Horseback riders gallop through the pandemic

Kate McHugh

During the pandemic sports have been extremely affected. While in the purple tier, athletes are required to practice outside, social distance and wear masks. One sport that has been able to continue without many difficulties, however, is horseback riding. Since it is a mainly solo sport, riders have been able to continue practicing while also staying safe. With the added precautions of masks and sanitizing surfaces, it has been a relatively safe activity to do during the past year. 

Junior Ava Lazarus has been horseback riding since she was six years old. The barn she currently rides at is pretty small, so it has stayed open throughout the pandemic. She enjoys the escape that horseback riding gives her during this time. 

“[Riding] helps because it keeps me in a routine, and there’s not really a time where I don’t have anything to do, ” Lazarus said. “It’s nice to be able to get out of my house and have something to do.” 

Junior Katherine Stein has also rode since a young age. Similar to Lazarus, her barn has stayed open with the added precautions of social distancing, wearing masks and sanitizing surfaces. She appreciates the stress release that horseback riding gives her during the past year. 

“It’s very relieving, I just forget about everything I have to do during the day and I’m able to focus when I’m there on my horse and do what I love to do,” Stein said. 

With school being online it is so important to take a break from the screens and spend some time outdoors. Freshman Sophie Letts is experiencing her first year of high school online, which has been a difficult adjustment. 

“It’s been stressful getting like my school work done, so it’s nice to be able to go up to the barn right after school and take my mind off [everything],” Letts said.  

This is a common theme amongst other athletes since online school requires lots of concentration. Additionally, many students feel isolated not being able to see their friends at school. The barn provides a community of people who enjoy the same things. 

  “My barn has a really good community, there’s a bunch of other riders that are around my age,” Letts said. “It’s nice because [right now] you can’t see a bunch of your friends from school.” 

Stein agreed, since the riders enjoy the same thing it makes it easy to connect. 

“We’re really connected at the barn because we all have the same passion,” Stein said. 

Since many riders start at such a young age, horseback riding has been something consistent throughout all of the changes during the pandemic. Lazarus, Stein and Letts all really enjoy being around horses which makes riding even better. 

Lazarus also takes part in training the horses which allows her to spend more time with new horses. 

“Right now I work with a lot of [new] horses that come in, so it’s really rewarding to see the transformation [over a few months],” Lazarus said. 

Apart from spending time with their horses, they also really enjoy jumping. 

“[I enjoy] the adrenaline rush [when I] jump,” Letts said, “When you’re under pressure, especially in a show or a competition, it’s fun and it’s very nerve wracking.” 

Stein’s favorite part is also jumping because it is stress relieving and fun.

 “You feel like you’re flying, it’s just so much fun, and so stress relieving,” Stein said.  

Overall riding has been a good outlet for students who are now spending most of their time on zoom. 

  “[Riding] has been such a good thing for me because every time I think about [my horse], I smile,” Stein said. “Everything is just so much happier [at the barn].”