Student gets a leg up in college

Equestrian riders begin to prepare for spring contests

On her third year and last semester at Laramie County Community College, Annie Hoag has been living her passion and interests on the college’s equestrian team.

From Windsor, Colo., Hoag was able to receive a full scholarship to ride horses competitively in Wyoming.
“It’s a pretty sweet deal that I’m getting to go to school for doing what I love, which was too expensive to do before. I always wanted to be a horse rider when I was young but only had the opportunity to ride friends’ horses or pay for lessons,” Hoag said.

Last year, Hoag placed second in beginner equestrian regionals qualifying her to compete in the next bracket. She took third place in the hunt seat zones competition held in California where she was only one point short of qualifying to go nationals.

This year, she is in the novice division, which for her short experience is quite an accomplishment, because it usually takes riders a lot longer to make it that far. She noted the next divisions are advanced and open.

Hoag’s goal for this semester is to fill the novice position.

“I want to put a lot of effort into trying to place in it.  It’s going to be a challenge because I’ll be on greener (younger) horses, and I’ll be up against riders that have been riding all of their lives,” she said. She said her plan is to improve her posture and control over nervousness before going in front a judge.

“The biggest thing about competing on the equestrian team is having confidence.  You have to be a leader to the horse, and if you’re nervous, it’s going to make the horse nervous as well,” Hoag said.

For competitions, the riders get assigned horses they have never been on before, so it definitely takes charm to coax these animals into following commands.

One strength Hoag said she felt was actually starting with less experience on the equestrian team.

“I’m not use to riding a certain way, so I didn’t have to try to break habits when I started to learn,” she said. On the other hand, she said she hasn’t dealt with horses in any other way except for showing, which she’d like to improve.

Hoag, majoring in wildlife conservation and management, said her interest for animals is taking her in the direction to study zoology at a university. She has applied for an internship at the Denver Wildlife Sanctuary and hoped either to study zoo conservation or ecology field research for specific animals as a career.

The upcoming event for LCCC’s equestrian team is the Western show Feb. 18, then the Western Regionals Feb. 19, both hosted by the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

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