BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ- While some students take part in in-school sports at Governor Livingston, others have developed a hobby in horseback riding. Many girls who are pursuing this hobby ride English style, and have been competing for many years and practicing on teams. However, most started off simply with a love for animals. Horseback riding has gained popularity throughout the years. Horses can sometimes be unpredictable but can be close friends if the people riding them take good care of them.

Sophomore Olivia Buchholz has been riding for 10 years and does not intend to stop anytime soon. She has always loved animals and enjoys being able to “spend time with the horses and bond with them.” She has leased three horses throughout her riding career - Blitz, Quinn, and Pash - and she loves each of them equally. Buchholz has also worked at her barn, the Watchung Stables, and taken care of horses since middle school. Interestingly, Buchholz and other students who competitively horseback ride can receive varsity letters. Buchholz has received awards since eighth grade because of her skill, and the barn she rides at has a ceremony where she is also recognized for her achievements.

Sophomore Elizabeth Arent also horseback rides. She has been riding for seven years at her barn and has been inspired by professionals such as Harry de Leyer and Snowman. At Palermo Show Stables, Arent rides and participates in the International Equestrian Association (IEA). Within this program, Arent travels “to different barns and draws a random horse and competes with them.” She also competes in jumper shows with a horse named Pedro. Arent loves working so closely with horses, and enjoys observing their different personalities and riding styles—her favorite horse is Hunter. She also enjoys buying tack pieces and other necessary items for riding. Each piece is unique and it is fun for her to get her own equipment. Many horseback riders own their own equipment and lease a horse, but all of that can quickly add up in price. To save money, some rent equipment and ride different horses.

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Senior Sierra Haines has also been riding since she was four years old. Her passion comes from her grandfather, who used to train wild horses in California. Haines is so invested in horseback riding that she quit cheerleading to pursue it. As for the competitions, Haines mentioned that competitors sometimes have to be ready as early as 7:30 in the morning. The competitions also run for many hours because of the many divisions that compete. One of the advantages of the competition taking so long, according to Haines, is that “horse shows always have great food trucks.” Haines’s favorite thing about riding is the connection she is able to develop with horses. She enjoys the different horses and being able to overcome issues in order to ride with them. She likes challenging projects, which is why horseback riding is so close to her heart.

All of the Governor Livingston students who horseback ride are extremely passionate about their sport and hope to continue into their future. Their common love for animals and the ability to bond and connect with each unique horse is important. They highly recommend the sport to others. Whether it be just taking a lesson or joining a team, horseback riding is something that is fun to try as a new hobby or do much more often with experience. Although right now it is not one of the most popular sports out there, competitions and lessons are rapidly gaining popularity and the horseback riding community will be around for years to come.

Editor's Note: The Highlander is the student newspaper of Gov. Livingston High School featuring articles written by staff and guest writers covering a variety of topics of interest to the students.