What thread connects 6th grader Annika Shah, freshman Skye Gardiner, and senior Carlie Poworoznek? A love of horseback riding and competing.
Senior Carlie Poworoznek's family owns Bit by Bit Stable and she has been riding since she was only two years old. "It's a lot of fun to just be with an animal that doesn't judge you, and when you're riding, that's the only thing you can focus on," Carlie shared. "It's a stress reliever and a fun challenge, working with each of the different horses and learning their personalities, and riding has helped me to gain confidence at the stable and in the outside world." Carlie has gone to nationals and done well with the horses she has trained, and says she enjoys eventing the best, which consists of three phases: dressage, show jumping, and cross country.
Skye Gardiner '21 has been riding since she was in 6th grade, after her mother saw Carlie's mother drive by with the stable's logo emblazoned on her car and asked to register Skye. "I think it's really calming, and I love competing because you're not only riding against your friends, you're riding with your friends," Skye explained. She went on to share that when she first started, she was terrified to ride any but the three horses she already knew, but now she's experienced and confident enough to compete in Interscholastic Equestrian Association (IEA) which requires you to pick the name of a horse out of a hat and then compete with them, even though you've never ridden or possibly even met them before. "I don't care if I place or not; yes, it's always great to place, but I'm still okay with coming in last because I'm there for the fun." Riding and competing has improved multiple areas of Skye's life, she says, from helping her gain more confidence outside the stable to gaining new friends that she met through group lessons.
Annika Shah '24 has been riding since she was three years old and loves any English style of jumping, cross country, and dressage. "I feel so free when I'm riding, especially jumping," she shared. "You have to have a bond with the horse and form a really good connection; you're with your horse the whole time, you tack them up, you groom them, and you help out at the barn. I usually go on Saturday mornings and stay 'til the afternoon." Like Skye, Annika also competes in IEA, which she says is more fair in some ways because you have to rely on your knowledge and skillset rather than a relationship you've cultivated with a particular horse over time. She also attended an advanced camp this summer, where she learned to jump bareback and ended up getting one of the fastest time in her course. "Riding and competing is a lot of work, and I've gained a lot of knowledge and improved on all my skills," she said. "I have a lot more social skills now, too, since I ride with so many older girls and we're all really good friends."