Other Riding Tips

Horseback Riding in College: Tips from Mackenzie Ashe

Written by Mackenzie Ash

College Team: LIU Post (Learn More)
State: New York
Year in College: Sophomore
Joined Team: 2017 (Freshman Year)
Riding Discipline(s): Hunter / Jumper

About Mackenzie: I am a biology major with a minor in equine studies. I am originally from Raleigh, North Carolina. After my undergraduate studies, I want to go to graduate school and study animal behavior.

Collegiate Equestrian Interview

Q: What was your pre-college horse experience?

I started riding when I was eight years old and showing competitively on the AA/A/C hunter/jumper circuit when I was about 11 years old. I have shown in the hunters up to the 3’6 juniors, “Big Eq,” and high children’s jumpers.

Q: What were equestrian team tryouts like?

Mackenzie-AshSince I am from North Carolina, it was a bit hard to get up to LIU Post to be able to try out. I was able to visit the school, but did not try out while I was there. I sent videos of me riding many different horses so our coach could see me ride without me physically trying out.

Q: Describe a typical week on the team.

Mackenzie-Ash-flatA typical week consists of three practices on Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday. The earliest practice starts is at 7am, and the last practice ends at 2pm.

Our team consists of around 35 girls, so the practices are broken up into different groups based on experience and showing level (since we show IHSA).

Our team has around 30 horses that were donated to us, and all of the team girls are assigned a “care horse.” This means we make sure they are happy and healthy during our season. This is a weekly chore that is required so that we can keep our horses going smoothly.

During our show season, we show every Sunday. As a team, we travel together on a bus. We meet at the bus at 5:45am and help our teammates throughout the entire day with their classes.

Q: What type of riding did you choose and why?

Our team competes in equitation. I compete in the open jumping and flatting levels of IHSA. I did not specifically choose to show in equitation as a college student, but that is what most college riding programs focus on.

I also show my personal horse in the jumpers outside of the team.

Q: What are some challenges of balancing academic and equestrian responsibilities?

Mackenzie-Ash-jumpI have to leave myself enough time away from the barn to be able to get my school work done. There is always something that needs to be done with the horses, whether it be cleaning them, taking them out to graze, or riding them.

Feeling like I do not have enough time is my biggest weakness. I now set a time limit for myself when I am at the barn so that I can go back to my dorm and study.

Q: What’s one “rookie mistake” you made?

My biggest “rookie-mistake” was spending too much time at the barn. I worked hard at the barn and my school work, which drained all my energy. As an incoming sophomore, I had to figure out where to draw the line.

Q: What have horses taught you?

Horses have taught me hard work and determination. Horses, like all animals, require constant care. Our team has 30 of them to care for!

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?

Take it slow, and focus on your own riding skills!

Q: Why should students join a college equestrian team?

Being on a team gives you an automatic friend group. It also gives you an escape from classes so your mind can have a break.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lseFGx5aSig]

Q: What’s one piece of gear you can’t live without?

The most important piece of gear is definitely my helmet. You never know what can happen!

Chief Rookie Aside: Learn about how often to replace your helmet and see recommended helmets on the Horse Riding Essentials Amazon list

Q: Who is your favorite horse to ride and why?

My favorite horse to ride is Babouche. He is a small horse that used to show in the jumpers. He is my favorite because we get along with each other, and he is super fun to jump.

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About the author


Mackenzie Ash

I am a biology major with a minor in equine studies. I am originally from Raleigh, North Carolina. After my undergraduate studies, I want to go to graduate school and study animal behavior.