As junior Zoey Ford, gets ready to head out to the stables for her riding practice, she knows that she won’t be able to prepare to start her pile of homework until after 8:00 p.m. For senior Daniella McCasland, she dedicates the majority of her time riding instead of toward the typical high school experiences.
“It’s been hard to balance school and riding — so I haven’t really had time to participate in out of school activities,” McCasland said.
The time the girls spend dedicated to riding is usually when they would be able to do outside of school activities, or participating in school traditions at STA, such as Sion games.
“Well, it is hard because if I do riding I can’t do any other STA sports or
really anything that involves activities out of school every day,” Ford said.
Riders like Ford practice at least three days a week and girls like senior Anna Swanson work on top of that to afford to ride.
“I work to pay for all of [the horse’s] vet bills because he likes to get hurt and also the normal cost it comes with owning a horse,” Swanson said “I work 27-30 hours a week to help afford my horse.”
To continue riding through high school many riders like Swanson, who own their horse, work one or two jobs to pay for the bills of the horse. Riding is not only expensive it also involved a lot of time and dedication according to Swanson.
“It takes up a lot of my schedule, any of my free time goes towards going out to the barn, the only time I have for social settings is at night on the weekends,” Swanson said.
“Well, it is hard because if I do riding I can’t do any other STA sports or really anything that involves activities out of school every day,” Ford said.
For Ford the dedication is not only for the love of the sport but also to be able to ride for a university.
“I’m looking to be on an equestrian team in college, so I’m looking to be as advanced as I can,” Ford said.
Even though riders aren’t able to spend a lot of time outside of school, they continue to ride because of the bond they create. The bond between a rider and their horse is like no other.
“You have to trust your horse and trust that they trust you,” Ford said.
According to Ford the horses need to know that you are going to treat them well and you have to be able to trust that they will listen to your commands, unlike in other sports. Swanson compared riding to walking your dog.
“You get to work out but also hang out and create a bond with him,” she said.
According to Swanson, being a rider requires you to be more responsible because you have to make sure you are safe and that your horse is as well.
“It teaches a lot of responsibility because you are in charge of the well being of an animal and the health of an animal, while simultaneously competing competitively,” Swanson said.
Swanson has been riding since she was in 4th grade, and she believes that if she didn’t ride she would not be as responsible as she is now.
“If I didn’t have to take care of my horse the way that I do, I wouldn’t be working as much as I do and I wouldn’t be as responsible as I am,” Swanson said.
McCasland’s parents had their daughter ride horses to lessen their fear of horses, while also trying to foster more responsibility.
“My parents didn’t want me to be afraid of horses, so they paid to let me have lessons,” McCasland said.
Riding fosters unbreakable bonds and responsibility that allow the girls to continue riding throughout college. For some like Ford, riding for a university is the goal while for others like Swanson riding will remain as a hobby.
“I definitely do want to continue riding in college, I probably won’t do it as much as I do now, but I’m planning on taking [the horse] to Manhattan with me at the end of the summer.”
For riders like Swanson, riding allowed for new opportunities to grow. Swans
on learned through riding that she loves taking care of animals is now planning on going to Kansas State University veterinary program.
For Riders like Swanson, McCasland and Ford, riding is more than a sport, it is how they have learned responsibility and dedication.
“It teaches, especially for kids and for teenagers especially, it teaches a lot of responsibility,” Swanson said.