By the Bay IEL League: Riders and horses bond in equestrian sport

Brynne McKinney

by Brynne McKinney and Maya Apau

A crowd of people and horses in a paddock. Front foot stamping and head shaking, the horse is ready to glide across the field.

This is the feeling of an equestrian before a team event.

The By the Bay Interscholastic Eventing League is an eventing team made up of young riders from grades 7-12 in Area 2.

Area 2 includes the states of New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, Virginia, and North Carolina. The riders are all located in Maryland, just in different parts.

Sophomore Hanna Keagan participates in the equestrian sport with her horse, Serendipity.

“The interscholastic eventing league is operated by having IEL team challenges at various shows! We will all compete in our respective divisions as normal and then our scores will be combined at the end and compared against the other competing IEL teams at that show! Three out of four of us must be competing, and if four, the fourth and lowest teammates score will be dropped out of the total,” said Keagan.

Non-riders typically think that horseback riding isn’t a “real” sport or that riding a horse is a natural talent.  Both of those ideas are wrong.

“I honestly think that people forget that horses are not indestructible. They can be hurt; they can feel; and they have all these unique personalities. I think it’s interesting to see how surprised people are when they find out that my horse doesn’t like to cuddle or that she’s stubborn. Not all horses are equal,” said Alivia Peterson.

Most spectators don’t know about all of the ups and downs. They don’t know that when your horse gets sick or injured, you stay with them for hours just waiting for a vet to come.

According to HorsebackRidingSafety, “An estimated 30 million Americans ride horses each year. However, more than 2,300 riders under the age of 25 years are hospitalized annually because of horseback-riding injuries.”

People don’t see the bad falls a rider goes through when their horse is being sassy or just in a mood, and, lastly, people don’t understand how talented and brave these young riders are.

Typically the riders compete at Beginner novice, 2’7”, Novice 2’11”, and higher and practicing a level higher at home so they are confident at their next show.

The sport is more than just riding a horse. It’s dedication, time, and practice.