Three horses, one sophomore team up for contests

By: Nathan Hoy

Like people say, “Two are always better than one.” Teamwork will prevail, and a solid pair will be able to overcome and accomplish much more than any one person could accomplish on her own.

Teamwork conjures visions of two people collaborating, strategizing or putting in a great deal of physical effort together; however, in the case of sophomore Meg Schmitz, her teammate is a horse.

Schmitz has had a love for animals that goes far back before she can even remember. When she was in kindergarten, her oldest sister started riding horses; however, Schmitz was not interested. In fifth grade the family sold the pony, and she suddenly wanted to start riding, so she took lessons from the lady who had bought their pony.

The love and passion quickly ramped up and grew from there. Schmitz would take 45-minute sessions with her trainer where she would clean the horse, put the saddle on and work on improving her riding and how the horse moved. Six months deep into the training, she started learning to jump and was trained on what to do to help the horse jump.

“I loved learning more about my horse and becoming closer with him throughout the process,” Schmitz said. After two years of constant training, she met her current trainer who taught her everything she knows about eventing.

An event usually lasts for three days and contains three different stages: dressage, cross country and show jumping. During these different tasks, the rider and horse will be tested on how well they work together. If a jump is knocked down or the duo is too fast or too slow, they will get a fault and receive points. The objective is to obtain as few points as possible after completing all three stages.

The Schmitz family currently owns four horses, and they board three of them at a barn in Hudson. The other stays with her older sister at Iowa State.

“I ride them basically any time I have time to spare,” Schmitz said with a slight laugh. “There really isn’t too much I love more.”

Schmitz will be on her horses usually six days a week because the horses will need a day off once a week. There are open pastures in Hudson that she rides around in, as well as different arenas inside and out that are suitable for riding.

“I’ve had a lot of amazing memories,” Schmitz said. “One of the best, however, is when my first horse, Ondo, and I jumped three foot for the first time when I was in 7th grade.”

That’s the highest she has ever jumped and was a great personal accomplishment.

“Another memory would be when my other horse, NiHala, and I got second place in an eventing show. This meant even more because I basically trained her all on my own.”

In present days, Schmitz polishes her skills every two weeks with her trainer who is based out of Iowa City as they continue to build that partnership between Schmitz and her horses.

“I like that this sport is a team effort and you have a special connection with your horse. There is always room to get better, and you absolutely must have a good attitude because you get what you put in, and things won’t always go your way. The horse can sense your attitude at all times, so you always have to keep it optimistic. Being with my horses truly is my passion.”

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