My name is Kiara and I am a sophomore at Chaparral Star Academy. I have been riding for almost 9 years, 6 of which I have spent at Switch Willo Stables. I don’t have a horse of my own but I have been showing my mom’s horse, Calvin (aka To the Rescue), in the Children’s for the past year and a half. We rode in the local CTHJA circuit all of last year for mileage because it was his first full year showing at 3 foot and started doing the A/AA shows in February.
Chaparral Star Academy (which we all call Star) is a charter school in Austin that was founded for athletes to allow for more time to be involved in their sport. The academic day is 4 hours long, and Star is considered a public school as there is no enrollment tuition. I have been attending the school since 6th grade and it has been great for my riding. My little sister, Darcy, and my two best friends, Caitlin and Mackenzie Hudson, also go to Star and ride at the same barn as me. I go to school from 7:45 to 11:50, which is the morning session. The school also offers an afternoon session that goes from 12:05 until 4:10. Because we spend less time in school, there is more homework than at a regular public school, but I also get to ride significantly more than I would at a normal public school.
After school, I go straight to the barn, which is basically my home away from home. I do homework and eat lunch until around 1:30 or 2 with Caitlin and Mackenzie and then start riding. I ride anywhere between 4 and 8 horses a day during the school year, and up to 10 or 11 during the summer or while on any other break. I help do the horse medications around the barn and really anything else that needs to be done. I am lucky to get to ride as much as I do and ride with such great people. I have been riding at Switch Willo for about 6 years and could not imagine being anywhere else. I have made great friends and improved so much. I went from being a floppy lesson kid who really couldn’t ride to someone that other people trust to ride their horse when they are out of town or can’t make it to the barn. Glenn and Phoebe Johnson own the barn and Kirk Berlin and Lacy Hudson are the two head trainers, along with Beverly Manroe and the lesson program trainers. I primarily ride with Glenn, Kirk, and Lacy, but I have also spent plenty of time working with Beverly, all of whom are amazing trainers. Having so many different viewpoints has really benefited my riding because they all have different ideas to fix a problem, so if one way doesn’t work, I can try another.
Once I finish riding, usually between 7 and 8, I go home, eat dinner, and finish the rest of my homework. I usually never watch TV during the week because of riding and homework, and I have a nonexistent social life, all of which I’m okay with because I have more time to focus on my riding. It can be hard balancing riding and homework, but it usually works out just fine and I would have to ride less to make it easier, which is obviously not going to happen!
Austin Equestrian is proud to have the opportunity to support the local community of developing young equestrians such as Kiara. We salute her and all the other dedicated young riders who truly are the future of equestrian sports. We would also like to thank the sponsors who make it possible for Austin Equestrian and its members to play a role in helping these talented young people achieve their goals.
If you are visiting this site, you probably have a love for horses and have spent a lot of time with them! Would you like to apply what you’ve learned, spend time with great people and earn service hours at the same time? Consider volunteering at one of the many Therapeutic Riding Centers in Austin!
These centers are dedicated to helping children and adults increase their independence and build life skills through occupational therapy utilizing horses. Typical volunteer requirements include being at least 15 years old, with a working knowledge of horses and horse safety. Activities in which you may participate include tacking up, grooming and bathing, leading the horse and rider, walking beside the horse and rider, and various barn chores.
If this sounds interesting, take a look at our directory map of stables, and see if there is a therapeutic riding center close to you. Each facility offers volunteer training to insure your safety, and that of the rider.