Equestrian students discuss their love for horse riding

Liberty junior Morgan Faber rode her first horse at 7 years old when her best friend had a birthday party with horse riding involved.

When she joined Liberty’s equestrian program, with the support of her coach and her teammates, she fell even more in love with the sport.

Because she lives off campus, Faber does not always get to be deeply involved with on-campus activities, so she does not often get to meet new people. But through the program, she has been able to make a lot of friends and has been able to bond with her team.

“Our coach is great and the girls on the team are very encouraging,” Faber said. “At shows, sometimes you’re not always going to have your best ride or the best draw for a horse. Sometimes there’s just little nerves (before a show) and (the team) helps simmer them down.”

Faber has her own horse at home named Skipper that she is used to riding, so having to ride a variety of horses has been a challenging yet rewarding process. To her surprise, having to ride the different horses has actually helped her become a better rider and has even helped her with her own horse.

The elementary education major encourages anyone who has a love for the sport or is even the least bit curious to check out the Equestrian Center. Her favorite part of the program is the friends she has made, the joy of working with her team and receiving encouragement and being uplifted by her coach.

“Come in with a positive, open mind,” Faber said. “It’s definitely challenging riding a bunch of different horses ‘cause you never know which one you’re going to get, but definitely be open-minded and have positivity.”

Zoe Leppke, another participant in the equestrian team, started riding when she was 11 years old. She always had a love for horses and started taking lessons at a local barn. She has not stopped since.

Leppke said that since she has been a part of Liberty’s equestrian program, she has improved in the areas of communication and has been able to further develop her people skills.

Having the opportunity to spend much of her time at shows and meeting new people has helped her be more outgoing.

“(I’ve been able to) meet people from different teams, talk to them about our program, connect through our love for horses and build relationships through the horses,” Leppke said.

Leppke’s favorite part about being on the equestrian team echoes Faber’s in that she loves the kind, friendly people who make up her team. Her experience riding at Liberty is very different from what she was used to while growing up.

“This is the first barn that I’ve ridden at that’s been a Christian barn, and that’s totally different from any other barn that I’ve been at,” Leppke said. “The friendships that I’ve made and the love and support from all the other teammates is just really special here.”

Her sources of motivation and encouragement, like Faber’s, are her teammates.

“When you go to a show, you really do rely on your teammates,” Faber said. “That is so much motivation to work as hard as you can, and throughout the week at practice you give it your all just to know that when you go to the show, you’re not only there for yourself but you’re there for your teammates.”

The Liberty senior encourages others to get involved in the equestrian program, saying how the friendships and relationships that you can make are definitely worth the involvement.

“Here at Liberty, there’s just so many ways to get involved at the Equestrian Center, you don’t have to have been riding your whole life,” Leppke said.

The regular riding season ended in February, which means that Leppke does not have any upcoming shows, but the program is preparing to enter the Western Semi-Finals March 17 in Morgantown, West Virginia.

For information about riding at the Equestrian Center, contact equestriancenter@liberty.edu or (434) 592-7628.


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