Freshman equestrians ride under the radar


This is the time for the greats: the legends, the one-percenters, and more specifically, some of the students that attend C-G. I’m not talking about the footballers or the great wrestlers. No, I’m talking about the wallflowers of greatness — the truly talented students that go seemingly unnoticed in high school society.

Within this one-percent club, there are certain hobbies that exist far outside the scope of the school’s clubs and athletics — dancing, skeet shooting, roller derbying, really anything that is too specific for a high school to touch base on. We at the Trojan Times have taken it into our own hands to make sure the uncharted depths of the exceptional high schooler’s free time become mapped.

Among the school’s secretly talented students are two freshmen, Kelsey Hallin and Isabella Marchioretto, both gifted in the art of horseback riding. And though these two girls fall into the same one percent, their area of skill in the category of riding animals proves to be vastly different. Hallin is a rodeo rider while Marchioretto is ranked in traditional equestrian riding.

“I compete in a discipline called eventing,” Marchioretto said. “In eventing, there are three phases spread out over the span of three days. On day one, I compete in something called dressage. Dressage is kind of like ballet on horseback. On the second day, I compete in an event called cross country.”

For the uninitiated (which is pretty much everyone, hence the purpose of this article), equestrian cross country is a little bit different than the activity they might be accustomed to.

“Imagine horses running on the racetrack. Now picture that in the open field, galloping over solid obstacles,” Marchioretto said of her most dangerous event. On day three, Marchioretto competes her last and possibly most recognizable event —  jumping.

“Show jumping consists of numerous poles placed in standards that can be raised or lowered in height,” she said.

Marchioretto hopes to acquire a better, faster horse in order to climb up the North American rankings. Currently ranked 14th in the country, there’s not much better a young girl can get — but astonishingly enough, Marchioretto isn’t the only nationally placed Cary-Grove equestrian.

Hallin is also a national-class rider. Now, before interviewing her, I was a bit curious. I honestly envisioned rodeos only being held in areas where the confederate flag still hangs, but I was led away from my stereotypical views. Off the bat in the interview, Hallin assured me that her favorite event, polebending, wasn’t just a bunch of men called out to bend steel.

“In polebending you go down and around six poles [on your horse] and […] it’s a timed event,” said Hallin as she opened my once-ignorant eyes to the world of rodeo.

Competing in rodeos across the country, the wild-west styled rider ranks not only in the previously described polebending, but also an event called barrel racing.

“So, barrel racing, you’re obviously on your horse, and you go and you run around three barrels and it’s a timed event,” said Hallin.

Despite Hallin being a better barrel racer, she said she enjoys polebending much more due to its complexity.

Starting from begging her parents to get her lessons, Hallin has worked her way up the rodeo ladder to earn her a top spot in the U.S for her age. Eventually, the rodeo virtuoso wants to earn herself a spot amongst the professional riders.

“I want to make it to the NFR or the American, which are the two biggest rodeo events,” Hallin said.

Despite their relative obscurity in the world of pro sports, pro rodeo riders can actually make hundreds of thousands of dollars in one night. This isn’t a bad leap from Hallin’s current — albeit still quite decent — prize earnings of around a couple grand.

Of course, all of Hallin’s prize money goes to the caretaking of the horses. But perhaps an even more costly expenditure is the time spent preparing and training for these events. And time is a currency that both Hallin and Marchioretto spend excessively on their hobbies. It’s a currency that’s not flashy or even spent around others, but in fact, cashed in on something these two riders love.

It’s amazing that C-G has not only one, but two nationally ranked horseback riders who happen to be freshmen. The weird thing to me though, is that I had never heard of either of them until I got assigned this article. Usually, there are those kids that do an event outside of school and really make it known. This isn’t to say that kids who are open about their talents are bad, but sometimes it makes you forget that there are others: students besides those outwardly candid ones, students like Hallin and Marchioretto that almost, humbly, live double lives and excel under the radar of their high school society.