Family connects Echols to horses

“When I was learning how to ride, I got bucked off the horse and it stepped on my thigh, which hurt, and the step stool to get on the horse wasn’t tall enough because I was like three foot when I was younger." -Sophomore Abbie Echols

Chance Allee

Sophomore Abbie Echols plans to saddle up and ride into summer with her horse Sophie. Although busy with marching band during the fall, Echols competes in showmanship, pony haltering, and western horseback riding during the summer months. 

Starting at around age seven, Echols wasn’t exactly born ready to ride. 

“When I was learning how to ride, I got bucked off the horse and it stepped on my thigh, which hurt, and the step stool to get on the horse wasn’t tall enough because I was like three foot when I was younger,” Echols said. 

Practice makes perfect of course, but you have to start somewhere. For Echols, a family connection led her to horses. 

“My aunt owns a barn with a whole bunch of horses, and my dad used to ride horses when he was younger, so he would take me to the barn and teach me how to ride,” Echols said. 

This exposure eventually led Echols to enter competitions. She has come a long way since getting bucked off that first horse; in fact, her favorite experiences involve speed and risk. 

“My favorite event is western horseback riding mostly because it is different. You get to jump over little obstacles and you go fast,” Echols said. “Showmanship you just guide a horse around, and is pretty easy, and pony haltering is basically the same thing.”

While marching band has its own tough aspects, Echols says riding is harder. She views horseback riding as a challenging sport that pushes her in different directions than her other hobbies.

“It is the only time I deal with animals that aren’t house pets like dogs, but I think if anything it is harder than marching band. It is more tiring, and you get dirty way more,” Echols said.