IHSA Blogger Ellie Woznica: An Open Letter to My Horse Mom

Welcome to a new series on Jumper Nation featuring bloggers from around the Intercollegiate Horse Show Association (IHSA) who are kindly willing to share the ins and outs of being college students, athletes, and horse show junkies 365 days a year. Sure beats the britches off of being in a sorority, if you ask us! For a crash course in what the IHSA is all about,click hereIf you’re a current IHSA competitor who would like to contribute, please email our editor at lorraine@nationmediallc.com.

This week, Alfred University Blogger Ellie Woznica shares an open letter to her mom, Joyce Woznica, who instilled a passion in her at a young age and helped keep the flame alive. From Ellie:

Dear Mom,

Unlike my previous articles, this week I am not writing from the comfort of my couch next to my puppy. Instead, I am currently sitting next to you in the lobby of Lake Eire College’s equestrian center listening to Peter Wylde coach the EAP Finalists.

This weekend I have been fortunate enough to be competing at the USHJA Horsemanship Quiz Challenge Nationals. There are a variety of clinics on the agenda for today, and I am looking forward to learning more about how to make my horses happy and healthy. With two written exams completed yesterday and a practicum exam completed this morning, it is needless to say that horsemanship is on my mind.

Between studying the USHJA horsemanship handbook and talking to you, remembering my past experiences with all kinds of horse injuries and illnesses, I realized that I have been so lucky to come into this competition with a wide base of practical experience in a lot of the material we have been tested on thus far. Without a doubt, I owe a huge thanks to my trainers, Jeryl O’Keefe and Renée Scarpantonio, for teaching me how to really care for horses; explaining everything from how to dress wounds, identify colic and major lameness, to wrapping a horse for a trailer ride.

But you, Mom, deserve the biggest thanks of all, for encouraging me to ask my questions and giving me the opportunity to interact with those who could answer them.

Thank you for not only allowing me ride horses, but more importantly for making sure that I understood that most of this sport is spent out of the saddle. Thank you for making me do it all myself; for helping me slide the bridle over my horse’s ears and adjusting my saddle when I couldn’t reach, but for stepping back and pushing me to be hands-on from young age, to learn how to take care of my mounts for myself.

Thank you for encouraging my barn rat tendencies; for driving me to the barn after school when I had no one to ride and just wanted to brush and clean my horses’ stall out. Thank you for always reminding me to check my horses over, to make sure they had all their shoes, that their gums were the right color, and their stomachs were gurgling.

Thank you for allowing me to partake in this competition. Thank you for allowing me to continue my childhood passion, to attend a college where I can ride for not one, but two, IHSA teams, and for letting me bring my two ponies with me to college. Thank you for allowing me to be an equestrian, thank you for pushing me to make the most out of my time in this industry, and thank you for making everything possible.