Accepting the Challenge
Every so often, what starts out as a challenging experience can turn into a lifelong passion. At least that’s what happened for Eliza vanderWoude when she started horseback riding with her family. She took the challenge head-on and even began riding competitively at an early age. So when it was time to go college, she needed a place that would allow her to keep riding and competing while simultaneously pursuing her education. At Randolph-Macon College, she can do both.
“I loved it because of the sense of community I felt.”
One of the challenges with competitive horseback riding, though, is the individualized nature of the sport. Eliza thrived at competing, but she was looking for a place that wouldn’t simply pit her against her peers. “Riding is a very ‘individualized’ sport,” says Eliza, “but our Director, Dana, really focuses on the team aspect of the program. One thing she did before the season even started was have a team dinner for us.” In addition, Dana pushes the team to workout and practice together through group sessions. During horseshows and competitions, they strengthen this bond by supporting one another’s individual events.
Teamwork Through Competition
Now a freshman at Randolph-Macon College, Eliza is a part of the community of the school as well as the Equestrian Club. As a member of the club, Eliza and other students like her can keep riding, conditioning, and practicing throughout their time at college. Eliza competes in the Intercollegiate Horse Show Association (IHSA) with her teammates. “At school and at the IHSA shows, I compete in intermediate over fences and intermediate flat,” Eliza says. Over the summer, she competed in the 3'6 Junior Hunters and did some equitation as well. Even though the competitions are performed individually, practices are held in small groups and teamwork is encouraged. Through their dedication to teamwork and building relationships, Randolph-Macon College builds a strong sense of community both in the classroom and on the practice field.