Taking Flight with Reid Rickett

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By Ali Barros

High school students often dream about the possibility of competing at college on an NCAA Division One Equestrian Team, and transitioning to an equestrian professional after graduation. But there are few riders who make that dream a reality.

Reid Rickett of Tuscaloosa, Alabama had always hoped of one day returning to Westminster Farm in Alabama after graduating from The University Of Tennessee Martin (UTM). While at UTM she rode on the Equestrian Team and took many top honors in the equitation on the flat and hunters over fences. She also earned an NCEA All-American status while competing for the team. She has advice for those who hope to follow in her footsteps: “I would encourage every junior rider to ride in college, and to not overlook the smaller schools that may be recruiting.  We all know the powerhouse of  college riding teams such as Auburn, Georgia, Texas A&M, to name a few. While these schools are great, they may not be the best fit for every student. There are smaller schools that have many opportunities for the aspiring equestrian.”

Reid reflects on her memorable years at UTM: “There is not one specific memory that I can recall as my favorite; there are too many great memories.  For me, the feeling of camaraderie and a whole team being behind you is what I remember most fondly about being on UT Martin’s equestrian team.  I, like so many other equestrians, give all we have to the sport from our elementary years through high school.  I was never a part of a school sports team; my only team was my horse and me.  My first day on UTM’s campus, I had 40 girls who shared the same interests I did, who had similar schedules (6:00 a.m. workouts), who I could call to go to lunch, and who I could call to help me with my school work.  These girls became like my family away from home, and some I still call my best friends.  I think most people find good friends in college, but I found a team; a small army that had my back and cheered for me; a group of girls who worked together, played together, lived together, and pushed each other to our fullest potential.  I never expected I would gain the camaraderie of a family that I found in UT Martin’s equestrian team.”

In 2015, Reid graduated with a degree in Sports Management and a minor in Communications. The transition from junior to professional was a simple decision for her. “Gaining my professional status was fairly easy for me,” states Reid.  “I grew up riding at Westminster Farm in Tuscaloosa, Alabama; first under the direction of Ashley Morrison, and then Andy Kocher during my high school years.  I was lucky enough to keep a horse at the farm while I was in school, so when I came back for breaks, I was constantly at the barn like I always used to be.  During those summers, I would help with camps, teach a few novice lesson children, and ride sale and client horses.  The last year of college, I did an internship as a coach’s assistant for UTM head coach, Meghan Cunningham.  I learned more about coaching, as well as behind the scene paperwork, scheduling, recruiting, and fundraising.  During my last year of college, Ashley asked me to work for her at Westminster Farm.  She had mentioned work a few times prior, but this time was realistic because I was graduating.  It felt like everything had fallen into place easily because I was coming home to clients, horses, and a place I know and love.  When I changed from amateur status to professional, it was an easy decision because I knew I had a place at Westminster Farm,” said Reid.

Reid has already successfully competed in her first Grand Prix aboard her horse Banderas de Bornival last April. She looks forward to continuing her winning ways this year. However, her success has not come easy and requires long days on the farm and at horse shows. “A typical day for me varies, depending on whether I am at a show or at home, and also on whether it is summer or winter. We do not have an indoor riding ring, so the weather determines what time my day gets started.  In the summertime at home, I try to arrive to the barn no later than 6:30 a.m.  I will ride client’s horses and teach lessons until about 11:00 a.m. or 12:00 p.m.  From noon until about 4:00 p.m., it is just too hot to ride, so my co-workers and I usually have lunch or use the free time to body clip horses or do entries for upcoming horse shows.  At about 4:00 p.m., it begins to cool down and I will ride a few more horses or teach more lessons until about 8:00 p.m.,” said Reid.
She mentors and teaches her younger students to become passionate horsemen and riders, like herself.

Her Grand Prix mount Banderas de Bornival suffered a fractured front right splint bone that had to be removed in August of 2017. “I was heartbroken,” recalls Reid.

 “Even though veterinarians told me the removal was a fairly common procedure, I was terrified he wouldn’t come back as the same horse.Since the surgery, Banderas has taken three months of stall rest, two weeks of turnout in a small paddock, and one month of light flat work.  So far, he has recovered nicely!  A few days ago, we jumped our first small course of jumps and he was so excited.  I could tell he had missed it.  My goal for this year is to work with Banderas and help him become strong and fit enough to jump at Grand Prix level again.  Because of the circumstances, it will probably be even more rewarding than the first prix we did together!” said Rickett.

Westminster Farm is owned and operated by Ashley Morrison, and is located in the middle of Tuscaloosa. Westminster Farm is also the home to The University of Alabama’s IHSA Equestrian Team. For more information on Reid Rickett and Westminster Farm please visit https://www.westminsterfarm.com.

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