When asked “Why Mount Holyoke?” I’ve always replied with the same answer: for unmatched equestrian and academic opportunities. As an avid high school equestrian, the pale blue Equestrian Center was my first impression of the Mount Holyoke campus and I was mesmerized. I immediately knew the Equestrian Center would be my athletic home for the next four years. But I never dreamed it could also be my research lab.
Fall in South Hadley means many things: the first opportunity to break out an MHC hoodie, crisp leaves falling on Skinner Green, the long-awaited hike to the Summit House atop Mt. Holyoke on Mountain Day. But for me and my 21 teammates, the changing of the seasons is also accompanied by 5-ounce solid plastic balls. Field hockey balls, to be exact.
Ronaldo stands tall, with wise brown eyes and a big squarish head. In his stall, puffed by shavings, he towers over students with an air of athleticism and confidence.
When lower-level riders are assigned to Ron for practice, it’s as if they were invited to warm up one of McLain Ward or Beezie Madden’s horses. (For the non-equestrians out there, that would be like playing basketball with Michael Jordan.) Although this school donation horse — or “schoolie” — is not as famous as Ward’s HH Azur or Madden’s Breitling LS, at our Equestrian Center Ronaldo is nonetheless a beloved celebrity. It’s my pleasure to introduce you to this fine gentleman!
One thing I learned at Mount Holyoke? Include a fun fact when you introduce yourself. So, here goes: I love quotes. Each semester, I decorated an inspiration wall with sticky notes and posters. One of my favorites is by Nelson Mandela: “I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave [wo]man is not [s]he who does not feel afraid, but [s]he who conquers that fear.”
Riding at Mount Holyoke is one of the best decisions you’ll ever make. It’s a community. It’s friends. It’s a team. And most importantly, it’s pursuing a passion alongside an inspiring group of people who share your love for horses. Here are 12 more reasons why.