Riding Along With Joanna Reeg

 

Joanna Reeg was too young to remember her first horse ride, but growing up, it was clear the majestic animal would become an important part of her life.

“My mom cast along the horse bug to me,” she said.

Ribbons, statues, and saddles can be found in Reeg’s house from her mother’s riding days, she said. Reeg and her sister used to love going into the garage to rummage through a box of old horse care items and play with them.

Her mom’s passion for horses influenced her entire family, but Reeg said her relationship with them is more involved than her six other siblings.

“As I got older, it sort of became an infatuation. They definitely appreciate them, but I’m sort of on a whole different level,” she said. “I enjoy competing more and actually showing.”


Among other extracurricular activities, the 20-year-old junior is an active member of UF’s equestrian team. She jumped into a leadership role as early as spring of her freshman year, in which she became the vice president. Last year she served as the team’s president, during which the team was named “Club of the Year.” And this year, she is the Western Team Captain.

Reeg is also a Cicerone, involved in agricultural organizations, a university choir singer, and a member of Campus Crusades for Christ. She said sleep and TV are frequent sacrifices she makes to balance her full schedule, but horses consume the majority of her time.

However, it’s not just her involvement with the Equestrian team that keeps her around a barn a few times a week. She currently studies animal sciences with a specialization in the equine industry, hoping to some day work in the equine pharmaceutical industry.

“I spend more time with horses than I do with my best friend,” she said.

And that’s not all. Last summer, she worked at WinShape Camps, teaching little girls the ropes and putting them on horses for the first time. Seeing them learn and fall in love with the animals reminds her of her own experiences as a child, she said.

“You can see how they impact people’s lives," she said. "I got to see how much horses mean to little girls.

“They always got off horses with the biggest smiles on their faces.”

Reeg plans to spend the upcoming summer the same way, she said. She hasn’t owned a horse since coming to UF. She sold her half-Quarter, half-Paint mare named “Dazzling” Daisy, but she said she’ll never be able to stay away.

“When I ride, I can forget about everything else, and there’s this pure joy,” she said. “When the horse is listening and you’re talking to it, with cues from your body and leg, you’re in a partnership with this animal.

"You can tune out the rest of the world, and it’s just you and this animal, and it’s just perfect.”