Erin Riley: The College Equestrian

Erin Riley is a young adult finding her way through college while still managing to keep horses anchored in her life.  Taking your horse to school is a decision many students face, and while it’s not for everyone, it can be very rewarding and beneficial for some students.  Read Erin’s story about how she tries to balance school and eventing– it requires sacrificing some “college life,” but for her the benefits are worth it.  Thanks to Erin for writing, and thank you for reading.


Erin Riley and Jewels at Loch Moy. Photo by Alec Thayer.


From Erin:

I know a good amount of you can relate to the statement “college is a struggle.” For most college students attending class while nursing their hangover from Thirsty Thursday festivities the night before, while trying to achieve good grades, is the hardest thing they’ll do in their college career. For us equestrians however, our responsibilities are much greater.

I am a junior Kinesiology major with a concentration in Exercise Science at Longwood University in little Farmville, Virginia. I am also an active competitor in the heart of Area 2. I have a young warmblood mare named Jewels that I packed up and brought with me to school last year and haven’t looked back since. Jewels was 4 going on 5 when I brought her to school last year and had not yet started competing until April of this year. We spent a short time on our school’s dressage team before I decided it was time to buckle down and start prepping for the 2013 event season.

I think I spent more time with my horse at the barn then I ever did with any of my college friends. My days consisted of getting up for my 8ams where I would stay in class until 12-1 then it was off to the barn. After hours of mindless grooming and grazing on top of time in the saddle every week, I wouldn’t get back to campus until well after the sun went down only to spend the rest of the night doing homework or studying. As much as I was a social butterfly in high school, in college I chose to lead a very anti-social lifestyle; my non-horsey college friends now fondly refer me to as the “crazy horse lady.” I choose not to drink and party with my friends on weekends, as I tend to go to bed at ridiculously early hours just to wake up at ridiculously early hours to go to the barn. On top of competing my own mare, I travel to compete 2-3 horses under Susan Aiken on weekends. So on top of maintaining a 3.5 GPA I spend most weekends on the road travelling around Virginia to compete.

As hard as juggling homework, studying, riding, and competing I find a way to make it happen and wouldn’t have it any other way. So here’s to all you eventers out there also juggling school or work while maintaining a full competition schedule– kick on and study hard!


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