Nina Burik, Staff Writer
After much dedication and tenacity, Molly Canfield’s hard work has paid off. Just a few weeks ago, Canfield, a junior, committed to Baylor University’s equestrian team. It is evident that her journey to Baylor was one of much internal conflict. “Whether or not to ride in college was the biggest question for me,” Canfield said. For this reason, she felt it necessary to familiarize herself with the nature of NCAA equestrian programs early on. Canfield said, “this fall, I went on a few official visits and got a better idea of what it would be like to ride on a team.” Yet even before officially visiting schools, she was in contact with coaches at select schools. “I started emailing coaches last year and then really communicating this summer; after June 11th, they can respond,” she added. This was all in an effort to keep her options open, even though she was still unsure of whether to ride or not.
However, there was one visit that changed everything. Canfield said, “once I visited Baylor, I decided that if I wanted to ride, that’s where I wanted to do it.” With this, her future became much simpler; riding at Baylor or not riding at all.
But what was it about Baylor’s program that captivated Canfield? “The coaches are amazing, the team is so kind and fun, and the whole school just felt like a really warm place,” she said. Canfield made another trip back to Texas in the following months, in which she fell more in love with her potential future at Baylor. When asked about these two experiences, she added, “both times I felt like I wanted to stay and just start college right then.”
As a member of Baylor’s equestrian team, Canfield described what her college riding experience will look like. She said, “at Baylor the girls do workouts 3 times a week at 5:30am and then have practice 4-6 days a week.” Practices are so frequent because their competition schedule is relatively intense. “Meets are about every other weekend and the off season is from Thanksgiving- Christmas (but you can still go to the barn and ride),” Canfield mentioned.
She also commented on the differences between high school and college horseback riding. “Unlike what I do now, the competitions are head-to-head; So one girl from each school competes over a pattern of jumps on the same horse, and then whichever girl executes it more correctly wins the point for the team,” she explained. By changing the rider but keeping the same horse, it “takes the quality of the horse out of the equation and allows the best rider to win,” Canfield said.
Despite the significant distinction between equestrian levels and her struggle to decide if riding was in her future, Canfield could not be more ecstatic about joining Baylor’s team. After all, she said, “I decided to ride because I have poured basically my whole life into the sport and being able to ride in college is such an amazing opportunity.” This is all to say that with passion, commitment, and an open mind, anything can happen. In Canfield’s case, she led with her love of horseback riding and let the rest fall into place. Her decision to compete at Baylor, once broken down, was an uncomplicated one.
Ultimately, she said, “I honestly just love riding and I think I would be lost at college without it.”