Freshman Talia Bossingham began riding horses when she was 6 years old. Now, she serves as President and Captain of the Knox Equestrian Team, a group of over 30 students who take lessons in horse care and riding. Bossingham enjoys sharing her love of horses with the team, and she is looking forward to bringing horses to Knox for a special show.
“The team is really excited about getting to show off their skills,” she said. On Saturday, April 22, from 11 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., the Equestrian team will be on Post Lawn with three of their horses: Swirl, Hannah and Jesse.
To prepare for the show, the varsity riders have had extra practices, focusing on keeping the horses in a small area the size of Post Lawn. The horses all come from Woodland View Farm, the same place about eight miles east of Knox where the riders have lessons each week.
“The JV riders will bathe the horses, brush the horses and tack the horses. While the varsity riders get to ride, I think the JV riders have more fun, because they spend more actual time with the horses,” senior and varsity rider Monica Wichmann said. “I don’t want to spoil anything, but we’re going to be putting on a sort of showÉ People will get to see the horses in all their grandeur.”
According to Bossingham and Wichmann, the horses will walk, trot and canter as well as doing some bareback riding and drills. “It’s synchronized swimming, but for horses,” said Wichmann. She also hinted at a special presentation at the end of the show. There will be pony rides available for those who have never experienced horse riding before.
Wichmann, who was a beginning rider when she came to Knox, described her wonder when she first started on the Equestrian team.
“At first we didn’t even ride horses at the beginning of lessons. We would go up to a horse and be like, ‘This is a horse. It’s a small horse,” she said.
Wichmann also said that, even with several years under her belt, she still feels inexperienced. Still, after working for so long with these three horses, she wasn’t nervous about bringing them on campus.
The riders normally travel to Woodland View for practice only once a week. To accommodate the widely varying skill levels, the team has both Varsity and JV groups. Bossingham teaches the JV lessons and the Varsity team rides on Thursday nights. Members further their riding skills and learn horse health, feeding, and different types of horse equipment. Varsity riders work on English, Western, Bareback, side-saddle, jumping and dressage.
Bossingham most enjoyed riding when she felt connected to the horse, as she did when riding bareback or while racing thoroughbreds. “In both those cases, you’re really in connection with the horse. Physically and mentally, you’re working as a team,” she said.
Freshman Fiona Munro agreed that the horse and rider shared a bond. “The rider gets energized, and then the horse gets energized as well,” she said. She added that the people on the team formed a similar bond. “You pair up two people to a horse, and you tack up the horse together, which is kind of a bonding experience. You have to make sure you don’t brush dust on the other person’s head. So we’re a good group. We work together well, and we communicate together well.”
“It is a great way to make a lot of good connections and friendships,” said Bossingham. “As well as stay in shape. People who say horseback riding isn’t a sport aren’t riding right.”