I didn’t grow up around horses and, honestly, never imagined that they would develop into one of the things in life that I am most passionate about.
In fact, my first physical encounter with a horse didn’t happen until I was ten years old and enrolled in our local 4-H club.
The concept was completely new to me.
This experience, however, altered my thinking and undoubtedly changed the course of my life forever.
I completely fell in love and ignited a passion that I couldn’t wait to learn more about.
By the time I was eleven years old, I had my very own horse, Izzy, and was dedicating all of my time and energy to learning about the animal as well as reining and competing.
And as expected, it came with its fair set of challenges.
Izzy was an amazing horse, but she did not share the passion for reining and I learned that she excelled in other disciplines.
I knew if I wanted to continue down this road, I would have to change her job to something she enjoyed while also searching for a horse that was more suited to reining.
This is when our family purchased my next show horse named Juice.
His natural ability, showmanship, and overall demeanor changed everything for me and introduced me to a new side of this incredible sport.
The problem was, though, that in my home territory of Alberta, Canada, there weren’t a ton of horse trainers.
In fact, the closest trainer was about six or seven hours away.
Traveling to see my trainer, allotting practice times, and managing school was becoming more complicated, and I wasn’t sure I could balance it all.
Riding was and always will be my passion, but school was my top priority.
With the help and support of my family, I made the decision to enroll in an online academy for my sophomore and junior years of high school to allow me the flexibility to travel to shows and competitions across Canada and the United States.
The days were long, and the road was unforgiving, but looking back, it was all worth it.
These nationwide competitions granted me incredible exposure and opened doors of opportunity that I never even knew existed.
All of the hard work and sacrifices were undoubtedly paying off.
While the exposure and recognition were amazing, I still did not have much of a long-term plan.
I was simply enjoying the wild ride that I was on.
Within that time frame, I met and began working with a new trainer and horse in the state of Texas and spent a great deal of time down there learning more and gaining experience.
In those training sessions and ensuing horse shows, I acquired more knowledge and skills than I ever thought possible.
One discovery, however, stood out among the rest.
I learned that equestrian was a Division I sport at the collegiate level here in the US.
While my love for the sport had always been the fuel to my fire, this concept got me thinking about my passion in an entirely new way.
I began thinking, did I have what it took to compete at this level?
And if you know anything about me, you knew I was going to find out.
I began attending college camps around the country and even had the opportunity to go on some official visits to Division I programs.
One of my final stops along that journey was SMU.
From the very moment I stepped onto campus in Dallas, I knew that’s where I wanted to be.
Honestly, it reminded me a bit of back home, and that was a feeling I could not ignore.
And so, it was decided.
The journey to Dallas was one of great length.
My mom and I packed up my belongings in Alberta and made the fifty-two-hour trek to my new home at SMU.
While I was no stranger to riding and had spent years training, the adjustment to college athletics proved to be a challenge.
Not only was I now riding a horse that I wasn’t familiar with, but I was also adjusting to new sets of training regimens and routines and acclimating to the rigor of college classes.
There is no doubt that those initial days at SMU were overwhelming and difficult, but I had the love and support of the best coaching staff and the most amazing group of teammates that anyone could ask for.
They have made this journey far greater than I could have ever imagined it to be, and we have accomplished some incredible things in the three years that I have spent with the program.
Personally, I have celebrated most outstanding player honors at meets, made the All-American reining team, and even secured ECAC Reining Freshman Rider of the Year in my first season.
While I am humbled by the personal accolades, my ultimate goal always centers around helping our team be the best competitors and people that we can possibly be.
A few short weeks ago, we defeated Auburn to become the 2023 Equestrian National Champions and secured the first equestrian national title in school history.
At that moment, I was overcome with feelings of joy, pride, and an overall sense of gratitude. After coming up short in previous years, to have finally reached that milestone was amazing, and to have etched our mark in school history made the moment all the more special.
It’s the honor of my lifetime to represent this university, and I often think about how fortunate I am to have ended up in such a wonderful place.
I am just so grateful.
This has been nothing short of a wild ride, and I cannot wait to see what’s next.