Horseback riding is a lifestyle for some CHS students


Photo courtesy of Julianne Sackett.

Mia Gallo

Horseback riding feels like more than just a another sport to its participants.They make it a lifestyle, an activity in which they find a family and a home.

Junior Emily McNeill of Colts Neck knows this to be true. McNeill started to ride when she was 12 years old. She began after she went on a ride on vacation to Colorado, during which she fell in love with the sport. Since her best friend rode at the time, McNeill decided to start at the same barn.

McNeill currently rides anywhere from three to four days a week. Her favorite part of the sport is the relationship you can build with the horse.

“They’re such amazing animals and once you trust each other you can accomplish so much,” McNeill said.

There are two kinds of competitions in which McNeill participates: Western and English. In Western style, riders compete for the fastest time while performing certain patterns. In English riding, judges base their scores on the form of the rider and horse duo in comparison to the other competitors. There are timed jumping completions in the English style as well.

Junior Phoebe Drummond of Little Silver, a competitive horseback rider for the past 10 years, agrees with McNeill on forming a relationship with the horse. Drummond says that she loves to spend time with the animals and develop a bond with her horse. These bonds have led her to be nicknamed “Horse Girl”. A name that Drummond originally welcomed now doesn’t make much sense, considering as of this year she no longer competes in the sport.

“‘Horse girl’ has become pretty iconic especially because I posted so much horse stuff on social media. I think it’s funny even though I’m not competing right now,” Drummond said.

Neither of the girls own their own horses but they both lease them, a common alternative in the equestrian world due to the high price and upkeep, according to McNeill.

Although horseback riding requires commitment, it creates lasting memories for riders, both on and off the horse.