Other Riding Tips

Horseback Riding in College: Tips from Morgan Knerr

Written by Morgan Knerr

College Team: University of Findlay (Learn More)
State: Ohio
Year in College: Sophomore
Joined Team: 2017 (Freshman Year)
Riding Discipline(s): Western

About Morgan: I am from Plain City, OH. I am currently attending the University of Findlay majoring in Pharmacy. My life consists mostly of studying and riding horses, but when I’m not doing that I am typically hanging out with my friends or watching Netflix.

Collegiate Equestrian Interview

Q: What was your pre-college horse experience?

Both of my parents rode horses growing up, so I was born into the industry. I started off showing at local open shows at the age of four. Once I got into middle school, I joined the Autumn Rose Farm equestrian team and participated in IEA for seven years.

While being a member, I won two Individual National Championships. In the seventh grade, I started to learn reining and I was hooked from there on out. I have been a member of NRHA for seven years and have won two Top Ten World Championships.

Q: What were equestrian team tryouts like?

Tryouts at the University of Findlay are a mock horse show. We are split up into classes which are determined by the division we are trying out for. We then draw horses at random, and just like an IHSA horse show, we must get on and go show. We do not have the chance to ride around and see how the horse rides.

Q: Describe a typical week on the team.

Morgan-Knerr-SupportA typical week for our team varies a little by team member. For me personally, I have both reining and horsemanship practice once a week.

For horsemanship practice we have three different days to choose from, depending on what best fits your schedule. We must be on our horses, warmed up, and ready to practice by 6am. Reining practice is one night a week for all of us after classes.

We also have team workouts once a week which is a requirement, but it turns into a huge team bonding opportunity. Also, because I am not an equestrian studies major, I have to clean a stall once a week to help out as a thank you for using the University horses.

If there is a horse show that week, we have a meeting the Thursday before the show to go over jobs and basic information for the show. If it is a home show, on Friday night we all go out the barn to get everything cleaned up, horses warmed up, and the arena set up for a horse show.

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

Morgan-Knerr-PalominoI compete in both horsemanship and reining. I enjoy both and, although they vary, they have some similarities.

Horsemanship is an opportunity “show off” when you have that perfect horse and the two of you just instantly click, it is an amazing feeling. Horsemanship is about how good can you make your horse look while also looking your best. It is all about riding without showing anyone what you are doing.

To be a good reiner, you must have a good handle on the basics of horsemanship. I have loved reining ever since I tried it for the first time. There is nothing like running those large fast circles and running down to a stop. It is my favorite of the two, by far, because it a one-of-a-kind experience.

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

As a pharmacy major, being able to balance academics and the equestrian team is extremely important. For me, riding horses are obviously more fun than studying functional groups for organic chemistry, but I must prioritize my day.

I know every week when practice, workouts, and team meetings are, so I must plan to ensure I get my work done. The biggest thing I had to learn was not to waste time.

If I had practice and needed to clean stalls, I had to learn to go get my work done efficiently so that I could get back to studying. I also had to learn that as much as I love riding horses and how important they are to me, I am at school to become a pharmacist and that is priority.

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

A “rookie mistake” I made in the past is getting confused with my left and right in a pattern. I would let nerves take over and either simply forget which way I was supposed to go or completely get them mixed up.

Now, to avoid this, I wear a ring on my right hand and remind myself “right ring.” I can remember what I have to do when the nerves get to me. I know lots of people that have different quirks to remember patterns. This is my way of doing it, but try out your own ways to help remember the little things more easily.

Q: What have horses taught you?

Morgan-Knerr-GirlsHorses have taught me so much over the years. They have taught me responsibility, confidence, and patience. I have learned that the horses needs always come before mine. It is cold out? Well the horses are out in it and their water is frozen, so I must take care of them first.

I learned confidence is key in the show pen. Especially when it comes to IHSA, it is all in the luck of the draw. This means if you do not have the best horse in the class, you sit up there and show it like it is the perfect draw. Patience is one of the biggest things I have had to learn over the years. Nothing happens overnight, you have to give it time.

Give the horse the chance to understand, give yourself time to practice and get better. Whether it is your first time on a horse or the one thousandth time, there will always be something new to learn and it will take time to learn it.

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?

I would tell myself to be confident and to enjoy every moment with your teammates because they will become family.

Q: Why should students join a college equestrian team?

Morgan-Knerr-TeamStudents should join college equestrian teams because it is the most rewarding experience. Students can easily start to drown in homework and studying and it consumes their entire life. Having any kind of team when you go to college can help in so many ways. You have a built-in support system and a stress reliever from school.

Just getting my hour and half at the barn two days a week is such an amazing stress reliever, I can forget about everything that I have going on and just do something that makes me so happy.

The built-in support system is amazing, being on the University of Findlay team for one year I have already made friends that will last a lifetime. I would encourage anyone who has the slightest interest in horses to join their college team. Whether you have ridden your entire life or never been on a horse, it is such an amazing opportunity.

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

Click to Shop Twisted X Shoes on Amazon

One piece of rider apparel I cannot live without are my Twisted X shoes. They are the most comfortable western shoes I own and are perfect for being on my feet all day at horse shows. They come in so many different colors and designs that I am always wanting another pair! (Even though I really do not “need” more.)

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

My favorite horse the University of Findlay has is Olivia. She is a reiner and has the sweetest personality and is also talented. I showed her at my first IHSA show, and I have loved her ever since. She is willing to do everything and is a special horse to me. We just click in the show pen every time.

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About the author


Morgan Knerr

I am from Plain City, OH. I am currently attending the University of Findlay majoring in Pharmacy. My life consists mostly of studying and riding horses, but when I’m not doing that I am typically hanging out with my friends or watching Netflix.