Alena Nicholson is a busy woman, but give her a chance to help fight cancer and she'll clear her schedule in a minute.
She'll be performing for 30 minutes prior to the start of the Walking for Cancer Horse Show, to take place April 13 at the Bedford County Ag Center. The horse show, which kicks off at 5 p.m., benefits the Bedford County Cancer Foundation.
Though Alena has no direct link to the walking horse industry, in a sense, the industry attracted her to the area seven months ago when she was looking for a farm not too far from Nashville where she could train her Morgan horses, a breed of horses you don't often see in Tennessee. She found a place and moved herself and 27 horses from Washington state.
Alena needed to be close to Nashville because, in addition to training horses, she's also a country music singer whose first record is expected to come out later this summer.
"I'm spread so thin right now you wouldn't believe it," laughed Alena, explaining she spends the first six hours of her day training her Morgans before heading to Nashville to work on her other career. "I love this area."

Word spreads

It didn't take long for organizers of the Walking for Cancer horse show to hear of Alena's presence in the area -- the barn she purchased is a former walking horse barn located on Highway 64 West. One of the show committee members came up with the idea to invite the singing horsewoman to the show to perform the National Anthem. Later, the idea came for Alena and her band to sing a set prior to the show as a way attract a wider audience to the community horse show.
"I met her at a barn and when I found out she was a singer I asked her if she'd come and sing for our horse show," said Pam Ingraham, committee member.

Cancer fight

Alena said yes to the committee's request without hesitation. She'll start playing at 4:30 p.m. before the horse show begins.
"Anything I can do to help with cancer I will," she said. "I want to donate my time with whatever I can do. My aunt was recently diagnosed with breast cancer and when that word came to me over the phone I couldn't even stand up. They say everyone is affected by cancer; up until my aunt was diagnosed I wasn't."

'Peanut' steps up

Earlier this week, walking horse representatives and horse show organizers invited Alena to meet the Tennessee Walking Horse up close and personal.
She was thrilled when trainer Winky Groover asked her to hop in the saddle and ride one of the horses in training as his barn, I'm Breaking Bad (nicknamed Peanut), a 6-year-old performance horse who competes in the 15.2 and under division.
Alena enjoyed her ride on Peanut and noted how much smooth and simple the ride was compared to the horses she trains.
"I love Peanut," she joked. "Can I have him?"

Reprinted with permission from Times-Gazette