Back to school season is upon us, and Team Knollwood is proud to present our five riders who have started their college careers this fall. All five of these ladies have grown up at Knollwood, and while we’re missing them already, we know they’re going to shine in their new challenges, just like they did growing up with us. And we’re looking forward to seeing them in the middle of the arena over the Thanksgiving break!
Abbie, also known as ‘Bubbles’ started riding at Knollwood when she received a gift certificate from her aunt and uncle for Tiny Tot lessons. Little did her parents know that’s how it starts!
Abbie has risen through our academy program after showing Willy in her first Knollwood show. She grew into one of our ‘go to’ helpers, and has served as a camp counselor for the last three years.
Her mom Cathy says,’ The Knollwood lesson horses have taught Abbie every life lesson she needs to succeed. These amazing horses taught Abbie that you can never be too loud of forceful and to always ask for more. They have taught her to not let anyone push you into a corner, even if it is a humor-filled Norwegian. (Yes, Forest, that means you!) The horses at Knollwood have taught Abbie how amazing it is to run (from her first cantering lesson on Trigger to her first WTC show on Hooper), and running is the way to approach life.’
Abbie graduated from Divine Savior-Holy Angels in May, and is attending the University of Louisville where she’s studying Industrial Engineering. She’d love to work for Disney after graduation because it’s her second love after horses, of course.
Abbie is lucky to continue riding while she’s in college! Louisville has a saddle seat college team, and she’s already riding with them.
Emma started riding at Knollwood when she was eight. She readily admits that she was obsessed with horses, and begged her mom for lessons. Of course, mom Becki thought it was a phase, but Emma is still riding and loving every minute of it, 10 years later.
Emma grew up with us, and enjoyed quite a distinguished academy show career for many years. Emma won championships at every major show, often riding our newer lesson horses to further their educations.
For her last season of junior exhibitor eligibility, she has moved up to the show horse world, and is showing Fergie, officially known as Impressive Asset, in the pleasure equitation division. In just a year, Emma and Fergie are at home at the prestigious national equitation finals. At the All American Horse Classic, Emma made it to the Top 10 of the Senior Pleasure Equitation Olympics, and won the Sportsmanship Award in the UPHA Senior Pleasure Challenge Cup National Final as voted by her fellow competitors.
Emma has been in integral part of our lesson program, too. She’s been an important helper always known for her patience and kindness with the most timid riders. She’s served as a camp counselor, held several Knockout offices, and most recently taught Tiny Tot lessons.
Emma’s favorite Knollwood memories? ‘I always looked forward to pattern camp the most. That’s where I met so many of my best friends, and I learned so much! Plus, it meant that you got to go to the barn every day AND ride! I’d also have to say that I enjoyed all the fun times Forest and I have shared over the years!’
Emma’s mom Becki says, ‘Knollwood has helped learn life lessons. Many new friends were made, and social skills developed. Teaching lessons has enabled Emma to develop dedication to work, and to share her talents and skills with younger riders.’
Emma graduated from Oconomowoc High School in May, and is attending Edgewood College in Madison. She’s studying business and plans on attending flight school after college and becoming a commercial pilot.
You’ll still see Emma at the barn on weekends while she’s competing through the fall equitation finals!
Maria started riding at Knollwood when she was 7, and never left. Her mom Wendy had a friend who lives on Horseshoe Bend, and said how amazing Knollwood is. Maria took her first lesson and was hooked.
Maria says pattern camp was one of her favorite barn activities because she got to spend the whole day at the barn and make friends with other riders.
Maria enjoyed a long stint as one of the 'World Famous Saturday Helpers,' often prepping horses for 50 lessons on busy days. She's also held several Knockout offices. photographed events for us, and has helped with countless birthday parties and girl scout troops!
Wendy says, ‘Riding has helped Maria be organized and manage her time so she could do homework and ride. She learned that hard work is a good thing and that getting your hands dirty was OK, too. She understands the value of having the chances to ride so many beautiful horses and never take anything for granted’
Wendy adds, ‘Riding is such a special thing to share with your child. Knollwood takes the whole person and takes them to a place where, as a parent, we could never get them by ourselves. Don’t take your time at the barn with your child for granted. The years go by so very fast!’
Maria graduated in May from Wauwatosa East High School and is studying at Edgewood College in Madison. While she’s undecided on a major, Maria is very interested in business. She plans to continue riding at Knollwood while she figures it all out!
Parker started riding at Knollwood at the tender age of 3 and started her show career early as well, riding Wedgie the Fresian in leadline with her brother and fellow rider Keegan as her personal assistant.
Parker’s mom Jeni says, ‘It was her destiny. I rode at Knollwood, and so did Parker’s brother. Also, Is there anywhere else to ride?’
Parker grew up a Knollwood, and is practically an institution as a Wednesday night helper. She enjoyed a very successful academy show career, and was fortunate to lease some nice show horses the last 2 years as a Junior Exhibitor.
Parker’s favorite memories of being a Knollwood Kid include pattern camps, Oshkosh show cookouts, and of course, riding.
Jeni says she could go on for days about all the things riding have taught Parker, but here are a few:
‘’Horses teach you to live in the moment and have thoughtful and appropriate reactions to what is happening NOW…not what happened in the past or what could possibly happen in the future. This leads to greater self-awareness and accountability.’
‘Showing has taught her grace. Grace when she received a blue ribbon and grace when she did not get a ribbon.’
Parker says, ‘Knollwood has meant everything to me. It is a second home and has taught me so many invaluable skills as well as given me unforgettable memories. Whether I was cleaning stalls, riding or even just doing chores with my pals, I loved every minute of it.’
Jeni adds, ‘The Knollwood community has offered support and kindness without being asked. Sometimes life takes a left turn when we had aimed for a right turn and having a group of friends and other ‘moms’ to connect with has been comforting to Parker. Working at Knollwood as a helper was Parker’s first job. She learned how to interact with adults and how to delegate tasks to others. And sometimes she learned things the hard way, and that’s OK.’
‘Parker had literally spent her entire life as part of Team Knollwood and neither one of us regret a single second we’ve spent at the farm.’
Parker recently graduated from Waukesha North High School, and is currently attending WCTC while still working at Knollwood when her schedule allows. She’s majoring in human resources with a minor in communications. She hopes to become a counselor or advisor for students or children. She’d also like to have a home for rescued animals, especially horses, and start a family of her own.
Parker’s final words of wisdom? ‘Never stop pushing! Ride without stirrups, take the pass off the rail, run with the beginner, learn how to do leg wraps, help with camp, and savor every second because it goes by way too fast! You’ll get there!’
Payton is a legacy, the third generation of her family to be a member of team Knollwood. She started riding when she was 4 and rode for a couple of years. After taking a break, she returned to riding at age 13, and says she has loved every minute since.
Payton jumped right back into riding, and showed academy for a year or so before she broke into the show horse world where she’s been a fixture ever since.
Payton is a competitive rider, and says that one of her biggest challenges was mental. She says,’ I think that learning how to lose gracefully was one of the most challenging skills for me. As anyone who has ever met me knows, I love to win. Winning is fun! For this reason, it was easy to becomes discouraged when, even after a practically flawless ride, I exited the ring without a ribbon. There is a certain degree of subjectivity regarding ribbons and judging when it comes to riding, and sometimes this can be frustrating. However, I learned that it truly is the ride and not the ribbon. While external gratification is most definitely an added bonus, internal satisfaction is more important.’
Payton’s favorite memories include summer camp and bonding with horses and people. She says, ‘Believe it or not, I used to be a pretty shy kid, and riding at Knollwood has allowed me to open up and be myself. The first summer pattern camp I did at Knollwood was undoubtedly one of the best weeks of my life. I bonded with the other girls at camp in a way that I had never really felt confident enough to do before, and I got to spend hours and hours with the one and only Hugo prepping for the Summerfun Horse Show!’
Another favorite? Riding in a pairs class with her grandma at the Knollwood show! ‘One time we dressed up as clowns, and another as peas and carrots! Unfortunately, the judge of the show didn’t really get the message on that one, and thought my grandma was an orange gourd…’
Knollwood has been ‘life changing’ for Payton. She adds, ‘Riding has taught me so much about myself and who I want to become. During hard times in my life, my Knollwood family has always been there, and riding has been a source of motivation for me to do the right thing for my own well being. It has not always been easy, but if I had the chance to do it all over again, I would in a heartbeat.’
Payton graduated in May from Divine Savior Holy Angels High School and is now studying nursing at the University of Michigan. She is currently interested in specializing in pediatric nursing, and she’s hoping to return to school to earn her Masters so she can be a nurse practitioner.
No matter what she decides to do after graduation, it’s a pretty safe bet that she’ll be riding in her spare time!
Final words of wisdom? Payton says,’ Tough love is a part of life. No one who ever did anything worthwhile did it without first failing, and riding is no exception. ‘
Susan adds, ‘Our family has been riding at Knollwood for 25 years. No reason to go anywhere else, They’re the best. Keep riding – it’s a life long sport!’