By SUNNY LOCKWOOD
When Megan Middleton was 11, she rode a horse for the first time and fell in love with the experience.
"It was my girlfriend's horse and it ran away with me. It just ran and ran and ran and I was screaming," Megan says with a laugh, remembering the day seven years ago. "But when it came to a fence and stopped, it calmed down and I thought, 'That wasn't so bad.' And we just walked around and it was so pretty and peaceful."
Megan went home and asked for a horse of her own. No, too expensive, her dad, Jerry, said. Megan burst into tears.
Later, when Megan had calmed down, Tammy Middleton had a suggestion for her daughter: "Why don't you think of a way to raise money to get a horse?"
A determined girl, Megan decided to sell candy to raise the needed funds. She took all the money she had $50 went to Costco and invested in the inventory that would make her dream come true: Snickers bars, Baby Ruths and M&Ms.
For weeks and weeks, she sold candy door to door throughout Angels Camp and surrounding areas. With mom at the wheel, Megan took her wares to Tuolumne County.
"Everywhere I went, I had a little basket of candy bars to sell," she said.
Within a matter of months she had enough to buy her first horse an Arabian named Coco plus a saddle, tack and a ton of hay. And unlike some girls who lose interest in horses after discovering boys, Megan only got more serious about her hobby.
She continued to sell candy to pay for hoof trimming and other horsey needs.
"I bred her and watched the birth and I got the whole family involved," she said, her brown eyes sparkling. "I was very focused."
Added her mom: "She has drive, that's for sure."
At the time, her family consisted of mom, dad and two younger brothers. But when Megan was 13, little sister Mckensey was born and soon loved horses as much as her big sister.
Today, Megan owns three horses. Last month, she was named Miss California State Horsemen's Association for Region 4.