Junior jockeys in horse riding competitions across the Midwest

Maria Silvidi, Staff Reporter

The bright lights of the stadium hit the girl’s eyes as she entered the arena. Walking in with her horse, she lines up to start the event. She is finished jumping the track with her horse as her heart is pounding through her ears. She is getting ready for her next event. After finishing both of her events, she waits to see if she won any of her divisions.

Junior Lily Oelschlager has been competing in equestrian competitions in places all over the Midwest while dealing with the struggles of school life. Oelschlager’s family took her horseback riding at a young age and peaked her interest in the sport and interacting with the animals. Oeschlager went into detail about how a usual horse competition is run. 

Oelschlager said that competitions typically run from Wednesday through Sunday.

“I compete Friday, Saturday, Sunday and sometimes on Thursdays but mostly Fridays and weekends is when I usually compete,” Oelschalger said. 

Oelschlager also explained what kind of events she takes place in apart from horse racing. 

“I do show jumping so I don’t race, I don’t do anything like that, I am a show jumper which is when you watch in the olympics they jump the big jumps,” Oelschlager said.  

In show jumping they base they score more on your performance and how fast a rider can finish the jumps. In the second event, called an aquetation, Oelschlager partakes in, the judges focus more on the rider than the horse. Oleschlager explained how this is her favorite course because it challenges her to be the best rider she can. The judges score based on every little detail a rider shows during the competition. 

“The aquetation, they watch you jump around and they judge you specifically. They don’t really look at your horse they look at you,” Oelschlager said.

 Niki Topougis, Lily’s mother, spoke about competitions interfering with school work. 

“As long as she can keep her grades up and she feels comfortable about things, then I’m okay with things,” Topougis said.

Topougis also said that Oelschlager is interested in participating in competitions after high school and have been looking at schools that have Equestrian programs for her to be a part of. 

Brianna Semon, a friend of Lily’s who also enjoys horses, understands that even though Lily spends a lot of her time participating in competitions she is still on top of her schoolwork. 

“She’s gone a lot for horses but [she] always makes a point to make up her work,” Semon said. “She’ll come back and make sure she has all the work she missed and [complete] all the projects, homework and [Lily] is very on top of things,” Semon said. 

 Semon spoke about how if Lily wasn’t into horses as much as she is then she wouldn’t be doing what she competes in. 

Lily Oelschlager has been passionate about horses ever since she can remember and that love for horses is not going away anytime soon. She goes to these competitions year round while also having a regular attendance in school. Oelschlager will continue participating in these competitions into college and possibly after college as well.