By Lacey Bohn for APHA
APHA has partnered with the National Collegiate Equestrian Association to help support the advancement of Women’s Equestrian on the path to National Collegiate Athletic Association championship sport status. NCAA equestrienne Lacey Bohn shares her insight about competing on a varsity equestrian team:
It takes great talent to be able to compete on the collegiate level, but you’ll need more than just riding skills to be successful as an equestrian student-athlete. With my senior year at Texas Christian University coming to a close, the following is a list of four years worth of wisdom I’ve garnered on finding success as an NCAA equestrian.
- Accept what you can’t change. In this sport, there can be countless uncontrollable factors: your horse spooks, the judge misses a major mistake made by your opponent, you’re denied a re-ride, and more. To maintain peace of mind, you must be able to let go of the things that are out of your hands. Allowing these factors to occupy your mind is a waste of mental energy—something an athlete can’t afford to misuse. It’s best to channel energy toward factors that can be controlled.
- Stay flexible. While it is important to have the discipline to follow a tight and often grueling schedule, things frequently can and will change. Fighting change is another waste of mental energy. When there are seemingly a thousand things on your to-do list and there aren’t enough hours in the day, the slightest change of plans can feel like it throws the entire week off-kilter. As an athlete, staying flexible with time is an art form that takes time and practice to refine. Plan each day with some “what-if” cushion time. This allows for easier schedule changes when unforeseen things inevitably come up. If nothing comes up, the extra time can be used for checking things off the to-do list.
- Allow yourself to learn from others. Most NCAA equestrians enter college with many years of horse experience under their belts. After riding with some of the best coaches and trainers, it’s easy to feel like you have it all figured out. However, there is more than one way to achieve a desired outcome. Your coach and teammates likely come from very different backgrounds, providing a wealth of knowledge you can gain from. Never be too proud to ask for help.
- Strengthen your self-discipline. One of the most challenging elements of collegiate equestrian competition is the transition from an individual to a team sport. In any sport, discipline is crucial. Joining an NCEA equestrian team means committing to something much bigger than yourself. More than 20 other riders now depend on your contributions as a team member. Every decision you make affects your teammates in some way, big or small.
- Grow continuously. Your time as a student-athlete will be fast and furious. College years are a time of life-changing personal development. Being a successful collegiate equestrian doesn’t just consist of always being on show roster or having a winning record. It is finding balance as an athlete and a student, and growing as an individual through the good and bad. Take advantage of every opportunity and every resource available to you, because it will be gone before you know it.
[Reprinting all of part of this story is permitted, so long as credit is given to the Paint Horse Journal and a link provide back to apha.com.]
The American Paint Horse Association is the world’s second-largest international equine breed association, registering more than a million horses in 59 nations and territories since it was founded. APHA promotes, preserves and provides meaningful experiences with Paint Horses.