For most high school students, free time consists of studying and spending time with friends.
However, for Godwin senior Claire Parkinson, free time is centered around riding horses and working at farms.
Parkinson has ridden and worked at Pam Baker LLC for five years and also works at Hampden Row LLC.
“I’ve been riding for about 10 years. My mom got me into it because a family friend did it,” said Parkinson.
Horseback riding is a time consuming activity.
It can be difficult to fit into one’s schedule, but Parkinson has the unique advantage of intermittently living with her trainer.
“I usually live at Pam Baker LLC during the summers, because the farm is two hours north of Richmond. I work at Hampden Row LLC on Mondays, and I stay at my house then, because that farm is in Goochland,” said Parkinson.
Parkinson shows her horse, Chazeaux, both nationally and internationally.
Showing a horse at a horse show consists of riding a horse over jumps and through other obstacles against other riders.
For 10 weeks every year, Parkinson competes in horseshows every weekend in Fla.
“I like competing because I like to see progression in myself and my horse. As a naturally competitive person, I enjoy getting in the ring and trying to score as high as I can,” said Parkinson.
Parkinson has shown at over 30 rated shows this year and has been either champion (first place) or reserve champion (second place) at 27 of those 30 shows.
While Parkinson enjoys the competitive aspect of riding, she also recognizes the benefits that it gives people beyond the awards.
“I enjoy the sport because it is not simply kicking or throwing a ball. You have to figure out how to work with the horse that you are on. You have to take into account its feelings and reactions to what you do,” said Parkinson.
Although Parkinson has been successful in her career as a rider, she still deals with challenges.
“The biggest challenge for me with riding is never the horse themselves. If something isn’t going right it is usually my fault. The biggest obstacle is learning and thinking through how to fix the problem,” said Parkinson.
Parkinson plans to continue riding and she looks forward to collegiate riding.
“My goal has always been to ride division one in college. As of now, I have a few offers that I am considering,” said Parkinson.
Parkinson currently stands second in the nation according to USEF rankings, and she has been second nationally the past two years for juniors.
“One of my greatest accomplishments was placing sixth in the junior category at the stakes class at Washington International Horse Show at the Capital One Arena. That show is by far the most competitive one, and I was over the moon to even place,” said Parkinson.
Parkinson has also won the zone three memorial equitation finals, and is in first place in Zone 3, which includes Maryland, Virginia, and North Carolina
“I am beyond grateful for the opportunities this sport has brought me and what it has taught me over the years. It is a sport unlike any other I have ever done, and I am so grateful to my trainer Pam Baker for supporting me,” said Parkinson.