By: Maria Weber
This year, I participated in the United States Equestrian Federation’s School Equestrian Athlete program. The program is fairly new—only a few years old—and it is an opportunity for high school students to receive a varsity letter for their participation in equestrian sports. The program requires the athlete to be currently enrolled in high school, be a member of the United States Equestrian Federation, and complete one hundred hours of riding and three competitions between June 1 of one year and May 31 of the next.
The USEF’s School Equestrian Athlete program has given me a chance to connect with people who share me passion for horses and to be recognized for the hard work and dedication that I put into this great sport. I have been a member of the East Equine Explorers 4-H club and have taken lessons with Dr. Ann Furr at Rockwater Farm for several years. Participating in the horse shows and riding hours required by this program has allowed me to improve my riding skills, to experience a show atmosphere, and to learn about the differences between riding for pleasure and riding in a competition. By joining the USEF and participating in the School Equestrian Athlete program, I am able to be recognized for my involvement in a sport that requires just as much, if not more, education, hard work, athleticism, and passion as more widely-acknowledged sports.
My completion of a year in the School Equestrian Athlete program, in addition to my membership to the Paso Fino Horse Association, also gave me the opportunity to compete in an essay contest sponsored by the USEF. I was thrilled to find out that I won the contest and received a grant of one thousand dollars toward my equestrian education.
The USEF School Equestrian Athlete program is wonderful, and it has given me experiences and opportunities that I would not have had otherwise. The program has been very worthwhile and rewarding, and I would definitely recommend it to any other high school students involved in an equestrian sport.