Bexley senior pursues passion for equestrianism

Senior Sammi Nack rides her horse JD during an equestrian event. (Photo courtesy of Sammi Nack)

Emerging as an early childhood hobby, senior Sammi Nack’s love of horseback riding has continued into her high school career, shaping her work ethic, competitive mindset and future goals.

Nack said that she began her venture into horseback riding at 8 years old. “I went on a field trip for Girl Scouts to Marmon Valley, a horseback riding camp,” Nack said. “I later decided to go again that summer and really enjoyed riding, so I decided to start taking lessons and haven’t stopped since.”

Nack added that she still attends Marmon Valley during the summers and currently works every day of the week at Rodeo Run barn where her horse, named JD, resides.

A typical day of work tends to be three or more hours spent at the barn, she said.

In addition to working at Rodeo Run barn, Nack said that she shows her horse competitively through the American Quarter Horse Association and Warrior Equestrian. She participates in equitation horsemanship, ranch riding and reigning competitions. Equitation horsemanship is the judging of the rider of the horse while ranch riding, and reigning involves evaluating the horse’s performance, she said.

“You’re judged on how your horse moves and completes different maneuvers,” Nack said. “[The judges] will ask you to do different things…to ask your horse to spin, or side pass, walk or jog, or lope.”Nack estimated that she participates in three shows a month, each typically lasting two days.

“During the winter, competitions are in Ohio,” she said. “During the summer, we try to get into the border states, like Michigan and Pennsylvania, and I have hopes to go to Florida this year.”

Nack’s hard work has paid off––most recently, she qualified for the 2021 horsemanship regionals to occur in late May.

She plans to continue her horseback riding career in college and intends to bring JD with her wherever she attends. She explained that being able to ride in college is second to academics when it came to school choice.

Nack added that she would like to continue training other people’s horses after college and participate in shows with her own horse.

“I really enjoy riding different horses. I feel like it’s made me better, especially at showing,” she explained. “I have a better idea of what judges look for. It’s also great to see how much progress you make in a horse.”

Despite riding being a time consuming sport, Nack said she is able to manage balancing working at the barn, showing, school and sports.

“I try to get as far ahead as I can on my schoolwork,” she said. “I normally tend to catch up on riding during the weekends. I have a schedule I make every week of what horses I’ll ride each day.”

Nack said that horseback riding has also expanded her perspective on many topics, enabled her to see the different ways in which people have grown up, and given her access to a wider range of personalities than she interacts with in Bexley.

“I’d say most of my life is at the barn,” Nack said. “It’s given me a good work ethic. I feel like I’m never off the clock.”