While most students took to the practice fields, theater, fitness center, or community service vans for their co-curricular activities, others chose to commit themselves to afternoons of calm, focused interaction with 1000-pound animals cantering, trotting, and jumping.
Hannah Wulkan ’12 took an equestrian exemption last winter to spend more time training for the Interscholastic Equestrian League, which provides a unique sort of competition. Rather than bringing their own horses with which they have trained, competitors select randomly from a pool of horses, and ride an unpracticed course. Of the competitions, Wulkan said, “They’re a lot harder, because you don’t get to form a relationship with the horse that you’re on. You just have to go.”
Currently, Wulkan is on two competitive equestrian teams and hopes to continue with her exemption this coming winter.
Meaghan McKelvey ’13 decided last spring that she, too, wanted to devote more time to riding. She applied for the exemption, drawing up a schedule that involved three-to-four afternoons of riding a week, coupled with gym workouts.
Why go to the gym when you can get a full workout sitting down? When asked if riding ever felt physically demanding, McKelvey explained. “Your thighs can get really sore, especially if you haven’t ridden for a while, because there is a lot of gripping and stabilizing that you do with your legs.”
A typical practice consists of warming up the horse, walking, trotting, then cantering, each for between five and ten minutes, then progressing to short courses and jumping.
These girls are committed to improving their riding skills and are very grateful for their opportunities to take exemptions. “I had never considered it as an option,” said Wulkan. “I wasn’t sure I could even get it, but now I can devote a lot more time to doing what I love, and I’ve improved a lot!”