NPHS equestrian students horse around

While high school is a time for many students to practice getting behind the wheel of a car, these NPHS students still practice their driving skills on the original car, the horse.
Horseback riding is not only just a sport but is an umbrella term for numerous sub-sports involving horses, Ashley Richardson, sophomore, specializes in the English riding sport of Hunter Pleasure.“It’s a lot of judging the rider instead of the horse, so if I were to compete, they would judge me and how I can handle management [of the horse],” Richardson said.
A vital part of the sport is taking care of the horse .“With horses, there’s always something going on.” Richardson said. Horse ownership involves numerous duties such as, “Coming up [to the stables] every day and checking on things. They always need to be fed and we don’t [clean]out stalls always, but it’s something that needs to be done,” Richardson added. “Grooming is [also] a big part of it, washing [Remy] and making sure he’s healthy. Horses make it really easy to give you a lot of work to do.” This responsibility endowed by the sport is an integral part of the equestrian lifestyle.
While English riders dress up properly and wear a uniform, western rodeo horseback riding flips this formality upside down by including barrel racing, team roping, breakaway roping, team tie-down roping, and cow wrestling. Ava Aguilar, freshman, performs in this particular genre of equestrian sporting and has learned plenty about teamwork and looking out for not only her fellow riders, but her horse, Vacation. “It’s about selflessness, sometimes you have to just watch out for your horse and put their needs in front of yours,” Aguilar said.

With eight years of experience in her style of English show jumping, Mackenzie Motz, senior, explains how competitions are undertaken, “It’s like an arena and there’s about 9 to 12 jumps or obstacles that you have to go over, and the goal is to get over all the jumps in the quickest amount of time and also to go over them cleanly, which means you don’t knock down any of the rails.” Motz said.

Motz gives her key advice for people interested in getting started and mastering the sport of horseback riding. “ I would say being consistent, I think to be successful riding you gotta be [practicing] probably at least three days a week ideally or more and then I would say if you have the opportunity, to just ride a bunch of different horses all the time. Not every horse is going to be the same, and if you want to be a really good rider you want to have the ability to get on any horse and be able to do well,” Motz said.

At university, students can continue their passion for equestrian sporting, “For college, you can pursue [horseback riding], it’s actually quite a big thing in the South… Look at Georgia, Auburn University, and Virginia. If you go to school there then you could definitely join a riding team in college. It’s very open to all levels because in college there are separate divisions,” Motz said.

Even though horseback riders vary in style, they all attempt to master the same skill of controlling and connecting with their horses, which requires plenty of practice and dedication at the stables. “[Remy] has taught me how to navigate tough situations really well,” Richardson said.