College Team: University of Findlay (Learn More)
Year in College: Junior
Joined Team: Freshman year
Riding Discipline(s): Western All-Around Events
About Charity: I am 21 and a junior at the University of Findlay. I am dual majoring in Western Equestrian Studies and Equine Business Management. I am from a very small town in Southern Ohio called McArthur. Horses are not only my profession: what started out as a hobby blossomed into my passion. I once had someone tell me that if you love what you do you will never work a day in your life. So I pursed my passion. My other hobbies include hiking and spending time with my friends, and family. I love all animals, especially my personal horse Dee. I am the youngest and the only girl of 6 kids in my family. I currently work for Spencer and Kim Zimmerman at Ultimate Equine. This job has opened many doors for me!
Collegiate Equestrian Interview
Q: What was your pre-college horse experience?
I have been obsessed with horses my entire life. In fact, my mom likes to tell the story of my first word being “horse.” Growing up, my brothers were in 4-H and completed some horse projects. I couldn’t wait for the day that I would be old enough to complete my own project. Eventually, my brothers grew out of the horse faze as my parents thought I would. Obviously, that did not happen. Unfortunately, finances kept me from getting my own horse.
My first year in 4-H, we leased a horse named Bob from my advisor. I was ecstatic when my mom told me I could finally show. Later that year, after years of prayer, I finally received my very own horse, Dee. Dee did and continues to teach me new things.
We competed every year in local, 4-H, and state shows. Every year, my advisor would take our group to Equine Affair and Quarter Horse Congress. It was here, I was able to see what a real show was like and how big the industry really was. I knew I wanted to be a part of it, so I rode and worked with Dee every day to try to be like those big trainers.
This paid off in my 4-H career, but I knew I wanted even more. I found the University Of Findlay at a booth at Equine Affair and knew that’s where I was going to school.
Q: What were equestrian team tryouts like?
Looking back on my freshman year, I was intimidated. The school attracts many different types of students. There are beginners all the way up to people who compete at the big shows like Congress. I was placed in the Intermediate 2 Division. This had a lot of students in it so I was worried I would not make the cut. I worked very hard every day in class leading up to tryouts.
I knew there was nothing more I could do but to go out there and give it my best shot. Later that week, I received an email that I had made the team. I was so excited that I threw my hands up in the air so fast that I hit the ceiling on my top bunk with my hand. My hand started bleeding, but I did not care. I made it! It seemed like a dream come true, and those dreams kept coming true.
Q: Describe a typical week on the team.
A typical week with the team is different for everyone. We have three separate practice times that we can choose from that fits best into our class schedules.
Many of these practices start at 5:45am so that we can be done before sophomore time at the barn which is at 7am. At these practices, we work on patterns and rail work. We do many different drills to help strengthen our bodies. We trade horses about 3 or 4 times per practice that way we can feel different horses and learn how to handle them all differently.
After these practices, we have workouts at the gym once a week. Here we concentrate on building our muscles up so that it makes it easier to hold your position and balance on the horse. The team also volunteers to help out our community.
Recently, we have been helping out at Challenged Champions, which is a place that help children and people with special or therapy needs. This place is one of my favorite places to volunteer because I have a brother with autism. We also have fundraisers to help support the team. This year we are raffling off a saddle, a TV, and University of Findlay gear!
Q: What type of riding did you choose and why?
I love the all-around industry! I love that it’s not just one thing. You have the trail, western riding, hunter under saddle, and western pleasure. I enjoyed doing these things in 4-H and even more now that I am in school and working at Ultimate Equine. I get to see, firsthand, what it takes to get the horse and the rider ready for each show and the finished product is so rewording! The best part is that there is always something to work on. You may win at one show, but if you do not continue to work hard you might not get the next one.
Q: What are some challenges of balancing academic and equestrian responsibilities?
Balancing academics and the barn can definitely get hard at times. Knowing I have to get to class on campus for my other degree, I have to get off a horse I wish I could stay on just a little longer to work on a problem.
Some days I have to go back and forth to the barn several times a day so I can give my best to my horses and to my other degree. School does not come easily for me. I have to make sure I carve out just as much time as I do for classes as I do for horses.
I would not be able to do it without the help of my friends and professors. The professors are very understanding if you are a few minutes late to class because a test ran late at the barn or visa versa. The classes at the University are pretty small so chances are there are people you know in your class to study with.
Q: What’s one “rookie mistake” you made?
One rookie mistake that I made my freshman year was on my horsemanship final. I was ready to go. I had practiced and worked with my assigned horse a ton! I knew I had a chance of winning the class.
The horse I had was pretty quiet so I did not lunge the day of finals. She was young, but I thought it would be fine. I was wrong. My pattern started out strong, but shortly after that my horse blew up. I stayed on and finished my pattern. I still got a good grade on my test. The judge left a note on her card stating I was a good rider.
However, I got a note on my test that said to be sure to lunge and a DQ from the class. So, take it from me: lunge your horses before shows!
Q: What have horses taught you?
Horses have taught me many things! One of the most important things I learned has been patience. Horses are kind of like a puzzle. You cannot force them into place. If you do, it may work at first but in the long run you will have to go back and fix something you did not train and just made happen.
Horses have taught me hard work and dedication. I have a good work ethic but coming into the industry I knew I had to work even harder to make it where I am headed. Horses have also shown me how to step out of my comfort zone.
I can be timid and soft spoken. I quickly learned that I had to change that or I would never be heard. I still have a long road ahead of me, but I will continue to give it my all!
Q: If you could travel back in time to your first day on the team and give yourself one piece of advice, what would it be?
Have Fun! We all tend to take it too seriously at times. When I am having a bad day, my coaches have to remind me that we ride horses so that we are doing what we love and are happy.
Q: Why should students join a college equestrian team?
I think students should join a team even if they are not an equestrian because it is so fun! Our team members become a big family and we are all there for each other cheering on the sidelines or on the back of a horse.
Q: What’s one piece of gear you can’t live without?
One piece of riding apparel I cannot live without would be my hat. A quality, well-shaped hat goes a long way in first impressions both in the show pen and in the industry.
Q: Who is your favorite horse to ride and why?
My favorite horse to ride would be my personal horse Dee. She is by far not the best horse in the show pen, but she is my best friend. Anytime I would have a bad day or needed to think, I would just hop on her and go. She is the only horse I have had that big of a connection with.About the Team Shop Horse Rookie Riding Essentials Meet More Students
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