By Lily Godfrey
Sophomore Bryn Simpson
Simpson spends three out of the seven days of the week going to the riding stables in order to compete in horseback riding competitions and to help teach kids and adults how to ride.
Spending time on sports is a common pastime for students at Mill Valley, but sophomore Bryn Simpson prefers to spend her time on a less familiar one. Bryn is an equestrian and started riding at nine years old.
After riding for the past eight years, Bryn illustrated what a normal night at the stable is like.
“For the past few years, I’ve been going [to the stables] for two days after school during the school year and every Sunday morning. I’ll get there and help get the horses inside and ready for the groups before mine. I’ll also help the little kids and workers,” Bryn said. “Around 6:00 p.m., I start getting whichever horse I’m riding ready for my lesson. We ride in our more advanced group at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesdays. So I’ll go in and ride for about 45 minutes, get off, untack and care for my horse. Afterward, we’ll take the horses back and clean up for the night.”
Bryn’s mom Darla Simpson shared a bit about her daughter and described her strengths both physically and mentally that set her up for success.
“Bryn is an independent, strong-willed, competitive and an incredibly kind soul. She stands up for what she knows to be right and always sticks up for her friends when necessary,” Darla said. “As a rider, Bryn is determined to constantly improve and learn new things.”
According to teammate Johnson County Community College sophomore Megan Sauer, Bryn is very dedicated to the sport and her teammates.
“Bryn is an awesome teammate. She always supports me and is there to hype me up and give me love when I might not have had the best ride, or just need a pep talk before I compete. She makes the environment silly, positive and makes us all laugh,” Sauer said. “Bryn has improved so much over the past years. She rides confidently and you can tell when she rides, she’s having fun. She rides with determination to win and to get the best out of the horse she is showing.”
Bryn described how riding influenced her feelings about animals.
“Getting to spend time with such interesting animals and being around my absolute favorite people [is my favorite thing],” Bryn said. “The horses I work with are once in a lifetime and I wouldn’t change them for the world. The same goes for my friends at the place I work. It’s just a safe space at the barn and being there picks me up out of whatever slump I’m in for the day.”
Going into detail, Bryn explained how riding and competitions work.
“In saddle seat, you show your horse in two to three classes. In academy, you’ll have judges look at the riders’ position and things like diagonals and leads. In horsemanship, you show how you and your horse work together,” Bryn said. “Show days are long and tiring, for local shows you get to the show grounds around 6:30 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. and you won’t leave until roughly 5:00 p.m. You have to get yourself and the horses ready to ride. With non local shows like nationals, days are usually getting to the barn at 6:00 a.m., a break around 3:00 p.m. and going back until about 10:00 p.m.”
After years of watching her compete, Darla expressed her joy of being there to support Bryn.
“I love watching her compete and being a show mom. I talk to her as I’m videoing her rides even though she can’t hear me,” Darla said. “It can be scary though because while here there are maybe three to seven horses in the ring. At Nationals, there are about twenty. It increases the possibility of something going wrong. These are 1,000 pound flight risk animals and the girls have to be in control.”
Agreeing with Darla, Sauer shared how she felt about watching Bryn compete.
“Getting to compete with Bryn has been the best experience,” Sauer said. “Getting to do what I love with my best friends is my favorite thing. Her funny and caring personality makes all the tough times and hard work more enjoyable.”