I walked into freshman orientation with one goal: Find the club equestrian table at the activities fair and put my name on the list. Going to college was a nerve-racking transition for me. Everything changed so fast, and I just wanted a stabilizing constant, something that would comfort me in a time of uncertainty.
I rode horses for my entire life and I wanted to make it a priority to continue doing so. Although I rode mostly independently, I felt excited for a chance to ride with a college team. When I spotted the table, a sense of relief flooded my body. I would be okay here.
Flash forward to club equestrian tryouts.
I’m sweating like crazy from the heat and nerves as I wait to jump around a simple jump course so the coach can observe. I feel pretty confident as I canter around.
But as soon as these feelings start to settle in, the horse locks his eyes onto the next jump. I sense he’s freaked out about it so I urge him forward. He refuses the fence. I kick him hard only for him to rear up a little on his hind legs. “Great,” I thought to myself “I’m definitely cut.” At that point the nerves flowed out of me. All I wanted to do was just get the horse over the fence to prove I could do it. I let out a laugh, went to it again and cleared it. I ended up making the team, and I love that stubborn horse with all my heart.
That moment, although slightly embarrassing, made me realize I would love the team. What’s not to love about escaping to a barn full of horses and forgetting all about school? Little did I know, the Boston College Equestrian Team would become something that was much more than just continuing my love of riding. It became my comfort in college.
The Boston College Equestrian Team is my favorite part of college.
Imagine: You show up and get on a random horse, probably one you haven’t ridden before and ride. It’s so much different than riding individually on your own horse, who you know and feel comfortable riding. Intercollegiate riding is a whole different game, but it’s made me a stronger rider.
You practice riding on several different horses to really hone in on the skills you need to ride any horse. At competition, where you’re placed on a random horse you’ve very possibly never seen. You must feel confident and versatile in your abilities.
Our coach definitely prepares us for this, putting us on different horses, giving us challenging courses to jump around and strengthening exercises like working without stirrups to do while we do flat work (walking, trotting and cantering).
My confidence and skills have improved since starting the team. It’s not always pretty. I’ve fallen off at competitions and made dumb mistakes. What makes it all worth it is knowing I’m going to do better and try harder for my team.
Having a group of people that genuinely cares and roots for me all the time, inside and outside of the competition ring, win or lose, is something I wouldn’t trade for the world. I never expected the dynamic of the team and I cherish it deeply. I’ve met my closest friends and leaders who help guide me and show me what it means to be a true teammate. When I feel super stressed out, rolling down the driveway into the farm with my friends makes it all fade away.
This team shares my passions, supports me and doesn’t look confused and weirded out when I start talking about horses. We get together for team dinners, bond the car rides to practice and wake up at the crack of dawn for competition together. I know they are there for me if I need them.
The equestrian team makes Boston College because feel like a home away from home. Club sports teams are not just another commitment on top of schoolwork. Involving yourself in them can seriously change your experience at school for the better.