The Willistonian, Est. 1881

Filed under Showcase, Sports

Speed, Beauty, and Strength: Inside Williston’s Equestrian Program

Fuller+Horse+Facility.+Credit%3A+Facebook.
Fuller Horse Facility. Credit: Facebook.

Fuller Horse Facility. Credit: Facebook.

Fuller Horse Facility. Credit: Facebook.

Hang on for a minute...we're trying to find some more stories you might like.


Email This Story






Each season, a small group of Williston students hops on the bus every day for a quick 15-minute ride to the Infinity Equestrian program at Fuller Horse Facility. It’s an afternoon program many students never participate in, but those that do cherish it.

With this program, students have the option to either take only lessons four days a week, or they can join the Williston Interscholastic Equestrian Association (IEA) show team to compete at various locations. Requirements to compete include lessons a couple times a week as well as tryouts and an application submitted over the summer.

This spring there are four riders: Momoka Oda ’18, Harrison Winrow ’18, Villard Xu ’18 and Noel Song ’20.

Momoka has been riding at the barn for the last three years. When she first began, she had little experience in horseback riding and this year she joined the IEA team. She finished fourth in regionals.

“At the competition, you are randomly assigned to a horse you have never ridden before,” Momoka said. “This is the hardest part. You don’t know what kind of horse he or she is, so you need to watch how other riders ride.”

There is risk in horseback riding, despite the popular belief that you “just sit there.” Throughout my riding career I have suffered from numerous injuries that have landed me in the hospital, ranging from concussions to minor vertebrae fractures.

“Sometimes competition can be very dangerous,” Momoka explained. “At my first competition, there was a girl who was riding a horse, which I was supposed to ride next. The horse bucked her off and when she fell, she screamed.”

Harrison began as a brand-new rider this spring and has advanced impressively fast, cantering and jumping within the first few weeks; most new riders have to wait until the end of the season or longer to reach that level.

“For those who say that riding isn’t a sport, I challenge them to feel my calf muscles,” Harrison said. “Successful horseback riding requires incredible precision with one’s balance, leg movements, and spatial awareness. Also, it takes serious courage to ride a horse! I mean, come on, this is a horse! They are huge muscular creatures and we mount them.”

The Williston Equestrian Team was established at least 20 years ago. Athletic Director Mark Conroy informed The Willistonian that Williston originally worked with Heritage Farm but switched to Fuller, in Westhampton, about 15 years ago.

“Heritage was no longer able to accommodate our riders at that time of day,” Conroy said. “Also, during that time, the owner of Fuller Horse Farm, Carolyn Fuller Coggins, had a daughter at the school so we became familiar with their farm. When we started looking for another farm, Fuller Horse Farm was the best choice.”

Students of various ages and experience are welcome to the team. Whether you have never sat on a horse before, or you have been riding for years, trainer Laura Etzel will work to make riders the best they can be.

Etzel is the co-owner of the facility as well as the trainer, instructor and coach. She coaches the Williston team as well as the Infinity Equestrian Team, which includes girls from all over the area. Etzel is a Medal MacLay winner, licensed riding instructor, a professional trainer, Dressage rider, and has owned a horse stable for the past 25 years.

She told The Willistonian that although she’s primarily had positive experiences in the horse riding world, the teachers who weren’t as kind prompted her to go into business for herself.

“Many of the riding instructors in my past had a positive impact on me, but the few who sent me home crying have blessed me with the vision for my riding program,” she said. “I wanted to create a place where students of all ages could gather and learn all that horses have to offer them without such restrictive boundaries and expectations.”

And this is the exact experience I had as a member of this team. I am almost 19 and have been riding since I was four years old. I have been to many different barns over the years, but Fuller Horse Facility has advanced me and matured me as a rider much faster and more efficiently than any other place I have worked with.

Harrison feels the same way.

“My favorite part of being on the Williston Equestrian team is the exposure to so many different techniques and equine experiences,” he said. “In just three weeks, I was able to ride a horse at the caliber that often takes months to accomplish in private lessons or other settings. Meeting four times a week allows the riders to form real bonds with the horses we work with, to step up the intensity, and push ourselves to achieve difficult tasks in the ring.”

Momoka wishes to continue riding, although after graduation she is going back to Japan, where she said it will be difficult to find a facility.

“It might be hard for me to continue riding in the small isolated island country, even though I would love to. That is one of the things I am very sad about going back to Japan. I hope I can find the way to continue riding,” she said.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Leave a Comment

If you want a picture to show with your comment, go get a gravatar.




*

Navigate Left
  • Speed, Beauty, and Strength: Inside Williston’s Equestrian Program

    Arts & Culture

    Actors, Audience Respond to ‘Laramie Project’

  • Speed, Beauty, and Strength: Inside Williston’s Equestrian Program

    Campus News

    Seven Seniors Celebrate College Athletic Commitments

  • Speed, Beauty, and Strength: Inside Williston’s Equestrian Program

    Community Voices

    Volleyball Team Serves Up Success

  • Speed, Beauty, and Strength: Inside Williston’s Equestrian Program

    Arts & Culture

    Williston Dancers Prepare to “Break the Silence”

  • Speed, Beauty, and Strength: Inside Williston’s Equestrian Program

    Campus News

    Once a Wildcat Always a Wildcat: Caroline Wysocki ’16

  • Speed, Beauty, and Strength: Inside Williston’s Equestrian Program

    Arts & Culture

    “Laramie” Actors Hope for Community Impact and Open Discussion

  • Speed, Beauty, and Strength: Inside Williston’s Equestrian Program

    Campus News

    Six APs and Still Sane: Amanda Shen and Simon Kim

  • Speed, Beauty, and Strength: Inside Williston’s Equestrian Program

    Newsflash

    Ice Cream, Pancakes, and — Despite the Cold — Genuine Happiness

  • Speed, Beauty, and Strength: Inside Williston’s Equestrian Program

    Sports

    Christian Anzeveno’s Gridiron Grit

  • Speed, Beauty, and Strength: Inside Williston’s Equestrian Program

    Arts & Culture

    Is Video Game Addiction Real? Do You Have It?

Navigate Right
The oldest continuously published high school newspaper in America
Speed, Beauty, and Strength: Inside Williston’s Equestrian Program