers, what would it be? I would present leaning on your friends and family when times get hard and that talking things out is better than holding things in. That reaching out to others for help is not a bad thing. That many things can be solved by having someone to talk to.
What will you miss most about your friend group when you graduate? I will miss being with them almost every day! We spend so much time together at the dance studio and the barn and not seeing them every day will be hard. This will be a big change as they literally are my family. They know so much about me.
What is one memory this year you cannot wait to make? I cannot wait to walk across the stage at graduation!
Image by Joni Hunter
What is a favorite tradition in your family? Our favorite family tradition would have to be the yearly spring break trips we take together to be just the family. Between dancing and horses many of our weekends are spent at dance or horse competitions. For 1 week can just be a family together and not rush to be somewhere.
What is your family like and where do you fit in? I am an only child. My dad and mom have been together since 1997 when they were teenagers. I was lucky to also be raised with my grandparents all in the same house since I was 4 months old. They are my 2nd set of parents and do a lot for me. My mom and myself show horses together which has been fun to do together. My family is my biggest support system, from my cousins, aunts, uncles, and grandparents. Their support for my passions helps me accomplish my goals. My parents do so much for me, working long hours behind the scenes at dance and horse competitions to help me be more successful. I know it is hard at times but I could not do this without them. Look for Caelan in issue 60 of Inspiring Teens Magazine!