Julia Leitermann '15 - IHSA Zones Qualifer and Boarder

Smith College Varsity Equestrian team in 2013.

Smith College Varsity Equestrian team in 2013.

Julia and her big ass ribbon after getting 5th in IHSA Zones

Julia and her big ass ribbon after getting 5th in IHSA Zones

Coach Sue Payne and Julia standing ringside at an IHSA Horse Show. 

Coach Sue Payne and Julia standing ringside at an IHSA Horse Show. 

Everyone applying to college has a list of requirements, one of mine was that my horse could come with me. Smith made my list for many other reasons but after another top college rejected my horse from their co-op barn, my mind immediately knew that Smith was where I belonged. 

This became even more clear when I made the Eq Team. I didn’t come from a big show barn and mostly did backyard shows, so tryouts were stressful for me. Sue gave me a piece of mind and I made the team riding one of the cutest ponies Marley. Making my walk back from the barn a car full of team members pulled over and let me squish into the back with them to go get brunch. I immediately felt welcome within this community. 

The barn was the place I could escape to after classes or between classes. My horse and I loved the facilities and have never been to a nicer barn. My first year was a whirlwind but I still remember the Sundays spent riding in the field with teammate boarders, or lunch time rides between classes (something that wouldn’t be possible if the barn way off campus). I spent a whole evening studying for Econ while waiting for the vet, loving every minute I got to spend there. 

My sophomore year I qualified for regionals in Advanced W/T/C, I was over the moon to be able to show how far I had come and to make it even better, Smith was hosting regionals. I spent the whole day horse holding Jiffy waiting for my class that was at the end of the day. I was lucky enough to draw the same pony I had ridden in tryouts for regionals (it’s lucky when you are short!) After what seemed like the longest class, four of us were called back to test. I suddenly had no nerves or worries about testing, knowing that whatever happened I still had a great ride. After testing they called names, in reverse order, and I couldn’t believe it when my name was not called for third or second. I had won the class! 

I spent the next two weeks preparing for regionals. Team lessons and privates on my horse were spent doing figure eights and lead changes. The day of Zones had arrived and I was extremely nervous. I got to ride solo with Sue and our assistant coach to Mount Holyoke, and spent the day by the ring, watching every ride, and getting distractions from my teammates! When my time finally came I felt ready. A close friend of mine reminded me that no matter how your ride goes you get to come back with a big ass ribbon, this what what was on my mind when I entered the ring. 

After a day of showing my draw was very tired and not very excited about another class. Advanced W/T/C happens right after Novice Flat, which is nice because the horses are a bit more relaxed. However, it also means that horses who are ridden with spurs in Novice, then have a ride without right after. Thus, my lazy pony was very leg heavy and hard to keep going. Right near the end of the class I circled to find a better space, and broke from the canter to the trot. It was only a half step, but it was enough for the judge to see. Feeling positive that I was going to be bottom of the class, I gave my ride a pat, and left the ring feeling dismayed. I waited for my name to be called, and was surprised when I was announced for 5th place. I wasn’t going to nationals, but my ride had put me in the top half of my class. 
My friendship with Sue had only grown since that moment. I’ve ridden as a team member, as a community member, worked cleaning stalls, been a boarder, and was the first student intern on the Horse Memoirs Project. The Eq team and the barn were my home at Smith, I can’t imagine my four years there without it.

-Julia Leitermann, Smith College Class of 2015