Some of you may know that South Carolina’s equestrian team is ranked #1 nationally. Although this week’s campus celebrity, Jenny Lau, is not currently on the team here, she certainly has accomplishments in horseback riding to rival those of our NCAA team. While competing in high school, Jenny earned the title of National Champion 4 times and was also named youth rider of the year as a senior. She told us that she does hope to eventually join the USC equestrian team, so keep an eye out for this amazing rider in future seasons! In the mean time, get to know Jenny better and find out exactly what horseback riding means to her.
How did you first get involved in horseback riding?
I started riding when I was five when my mom bought some riding lessons for me at a silent auction. My mom grew up in rural Kentucky, and had always had horses, so she wanted me to take some lessons to see if I liked it. After my first lesson I was hooked, I loved everything about horseback riding. As a five-year old girl, I thought that horses were the most amazing animals out there, and I loved how I felt like I was flying when I rode them. It just so happened that the barn that my mom had bought lessons at was an Arabian show barn. After the purchase of my first horse when I was eight, my trainer convinced me to start showing. Ever since then, horseback riding has been my biggest passion in life. My horses are the most important part of my life—I love them with everything I have.
How do your family and friends play in to your commitment to the equestrian life?
My parents have always been my biggest supporters throughout my riding career. My mom got me into it in the first place, and has been highly invested in it ever since. Not only do my parents make what I do financially possible, but they have always supported me in whatever I wanted to do. I have made some of the best friends I have through riding. Not only do I spend large amounts of time with them, they are also the only people who truly understand what I do. We like to say that you don’t understand it until you’re in it and I think it’s really important to have friends who understand completely the thing that is most important to me. Everyone at my barn supports each other and cheers one another on, even if we are competing against each other. I love that we can show against each other, and beat each other, and lose to each other and still be great friends no matter what happens in the show ring.
What are your greatest accomplishments in equestrianism?
This past year was my last year competing as a youth rider, and it was the most amazing year that I have ever had. I worked really hard to make it to where I am today, which is a 4 time national champion, and a 5 time reserve national champion, as well as being named youth rider of the year for last year. The accomplishment I am most proud of is going unanimous national champion in the equitation class at nationals. At nationals, each class is judged by three judges, and it is rare that they all agree on the placing, but they did in my class. Equitation is a class that is judged on the form of the rider as well as her communication with her horse. None of what I do would be possible without my horses, and the horse I rode in that class is the most amazing horse I have ever shown. He and I have a connection that I can’t explain, but I know that every time we go into that show ring he is giving me everything he has. Thanks to this, we were able to go undefeated at nationals, winning every class we went in.
How has being at the University affected your equestrian schedule?
Since coming to college, my equestrian schedule has changed a lot. In high school I rode four or five times a week and went to shows almost every month. Now I am lucky if I get to ride once a month and I haven’t been to a show since nationals in August. I will be able to ride more and show this summer.
Are you involved with the equestrian team at USC?
I am not currently involved with the equestrian team at USC, however I hope to become involved with it in the future. The team here is not for the same discipline that I have always ridden, so I had hesitations to join when I first came here. But now I know how much I miss riding regularly and I have begun to look into becoming a part of the team.
Since you are not currently riding for the school, how else are you involved on campus?
I am part of the Capstone Scholars program and a member of the Delta Zeta sorority. I love being a part of both of these amazing institutions and I hope to become more and more involved around campus.
What is your favorite thing about USC?
My favorite thing about USC is the people that I have met here. I have made amazing friends since being here, which makes spending time on this beautiful campus even more amazing. I couldn’t imagine going to school anywhere else.