Boppe with her two horses Tucker (l) and Bacardi at Haverhill Equestrian Center in 2017. photo courtesy Jessica Boppe

After school lets out for the day, students and teachers alike head to different places and activities to spend the rest of their evenings.

However, very few people are able to say that when they go home for the evening, they have a unique second career to head to.  

Godwin chemistry teacher Jessica Boppe works at Haverhill, an equestrian center in Hanover that holds 28 horses. Her passion for horseback riding began early in life, and Boppe owned her first horse at the age of 14.  

“My mom took me to my first lesson when I was six or seven. I was obsessed with horses at a young age,” Boppe said.

Not only is Boppe an avid rider at Haverhill, she is also a coach for young riders who practice at the center and for the University of Richmond’s equestrian team.  

She, herself, has competed in many riding competitions, her specialty being the hunter jumper shows.  

“Hunter jumpers are based off of the horses in the hunt field,” Boppe said.“ Jumpers are timed over a course of fences and the best time with fewest faults wins.”     

According to Boppe, every horse feels different when it is ridden.   

“If you watch people walk, they all walk differently.  And so horses all go differently, so they all feel different,” Boppe said.

Currently, Boppe is training a new horse that she hopes to take to her riding competitions this year.

“It’s hard because you don’t ever know what the horse is going to do.  If you kick a soccer ball to the left, it’s going to generally speaking, go to the left.  You can tell your horse to go to the left, and it will go to the right,” said Boppe. “It’s a little unpredictable.”       

Since horseback riding is known to be a very dangerous sport, riders are prone to injuries if they experience a fall.

“The horse I got last year fell down with me twice,” said Boppe. “I’ve broken ribs, broke my arm, I had a student break their jaw two years ago.”

Between teaching every day at Godwin, coaching, and riding at Haverhill, Boppe’s typical day is extremely busy.

Boppe fulfilled her teacher superlative. She was voted “Most Likely to Bring Pet to School” for 2018.
photo courtesy Kathryn Chamberlain

“Tuesday, I teach as soon as I get home from school until 7:30, and Thursday, I have the same schedule but I have some rides that I have to do,” said Boppe.

Boppe said being a horseback riding coach is positively affected by her career as a chemistry teacher.    

“It actually makes me a better instructor. So, because at school you have to accommodate a wide range of learning styles,” said Boppe. “I can take that into the training and instruction program at the farm.   It’s a little bit easier to connect with all different types of kids out there.”

Although her days are very busy, Boppe is able to continue to be a devoted rider and coach at Haverhill as well as teacher.

“I think it is like any sport really. I just love horses,” said Boppe.


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