“After my first ride and lesson, I loved it and I never stopped.”
Alyssa Schexnayder: “I’ve been horseback riding for 11 years. [The first time I went horseback riding] was when I was 2 or 3. We used to live in Mississippi, and my mom, dad, and some of my family decided they wanted to go on a trail ride through the country and they took me with them. My mom put me in front of the saddle while she sat in the back, and we just went on the trail ride. And she probably regrets it, because now I’m obsessed!
Originally before horseback riding I did ballet and I absolutely hated it, and at the time all I knew was that my favorite animal was a horse, because they were pretty. My mom knew I hated ballet, so she was like, Alyssa, we’ll let you quit ballet if you want to do horseback riding. I said yes, and I went, and after my first ride and lesson I loved it and I never stopped.
My first horse was named Diva, and at the time I only did schooling shows- I didn’t do any A or B-rated shows, which are basically the big shows that you can use to get into college. Then I moved to a barn in Castro Valley, Black Hound Equestrian- hit them up!- and I still had Diva when we moved there. But then we figured out that [she] still wanted to do trail rides and stuff, while I wanted to jump. So I started riding this pony named Guess. We started leasing him and after a while, we bought him, so that was good and dandy. We’ve had him since then, and we started showing actual shows. We did our first A-rated show and we got Reserve Champion, and then we decided to do Beach Party, which was another show a year later. He got hurt, sadly, so he was off for a year, and in that time period I started riding other horses, and my trainer let me show one of her horses in Paso Robles. And we have more shows planned for this year.
The sport’s taught me a lot of discipline. You can be working students in riding and that kind of helps you discipline yourself, because you basically have a job and you need to do it. It’s given me a lot of self-confidence. And honestly, it just makes me happy, because it’s basically what I use to get away from everything else. It’s just given me peace of mind.”