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Panther Passions: Equestrians of South

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    Sports teams usually consist of several girls or boys and some sort of ball. Sometimes it doesn’t involve a ball at all, such as gymnastic teams, swim teams, and track and field. And then some teams consist of a rider and their horse. A rider averaging under 200 pounds, and an equine weighing nearly half a ton. Two minds and two hearts, thinking and beating as one.
   It is estimated that horses were first ridden around 5,000 years ago, but it’s really impossible to know when the first horse was ridden, as reported by the New World Encyclopedia.
Ashley Peterson, junior, has been riding and working with horses since she was 10 years old. Her love of horses began when her mom took Ashley and her siblings to a friend’s farm. It was there at that farm that Ashley fell in love.
“[My mom’s friend] got me two of my own horses to work with and from then on out I have always been obsessed with horses,” said Peterson
Peterson’s first horse was a Paint gelding named Apache. Like any duo, a strong relationship is built on trust.
“It took a lot of time and bonding with him to show each other that we could trust each other,” said Peterson.
Apache gave Peterson a feeling of self worth and confidence that had never before been active in her life.

“[Apache] helped me so much. He showed me love, confidence, strength… He helped me learn so many things. He is the horse I can thank for where I am today. He was a once in a lifetime horse,” said Peterson.
Other equestrians don’t own horses, but can still make connections with horses they ride for lessons. Kandace Eichhorst, senior, rides horses almost weekly, but doesn’t own any. However, she began riding at a very young age and has continued to take lessons.
“I… just never really got out of my horse phase,” said Eichhorst.
She rides at Woodson Hill Equestrian Center and has started working with a horse boarded at the facility.
“Working with Ivory taught me to have patience and compassion,” said Eichhorst.
It isn’t just riding horses that Eichhorst enjoys. What she enjoys most is building relationships.
“I love connecting with [horses]. It’s exciting and so innocent, especially to earn the trust and respect of a horse,” Eichhorst said.
Horses aid humans in many ways and for some provide love. From working with and assisting farmers, to entertaining humans in the Olympics, horses appear in many aspects of the world.


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